Monday, January 11, 2010

World Cup in 3D

Earlier this month it was announced by ESPN that they were beginning a new venture -- 3D programming.

The the 3D channel will broadcast live events (85 for the first year), while remaining dark during all other times (no re-runs). Of note, up to 25 matches of the World Cup -- including the opening match, South Africa v. Mexico -- will be shown in 3D.

Of course 3D is currently all the rage, what with Avatar re-writing all the rules of cinema and a box office profits. As anyone who has seen the movie knows, Avatar signals a significant step forward in 3D viewing experience (and seeing Avatar in IMAX 3D is nothing short of an awesome experience).

Usually 3D is thought of as the chance for dinosaurs to pop out at you at the Smithsonian or having a spear or gun shot at you. It's a neat trick, with some better overall than others. In the past, such an application to a live sporting event would have been dubious -- watch out, Ronaldo is about to shoot the ball and it might hit you!

But now, I think such an experience will be entirely different. And I won't be missing out.

Certainly it won't meet Avatar standards (ESPN won't have four years to produce the live broadcast, and a 42' Sony is no IMAX), but I'm now intrigued by the possibility of bringing that true 'wow' experience of seeing a match up close, as if you were on the field itself, to home. The technology now seems capable of really immersing the viewer into the experience, into being where the action is, without the gimmicks constantly reminding you that you're watching 3D. Will it be crisp and clear when Messi goes from 0-60 in half a second or will the ball track well flying off Donovan's boot and past Calamity James or whoever sucks least for England in goal?

We're going to see. Or better yet, we're going to experience.

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