Kitplus - The TV-Bay Magazine

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ARRI AMIRA CUTTING ROOM “It’s no go my honey love, it’s no go my poppet. Work your hands from day to day, the winds will blow the profit. The glass is falling hour by hour, the glass will fall for ever, But if you break the bloody glass, you won’t hold up the weather.” Hold up the weather SONY PXW-X500 by Dick Hobbs I t is not often I inflict poetry upon you, so wh have turned to ouis ac eice ecause am writing this piece on August, and the view from my office window is of unrelenting, torrential rain. In the last few days, the BBC has announced it is to sever its relationship with the eteorological fi ce a ter ears and fi nd another supplier or its orecasts. o thought would cheer myself with a quick look at the history of the weather forecast on television. he fi rst orecast can fi nd seems to have been on the orerunner o in ew ork. n ctober it offered a weather forecast – presented by the cartoon character Woolly Lamb. The idea that the weather was not a serious part of the news in America remained for many years, with the slot including cartoon characters, animals, stunts and crazy costumes. Indeed, that idea remains to this day, with the legendary Willard Scott of the Today programme saying “a trained gorilla could do this job”. Mr Scott’s training for weather forecasting included a stint as Bozo the Clown and the origination of the character Ronald c onald. The other trend in America, of course, was the bimbo to distract you from the news at the end of the day. This remarkable sustaining o se ism over decades o demeaning females led the redoubtable Izora Armstead and Martha Wash to call themselves he eather irls and o er the unlikel forecast that it would shortly be raining men. On the BBC things were, inevitably, rather more serious. The s fi rst e perience o weather predictions on television was at . on anuar . pparentl tomorrow is going to be a good day to hang out the washing”. hat start time was signifi cant. ull fi ve minutes up to the hour, was allowed for the weather forecast. Can you imagine that happening on a mainstream channel today? It would feel like an eternity. he pioneering on screen orecaster was eorge owling who was not a professional presenter but a weather scientist, employed by the Ministry of Defence. Indeed, one of his recollections was that orecasters were drawn rom a specifi c pay grade in the Civil Service. One day he was told he was getting a promotion to the ne t grade and he never appeared on air again. 98 | KITPLUS - THE TV-BAY MAGAZINE: ISSUE 105 SEPTEMBER 2015 Because the forecasters were not BBC employees, they had their o fi ce at what was then the ondon eather entre in Kingsway in central London. They would prepare the forecasts, and create their visual aids which were maps of the United Kingdom with felt-tip pen lines drawn on them. These were rolled into a document tube, and the forecaster would get on the nderground to ime rove to deliver the evening bulletin. This was eventually replaced by everyone’s favourite technology, the map on the wall with magnetic stickers for the ARRI ALEXA PLUS weather symbols. They were everyone’s favourite because there was barel a chance that the would stick where the orecaster wanted them and audiences in the s were routinely in gales of laughter as the likes of Barbara Edwards and Michael Fish watched their carefully placed rain clouds slide grace ull rom lasgow to oole. the mid s computer graphics power was advancing and I nearly became an authority on weather forecasting. he et fi ce went out to tender to a number o companies to develop a customised weather graphics system, capable of being operated by meteorologists rather than graphics designers. CANON At the time I was working for a large computer software company, and I thought this would be a good contract to win. Sadly, the internal politics of the company felt that, as the customer was at the time a part o the inistr o e ence the project should be handled by the defence group not the broadcast group. I went to one meeting and it vanished without trace. oda o course we e pect vast resources o technical wizardry in the presentation of weather. Indeed, The Weather Channel in the States has just launched a regular slot in which meteorologists e plain how weather happens using walk around augmented reality in the studio to see a tornado being created. It is very impressive. But whether our forecasters are conjuring up virtual storms or drawing on maps with a marker pen, what we really care about is the accurac . he et fi ce has a mathematical model underpinning its forecasting which uses non- hydrostatic dynamics with semi-lagrangian advection and semi-implicit time stepping. So that must be good. But when is it going to stop raining? As Louis ac eice might have said i onl he could have solved the scansion challenges, if you break the bloody semi- lagrangian advection, you won’t hold up the weather. RED EPIC