WWE wrestles with HD

By Andrew Lippe

World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) is making the leap to HD on Jan. 21 thanks to a $20 million upgrade to its Stamford CT facilities and the use of two new custom-built NEP Supershooter production trucks.

“We decided that the SD truck we have been using for the past six years was of another age and we decided to build a new unit,” says Mike Grossman, WWE Senior Vice President, Television Operations. The WWE began testing HD over a year ago and the main concern was the visual presentation of the product. How would wrestlers appear in a digital environment? “We needed time to design a system,” says Grossman.

To properly design an HD system the WWE also needed to upgrade the television studio. In addition, Grass Valley K2 servers, Apple Final Cut Pro and Grass Valley Aurora editing system have been brought on board.

On the road the WWE will use two new NEP trucks. “The NEP Supershooters are two units that were built out of Supershooter 23,” says Grossman. The two units, called Black and Red, are the same colors as the WWE’s logo. “Black” is the production unit and “Red” unit produces the audio mix. “We are 5.1 capable and our goal is to migrate to 5.1 by the end of the year,” adds Grossman

Going 1080i creates a more exciting WWE product and Grossman believes fans will notice a very dramatic change in the product. “The majority of the production changes were for the arena,” Grossman says. “HD has such brilliant colors that we felt we needed more color saturation.” The next time Triple H or Shawn Michaels make their way to the ring viewers will see more LED elements on the WWE’s TitanTrons.

“We are very excited,” adds Grossman. “This will be a challenging move but it will create a better experience for the viewer.”