Tornado Chasers, Production Log #1: Kickstarter to Chase Season Kickoff

Thank you all for your amazing support of our series Tornado Chasers. We recently finished the last of our “bonus content” for the 2013 season, so at last this epic production has come to a conclusion.

Because we’ve received such a favorable response to our “Behind the Scenes” episodes, I’ve decided to write a weekly “production log” to complement the video material. Hopefully through these production logs, you’ll gain an entertaining perspective on the making of the show you helped to create, Tornado Chasers. Enjoy!

Tornado Chasers, Production Log #1: Kickstarter to Chase Season Kickoff

At the end of our intense, but massively successful Kickstarter campaign, Reed came up to me with rings under his eyes and a beaming smile. “We did it!” he said as he slapped my back before uttering one of his patented crazy laughs.

It was a proud moment for all of us. From Reed to Dick McGowan to Mike Scantlin to Joel Taylor, everyone associated with the organization worked hard to make funding for Tornado Chasers happen. Seth Deckard, who is behind the scenes most of the time, ran the podcasts and handled all the technical details. I breathed a sigh of relief that we almost doubled our goal. But I was anxious at the same time.

A week prior, we had learned that Chris Whiteneck, our executive producer for the 2012 season, wouldn’t be able to return to run the show this year. He would, however, be back as cinematographer – he’s really the best tornado/documentary shooter in the world. He’s a veteran Director of Photography of Storm Chasers, Dirty Jobs, Swamp People, Deadliest Catch, Ghost Hunters – you name it. His images have a magic look and he can capture personal moments during looming danger. Tornadoes don’t phase this guy.

In 2012, Whiteneck (or “C-dubs” as Reed calls him) asked me to come on board as an editor. Because of my background directing tornado documentary projects (Tornado Glory, “Heaven’s Rage”), Timmer asked me to step into the executive producer role for 2013.

So there we were. Reed Timmer was in KFOR President Wes Milbourn’s office, ready to sign on as lead Storm Tracker. I was there to propose a unique idea for the Tornado Chasers series – we could feature Reed performing his new TV job for KFOR on Tornado Chasers, showing the world how weather teams cover tornadoes in Oklahoma. Everyone loved the idea, and I’m very thankful we were able to secure that partnership for the series.

Though I’ll never forget what Mike Morgan said in that meeting, “Reed, we need the best weather coverage possible. One of these years, May 3rd will happen again.”

As April began, Whiteneck updated us that the earliest he could start was April 22nd. While last-minute schedule complications are the nature of the biz, this put us in an anxious spot because the only big tornado outbreak in 2012 was on April 14th– very early in tornado season. After that, the 2012 season went virtually silent. What if the same thing happened again in 2013?

While I was ready to go as a shooter-producer, I wanted to always have at least two shooter-producers in the field at any given time. Reed is too unpredictable, and has too big of a “chaser circus” for one shooter to cover. Throw a tornado into the mix, and that’s almost too much for even someone like Whiteneck to handle by himself.

The models starting pointing to April 9th and April 10th as being potential outbreak days. On top of that, Good Morning America’s Ginger Zee was interested in chasing with Reed during the upcoming outbreak.

It looked like an exciting chasing event was coming together, one that would make one or two good episodes of Tornado Chasers for sure. Except…I didn’t have a production team yet.

To be continued next week!

Ken Cole
Executive Producer, Tornado Chasers

Tornado Chasers

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The Future of Tornado Chasers

Fans of Tornado Chasers, we want to thank everyone who watched for making the series a phenomenal success – a truly groundbreaking series.

We’ve been asked about whether TVN is producing a season of Tornado Chasers in 2014 and we want to confirm that production of Tornado Chasers has been put on hold for this year.

As you can probably guess, producing Tornado Chasers is an enormous undertaking. In fact, we’ve just finished producing all of the content for the 2013 season. We’ve learned that we’ll need a bigger production budget to hire the necessary crew to bring you the show in a timely manner.

So this year we want to focus on spreading the word about the amazing 2013 season of Tornado Chasers. We want to reach out to new fans and grow our audience. Then in 2015, we’ll be in a great position to launch a Kickstarter campaign for a new, big season of Tornado Chasers.

Thank you to everyone for their patience, passion and support.

 

If you would like updates on future developments and how you can spread the word about Tornado Chasers, subscribe to our mailing list.

