The Weather Channel Gives Us a Football Forecast in Advanced IMR

The Weather Channel has created an advanced Immersive Reality (IMR) video that graphically depicts the effects of weather extremes on football players and the game itself.

As you will see by clicking on the above video, this latest in a series of immersive mixed-reality videos from The Weather Channel begins with veteran meteorologist for The Weather Channel, Stephanie Abrams, and Southeastern Conference (SEC) Network college football analyst and former Vanderbilt standout QB, Jordan Rodgers dissolving the walls of their news set to stand on the middle of the 50 yard line of a 100,000 seat stadium where at first the weather looks perfect for game day.

But this soon changes, and with the help of 3D graphic elements popping up all around them, the Abrams/Rodgers team describes how Mother Nature’s wrath can significantly affect the conduct of the game.

The video first aired on The Weather Channel’s Morning Show, AMHQ, on Friday, November 16th at 6:20 a.m. ET, and then on Saturday, November 17th on SEC Network at 10:40 a.m. ET.

“These videos provide us a way of communicating how significantly weather can impact our lives,” Michael Chesterfield, director of weather presentation at The Weather Channel told me during our one-on-one interview.

“In previous videos we had dealt with some of the more devastating consequences of changing weather, but for this one, since we had the cooperation of the SEC and we are right in the middle of football season, we thought we’d have a bit more fun with it.”

It’s true that some of their previous IMR videos have conveyed more dire warnings, such as the threat of unexpected lightning strikes that I covered here last August 1, 2018.

“We are using some new broadcast technology combining camera tracking with a computer system that lets us employ gaming software to produce the graphics themselves,” Chesterfield said.

The Weather Channel developed this system through a partnership with The Future Group using the power of advanced, real time graphics rendering and visual effects with Frontier powered by Epic Game’s Unreal Engine, a pure C++ engine designed for high performance.

The Weather Channel employs the phrase “Immersive Reality” (IMR) for their system, differentiating it from Augmented Reality (AR).

“What separated our process from conventional AR is that we surround our talent and on-set objects with a green screen which lets us totally engulf them with additional graphical object,” Chesterfield said. “This lets us put objects in all around our talent, which gives us the 360-degree ‘immersive’ aspect. For example, we can put snow or rain in front and behind the people on screen at the same time.”

All of this was accomplished with the help of The Future Group’s engineering input at The Weather Channel ‘s headquarters in Atlanta, GA.

But since by 2020, The Weather Channel plans to use IMR technology in 80 percent of their programming, Chesterfield wants this powerful communication revolution to also be used to convey much more important messages about impending weather.

One of their most impressive public warning videos was called “Storm Surge” that aired on September 13, 2018, just before the landfall of hurricane Florence.

As you can see, this is a more impactful warning than watching a weatherman in hip waders advising people not to drive through puddles.

“Our whole goal is to transform the way weather is presented on The Weather Channel,” Chesterfield finished up. “Weather affects us all, and the more we know about it the better.”

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