We all have reasons and influences that affect the graphics we put out. I tend to be a minimalist. An image is only on TV for a few minutes, giving a viewer very little time to process something that you may have spent a fair amount of time with. Sometimes I wonder if making a simple graphic doesn’t feel like enough work…remember the viewers perspective, how much are you asking them to process. Base maps might be a little over decorated too.


This image from IBM keeps popping up in my feed. It makes me think of a great quote I once heard:

“You’re not supposed to come out of a Broadway musical humming the set.”


About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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4 Responses to Humming

  1. RDale says:

    That appears to be “street level cold front tracking”? Except the temps don’t seem to reflect a cold front. And why does the house on the end of the street run the garage right from the dead end of the road? Seems that would be a problem with distracted drivers.

  2. Tim Heller says:

    Hey Kevin,

    As the creator of the graphic, I can provide you with more detail on how this appears on-air.

    The image you shared is a screen grab distributed by WSI/TheWeatherCompany to promote their new augmented reality software to news managers and broadcast meteorologists. I would never share an image like this with the general public because it simply does not make sense.

    On-air the whole animation shows the front moving in, clouds building, rain falling, lightning flashing puddles forming on the ground, complete with sound effects! The whole scene plays out in steps, taking about 30-45 seconds to fully explain.

    Is it effective? I think it helps explain to the average person why tomorrow’s cold front will produce thunderstorms as it pushes into our area. To me it’s better than drawing a simple cold front on a map and assuming the audience knows what that means. Combined with the future satellite/radar/surface map which followed this augmented reality explanation, the viewer hopefully gets an understanding of what’s going to happen…and why!

    Our biggest competition these days isn’t the TV station across town. It’s the SmartPhone in your pocket. SmartPhones can show you “what” but they can’t explain “why.” Yes, it’s eye candy and that’s the point. This is a a unique way of explaining “why.” It’s not the standard, boring, over-used surface map. Used selectively, augmented reality catches the viewers’ attention and perhaps teaches them something. Is that such a bad thing?


    • Kevin Selle says:

      Hey Tim-

      Thanks for the note. Didn’t recognize you in that shot. I’ve seen it so many times in my Facebook feed and thought it was a generic WSI/WeatherCompany/IBM image. I’ve seen some really cluttered images go by lately, which was really the point of the post, but I didn’t want to call-out anyone in particular.

      Yes, teaching is not a bad thing!

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