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USC Offers World’s First Webcast Commencement

USC will make available complete sound and 8-frame-per-second video coverage of its 114th commencement ceremonies, Friday, May 9, via the World Wide Web – a first in the annals of American higher education.

Some schools, including USC, have previously offered still-video images and speech texts via the Internet. Others have broadcast their ceremonies over traditional electronic media. But the Webcast of the graduation of the Class of 1997, including an address by 1996 vice-presidential candidate Jack Kemp, will be the most sophisticated effort of its type yet attempted.

“The Webcast will allow members of the Trojan Family all over the world to experience the ceremony,” said Jerry Dean Campbell, chief information officer and dean of university libraries. “It’s a perfect example of the Internet’s unique ability to bring people together.”

Campbell said the Webcast was undertaken, in part, because USC has a high enrollment of international students. “Parents unable to come to the ceremony themselves can experience it over the World Wide Web.”

Viewers will receive the Webcast through USC’s home page at https://www.usc.edu, where they will find a link to a Progressive Networks RealVideo server. Users with high-speed connections can receive the commencement in near-CD-quality stereo sound and 8-frame-per-second video.

Users with slower connections will receive lower-quality audio – equivalent to AM radio reception – and jerky video images, but will still receive a continuous view of the event. Up to 100 remote users can be accommodated simultaneously. The Webcast will carry the entire ceremony, beginning at 8:30 a.m. PDT.

To experience the video commencement, Web users must equip their computers with special RealVideo software, available free from the Progressive Networks Website at http://www.real.com/products/player/download.html or from the USC Website.

USC first sent images of its spring commencement over the Web in 1995. A frame-per-minute silent video feed of the proceedings on USC’s “TommyCam” system was seen by viewers as far away as Hong Kong.

“As the home of the Annenberg Center for Communication and the Integrated Media Systems Center, USC is at the center of new Internet applications,” said Campbell. “I am pleased that our commencement’s Webcast coverage will offer a concrete demonstration of our remarkable resources in this area.”

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