(crossposted to my own LJ)
I note that the BBC's long-awaited new weather forecast graphics are to be publicly previewed tomorrow (although we were told yesterday that it would be on today's Breakfast
, and it didn't happen...) and if the comments on the various weather forums are anything to go by, you might want to stand out of the way once I've seen it. =:S Someone on the TheWeatherOutlook forum
linked to a post on TV Forum
by someone (else) who'd sneaked a cameraphone into Television Centre and recorded a monitor showing a rehearsal using the new graphics, and having seen that video...
...I'm not very impressed. Several posters described them as "a cross between Sky and ITV" in appearance, and as ITV forecasts are the subject of general derision within the meteorological community this is not a good sign. In fact, to me the style seemed slightly reminiscent of Francis Wilson all those years ago on Breakfast Time
! It's deeply regrettable that the BBC has elected to follow the crowd and succumb to the lure of the 3D flyover; their current 2D maps are by far
the clearest on British TV, and it's no accident that the Beeb's forecasts are the ones just about everyone on TWO and other weather forums refers to. The BBC weather charts in their current form are easily the best we have.
The current "flyover" of Britain sometimes used after the 6.30pm news on BBC1 illustrates one of the problems with 3D maps - that on a 2D screen it can be hard to work out which part of the country a particular symbol is over. (It also tends to cut off SE England, but meh.) Except that the new "Weatherscape XT" version won't have symbols; just dark land where it's cloudy and bright land where it's sunny. This is a bad idea because it gives the impression that, say, the location of the edge of an approaching front can be predicted with great accuracy well in advance. As someone else pointed out on TWO, the current "sunshine and showers" symbol is indeed vague, but since it's impossible to predict precisely where scattered showers will fall this is actually a virtue. The new system will show, for example, a one-hour break in the clouds at precisely 2pm and you can bet that some people will take this as a certainty and then complain to the BBC/Met Office when it's not quite like that!
I think next week, when the new graphics are due to be introduced completely, may prove a watershed as far as the British weather community is concerned, since - if the look is as dumbed-down as I fear - we will have lost the last professional TV weather forecast that put clarity and detail ahead of flashy graphics. Thankfully there are many specialist places online that will
still show the sort of basic but detailed information that is actually needed for anything beyond, "Will I need an umbrella?", but that's the point: they will be specialist
places. Synoptic charts, for example, are extremely useful in making sense of the weather, yet some of the information leaking out from the BBC over the last few days would seem to indicate that isobars are to become a thing of the past. One person has even suggested that the rainfall radar screens will be dropped, though this would be an act of such spectacular idiocy that perhaps even the BBC won't be making it.
Anyway, I shall post again on this subject once I've seen the finished product in action (it comes in fully on Monday, apparently), and if it proves me wrong and is actually an improvement on the 2D charts with their old-fashioned symbols then I shall say so. I just don't think that's going to be the case. =:/