Blackmagic Design, a digital cinema company, has announced that World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE) relies on Fairlight DAWs with Xynergi controllers for all of its audio post production needs, including audio post production on the recent Smackdown Holiday Tour.
WWE is an integrated media organisation that delivers original content 52 weeks a year. WWE programming reaches more than 650 million homes worldwide in 25 languages. WWE Network, the first-ever 24/7 over-the-top premium network that includes all of WWE's live specials including WrestleMania and SummerSlam, as well as scheduled programming and a massive video-on-demand (VoD) library, is currently available in more than 180 countries.
Chris Argento, VP post production at WWE, said: “We’ve been using Fairlight at WWE since 1997. We’ve never lost a session and we are still able to open projects from 19 years ago in just a few clicks. That’s something you just don't see from any other manufacturer. This level of reliability is key for us as WWE never has an ‘off season’. The content is all storyline-based, and the story continues 52 weeks a year on all WWE platforms.”
Argento and his team handle all audio post for WWE out of six Xynergi-equipped audio suites complete with Fairlight PYXIS video recording and playback and CC-2 audio engines. The content includes long format shows, spots, social media, short format and dramatic packages, 17 pay-per-view specials, such as WrestleMania, Royal Rumble and Survivor Series, promotional packages, corporate videos, sales videos, roll-in material for the two weekly live shows and more. As the majority of the content is storyline-based, WWE relies on promo material, dramatic packages and cold opens to catch viewers up and explain the plots.
“As we are telling different stories, we are showing histories of conflict between wrestlers or background on a wrestler. We might have to pull something from last week, last month or last year, and Fairlight makes that a seamless process,” explained Argento. “Not only do I know the clips are there, but I can access them in just a few clicks. We also rely on this efficiency because our deadlines are short, and we need to deliver fast.”
While the WWE team may have a few days for a deliverable, the majority of the content is needed as soon as possible. “Sometimes we have days before a deadline, or we are mixing a two minute package and feeding it to the truck over satellite five minutes before a show. The content will usually change too, so even if we complete it days ahead of time, we will make changes just before it airs. We are used to rapid adjustments and constant change, and we depend on Fairlight’s reliability and efficiency to support our workflow.”
As the shows are taped in various arenas around the country or transmitted live, the video content is ingested into WWE’s library. As the producers cut packages and create shows from the raw materials, Argento receives AAF files and flattened MXF-wrapped video files for sound designing, editing music and mixing.
WWE makes use of Fairlight’s library file feature, which allows them to import multiple edits from another timeline across multiple tracks and clips in an instant, just by opening the project in the library. He explained, “When you sound design 30 seconds of something and that 30 seconds shows up as part of another show, it’s not a matter of getting a mix of that 30 seconds, but you get that entire chunk of work in no time at all. Just open the library file, grab the portions you want and import them. You get all edits, all EQ, all level and more across multiple clips, essentially duplicating small portions of other projects, which is a huge time saver.
“Fairlight’s audio base is the greatest thing ever. You can find and spot sound effects in its library faster than you can with any other program,” noted Argento. “We use a bunch of sampling to make crazy wrestling sounds, for example a person getting thrown through a wall, which we store in the library. As our shows are made, we are collecting bits and pieces of sound and put them right into the audio base so they are searchable and available in the library in all the audio rooms.”