UCAR > Communications > Staff Notes > December 1995 Search

NCAR's Treasure Trove of Imagery Finds New Life on the Web

In their work archiving and promoting NCAR imagery, Linda Carbone and Nita Razo run into all kinds of phenomena. (Photo by Carlye Calvin; background photo by Ginger Hein.)
World Wide Web surfers who come ashore on a raft of weather images can thank the NCAR Visual Communications group for their good luck. The newly renamed group, part of the Information and Education Outreach Program, brought more than a year of work to fruition in November by unveiling its Digital Media Catalog. The DMC features over 1,000 colorful images: solar flares, tornadoes, computer model output, drought and flood impacts, and much more. It's located at http://www.ucar.edu/DMC/DMCHome.html.

The physical address for Visual Communications is the third floor of UCAR North, in the same suite as UCAR Communications. With Linda Carbone assisting, the group is managed by Nita Razo, who has over two decades of experience in compiling photos, slides, films, and videos produced by or about our institution.

"Most of our images show either incredibly beautiful phenomena or disasters," Nita says with a laugh. Often the imagery helps scientists put together a presentation or paper. But it also finds its way into newspapers, magazines, and broadcasts across the globe. "You know how they say a picture is worth a thousand words? When one of our images is used in an exhibit or a magazine article, it can easily mean a million or more people are exposed to NCAR's name."

The DMC's core of images comes from the extensive NCAR slide collection, which includes shots taken by in-house photographers as well as by regular and visiting scientists. The group has distributed a print catalog for several years, but they couldn't afford to reproduce their vast slide collection on paper. Preparing the DMC took many hours of scanning by NCAR Photographics, followed by extensive Web development by Quindi Franco. Quindi worked as a Summer Employment Program student for two consecutive years with SCD's Greg McArthur.

Having the DMC on line will greatly enhance and streamline the photo search process for Nita's and Linda's clients. "We get more than 300 external requests a year," Linda says. Adds Nita, "Things like a close shot of a snowflake or a solar eclipse aren't always easy for media to obtain. Fortunately, NCAR has 35 years of experience in documenting severe and unusual weather and other phenomena." The DMC images have a cyber-watermark that protects against unauthorized downloading. Clients may contact Nita or Linda to request clean copies for publication.

Slide sets
Along with the color slides, Visual Communications has a lending library for in-house use that includes dozens of videos, some commercial (such as Tornado Video Classics) and others produced by NCAR scientists. A 45-minute reel of stock weather footage includes snowflake formation as filmed in the cloud-physics lab of Charlie and Nancy Knight. A newly updated visualization by Kevin Trenberth and Chris Guillemot shows the unfolding of an El NiNo event through model predictions of Pacific sea-surface temperatures. A six-minute video on permanent display in the Mesa Lab lobby--Introducing the National Center for Atmospheric Research--is available for purchase ($6) or loan. Also available are three sets of slides compiled on specific topics (thunderstorms, clouds, solar phenomena) and sold at $10 per set for classroom or other use. A storehouse of black-and-white prints is also on hand but is now "mainly for archival use", says Linda.

Recent clients of Visual Communications include the Learning Channel, Encyclopaedia Britannica, Pioneer Film and Television Productions, and MacGillivray Freeman Films (producers of the recent IMAX release Stormchasers). "We deal a lot with people in England, Australia, and Japan, as well as North America," says Linda.

A growing aspect of the office is handling logistics for movie and video producers who want to film on site, primarily at the Mesa Lab. The ML architecture has lured Hollywood since 1973, when a portion of Woody Allen's Sleeper was filmed here. Nita recently worked on arrangements for an upcoming film, Shock Wave, starring Charlie Sheen. It depicts a future where aliens have tampered with the climate and triggered global warming. One of the characters consults another, who is identified as an NCAR scientist. "You can't prevent a movie from alluding to you," says Nita, "but it's best to collaborate so they won't put you in a bad light." --BH

Give Us Your Best Shots

You won't get rich, but you could get plenty of exposure for your atmosphere-related photos by submitting them to Visual Communications. The group is always on the lookout for striking images taken by staff members at field programs or on their own time. If your images are selected, they will be available for preview and use by external media, internal outlets (such as Staff Notes), and other clients. Rights are nonexclusive, so you are free to use your images elsewhere. You'll be notified of any external usage and will receive copies of end products passed on to Visual Communications from clients. "It can be a great way to build up your portfolio," says Nita Razo. For details, contact Nita (ext. 8606, razo@ucar.edu) or Linda Carbone (ext. 8612, lcarbone@ucar.edu).

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Edited by Bob Henson, bhenson@ucar.edu
Last revised: Thu Mar 30 11:28:38 MST 2000