2002 Annual

Thursday, 17 January 2002: 10:44 AM
The Next Thing In Television Weather Systems
Ken Reeves, AccuWeather, Inc., State College, PA; and M. Steinberg
Since the mid-1990s, SGI-based computer systems have been the standard for graphics and animation creation and presentation systems for television weathercasts, due to their superior rendering speed. However, with advances in processing speed and video boards, WINTEL-based PC Workstations can now render animations faster than SGI systems and can perform at higher levels.

The hardware platform used for AccuWeather's new Galileo™ system features dual 1.7 GHz PIII Xeon processors and a specialized video board. This enables the system to render 3D animations literally hundreds of times faster than an SGI Octane, so it can produce 32-bit HDTV-resolution output at 60 frames per second without any pre-rendering. Animations include key frames, to give complete flexibility in their presentation.

The system is built around totally integrated modular software, which allows the creation of graphics and animations in full graphic layers, with masking and transparency features. Its intuitive user interface automates the process of building a weather show and generating and editing on-screen animations. An array of custom formats makes it easy to present any weather contingency, and intuitive tools make editing quick and easy, to give viewers up-to-the-second details in fast-breaking weather stories. Graphics are presentable in either static or animated 2-D or 3-D formats, and may be further enhanced with a variety of special effects. The system also has integrated Internet functionality, so that it can seamlessly output on-air presentations as web pages.

These, and other unique capabilities of the next generation in weather systems, will be explained and demonstrated.

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