WWE goes HD
This Sunday, WWE will conduct it's first full blown high-definition test when it tapes a SmackDown live event at Mohegan Sun Arena completely in HD. The event won't be televised, but will be closely watched and analyzed by WWE executives, including Mr. McMahon, as many variables will be explored.
"High-definition television has a different aspect ratio," Senior Vice President of Television Operations Mike Grossman told WWE.com. "The screen is wider than standard definition television, so we want to see how that widescreen aspect ratio effects what we see on the screen. It's a very vivid image and the Superstars will be very vivid."
Several other aspects of production that would be effected by going HD will be experimented with as well.
"We're actually going to have a makeup artist that has experience in HD," said Grossman. "They use airbrushing techniques as opposed to traditional makeup. But we also need to see how our lighting is affected, how pyro translates to hi def… And then there's audio. When we make the move to HD we'll be broadcasting and recording in 5.1 surround sound so we'll be playing with that too."
Sunday's test is just one step in the transition process to recording and distributing content in HD. The transition will require tens of millions of dollars of upgrades in equipment and a minimum of three years to complete. However, if everything goes well Sunday, WWE fans may be able to start enjoying their favorite Superstars like never before.
"We can provide HD content, [but] our broadcast partners have not migrated to a true HD platform as of yet," explained Vice President of Event Technical Operations Duncan Leslie. "The first way our fans could see our content in HD [might be] through home video on DVDs."
By 2009, all television broadcasts will be migrated to a digital format. While it will be a long and costly process, WWE is excited about the opportunities this presents.
"There's an excitement about it because it is a challenge," said Leslie. "One thing that we're really good at is changing and upgrading and pushing the envelope. We're going to do HD like no one else has ever done it, just like we do everything else. I'm sure there will be techniques that we employ that will be copied. From that perspective, it's a challenge to do it better than anyone else."