World Wrestling Entertainment
Nearly two years ago, the main broadcast and production facility for World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), in Stamford, CT, underwent an extensive renovation to upgrade all of its content creation and distribution systems to HD, file-based media, and it has never looked back.
Not satisfied with a single HD signal path, engineers designed the Stamford facility to ensure 24/7 system uptime via a highly redundant, dual HD-SDI path architecture that features completely separate primary and backup operations. The result has been increased productivity and the automation of manual tasks to get content quickly to viewers across multiple platforms.
The Stamford HD facility produces upward of 100 hours of programming each week for its combined domestic and international properties. All of this content is stored on a multilayered SAN, which allows eight channels of embedded audio, based on the latest version of Grass Valley K2 media servers and the Aurora HD editing platform (with Aurora Ingest and Aurora Browse).
Every piece of media content that WWE produces in-house or that comes in from an outside source is handled as I-frame MPEG-2 at 70Mb/s, which helps maintain image quality throughout the content creation process. This also makes it easy to store and retrieve clips from the 12 four-channel K2 media servers installed.
To maintain full redundancy and ensure that WWE’s staff has all of the bandwidth it needs to complete its projects, the engineering staff has divided the editing environment into two main areas: “X” (primary) and “Y” (backup). Both are mirrors of each other to protect against downtime and currently consist of 14 Aurora viewers and 20 full Aurora Edit workstations tied to 135TB of storage (per area). This gives producers and editors full access to the centralized archives for search and retrieval of any clip through the Aurora Browse interface.
Today WWE’s HD digital production system includes 16 HD ingest channels and a capacity of 3800 hours of HD, with 15,000 hours of online proxy storage. Additionally, the K2 media server is used in three linear edit suites, where Editware’s Fastrack editing system is used as a hybrid editor. Video effects can be linearly recorded through the Kalypso video switchers in real time, or prebuilt video clips can be placed and/or manipulated on the timeline in nonlinear fashion. The final product can be played out, saved as a complex playlist or exported to an Aurora Edit system for additional editing.
The ability of Aurora to wrap media as MXF to export to WWE’s Fairlight Digital Audio workstations and ability to import WAV and export OMF has facilitated the preservation of the end-to-end digital workflow.
For archiving, the Aurora interfaces with an in-house Nesbit MAM system and SGL 8500 robotic (LTO-4 tape) library system. A hierarchical layer of software from Dixon Sports is now being implemented to run alongside the Nesbit and Grass Valley systems without having to recreate the metadata needed to search the thousands of hours of media content stored in the system.
New studio technology — HD
Submitted by Grass Valley
Grass Valley: Larry Mast, dir. broadcast sys. group; Ted Rogers, dir. of eng.; Ed Casaccia, dir. prod. mgmt.; Niall McDonnell, software design eng. mgr.; George Gonzalez, field service eng.
Request Communications: Systems integration
World Wrestling Entertainment: Mike Grossman, sr. VP TV oper.; Lionel Hightower, VP eng. and broadcast oper.; Chris Argento, VP post prod.; Kevin Quinn, VP TV tech.; Anthony Landi, dir. eng. and broadcast oper.; Tracey Shaw, dir. of oper.; Dave Benoit, tech. proj. mgr.; Ian Bowker, consultant; Craig Thomas, consultant
Technology at work
Grass Valley: Aurora HD editing and production platform; K2 media servers, K2 SAN, Trinix NXT HD video router
Nesbit: MAM system
Oracle: Sun StorageTek SL8500 robotic library system
SGL: FlashNet archive management software