Too Complex And Sophisticated To Be In A Garage

Any technical snafu means a redo. You learn to make fewer mistakes. Snafu’s suck and I can only get mad at myself. Helaine laughs because I sometimes chastise myself aloud after a screw-up. I call myself, Geoffrey.

nebraska test 12

Northeastern Nebraska is up and running and I think going well. No one’s told me to change anything. That’s usually a good sign.

A new phone sits on my desk. I’m extension 1008. If I make a call, it says it’s coming from Nebraska.

My News Channel Nebraska weathercasts are different. They’re meant to be recorded, not seen live, for frequent playback. The recordings are made with a supposition of the future. I record two forecasts four times a day. Eight total.

nebraska test 10Any technical snafu means a redo. You learn to make fewer mistakes. Snafu’s suck and I can only get mad at myself. Helaine laughs because I sometimes chastise myself aloud after a screw-up. I call myself, Geoffrey.

The station buys and licenses a number of custom maps which are constantly updated. As soon as they’re baked (just outside of Boston by an affiliate of The Weather Channel) they’re uploaded to my server. My TriCaster pulls them in automatically.

It’s crazy. It seems too complex and sophisticated to be in a garage — but it is. All the data is refreshed 24/7/365. And it looks really good.

nebraska test 13I’ve automated everything that isn’t me on camera. My switcher can’t ad lib or react the way a human director might, but it’s impeccable at completing its tasks in an orderly fashion.

When I click my button a map may change or a more complex set of events takes place. There are usually twelve button pushes in an NCN forecast. More steps for this weathercast than Palm Springs where there’s also a director at the station while I’m on.

These two and a half minute 720p HD files are immense. Over a gigabyte each. I transcode them, adding a little compression, to make them small enough to send, approximately 180 Mb each.

nebraska test 11It takes just over two minutes to send each file from my California garage to Norfolk, Nebraska. As soon as the files arrive, they are live.

I am the only human involved in the whole process. Can you imagine? A few years ago this was impossible. inserted into programming automatically.

I have a healthy fear of forecasting Nebraska weather, which can be brutal. I’m starting in the one quiet season. Rainy Friday. Beautiful Saturday.

I look forward to the challenge, though I will not turn down good luck. There is no upside in being wrong.

9 thoughts on “Too Complex And Sophisticated To Be In A Garage”

  1. “I am the only human involved in the whole process” – that statement right there is simply mind blowing!

    I continually go back to the Louis C.K. bit where he says, “Everything is amazing, and no one is happy.” There’s a guy forecasting Nebraska’s weather from his garage in Southern California, and no one can tell the difference. That’s absolutely incredible. We are living in Star Trek times!

  2. “…the only human involved in the whole process.” Amazing, yes…but sad for me and other industry professionals. 30+ years honing my craft and building a fairly successful career as a multi-camera video director/producer and now a couple of black boxes have made me as relevant as the village blacksmith.

    1. No, Susan. I am opening a part of the market too small to serve with real directors. You bring extra value to a broadcast, absolutely. But, in little places there’s not enough revenue. They went without local TV type services. Now they have a voice dedicated to them specifically.

  3. I guess that I am very naïve, but with 2 broadcasts 4 times a day—how do you get a vacation or day off? You are in their quiet period now—but what happens in times of blizzards or tornadoes? Or do they just switch off to a larger system within the state?
    I still find it all amazing.

    1. We are working out the details, but there will be someone in Nebraska to pick up less critical weather. Going live from my studio is really no problem. It’s been live on over 1,000 newscasts already.

      I have every bit of weather data you can think of and some you can’t. In 2015, windows are overrated as a forecasting tool.

      It’s a small shop in a small market. There will be times we’ll do coverage with less flash than larger cities. We will try to provide coverage good enough to be first choice in an area we serve solely.

      If some of what I said sounds like smoke and mirrors, that’s because we haven’t been tested yet.

  4. I was wondering how you got time off too. Glad there’s help when you really need it.

    BUT, what happens if your power goes out? Or doesn’t the power every go out in California?


  5. Maybe they are getting some “weather” up in Nebraska by now…but for us down on the East Coast from NYC/CT south – it has been a long, hot, and DRY summer. This September is running 6 F above normal!.

    Not only has there been very little rainfall, but there has not even been any real “weather” to speak of. Few fronts, few thunderstorms, no real tropical storms…just day after day of sunny and dry weather. This September has been dry and sunny 18 days of 20. I’m not complaining, but it would be nice to see some clouds are a windy day now and then. I now when the cold season starts in November we should see some real “weather” but the sun and heat is getting old.

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