Saturday, September 15, 2018


The advancements of technology have made for some pretty impressive visuals even for technically non-action oriented actions like reporting the news. It could be a virtual projection of another person appearing in the newsroom next to the anchor, or it could be a realistic visualization of the effects of a natural disaster around a weatherman. This method of intense mixed-reality reporting was recently put to play by The Weather Channel in its ongoing coverage of Hurricane Florence, which has been steadily bearing down on the East Coast particularly the Carolinas. And the special effects they employed are just absolutely bone-chilling.
The Verge talks about a recent special report by cable and satellite’s The Weather Channel (TWC) regarding the effects that Hurricane Florence will have on the terrain of North and South Carolina where its fullest brunt will be unleashed. Interaction with a wind shear before landfall has helped to weaken Florence to a Category 2 from a former Category 3 and higher, and as of Thursday, September 13, it has become a Category 1. However it is still expected to do some serious flooding not only of the Carolina coastlines but also further inland along the banks of major rivers.
One video dated September 12 currently up on YouTube shows TWC meteorologist Greg Postel giving a report on the possible levels of water levels rising due to coastal flooding or storm surges from Hurricane Florence. After pointing out possible water levels on coastal North Carolina communities like Beaufort and Morehead City, and on inland (riverside) cities like Newport, Postel then demonstrates the actual height of flooding using mixed reality to simulate floodwaters around him. While “protected” by invisible walls, he points out the depths of floodwaters at 3 feet, 6 feet and the worst-case level of 9 feet, showing it swallow up CGI cars, reach the second story of a virtual house, even almost reach some overhead power lines.
A later TWC report on Twitter with Meteorologist Erika Navarro repeats the flooding visuals. This time she even points out some fish that are swimming inside the floodwater cross-section behind her. These impressive (and utterly scary) graphics are made possible by The Weather Channel’s newly-installed green screen “immersive” studios. This allowed TWC and AR developers The Future Group to insert graphics behind and around their weather forecasters, with the CGI rendered in the celebrated Unreal Engine, used in videogames like “Fortnite”.
It is these visual presentations of the power of Hurricane Florence that TWC hopes will convince people from potential flooding areas to obey directives to evacuate as early as possible. Already, Florence is plotted at about 55 km east of Wilmington, NC and still closing.
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