An unexpected favorite that allowed me to experiment in more than one way. For the most part, folks watching won't notice the VFX that I used throughout the series.
Other times, we were just filming something other than the usual news promo, and that meant the world to us.
My home town did an article about my reaction.
Posted: Thursday, January 30, 2014 11:36 pm
Justin Dennis
Area native Zak Ciotti said he was above the clouds when he won the crowning award of his TV production career thus far – but that’s a literal statement.
The 29-year-old senior marketing producer for WNCN Channel 17 in Raleigh, N.C., was aboard a flight to Atlanta to do a freelance shoot when the winners of the 28th Midsouth Emmy Awards were named on Saturday.
His promotional series, “Weather Facts,” which features WNCN chief meteorologist Wes Hohenstein in lighthearted 30-second informational spots, won the regional Emmy for Best Promo Campaign against four other nominees. But Ciotti had to wait until he deplaned to hear the news.
“When we landed, I rushed to get my phone on and I get a text from from my boss saying, ‘We won! Weather Facts!’ ” he said. “And I told everyone around me that I won an Emmy out of excitement.
“After that, there were texts and phone calls and Facebook messages,” he said. “It was a pretty fun moment, even though I couldn’t watch it happen.”
Ciotti was raised in the city’s Moxham neighborhood and attended two now-closed Catholic elementaries: St. Patrick School in Moxham and Central Catholic along Railroad Street. After finishing his primary education in home schooling, Ciotti embarked on a church mission to the Baltic.
He returned two years later, at 21, and took a semester at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College before transferring to Dixie State University in Utah to major in communications and film production.
After taking a part-time job at a local TV news station there, he said the profession stuck with him.
“I thought I was going to go to Hollywood at first, but I realized that wasn’t the path for me,” he said.
And he said WNCN, considered an “underdog” NBC affiliate in the Raleigh market, is now beginning to make “ripples in the airwaves.” His was one of the three first-time Emmys awarded to the station – another was given for best newscast.
But Ciotti said he feels it was the promos’ departure from the dry TV news formula that made them so successful.
“The reason they hired me wasn’t because I had a strong background in TV, it was because I had a background in film production,” he said. “We wanted to do something random and humorous, and I think we pulled it off.”
He said he thinks the trophy itself is proof of that.
“I never imagined being able to put my hands on a statuette like that,” he said. “It was an exciting surprise.”
Justin Dennis is a multimedia reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at
Below is an interactive timeline of Zak Ciotti’s production career, which is featured on his website,
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