Immersed Mixed Reality Viralized Hurricane Florence Coverage

Coverage of hurricane Florence showed how new means and technology can support and assist communities during emergency situations.

With North Carolina in Hurricane Florence’s path, The Weather Channel decided to rely on immersive mixed reality, using it to produce a presentation that demonstrated the devastation Florence was capable of in a very real way. One example, is the predicted 9ft flooding. This vital information has rarely been transmitted in such an effective and dazzling way in the past, leaving many amazed with the display of technological innovation.

Erika Navarro, a forecaster for The Weather Channel, began her report in front of a standard meteorological map over a green screen. But a few seconds later, many would be shocked when this traditional scenario changed to a completely immersive virtual reality experience. With the magic of computer-generated images, Doctor Navarro shifts to a residential neighborhood.

Suddenly, her surroundings begin to flood while she explains step by step the serious implications that could be brought on by Hurricane Florence, as well as how heavy rain and a possible storm surge could disturb the residents of the affected areas.

Coverage of hurricane Florence showed how new means and technology can support and assist communities during emergency situations.

With North Carolina in Hurricane Florence’s path, The Weather Channel decided to rely on immersive mixed reality, using it to produce a presentation that demonstrated the devastation Florence was capable of in a very real way. One example, is the predicted 9ft flooding. This vital information has rarely been transmitted in such an effective and dazzling way in the past, leaving many amazed with the display of technological innovation.

Erika Navarro, a forecaster for The Weather Channel, began her report in front of a standard meteorological map over a green screen. But a few seconds later, many would be shocked when this traditional scenario changed to a completely immersive virtual reality experience. With the magic of computer-generated images, Doctor Navarro shifts to a residential neighborhood.

Suddenly, her surroundings begin to flood while she explains step by step the serious implications that could be brought on by Hurricane Florence, as well as how heavy rain and a possible storm surge could disturb the residents of the affected areas.

Technological and innovative display

For this segment they used; a wide studio space and “Common Gateway Interface” technology otherwise known as CGI, one of the first forms of dynamic web programing previously exclusive only to Hollywood’s blockbuster movies. This technology has made it possible to design the environment where Navarro is being surpassed by the water levels. This use of technology triggers the emotions of the audience, allowing them to create an image that ultimately speaks for itself.

New immersed mixed reality (IMR), developed by the Norwegian company The Future Group, was also used during hurricane Florence’s forecast. This has also allowed for broadcasts to use; Unreal Engine, a graphic motor used primarily on popular videogames such as Fortnite.

Immerse Mixed Reality is a space where the interactivity of virtual reality and the visual power of augmented reality come together. This combination of technology allows the user to fully enter a real environment with the particularity that he or she can interact with virtual elements. The outcome is highly innovative and shocking from a content creation standpoint.

The process begins with the scanning of the exterior environment, thus generating a 3D map. Then, the surface is analyzed and the device is enabled so that it can place the virtual elements in the correct places. This ability to bring together the best features of both realities makes it possible to foresee that mixed reality will become the future of immersive technology.

Michael Potts, the Vice President of design for The Weather Channel Group stated: “Our presentation of immersed mixed reality will combine 360° videos with elements of virtual reality and augmented reality, with which the forecaster will have to interact on real time to lead the audience to the heart of the climatic phenomena. It will take our broadcasts to where no one has ever been before”.

Potts also let us know that they use more virtual reality, augmented, mixed and immersive technology in the production of their weather reports, to create a more realistic image, taking a step forward to walk a path that with all certainty, others will have to follow.

Almost two minutes of impact

One minute and 47 seconds. That was the length of the video that went viral and caught everyone’s attention. The first measurement of video visualization reports 6 million views in less than one hour on Twitter alone, which demonstrates not only the platform’s reach, but also the impact the segment had. It was by no means sensational but its rather calm and measured tone of explanation, only made the reality around Florence seem worse.

Such viral impact cannot only be appreciated in the number of views. More recent measurements show the video was played over 16 million times, generating more than 13,000 conversations and was also liked by more than 26,000 users.

This is a clear case of radical innovation that can hardly be ignored. Most certainly, viewers will begin to see similar segments more often, since this technology will be broadly used to convey information in an impactful way.

Marlon Quintero, in his book for Innovation for Media Content Creation, defines radical innovation as “…something new to the world that creates a new spectrum of operation, a new industry, new business models, and a new field within the entertainment domain”.

Virtual augmented and immersed mixed reality have definitely accomplished a radical innovation with the creation of The Weather Channel’s report that sets precedent in public service announcements of catastrophic natural disasters.

With information from

https://twitter.com/weatherchannel/status/1040305773664980993

http://weathergroup.com/newsroom/2018/04/05/weather-channel-taps-future-group-provide-revolutionary-mixed-reality

https://www.theverge.com/2018/9/13/17857478/hurricane-florence-storm-surge-flooding-the-weather-channel-video-graphics

https://www.joe.co.uk/news/hurricane-florence-navarro-199504

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