The last generation of data visualization was about stoicism, experimentation, and clarity. But the next generation might look a lot more like Michael Bay.
I say this as The Weather Channel (TWC) has debuted its fourth Immersive Mixed Reality studio spectacle, which uses real-time graphic effects to put its meteorologists in the middle of some of the world’s most dangerous weather. In the first, released back in June, we watched a tornado rip apart the studio. In the second, a flash flood filled streets during Hurricane Florence. And in the latest, Stephanie Abrams takes us right inside a California wildfire. At one moment, the flames have literally surrounded her.
But it’s proving to be compelling, informational content. And already, we’re seeing TWC tone down the sensational moments–the inaugural tornado dropped a full-size car into the studio–and focus on clear stats amongst the visuals. Furthermore, in this wildfire episode, we’re seeing the segment zoom out to offer a broader overview of conditions in the region rather than just the terrifying on-the-ground perspective. It’s not just showing a dramatic scene; it’s giving it context.
And above all else, it’s a humbling reminder of why I will never, ever move to California.