End of the “Square” Weather Graphics

September 28, 2011

Over the past two weeks KPTV and PDX-TV have made a subtle change in the on-air broadcast, one that most of you probably didn’t even notice, but it will give us some more “room” on our weather graphics.

Up until about 4 years ago, we (and the other stations in Portland) were broadcasting in what’s know as “4×3” size…the old square televisions.  Then about in 2007 or 2008 we began broadcasting in “16×9” size, which is the size you see in the image above.  This is separate than HD…not all stations are broadcasting news in HD in Portland, but all are in 16×9 aspect ratio.  Seems pretty straightforward so far?  Not quite.  Many of you have still been watching on older square television sets, or, more important, the signal that was going out on many cable systems was just the “hacked out” 4×3 section of our signal.  So if you look at the image above, imagine that most cable viewers could only see from one edge of the 7 Day forecast to the other edge.  In fact that’s what we see on our cable feed here in the weather center.

Obviously that leaves a lot of empty real estate, and means the 7 Day forecasts on all the stations are real narrow.

Starting about two weeks ago, we began “letterboxing” the signal to the cable carries and satellite services.  That means the entire wide newscast is sent out, and those with square televisions (not too many left) are seeing black bars at the top and bottom.  That’s the same thing you see with FOX programming, American Idol, NFL Football etc…  For everyone else watching on newer sets and digital cable feeds nothing has changed; you still see it all.

But allowing the entire view to be seen by everyone means we are now free to use the entire 16×9 area of our graphics.  Yes…I can jam more weather information into the same place!  Actually it’s most useful in the 7 Day forecast.  I just changed that this evening here:

Not a huge change, but noticeable.   I made widen it a bit further depending on exactly where the “safe title” area is.

Now you know what we do in television weather…obsess over the size of the graphics.

On to the weather…nice easterly downslope wind this evening.  You know it’s more of a downslope than Gorge wind when PDX is getting much strong east wind than Troutdale.  Larch Mountain, Washington has been seeing strong gusts as well.  The wind dies down tomorrow quite a bit, but will probably increase in the Gorge significantly the next few hours first.

Very little to talk about until we get to a real rainy/windy period that begins Sunday night and continues through most of next week.  In fact the first week of October looks more like early November!  Not temp-wise of course, but unusually wet and windy.

Chief Meteorologist Mark Nelsen