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The Weather Channel Broadcasts ‘Immersive Tornado’

ATLANTA—The Weather Channel viewers this morning experienced the effects of a tornado in a new immersive environment via the network’s new “Immersive Mixed Reality” technology.

Courtesy of The Weather Channel

For several hours, on-camera meteorologist Jim Cantore narrated the evolution of a virtual tornado, explaining to viewers how they could stay safe during such an event, using the immersive AR technology to create visual effects that made it appear that the studio itself was being buffeted by the tornado's 200 mph winds, bringing down power lines and trees and even including a wrecked car that appeared to drop from the ceiling.

To create this scenario, TWC partnered with The Future Group, a Norwegian-based developer that uses its Epic Games Unreal game engine to create its version of “Interactive Mixed Reality.” The event used the latest camera tracking system from Mo-Sys with rendering provided by Unreal to provide high-realism scenery through state of the art features such as particle systems, dynamic textures, live reflections and shadows. The system works with partner Ross Video’s UX and VCC motion graphics system.

TWC says by 2020, it plans to use IMR technology in 80 percent of its programming. 

Tom Butts

Tom has covered the broadcast technology market for the past 25 years, including three years handling member communications for the National Association of Broadcasters followed by a year as editor of Video Technology News and DTV Business executive newsletters for Phillips Publishing. In 1999 he launched digitalbroadcasting.com for internet B2B portal Verticalnet. He is also a charter member of the CTA's Academy of Digital TV Pioneers. Since 2001, he has been editor-in-chief of TV Technology (www.tvtechnology.com), the leading source of news and information on broadcast and related media technology and is a frequent contributor and moderator to the brand’s Tech Leadership events.