Big screen helps capture small moments

Paul Mayne // Western News file photo

Every seat in Alumni Hall will be the best seat in the house for family and friends of graduates thanks to the ‘Convo-tron’ – not an official name, just one we suggest – a 16-foot-by-9-foot screen that hangs atop the stage on the audience’s right.

The sight of family and friends angling for a better view of their loved ones crossing the Alumni Hall stage has been as common as gowns and gonfalons at Western’s Convocation. Now, guests may have to strain their necks no more.

A large-screen video display board made its Convocation debut at spring ceremonies. The ‘Convo-tron’ – not an official name, just one we suggest – hangs atop the stage on the audience’s right at 16 feet wide and 9 feet high, and is made up of individual LED panels that are joined to form the full screen.

“What we really want to do is enhance the experience for family, loved ones and friends that would be attending Convocation,” said Terry Rice, Director (Marketing and Creative Services).

“Convocation is the highlight of their academic time here, and we want to see if we can make it better or easier for people, especially sitting at the back of Alumni Hall, to be able to see not only the honorary degree speech, but, more importantly, to see their son or daughter cross the stage,” he continued.

The idea for the Convo-tron originated from Jim Weese, Dean of Health Sciences, and was quickly supported by Irene Birrell, University Secretariat. With the approval of the Janice Deakin, Provost and Vice-President (Academic), the project soon became a reality.

“We went in, took measurements and did mock ups of where the screen would be positioned. We tried to make sure that the size we purchased, and where we put it, would be visible from every seat in Alumni Hall,” Rice added.

Aside from lessening the physiological burden of the guests, the big screen adds a personal touch to the ceremony, said Mathew Hoy, Senior Web Designer.

“Now, because of the way we shoot as people go up the stairs and cross the stage with multiple camera angles, we’re able to put big faces up on the screen,” he explained. “This allows us to make Convocation much more personal when you can see your loved one cross the stage.”

Outside of Convocation, the screen is used for broadcasting live sporting events that happen in Alumni Hall. The board shows statistics, player information and replays for basketball and volleyball games.