Big Brother will be in HD, finally

Big Brother will end its run as the last remaining prime-time broadcast network series to air in standard definition, as its 16th season will be filmed and broadcast in high definition. Yes, the terrible behavior, ejaculating challenges, and bigotry will be more visible than ever before.

The change has taken three years to implement because of challenges related to converting everything while still producing a show each summer. Vulture’s Joe Adalian reports:

“Indeed, it turns out that CBS and the producers actually made the decision to go HD more than three years ago. But the changes to the show’s production infrastructure needed to make the leap were so complex, they had to be rolled out in waves. A new digital post-production system needed to be built, installed, and tested. Per [executive producer Allison] Grodner, ’14 miles of HD cables’ had to replace the old wiring that had run through the house. And finally, in the last phase of the remodel, new cameras had to be installed and made to work with the new digital central nervous system of the house. ‘We only had six months at a time to do [the changes],’ says Brother engineering-operations supervisor David Crivelli. ‘We had to do a heart transplant,’ even as the ‘patient’ — the Big Brother broadcasts each summer — continued to pump out new episodes.”

Related changes include 11 new cameras and lowered cameras that executive producer Rich Meehan told Adalian will result in “better coverage” so “viewers are in the action more,” in addition to new angles: “You can now see from the kitchen area to the bedroom in one shot. It changes the whole look of the house.”

Four years ago, Meehan told me that the show was unlikely to convert to HD in the near future, primarily because of the space required to store all of the footage they shoot.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.