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The Weather Channel’s new storm graphics are totally insane

Spoiler alert: A tornado literally rips apart the studio during a live broadcast.

The Weather Channel’s new storm graphics are totally insane
[Image: The Weather Channel]

This week, the Weather Channel launched a new broadcast technology dubbed Immersive Mixed Reality. “Using the power of advanced, real-time graphic renderings and visual effects . . . TWC is pioneering new methods of broadcast presentation for real-time immersive storytelling,” the company explained.

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But what does that really mean? In its debut, the Weather Channel simulated a full-fledged tornado quite literally ripping the walls off its own studio. A power line and car fell from the sky as its anchorman ran for safety. Things only escalated from there. The technology ups the ante for an industry that’s already known for dramatizing the weather with XTREME graphics. It played out like a Universal Studios ride on the eights. Take a look:

The mixed reality system relies on a custom rig from the Norway studio The Future Group, and the graphics themselves are rendered by the same Unreal Engine that’s beloved in the video game industry for creating uncanny 3D simulations with realistic physics.

“We wanted to do something that would bring [weather stories] to our audience in a strong and memorable way,” says Michael Potts, VP of design at the Weather Channel. “We want great moments. We want to engage our audience, and we want our content to be shareable.”

Shareable it certainly is. It deserves a second watch–and then a third watch, accompanied by a drinking game (every time you see an American flag whipping defiantly against the storm, drink!). It’s that good. It is mixed reality Shakespeare, a Homeric epic for 2018. Plus, it’s got Doppler radar. So much Doppler radar. Here are some of our favorite moments, narrated by meteorologist Jim Cantore himself.

“When you’ve got a tornado like this, power lines are going to, sometimes, fall like dominos!”

[Image: The Weather Channel]

“Winds are now strong enough to . . . send debris through the air like a missile!”

[Image: The Weather Channel]

“Jeez, you’ve got to be kidding me!”

[Image: The Weather Channel]

“I made my way to the Weather Channel safe room”

[Image: The Weather Channel]

“No one in America is safe from a tornado, even in the winter.”

[Image: The Weather Channel]
By 2020, the Weather Channel wants 80% of its broadcasts to be infused with similar mixed-reality effects. Stay safe out there, America.

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About the author

Mark Wilson is a senior writer at Fast Company. He started Philanthroper.com, a simple way to give back every day

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