BAM Chase Team Captures Video of Tornadoes with OnSSI's Ocularis
With several high-resolution cameras, an on-board server and OnSSI's Ocularis video management software to simplify capture of multiple high-definition video images of tornadoes and severe weather, the BAM Chase Team’s 2003 GMC Yukon is well-equipped to take storm chasing video to new levels. In use for about a year, the system has helped to track 15 to 20 notable storms during that time, providing one of the clearest storm-related video streams online with the ability to capture multiple angles of high-resolution video of any storm or severe weather event.
Bryan Kilgore, his wife Amanda Kilgore and Michael Clark formed the BAM Chase Team to build on their interest in weather and storm spotting. The team watches computer models and data to forecast when a storm could happen and sometimes travels to multiple storms in one day, although they all have day jobs that can limit their availability. “If we see something, we chase the storms as they're developing,” said Mr. Kilgore.
In the cargo area of the team's GMC Yukon is a custom-built server rack with 3 Terabytes of storage, which serves as the center of a Power over Ethernet (PoE) network. A flat-panel monitor is also mounted in the back of the vehicle.
OnSSI's Ocularis CS software, running on the server, enables the BAM Chase Team to capture all video from six cameras at one time. Ocularis also makes it easy to retrieve video after a storm. Based on when a storm occurred, the team can use Ocularis to specify a time and see video from multiple cameras on screen at once in a quadrant view or a full view of any one camera. The product's ease of use, with features such as the Time Slicer function, simplifies finding the needed video.
“Ocularis allows us to record and manage the video, easily and quickly,” said Mr. Kilgore. “We can save a video clip from Ocularis and then package it in a zip file, send it to an FTP server or put it on our website and provide a link.” Ocularis also allows the team to export the video and distribute it to anyone, with the ability to edit it after the fact.
Four IQinVision 2-megapixel (1080p) mini-dome cameras are mounted on the Yukon’s roof to provide a combined 360-degree video view in all directions surrounding the vehicle. A fifth camera, an IQinVision 1080p camera on a tripod, is located on the vehicle's dashboard and can be positioned by the driver or front seat passenger in the direction of a storm. A sixth camera on the network is a custom-built IQinVision wireless handheld 1080p camera that enables a team member outside the vehicle to capture video. The cameras record straight to the server hard drive.
The BAM Chase Team provides a live online video stream to the Severe Studios website, and the team's videos are also sold to a variety of television stations and turned over to weather professionals at the National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL) and National Weather Service (NWS) for study. BAM Chase video has been featured on the Weather Channel, CNN, ABC, CBS and multiple local media television stations around Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio and Minnesota.
“Mother Nature is very unpredictable, so there's always an element of danger because you never know what a storm is going to do,” said Mr. Kilgore. “Because of the element of surprise, we try to help warn the public by giving data and alerting the NWS.” Warnings can also be more personal, such as when the BAM Chase Team warned onlookers of a storm coming on March 2, 2012 while traveling through Henryville, Indiana. “We went back to the buildings and those people were fine. We feel we're saving people's lives with what we're doing.”