Geoff Fox, Pioneering Work At Home Weatherman
June 05, 2015 by Scott Carroll
Geoff Fox is a veteran TV meteorologist with seven Emmy awards and more than 30 years experience delivering the daily forecast at TV stations from sea to shining sea.
Changes in the weather aren’t the only thing he’s observed. Like nearly everything else, meteorology and weather reporting have radically changed during his career thanks primarily to digital technology. Now, he’s the one changing the weather.
Play the video below to find out how:
“Back in the early 80s when I started, our computer in the weather center was one of only two at the TV station! My girlfriend (now wife) called it Atari weather. She nailed it. It was the height of low res.”
Stations began adapting an old optical technology from the movies, called chroma key. That’s where your weatherman stands in front of a green wall pretending he sees the satellite images of your local area layered on top of it. The stations’ computer software “pulls a key,” the key being the color green, removing all the green color and allowing only the composited satellite images to shine through. To the viewer, it looks like your weatherman is miraculously standing in front of the satellite picture as he delivers the forecast.
Today, literally every weather segment on TV makes use of this technology (and no weatherman owns any shred of clothing with green in it!)
Mixing NWS satellite images and chroma key technology with the Internet, Fox’s first thought was, “I should be able to do the weather from anywhere.”
The problem was the technology to make that happen was so prohibitively expensive, you might as well have built your own TV station. Totally pointless. Until now.
Fox is now the chief meteorologist at KMIR in Palm Springs, CA – some 100 miles away from his home in Irvine. A tough commute by any standard. So he put his idea into action.
Investing less than $30,000 in equipment and a home Internet connection, Fox transformed his garage into a studio where he delivers his weather report to the station within 0.8 seconds of live – just as if he was in the studio.
He wears all the hats: technical director, cameraman, lighting, sound guy, on-air talent – you name it, he does it. Just no green hats.
His former garage, now studio, consists of a green wall of Behr Sparkling Apple paint from Home Depot, 4 StudioPro 60-watt LED panels, and a BlackMagic Studio Camera mounted on a Libec RT30B tripod connected to a teleprompter from PrompterPeople.
At the hub of his production sits a TriCaster Mini from NewTek. The TriCaster ingests the camera feed of Fox and his green wall. His maps are still produced at the TV station and instantly FTP’ed to a small server. He programs his daily sequences using the macro feature built into TriCaster. It gives him ample opportunity to run through the show before it’s ‘go’ time.
He triggers these sequences live while he delivers his report using a LanLink Shout remote control designed specifically to trigger macros in TriCaster. It saves him from having to hire someone else to perform that task. Although it’s not the most expensive piece of equipment in his workflow, it is critical for allowing him to work this way. It’s the final piece of the puzzle.
The other critical piece of technology in his workflow is his Dejero Live+ VSET. It ensures that his signal gets delivered from the garage to the station in broadcast quality every time, just the way they like it. It is the most expensive piece of equipment in his workflow, but it helps ensure broadcast quality at a fraction of the cost otherwise.
“With the set-up I’m using in my garage, I can do the weather for literally any place in the world and deliver it with so little lag that on-air chatting with the news anchors is seamless” said Fox.
His latest forecast? The weather is changing.
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