Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/02/01/sky_3d_football/

Sky 3D soccer fails to score

But first televised 3D footie match has its moments

By James Sherwood

Posted in Hardware, 1st February 2010 13:17 GMT

Hands Eyes On As Manchester United scored its first goal against Arsenal yesterday at the Emirates Stadium, a lucky few secretly soaked up another football triumph: the world’s first football match broadcast in 3D.

The game was the first live sporting event broadcast over Sky’s soon-to-launch 3D TV channel, and I was invited down to one of nine pubs chosen to show the game.

Walking into the Railway Tavern in London's Liverpool Street, I was unimpressed by Sky’s attempt to wow the punters: a single 42in LG 3D TV. Sky has surely invested millions of pounds creating a 3D TV channel and asking some 150 attendees to watch the game on just one screen seemed a little cheap.

Sky_3d_football

Footie fans enjoy the first 3D soccer broadcast, yesterday

Nonetheless, I put on my 3D glasses - the polarized type you get in cinemas - and gazed in wonder at the Sky HD logo hovering before my eyes. I was standing 15 feet away from the screen and, despite its size, the 3D effect was clear – just like going to the cinema.

According to Sky, “specially engineered” 3D camera rigs housing a total of 16 HD cameras transformed the match from two dimensions into three and, as the players emerged from the tunnel, the effect was mesmerising.

Players seemed to float before me as they walked and the physical distance between, say, Rooney and Scholes was clear to see.

“It looks like Rooney is walking right at me!" one Manchester United fan called out.

Sky 3D football

The small screen: will 3D sports be a hit in Britain's boozers?

The 3D broadcast continued to impress me as the cameras switched between shots of the assembling players and of Man U’s Alex Ferguson chewing gum nervously beside the pitch.

Sky had clearly given each pre kick-off camera shot plenty of thought, with each designed to maximise the impact of watching in 3D.

One particular, and frequently used, shot impressed me. A floor-mounted camera clearly brought home the distance between net, crossbar, seated fans and the stadium roof.

Sky’s 3D service performed triumphantly at making individual footie fans stand out from the crowd. Cameras swept above them at the Emirates Stadium and when one fan – I think he supported Arsenal – waved his team’s scarf, I felt as though its tassels had brushed my face.

But who wants to look at fans? As the game itself progressed and the pints went down, my enthusiasm for 3D football begun to fade.

Sky 3D football

Fans wowed by the close-ups

Close-ups of players, managers and assembled fans was what made 3D great. But the effect was totally lost while watching the pitch action in a widescreen at-a-distance shot. Players didn’t stand out from one another and I didn’t feel as though free kicks would hit me in the face.

None of Manchester United’s three goals managed to convince me that 3D football is the future.

Only at half-time was I reminded that I was watching a televised football match in 3D, as Sky once more went in for close-ups of players walking into the stadium tunnel.

Kudos to LG: its 3D TV performed flawlessly throughout. Each (good) 3D shot was crisp, clear and immersive. It had an amazing viewing angle, allowing me a good spec from any point in the room.

Sky has long said that content is key for 3D, and I agree. The broadcaster’s 3D service will appeal to hardcore football fans looking for new ways to enjoy the game without actually sitting in a windswept stadium. But it's hard to see it appeal to more casual viewers.

But on this first showing, 3D failed to make the beautiful game any more beautiful. ®