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Author Topic: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question  (Read 4031 times)

Offline weatherfan_2013

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WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« on: September 06, 2014, 08:11:18 PM »
I've always have wondered, all the XL emulations on YouTube, are they actual XL units or highly complicated After Effects files? The Radar looks highly accurate so this is throwing me off. Also if anyone has a project file
for a really realistic XL or Intellistar emulator, that would be nice.

Here's an example from TWCZach

www.youtube.com/watch?v=NMvSFWDGKjU&list=UUmm3UQncvP2qWIzS9ozUL7A

Offline Zach

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #1 on: September 06, 2014, 09:12:03 PM »
The video you posted was a composition I created in Adobe After Effects. The radar looks realistic through my effort of probably hours of studying the XL through videos and tracing elements from screenshots in Photoshop nearly 4 years ago, when I began working on my Weather STAR XL simulation project.
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Offline toxictwister00

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #2 on: September 06, 2014, 10:17:22 PM »
The 4000/XL/IntelliSTAR emulations I've been making for the past 18 months or so are After Effects based. Of course when it comes to the radar maps I've been using the ones from noaa.gov. All I do is edit and tweak some things around once I bring them in AE.

The examples below are all FFC blank topographic maps that are used for the FFC radar site on noaa.gov. Pretty neat all the subtle changes you can make.

This one is the only exception, I only used the state outlines/interstate lines (which I plan to redraw myself later on) from the FFC radar site for the 4000


XL v1


XL v2 (Just redid this one a couple of days ago)


IntelliSTAR v1 (Regional and Local)



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Offline weatherfan_2013

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #3 on: September 07, 2014, 12:30:24 AM »
The 4000/XL/IntelliSTAR emulations I've been making for the past 18 months or so are After Effects based. Of course when it comes to the radar maps I've been using the ones from noaa.gov. All I do is edit and tweak some things around once I bring them in AE.

The examples below are all FFC blank topographic maps that are used for the FFC radar site on noaa.gov. Pretty neat all the subtle changes you can make.

This one is the only exception, I only used the state outlines/interstate lines (which I plan to redraw myself later on) from the FFC radar site for the 4000


XL v1


XL v2 (Just redid this one a couple of days ago)


IntelliSTAR v1 (Regional and Local)



Alright that makes sense. So is radar data layered separately in After Effects. If so how do you go about doing this. I don't think after effects can import KML files? I could be wrong.

Offline Zach

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #4 on: September 07, 2014, 09:15:42 AM »
Alright that makes sense. So is radar data layered separately in After Effects. If so how do you go about doing this. I don't think after effects can import KML files? I could be wrong.
I can tell you that I don't use KML files at all. My radar imagery comes directly from The Weather Channel themselves in a transparent PNG image, and I resized it to the best of my ability over the map (with that in mind, the overlay of my radar isn't 100% accurate). I use a program known as SeqDownload to download the imagery every 5 minutes, doing so for ~3 hours (or until I have 30 images) for the the emulation I want to make. The program has the option to make a sequence of images every time it downloads a new image, and you can choose to rename the files to a sequence of numbers, that way importing into After Effects frame-by-frame is easy.
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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #5 on: September 07, 2014, 12:06:01 PM »
Alright that makes sense. So is radar data layered separately in After Effects. If so how do you go about doing this. I don't think after effects can import KML files? I could be wrong.


I'll admit the way I'm doing the radars for my emulation right now is a bit tedious and was discovered entirely by accident while experimenting :lol:, but it was one of the methods that has worked well for me at the moment.

I download the most recent 30 radar frames from the NWS radar site I'm using. In the case of the 4000, it's
about half of that.
http://radar.weather.gov/ridge/RadarImg/N0R/FFC/

Then I import them into AE
I have a pre-comp that is named radar map, that pre-comp has my radar map, interstate lines, interstate markers, etc. I select all my radar frames and place them inside a pre-comp called radar frames

I take the radar frames per-comp and nest it inside the radar map pre-comp. After that, I take all 30 radar frames and make them 1 frame in length. So basically the first radar frame goes from 0:00f-1f, the second goes from 1f-2f, the third 2f-3f and so on...

Then I add a Color Key effect to the radar frames pre-comp so I can remove the white BG from the radar frames. (You do this by clicking the color picker icon next to Key Color and you click on the white space on the radar frames pre-comp) You could leave the settings as the default if you want, but I max out the color tolerance to 255 to get rid of some of the ground clutter that occasionally shows up on the radars.

Now this next part I figured out by luck and again experimenting. I took another effect called Change to Color to my radar frames pre-comp just like I did with the color key. As I'm sure you know, the radars the NWS uses indicates some of the lighter precip as blue, this s where this effect comes in handy. For the From option, I take the color picker and sample the lightest blue color, then for the To option I take the color picker and sample the first green displayed on the radar legend and the light blue automatically changes to that green. I keep repeating this process over and over by duplicating that effect (ctrl+D or command+D for Macs) until the radar matches the color code of the radar legend I'm using for that particular STAR.

Again, the way I do it is tedious, but until I learn a better way of doing it this works for me at the moment. Something I've learned from my instructor/adviser when I took my Intermediate After Effects course at the beginning of the year was that there is no 1 way to perform any type of task in AE. There are dozens of ways to do the same principled idea and get the same end result. You just have to play around and experiment and see what works best for you. :thumbsup:

Now, with that extremely long post done and over with, if only I could figure out the right way to do that dang light sweep/flashy effect on the WeatherSTARXL v2 that would be one less monkey riding on my back. :lol:


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Offline weatherfan_2013

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #6 on: September 07, 2014, 04:04:06 PM »
I shall try to do that. By the way do you know what font(s) the XL uses. I have Interstate but idk if it uses anything else.

Offline Zach

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #7 on: September 07, 2014, 04:07:53 PM »
I shall try to do that. By the way do you know what font(s) the XL uses. I have Interstate but idk if it uses anything else.
The XL uses a mixture of Akzidenz-Grotesk and Helvetica Neue. I don't remember off the top of my head which fonts go where (it has been a while since I've done an emulation), but as long as you take snapshots of the real thing and trace over with the fonts in Photoshop (or even GIMP), you should be able to figure things out. :yes:

EDIT: Thought I'd point out: The XL only uses Interstate in the "weather.com" text on the v3 graphics and the v3 LDL.
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Offline weatherfan_2013

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Re: WeatherStar XL Emulator Question
« Reply #8 on: September 07, 2014, 05:58:42 PM »
Thanks, looks like I have a good head start  :thumbsup: