Watching 3DTV has turned FourFourTwo magazine editor David Hall not so much square-eyed as cube-eyed...
Like many people working in this football lark, the advent of 3D in the arena of televisual broadcasting caused my eyes to roll. Last year, I trooped out to a pub in LondonÃ¢ÂÂs fancy West End for a Sky Sports launch. About 50 dubious journos stood round looking like complete plums with glasses on and (free) pints in our hands. By the way, I look doubly plum-like due to the fact that I wear glasses anyway: 3D leaves me looking like a double-glazed Napoleon Dynamite.
A strange thing happened that day, though. Possibilities were suddenly aroused as to what might be capable with 3D in football. Oh, blimeyÃ¢ÂÂ¦ he kicked that hard, didnÃ¢ÂÂt he? How fast was he running then? Bloody hell, that Ã¢ÂÂGOAL!Ã¢ÂÂ graphic nearly spilt my pint?! As my eyes and very 2D brain become accustomed to the fancy new angles being employed by Sky Ã¢ÂÂ lingering shots down the line, close ups of the managers in a dugout with a cavernous stand behind them etc Ã¢ÂÂ I felt myself being sucked in.
Gradually, however, it became apparent that maybe the pub wasnÃ¢ÂÂt the best environment for the experience, not least due to the overwhelming feel of plum that most men appear to grapple with when in situ avec 3D.
This season I was given the chance to experience 3D in the old homestead Ã¢ÂÂ an environment where I could comfortably exist, double-glazed and only have the despairing looks of my nearest and dearest to contend with. (The despair would be twofold: 1) HeÃ¢ÂÂs watching football a-GAIN and 2) WhatÃ¢ÂÂs with the glasses, Napoleon?)
"Fetch us a cup of 3D tea, love..."
I cherry-picked two fixtures that I thought would give me a proper feel of what 3D in the home could mean to football: Barcelona vs Real Madrid and Manchester United vs Manchester City. Both derbies of epic proportions, both top-of-the-table clashes Ã¢ÂÂ but one played with the finesse of La Liga, the other with the blood and thunder of the Premier League. First, to the Camp Nou...
BARCELONA v REAL MADRID We all know that this game turned into a 5-0 tanking, but what did 3D bring to the Barca party? The beauty of the Catalans is the intricacy in the way they play and how easy they make it look. Through the power of my added dimension, I got a sense of how quickly they move the ball around the pitch Ã¢ÂÂ when you catch a glimpse of how far Iniesta has to pass a ball before he deftly releases it to his team-mate, you suddenly get an enhanced appreciation of just how effing good he is and another nail in your Ã¢ÂÂI could definitely make it one dayÃ¢ÂÂ coffin.
What was also accentuated was the lacklustre performance of Madrid. In two dimensions they no doubt looked inferior. In 3D, they looked half-dead compared to the snappy BarÃÂ§a movement.
The third dimension also reaffirmed the sheer grandeur of the Camp Nou. How anyone brings themselves to try a blind pass or cheeky backheel in front of a crowd that size is beyond me. But then IÃ¢ÂÂm guessing thatÃ¢ÂÂs why Pep hasnÃ¢ÂÂt given me a bell yet.
Camp Nou: Ooh, it's big
Silks, skills and general flash-Harryness. It was over to the Manchester derby to see how that stacked upÃ¢ÂÂ¦
MANCHESTER UNITED v MANCHESTER CITYI did have concerns about choosing this game, after the previous clash stunk up the pitch at the City of Manchester Stadium earlier in the season. Thankfully, City made the early running, which was the kick up the backside United needed to get going in the game.
Things certainly seemed to have moved on from a 3D perspective too. More camera angles and more confidence in the use of some of those angles, lingering longer and really ramming home the Ã¢ÂÂthis is 3DÃ¢ÂÂ vibe. There was an overall feeling of flair in the broadcast, like it was becoming second nature to SkyÃ¢ÂÂs outside broadcast team.
The graphics department at Sky Sports had really pulled out all the stops too. There were faux metal boxes popping out of the screen at every available opportunity and floating somewhere over my living room carpet. The pre-match build up was probably where this was most evident, especially when they do the team line-up and the illustrated pitch protrudes proudly from the screen. Come to think of it, thereÃ¢ÂÂs something oddly phallic about 3DTVÃ¢ÂÂ¦ stuffÃ¢ÂÂs always sticking out of the screen proudly presenting itself. Ã¢ÂÂHere I am, love! 3DTV! Want some?!Ã¢ÂÂ
Once the game was underway, it certainly felt that the extra dimension was occasionally being left behind by the rough and tumble action of the Premier League. Stuff was just happening so quickly, there was little to be had in the way of insight thanks to improved depth of field vision like there had been for El Clasico.
Unarguably incredible, however, were the slow-motion replays in 3D. There were several shouts for handball in the first-half that in real time flashed before my eyes. In slow-mo and with the 3D, the decisions were clear. I wondered whether 3D would be considered as being the medium through which a fourth official could make goal-line decisions Ã¢ÂÂ it was so clear as to be obvious.
A few players started to let rip from distance. Nani made me flinch with a rasper that Joe Hart would have been glad to see land in my living room rather than his net. But, of course, the flash of beauty that will become one of the Ã¢ÂÂI was thereÃ¢ÂÂ moments of the season featured an airborne, upside-down Wayne Rooney leathering a sublime winner.
Wayne Rooney afloat, Dave Hall agog
This goal was so good, you would have gasped if IÃ¢ÂÂd explained it using a pencil, piece of paper and a stickman. In 3D, I was in hog heaven. Angle after angle in the replays just reaffirmed what a completely mind-blowing strike it was.
I tweeted during the game about the 3D experience and rightly received a tweet from an Arsenal fan who pointed out that Ã¢ÂÂLifeÃ¢ÂÂs in 3D, mateÃ¢ÂÂ Ã¢ÂÂ implying a match ticket is the only way to see football. Indeed it is, but here I was, sat on my couch more than 200 miles away gasping at a touch of football genius that could only have been better had I actually been sat in the front 10 rows of Old TraffordÃ¢ÂÂs East stand. Not bad, that. Not bad at all.
Thanks to Sony for the loan of a Bravia 3DTV