Post & network production facilities
WWE takes production to a higher output level
At the World Wresting Entertainment’s (WWE) digital production facility in Stamford, CT, content is king. This all-digital facility is responsible for more than five hours a week for national broadcast, 60 hours for international broadcast, three hours for Web broadcast and more than five hours for promos and live event support. Add to that 16 pay-per-view titles, 50 hours for VOD and more than 30 home video DVD releases each year, and it’s clear that this is no ordinary workflow.
Starting in late 2001, the transformation from a nearly analog plant (built in 1987) to full digital began. Today, sophisticated signal distribution and unlimited access to more than 80,000 hours of media assets is only part of the story. The facility has taken an inherently digital, quick turnaround news approach and applied it to its sports network-style workflow.
The SDI facility includes a multi-camera production studio, three online editing suites with hybrid editing ability, three post audio rooms, two music recording studios, 18 nonlinear rooms, graphics suites and six tape-to-tape offline rooms — all tightly linked via Ethernet.
A Grass Valley open SAN with 2000 hours of shared storage is at the heart of the facility’s productivity, where all program elements are stored and accessed by four Grass Valley PVS 1100 Profile XP Media Platform servers. These servers are in turn controlled by several EditWare Fastrack hybrid edit controllers installed in the online edit suites, which are also seamlessly tied to nine Grass Valley NewsEdit XT NLE systems. To access media outside this environment, multiple Telestream FlipFactory systems are used.
For its graphics-intensive productions, the WWE uses a variety of systems, including SGI, Apple and Windows platforms running discreet Flame, Apple Shake, Motion and Adobe’s Creator suite. Multi-layered 3-D elements are created with such high-end software as Maya Unlimited, in tandem with an onsite render farm of workstations configured by Boxx Technologies.
The music department composes and records original music on an AMS Neve Capricorn audio console, while the company’s post audio department uses Fairlight Audio Systems and Euphonix Systems 5 consoles for finishing and mixing.
The hundreds of audio and video sources used in production are handled by a 128x128 Trinix for SDI video signals; a 128x128 Trinix for AES audio; a 64x64 Venus for analog video signals; a 64x64 Venus for four-channel analog audio; a 64x64 Venus for time code reference; and a 96 I/O Venus for data. All the routers and conversion modules are controlled by Grass Valley’s Jupiter and Encore systems.
There’s also a full complement of Kameleon and Gecko modular gear for D/A signal conversion and fiber-optic transmission feeds. All modular systems are interfaced via Grass Valley’s NetCentral monitoring software and manipulated by Newton control panels. The facility uses Grass Valley’s Andromeda tally system, which supports the multiple edit suites and monitor walls throughout the building.