Tornado Chasers

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Android Live Storm Chasing App Released

We have released an Android app for our Live Storm Chasing service. This app provides a user friendly way to watch live chaser streams on your Android device. Previously our mobile website did not include a status of whether the chaser was disconnected or streaming, which can create confusion when a stream is disconnected. Since all the streams depend on sometimes unreliable wireless connections to publish them to our servers, they do go offline from time to time. With the Android app you’ll be able to see when a stream disconnects and simply switch over to another chaser who has good wireless data at the moment.

Android Google Play

The app does not currently have push notifications (Google Cloud Messaging) so you’ll need to follow us on Twitter to know when storm chasers are active. We also plan on adding that feature soon.

As always keep in mind that if you hear no audio it means that chaser has chosen not to stream with audio. Also note that storm chases do not happen all the time so if you see no one in the app it means no one is streaming.

 

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March Weather Summary

The “polar vortex” pattern continued to dominate the Midwest to the Northeast U.S. and southeastern Canada for most March, with hot and dry conditions proliferating the widespread drought conditions and wildfires from the Desert Southwest.

drought

 Powerful snowstorms hammered the Great Lakes Region to New England on March 11-13 and March 23, with over hurricane force winds and blizzard conditions in eastern Cape Cod with the latter system.  A raging blizzard is also closing out the month of March across much of the Dakotas into northwest Minnesota on the cold side of a powerful storm system that will bring tornadoes to the southern Plains to Dixie Alley the rest of this week.

blizzard

In terms of tornadoes, the month of March was relatively quiet compared to recent years, aside from the recent March 27 outbreak in northern Missouri where a damaging tornado destroyed multiple homes near the Trenton, MO area.  It looks like this event was the first sign of a major pattern shift that will impact North America, leading to a very active severe weather pattern across the Tornado Alley for the rest of spring and summer.  El Nino conditions continue to intensify in the Pacific, which will only enhance the severe weather pattern this spring.  Stay safe this storm season, and make sure your weather radios are charged up!

DOMINATE the storm

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iOS Live Storm Chasing App Released

We have released a Live Storm Chasing iOS app, this app is a universal app and works on the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch with iOS 6.1 and greater. This is the first ever live storm chasing app for iOS and it provides a really easy to use native experience for browsing and viewing chaser’s live streams.

The app also has push notifications to you can be alerted when there is an active storm chase. You will only receive one automated push notification per chase day but in the case of a tornado on a live stream you may get a manual push notification letting you know what streams have a view of the tornado.

When viewing a live stream you can rotate the device to landscape orientation to toggle fullscreen. The resolution of each chasers stream is dependent on their network ability in the field and the quality will vary from chaser to chaser depending on what kind of equipment they are using.

ios screenshots

We have an Android version in development and it will be released soon. It will also provide push notifications and similar experience to the iOS app.

We still provide a mobile web experience in addition to this app, our mobile web streaming is compatible with iOS, all versions of Android including those without HLS support, and Blackberry.

UPDATE: We have released a native Android Live Storm Chasing app, read more about it in this post.

 

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Instagram Photo Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone who entered our February photo contest on Instagram.  It was extremely hard to narrow it down to just five photos with so many quality entries.

First Prize – SLXtreme 5 iPhone case and three giftable Tornado Chasers season passes.

repost 5

Runners up (in no particular order) – One giftable Tornado Chasers season pass

repost 4 repost 3 repost 2 repost

Thanks again for participating and making this a great winter photo contest.

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Share a Referral Code and Watch Tornado Chasers for Free

You can now get a free 2013 Season Pass of Tornado Chasers via our new referral program.  Simply share your own personalized referral code/link and if $40 or more purchased from it you’ll get a free giftable 2013 Season Pass which you can apply to your own account or give away as a gift.

Here’s how it works in detail:

  1. Share your referral code/link over Twitter, Facebook, Email, etc.  (just don’t spam or do anything illegal or unethical)
  2. The person using your referral code will get 15% off their purchase in our On Demand store.
  3. Once $40 or more is purchased on your referral code you’ll get a free giftable 2013 Season Pass of Tornado Chasers.

You can access your referral code/link as well as monitor the progress of earning your reward on your promotions page.  You will also get an email notification when your reward is issued.

Promotions page

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