St. Louis weather promo uses physical recreation of clouds — not post effects

A St. Louis station fluffed off the notion of using 3D computer effects to create clouds for a weather promo — instead opting to create a real-life recreation of them in the studio.

“Sometimes it’s OK to have our heads in the clouds,” the announcer in a KMOV weather promo begins as inspirational operatic music plays as the camera pans past a blue and gray cloud to show the station’s chief meteorologist Steve Templeton seemingly daydreaming standing amidst a field of puffiness.

While it’s easy to assume that the clouds Templeton is shown standing amidst are simply computer generated — they’re not.

There has been some digital post-production to enhance the look and remove elements such as support structures and wiring needed to create the internal lighting effects, the entire KMOV weather team was shot standing amidst a field of floating clouds, as it where. 

“Our head was in the clouds during this brainstorm … months in the making from brainstorm, concept, set build, shoot and post production. We are pumped to finally roll this one out,” said Danielle Ray, creative services and marketing director at KMOV.

The promo was created using the station’s in-house production and creative team, including Tom Zupanci, Daniel Martinez, Noah Brooks, Taylor Mefford, Heath A. Cary, Taylor Peterson, Gary Womack, Charles Delaney, J.D. Sosnoff, Scott Diener, Bill Knott, Samuel Platz

The promo involved building a mini set of clouds created using real materials and suspended in a variety of ways and then lit with a combination of internal fixtures and gelled front lighting, the station built an entire front of clouds against a cyc style area of a studio, which allowed it to capture its weather team standing, quite literally, in the clouds.

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The idea is that “having your head in the clouds,” in turn, lets you see what’s coming.”

“This is the team you can rely on to make your plans weatherproof,” the announcer continues, accented with on-screen text that’s filled with multicolored cloud textures and gradients.

KMOV’s weather team is shown unfurling umbrellas, pointing to unseen weather concerns in the sky and even comparing notes on a tablet as a cloud floats by in front of Templeton and Leah Hill while Kent Ehrhardt and Matt Chambers appear to be having a discussion (or debate) over a particular cloud.

KMOV brands on air as “4Warn Weather” as a nod to its PSIP channel.

And, of course, what news-weather promo wouldn’t be complete with a step-and-repeat slash “Law & Order” cast shot — and this one is no exception, with all five members of the team shown taking a slight step forward — from between clouds — and ending in a mixture of serious and friendly poses.

Perhaps wisely, the promo never actually attempts to explain how, exactly, the forecasters are “standing” in what is presumably the middle of the sky — so no odd shots of floating people here.

In fact, in some shots, the talents’ feet can clearly be seen standing on a white solid surface.

In the age where almost anything can be “done in post,” it’s a breath of fresh air to see some more old-school scenic techniques being used. For decades, Hollywood production designers, set designers and set decorators had to recreate everything from outer space to inside the human body using real, practical materials such as wire, fabrics and more.

Of course, shooting a promo with simulated clouds created a lot of behind-the-scenes fun, so the station also offered a behind the scenes reel of what went into shooting the actual footage, some of which may have been shot to be used in other variations down the road.

In one particularly memorable scene, one forecaster appears to be trying to wave away a puff of, shall we say, a cloud that isn’t quite so fresh.

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