The Weather Channel Previews Ice Storm in Terrifying Immersive Mixed Reality
The Weather Channel has once again relied on mixed reality to preview an ice storm that was set to strike the Northeast and the Midwest last weekend. This is not the first time that the meteorologist has relied on the emerging technologies to showcase natural disasters. In its previous instances, the channel used mixed reality to simulate the terrifying storm surges and wildfires afflicting various parts of the US.
The mixed reality creations look quite realistic and terrifying as well. In the latest mixed reality simulation, The Weather Channel’s meteorologist is in the midst of a scary winter storm with ice chunks falling onto the surface at 90 miles an hour and shattering with heart-stopping effect. A branch snaps from a tree from its frozen weight and there is a bus hurtling down an ice-slicked highway. The mixed reality experience was created to show people what to expect during an ice storm and highlight the kinds of hazards that such storms could unleash before they hit.
The Weather Channel’s ice storm mixed reality video is made using the same immersive mixed reality technology that the channel used in the past to simulate Hurricane Florence just before it pummeled the Carolinas.
The Channel has now created a vast collection of disaster simulations that include wildfires, ice storms, lightning strikes and tornadoes. The creations are mainly educational but also serve as a warning to the general populace on the hazards of these happenings. The ice storm mixed reality explains why ice storms happen and the process through which they are formed. It then goes to show the potential dangers that they present and which the public should be aware of.
The team at The Weather Channel in charge of the mixed reality creations brings together a constellation of talents including graphic designers, weather producers as well as engineers who weave together the narrative and graphics to tell the weather stories.
With mixed reality, the team is now able to deploy new capabilities in telling the weather stories. They are able to show the worst possible scenarios before the actual event happens. When the public see meteorologists or weather reports in the midst of storms, even in the form of mixed reality, they are able to imagine and visualize what it is like to be in the midst of such a storm. It brings the story home so to speak. If they can visualize its devastating impact from mixed reality, they’ll be able to respond with a greater sense of urgency and precaution before these disasters actually occur.
The Weather Channel created an ice storm experience via a complete large green screen studio and used a special technology that enabled the team to bring these experiences to life. The creation of the experience begins with a high-end video gaming graphics engine called the Unreal Engine which enables the team to both build and adjust the graphics in real time.
On top of this, the team also partnered with the Future Group whixh availed the Frontier tool enabling them to translate graphics in the simulations and place them in TV. To composite the talent into the graphics, the team had to go through several processes. A camera tracking technology, Mo-Sys, allowed the real-time tracking of both the graphics and talent and putting them in sync. Due to the syncing, everything moves as the camera moves and the graphics appear as if they are happening in real life. The broadcast technology subsequently composites the graphics and pushes them to the Weather Channel control room, enabling the team to record it and eventually broadcast it on TV.
The end result is a hyper-realistic simulation that closely shows what the storm will look like and the kind of impact it’s going to create. The Weather Channel is thus able to combine both the weather forecast and the impact that the storm will create in the situation.