January 2010

3-D Or Not 3-D, That Is The Question

As The Guardian reported earlier in the week – and you probably already knew – ESPN is going to show 25 World Cup matches in 3D later this year.  Now I’m no Luddite, in fact I brought a color television set just the other month, but this appears to be a step too far.

Firstly, who wants to watch a match in 3D in the first place?  I don’t like getting that close to players even when I’m at a match, let alone in the comfort of my own room. I can think of nothing more unsettling than sitting there, alone on the couch, in my lucky faded robe and boxer shorts, having a good scratch then wallop!  Ashley bleedin’ Cole leaps out of the TV and onto my lap. Talk about a passion killer.

Also, TV football has rhythms and rituals all of its own which 3D would ruin rather than enhance.  Watching a game in a smoky, dark bar in the middle of the day with a like-minded crew of cronies is a solid and dependable ritual. I prefer my screen to be partially obscured in the corner of the bar, just behind a pillar so you can only see a quarter of the action at any one time.  I also like relying on the commentators for their expertise and opinions of a specific game but obviously this comes with inherent difficulties if that fatuous old fraud Tommy Smyth is involved in the proceedings.  You know Smyth, you must remember him when he played for…, err, or when he coached…. Or managed…ahem, or when he commentated in…ah.  I’m convinced Smyth used to clean the windows at ESPN and when they got the rights to the Champions League they needed a European accent to give the coverage some authenticity.  Believe me, it’s the closest he’s ever come to a live European match.

Also, how are you going to get the camera angles and shots to put the footage into 3D?  Are you going to have mobile cameramen following each player around the field to get their own contributions including managers, subs, coaches, linesmen and refs? You’ll have over 100 people on the pitch at any one time (and Phil Neville would still struggle to find any of them with a pass).  Not forgetting the stupid 3D glasses you’re going to have to wear to watch these games.  What about naturally occurring colors that are predominantly green or red?  Sir Alex Ferguson’s nose in 3D will look like the prow of The Titanic looming over you.

Let’s be clear – the whole 3D shebang which is infesting cinemas and now television is not some attempt to give customers a better viewing experience, it’s to milk you out of more money for glasses and TV’s and to cut down on piracy. Nothing more and nothing less and if it means I don’t get a life-size replica of Oguchi Onyewu  clattering into my living room and failing to stop my two year old son going past him then I’ll live without it (no matter how realistic that would be).

Guy Bailey