U.C. Davis Fall Commencement on 12 December 2015 featuring Stanislav Pribytkovsky

My good friend Stanislav (“Стас”) Pribytkovsky invited me to his graduation at U.C. Davis. He graduated with honors and majored in Computer Science. I sat with his parents, brother and sister-in-law, and another close friend of Стас and his wife and son. We were in the bleachers really high up above the graduates, so I was thankful for my telephoto lens.

See the photos and the video after the jump…

At the ceremony, tripods were prohibited, so I cranked up the ISO and locked the shutter speed at 1/60th of a second. A few photos ended up with pretty bad noise from the high ISO, and there was occasionally some motion blur, but overall, I was quite happy with how the raw photos turned out under these less-than-ideal conditions.

It took a couple of days to go through all the photos and pick out the ones that featured Стас. In the beginning, I just shot sequentially through the mass of students until I was able to spot him; in post-production, I discovered that I had captured several more photos than I had thought. It was kind of like a game of “Where’s Waldo?” I also picked more photos that completed the “story” of the graduation ceremony. I really wanted to capture the whole feel of the event, along with many key scene that occurred within the ceremony. Once I narrowed the photos down, I began the tedious process of editing the photos to try to balance the colors, exposures, highlights, shadows, and everything else necessary to provide a cohesive record of the event.

I created a Shutterfly site for the event and uploaded all the photos.

Next, I wanted to bring the event to life again by turning the photos into a video with music. I loaded all the photos into Adobe Premiere, added some titles, and then calculated how much music I would need. Pomp and Circumstance by Sir Edward Elgar was an obvious first choice to include, since it is traditional in American graduation ceremonies, and the orchestra had actually played it briefly during the ceremony. It turns out that Pomp and Circumstance is actually a series of marches (No. 1 is the traditional graduation march), and they are in the public domain. However, trying to find a recording of it that was also in the public domain turned out to be a daunting task.

For anyone curious, these are the versions I found:

  • Wikimedia Commons: The trio from Pomp and Circumstance March No. 1, directed by Edward Elgar. Played for the opening of EMI’s studios at Abbey Road, recorded 12 November 1931. This is the first song I included in the video. Since it was in OGG format, I had to convert it to wav using Adobe Audition to import it into Premiere.
  • Internet Archive: This version was unclear on the copyright status. I know it is free to play, but it does not state if it can be re-used. Not wanting to violate any copyrights, I opted to avoid it, even though it’s a nice version.
  • Public Domain Media Database: A link to the Canadian Library and Archives provided me with the Pomp and Circumstance March No. 2. The Library’s own site was a little vague on the copyright status, but I relied upon the assertion from the PDMD (which claims that it should not necessarily be relied upon). I used this as the second song in the video.
  • SoundCloud: I wanted some applause at the beginning before the music started, and I found Large Group Applause a freely licensed (CC-BY-SA) file by RinaldiSound.
  • I was still short a little, so I searched and searched for a final bit of filler that was freely licensed. I made a playlist of a few possibilities you might like. In the end, I opted to rely upon the doctrine of Fair Use and used a tiny excerpt from Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamin C to close out the video. It showed up repeatedly in my search for graduation songs, and several sites listed it was the #1 or #2 graduation song of the year. I especially liked (and used) the following lyrics: “I keep, keep thinking that it’s not goodbye, keep on thinking it’s a time to fly, and this is how it feels. As we go on, we remember all the times we had together. And, as our lives change, come whatever, we will still be friends Forever.”

And here is the completed video, which I uploaded to Vimeo:


For additional commencement photos, visit my Gallery.

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