Principle of AIMS Mr Maurice Williams with Valedictorian Zewditu Herring AIMS High School Drive In Graduation

Proud Principal of AIMS Mr Maurice Williams, with Valedictorian Zewditu Herring

AIMS High School, one of the best in Oakland

Recently, I had the opportunity to film and live stream the AIMS High School “Drive-In” Graduation.

AIMS was Founded in 1996, originally by Native American families looking to retain a cultural connection for their children. As AIMS grew, the student body became increasingly diverse, and, in 2018 both their elementary and middle schools were recognized for nearly closing the achievement gap in African American students. To date, AIMS K-12 currently serves approximately 1300 students.

AIMS K-12 is located in Oakland, opposite the famous Grand Lake Theater. Its mission is to cultivate a community of diverse learners who achieve academic excellence. Their commitment to high expectations in attendance, academic achievement, and character development results in their students being prepared for lifelong success.

Maurice Williams, the principal, contacted me and I could tell from our conversation that he wanted this upcoming graduation to be very special. With COVID-19 temporarily closing schools, he took on the responsibility to create the best experience for the students and their families. This would be an event they would all remember for a lifetime! The event was superbly organized by student leaders and staff members. Every precaution was taken to make sure that safety measures were enforced using the CDC guidelines.

Live Streaming the Graduation

Alan Cash Video Live Streaming at the AIMS K-12 High School Graduation

Alan Cash filming and live streaming with two cameras for the AIMS High School Graduation

It was decided that we would use three cameras total to live stream the event. Two cameras from the front and another camera on the side near the stage. The event would use multiple pre-recorded video clips that would be inserted at the right time. This included beautifully designed title cards for each student with graphics and school logo. The title cards were used as each student was presented their diploma.

Streamed to YouTube

The graduation was live streamed to YouTube in high resolution so that family and friends could experience the event in real time.  Itt was simultaneously broadcast live on Oakland’s local FM radio for extra coverage.

Saboor Bidar, my assistant was on camera number three. Saboor is a very experienced filmmaker and cameraperson. He filmed the students as they approached the stage, including incidental footage of students outside their cars.

Students and parents were parked in the school playground area with a clear view to the stage.  There were several large screen TV monitors strategically placed showing the YouTube live stream.

The school provided a canopy over my video equipment as the day was extremely hot. I made sure to bring sun hoods for all the cameras so we could clearly see the LCD screens. It’s necessary to think of every scenario before an important shoot. My motto is: Bring more and be prepared. The cameras are fitted with neutral density filters which are essential for correct exposure in very bright conditions. ND filters are like sunglasses for the camera and also cut glare.

We arrived at 2pm for a four hour setup. The event started at 6pm promptly so we had to make sure everything was ready and tested. Four hours seems like a long time, but you never know what you might encounter a long the way. Technology can throw a wobbly and it can take time to troubleshoot if there is a problem.

Both Saboor and myself set everything in place, making sure camera angles were correct. We didn’t want to miss a thing. We needed to make sure we were ready for each student with multiple camera angles as they approached the stage.

About an hour into setup, I took my penknife out to cut some tags. Unfortunately I missed and stabbed my finger very badly and blood was dripping everywhere. The gash really needed a stitch, but there was no time for that as the show had to go on. I managed to patch it up and just got on with it, although it hurt like hell (see above photo). As mentioned, a live shoot can present many scenarios and I didn’t plan for this one.

It was nearly 6pm. We tested the YouTube live stream, Saboor and our intercom system, everything was ready to go and the show began.

AIMS Graduation made the news!

CBSN Bay Area used our footage for their nightly news segment. Check it out!

Honoring the class of 2020 CBSN news segment

Honoring the Class of 2020 CBSN news segment

It was an incredible event! Everything worked perfectly and the students were celebrated in style. Check out the live stream at this link.

Armand Carr speaking about Passion

Armand Carr speaking about passion at the graduation

Check out Armand Carr’s passionate speech about passion. Here’s the link

All in all, it was a great night and a night to remember, especially for all the students and their families. This will be remembered for many years.

Kudos to AIMS, Principal Mr Maurice and his staff for doing an excellent job!

Alan Cash Video’s Oakland video production service specializes in live streaming your important life events. Even during the time of COVID, we will find a way to film using the CDC guidelines. For more information please contact ACV 510 590 8532.