The Detroit Post
Friday, 03 December, 2021

Do Weather Presenters Use Autocue

James Lee
• Friday, 01 January, 2021
• 7 min read

During the show, they crossed over to Carol Kirkwood who delivered the five-day weather forecast, with focus on Sunday for the London Marathon. However, during her update, the meteorologist struggled to find the right word to describe the low pressure which areas of the UK are set to experience, and those watching at home saw her muddle through.

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“As soon as she wakes up, it’s like telepathically communicated and it’s intrinsically part of her! Carol Kirkwood reveals show secret leaving Nga Munches stunned (Image: BBC)A fan had Tweeted the sports journalist expressing their favoritism for Dan and Louise Min chin.

I enjoy Monday to Wednesday; not so much the rest of the week!” BBC News: Carol discussed the weather for the next few days (Image: BBC)Viewers saw Mike begin discussing the latest news when he wanted to demonstrate something with the help of Charlie.

She was named Best TV Weather Presenter 2014 and has won the award six times. Then, one day, the company that I was working for lost the franchise, so it was back to square one.

I put a show reel together and my agent arranged a meeting with the Weather Channel. I took to it like a duck to water because it was a new challenge, I fell I love with the weather there and then and was lucky enough to be offered the job.

My favorite thing to do when I came home from school was to jump on my bike with my sister and go to the beach, so the weather was really important to me. I stayed with them for a couple of years and then moved back to the UK when they started a channel here.

So even though you might have done your exams early on, we have further courses we go on and because of the nature of the weather, it's always changing and so is the job. I come in each morning at five o'clock, there is a conference call with the chief forecaster from the Met Office, who in our terms is God.

So we can discuss these things with experts in their fields, we've got the crème de la crème and even in the office, I'm mixing with superb forecasters, who are all broadcast meteorologists, that's our real title. Because we work into and out of live news programs, durations can change there can be breaking news and you've always got to make it sound like you were supposed to end there, not suddenly crash out of the weather in the middle of a sentence.

When I'm in the conference call at 0500 am, they are busily doing my hair, so there is not a minute of wasted time. I'm always exceedingly flattered when I win an award and to be honest I don't expect to because I certainly don't think I'm the best at what I do.

I'm much more conversational now, you reach a stage where it feels like the audience are your gang, so you're talking to your friends basically. I love my job and I do get to go to some fabulous places; two weeks at Wimbledon in the summer, Buckingham Palace, Royal Ascot, I get to go all over the shop and see things that other people don't get to see so close up.

The question I'm most frequently asked is 'how do you manage to read an autocue and point at a map at the same time?' Weather reports for Breakfast are usually delivered outside Television Center in west London, or from a picturesque location somewhere in the UK on Fridays.

You can't rely on an autocue outside as sun glare would render it useless; you're literally looking down the barrel of a camera with a lens the size of beetroot jar lid, talking from memory using cue words. Our broadcast assistants back in the Weather Center use these to judge when to move the charts along in the sequence we've prepared beforehand.

Having spent Monday morning in the studio, Tuesday saw business as usual, with a 2.30am rise and once again reporting outside Television Center. Sometimes it is so, so cold that I can hardly think straight; it's then that colleagues take pity on us and come bearing steaming cups of tea.

The truth is the vast majority of broadcast meteorologists, to give us our proper title, have studied at institutions like the Met Office and many have spent time forecasting on RAF bases. My job is to translate all the meteorological jargon spewed out by the forecasting models into everyday language, so that you know whether it's going to be hot, cold, wet or dry.

In the meantime, now that I'm up to date with the forecast it's time to sort out the graphics to help me tell the weather story. If you pick the shower symbol then people might wrongly interpret that as likely to rain all day.

This deterministic versus probabilistic style of forecasting often leads to cries of “you got the weather wrong”. Once we've got the weather graphics ready it's up to us to explain the charts and point out the areas of interest, mention uncertainties in the forecast and add some extra value.

The first is because most weather presenters stand in front of a blank green screen and a process called “chroma keying” replaces anything green with the weather graphics so that the final image you see on your TV shows the presenter in front of the graphics. This is the case on BBC Radio 4 for example where one must absolutely not crash the top of the hour and the famous pips.

On the other hand, it might be that the program has run light and so you need to fill, or perhaps a guest for the item after you hasn't arrived yet so please just keep talking. The main voices in my ear are those of the director who cues me and the PA (production assistant) who gives the timings.

Being able to talk to time is a skill, so it helps that we ad-lib rather than read a fixed script and it does get easier with practice. The downside of alibiing is that we can accidentally say the wrong thing, especially after a run of early starts or night shifts.

It might be a simple case of confusing east and west, the tongue-twisting fog and frost, or the more dangerous spoonerism of the Kent countryside... We aren't told what to say, we do check the forecast, we prepare our own graphics which we operate ourselves using a clicker while alibiing to a duration that can change mid-broadcast.

Whilst researching the topic I discovered a great little post written by broadcaster and voice-over artist David Riley. I contacted David to ask for permission to share it with you and he instantly agreed so here is his post.

In some instances where legal or financial statements have to be 100% accurate to avoid potential confusion or unwanted repercussions, teleprompter is a vital way of guaranteeing this accuracy. The script or text is shown on a monitor mounted on the camera, beneath the lens It’s in mirror image because it is reflected up to a glass panel in front of the camera lens which flips it the right way round and makes it readable.

The bigger the font the fewer words on the screen, so the less chance you have of seeing what’s coming up. Unlike a document you can’t see very far ahead, so do read the script beforehand and be familiar with it on paper.

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