Skip to main content

Weather Channel’s mixed-reality forecasts take TV meteorology to a new level

IMR Virtual View Promo Edit BK 1 2

As far back as I can remember, the weather has looked pretty much the same on TV. Sure, the weatherperson might change and the weather conditions do vary, but the format consisting of one person standing in front of a display that shows a flat, abstract representation of the forecast? That’s as unchanging a part of the television landscape as anxiety-inducing news broadcasts and repeats of Friends.

But try saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” to the folks at The Weather Channel. The channel this week introduced a new “Virtual Views” twist on television weather. It uses mixed-reality technology to transport the network’s on-camera meteorologists to various cities to show off the weather before it happens. The innovative Virtual Views IMR segments are being integrated into The Weather Channel’s daily live programming and forecasts, and feature landscapes and backdrops from abpout 50 cities around the U.S.

“Weather broadcasts are unique in that because we are providing information on future events. there is no video footage of that event,” Mike Chesterfield, senior director of weather presentation at The Weather Channel, told Digital Trends. “While traditional newscasts have the ability to show video of what happened as a clear way to tell a particular story, we often do not have that advantage because the events we are providing information on have yet to occur. By creating hyperrealistic simulations based on science and hard data, and providing the expertise provided by the meteorologists who are immersed within these environments, we now have a future-facing video product that allows us to more clearly convey the messages that we are trying to get across.”

Chesterfield described the feature as a “real revelation” that allows weather presenters to show, rather than simply tell, audiences what the weather is going to look like over the next few days.

Warren Drones, senior technical Aartist at The Weather Channel, explained that the setup still involves the classic greenscreen weather setup memorably shown in the movie Groundhog Day. However, the graphics are provided by an Unreal Engine-based real-time rendering system that allows for the realistic 3D graphics — and some carefully implemented camera moves.

“While the graphics are displayed on this engine, the position of the camera is sent as data to the Reality Engine, syncing the view of virtual elements to their positioning in the greenscreen space,” Drones told Digital Trends. “Maintaining and driving these complex systems during live shows can only be done when everyone involved has an understanding of how the tools work and what they can do.”

Editors' Recommendations

Luke Dormehl
I'm a UK-based tech writer covering Cool Tech at Digital Trends. I've also written for Fast Company, Wired, the Guardian…
Denon’s Dolby Atmos Home Sound Bar 550 takes versatility to a new level
Denon Home Sound Bar 550

When it comes to soundbars, there's no lack of awesome options right now, and CES 2021 is showing us that many more are on the way. But that doesn't mean there isn't room for new products, especially when they fill a previously empty niche. Denon's new $599 Home Sound Bar 550, which will be available in February 2021, seems to do just that.

The key to the Home Sound Bar 550's potential appeal is its vast array of features, combined with a price that places it between bedroom-sized soundbars like the $400 Sonos Beam and $400 Bose Smart Soundbar 300, and their larger cousins, the $800 Sonos Arc and the $800 Bose Soundbar 700.

Read more
Apple Music TV is a new take on the 24-hour music video channel

If you miss the halcyon days of MTV in its prime, Apple thinks you might want to check out Apple Music TV. It's a free, 24-hour a day curated livestream of music videos, according to Variety, which will also feature live shows and events as well as chart countdowns and guests.

Limited to U.S. residents for now, the livestream can be accessed via the Apple TV app, on the web, and as a new tab within the Apple Music app on all supported devices. Given that the Apple TV app is now available on a huge variety of smart TVs and streaming media devices, there are going to be very few people who do not have access to Apple Music TV.

Read more
The visually impaired can now watch Comcast TV channels on VR goggles
comcast xfinity stream app vr goggles visually impaired nueyes e2 low vision electronic magnifier yard 1

For years, those who are blind, or legally blind because of visual impairment, have relied on described video soundtracks while watching TV. Now, thanks to a partnership between Comcast and a company called NuEyes, another option exists. Comcast's Xfinity Stream app now comes preinstalled on the NuEyes e2, an AR/VR magnifying device that enhances the usable vision of a person who is visually impaired. It looks like Google's now-defunct Daydream VR goggles, but it's an all-in-one device that doesn't require the use of a smartphone.

Conditions such as macular degeneration, glaucoma, and retinitis pigmentosa can all contribute to serious vision impairment. “Being blind since birth, I know firsthand the power of technology to enhance independence,” Comcast vice president of accessibility Tom Wlodkowski said in a press release. “Our partnership with NuEyes is an extension of our commitment to designing great entertainment experiences for people of all abilities.”

Read more