On set at the Weather Channel, there are robotic cameras, LED lighting systems, and washable vinyl walls--all made by small U.S. companies. Here's a look inside.
The Weather Channel | Atlanta | 04.16.12 | 1:12 p.m.
Broadcasting 24/7 to more than 100 million households nationwide, the Weather Channel relies on 17 cameras controlled by robotic systems made by Mahwah, New Jersey-based Telemetrics. The company's TeleGlide system, seen here, features a camera programmed to slide along a 63-foot-long track, stopping to focus on different parts of the set throughout broadcasts. Anthony C. Cuomo, a former Philips Electronics engineer, started Telemetrics in 1975, working from his home in Upper Saddle River, New Jersey. Now led by the founder's son, Anthony E. Cuomo, the 34-person company manufactures about 100 camera-control systems each year for clients including Major League Baseball and NASA.
The walls of the Weather Channel's set pop with colorful graphics produced by Meteor, a digital-imaging company based in Rochester, Michigan. The abstract images are printed on a washable vinyl material that won't fade with exposure to bright lights. Siegfried Muenker founded Meteor in 1933 as a black-and-white film laboratory. Meteor has changed hands several times in its 80-year history and is now owned by private equity firm Quantum Ventures. The 50-person business has a second facility in Atlanta and has fabricated custom graphics for venues including the Palace of Auburn Hills, home of the Detroit Pistons, and Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves.
LED lighting systems
Twenty LED fixtures from Electronic Theatre Controls of Middleton, Wisconsin, cast natural-looking light. Unlike other LED systems that use basic red, green, and blue light emitters, ETC's Selador fixtures use seven colors to produce a richer look for high-definition broadcasts. CEO Fred Foster co-founded the company in 1975 while studying lighting design at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Today, the $200 million company has 750 employees in 10 offices worldwide and supplies lighting systems and equipment for some 3,000 venues, including the Metropolitan Opera House in New York City and theme parks around the world.
Atlanta-based Scenario Custom Scenery installed all the set pieces inside the Weather Channel's 4,900-square-foot, LEED-certified studio. In this section of the studio, workers clad the walls in dozens of aluminum panels and installed all the wiring for illuminated freestanding sections like this one. Paul Huggins and Ken Taber founded Scenario Custom Scenery in 1997 after having worked as construction coordinators in the film industry. The $1.8 million company also designs and builds scenery for news sets, television commercials, museum displays, and theatrical productions. The company completes about 150 projects a year for clients such as CNN and Tyler Perry.
JUDITH OHIKUARE is a reporter for Inc. magazine. She was a features intern for Seventeen magazine, where she covered health and wellness, and her work has been also been published in Marie Claire. Judith is from Brooklyn, New York. @ohikuare