Reality show to begin shooting in summer

“Survivor” is going HD.

Granddaddy of the current generation of competition-based reality shows will make the jump to high-definition starting with its 17th edition, which lenses this summer for a fall debut.

“Survivor” will be the first CBS reality show to be produced in HD, and one of just a handful of reality skeins to opt for the more expensive technology.

Announcement of the “Survivor” shift was made Sunday by Sony and CBS at the National Assn. of Broadcasters convention in Las Vegas. “Survivor” will use Sony’s XDCAM production system to make the transition to HD.

“Survivor” exec producer Mark Burnett said the jump to HD would usher in “a new era” for his show, “creating an immediacy that draws viewers right into the frame. This is something we’d been looking to do for some time.”

CBS reality guru Ghen Maynard said HD would open up new storytelling tools for the show’s producers.

” ‘Survivor’s’ locations and natural elements have always served as another character in the show and an important part of the competition,” Maynard said. “With HD, viewers will feel as if they are on location instead of in their living room.”

CBS and Sony didn’t reveal the cost of the move to HD, or whether Sony would subsidize the expense. However, the large number of cameras used by reality skeins such as “Survivor” — not to mention specialized cams, including some that film underwater — has long been cited as a barrier to moving reality shows to HD.

Just three network reality shows — “American Idol,” “Dancing with the Stars” and “American Gladiators” — are produced in HD, according to a February survey of the TV landscape by USA Today. All three skeins are studio-based, a factor which limits the costs associated with going high-def.

A CBS rep said there’s no word yet on if, or when, the Eye’s travel-adventure reality skein “The Amazing Race” will move to HD.

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