KABB Taps Blackmagic to Report Weather From Home

(Image credit: Blackmagic)

SAN ANTONIO—Like many other TV stations adjusting to work-from-home workflows brought on by COVID-19, KABB, the Sinclair Broadcast Group-owned Fox affiliate in San Antonio, respected public health recommendations to socially distance and instructed chief meteorologist Alex Garcia to contribute his on-air weather segments and live digital streams from home.

The station’s entire weather team has pivoted to the new workflow with the aid of several Blackmagic Design products, including an ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K live production switcher.

“We were in an unprecedented situation where suddenly we had to be socially distant, while still maintaining weather coverage for our viewers at home without a noticeable drop in quality. Fortunately, I’ve managed to set up a studio in my living room with my Blackmagic Design gear doing much of the heavy lifting,” said Garcia.

Garcia, who does the station’s nightly “Fox News at Nine” weather segments and hosts the weekly online “Hurricane Center LIVE” show, completed his home setup with a Blackmagic Design ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, Blackmagic Web Presenter and Blackmagic HDMI-to-SDI Micro Converters, a green screen, several computers, microphones and three cameras.

The chief meteorologist interacts with his team from home during the day, preparing what he will talk about during the newscast as well as weather graphics for his segments. When it’s time to go live, Garcia runs a lot of the production himself and livestreams his forecasts in real time to a skeleton crew at the station to be broadcast.

“I utilize the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K to do the chroma key for the show. Since I’m sending a completely prepared show to the station with the graphics already embedded in my feed, all they have to do is put me on air,” said Garcia.

“During the show, I don’t have the ability to go to the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K and switch live because I’m on camera, so I rely on the ATEM 1 M/E Advanced Panel, which I have next to me, to switch and cut scenes, dissolve and preview.

“At the same time, the output of the show is going to my Blackmagic Web Presenter and through to the station for a simultaneous live stream to our social media channels.”

Garcia’s home computer is connected directly to the station’s weather computers, which he uses remotely to create his show. The output of the weather computers is sent back to Garcia as a private stream, converted using a HDMI-to-SDI Micro Converter and fed to the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K for keying, he said.

“This allows me to see what is being shown behind me on a monitor I’ve set up in my living room,” said Garcia.

The weekly hurricane livestream is produced for broadcast meteorologists, corporate emergency directors and government emergency managers to prepare for hurricane season. It replaces an in-person five-day convention organized by the Storm Science Network Inc., where Garcia serves as president.

“At the physical conference in the past, we used the ATEM Television Studio HD to switch what we were showing on screen, but this year, since we’re bringing everyone in virtually via Skype, Zoom or Google Meet, we use the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K,” he said. 

“Each participant comes in as a separate input into the ATEM 4 M/E Broadcast Studio 4K, and since I have 4 M/Es to work with, I can build them into SuperSource, taking advantage of the picture-in-picture function. Additionally, I’m using a HyperDeck Studio Mini recorder for playback.”

More information is available on the Blackmagic Design website

Phil Kurz

Phil Kurz is a contributing editor to TV Tech. He has written about TV and video technology for more than 30 years and served as editor of three leading industry magazines. He earned a Bachelor of Journalism and a Master’s Degree in Journalism from the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Journalism.