3D television: a passing fad or the future of how we watch football?

Tamagotchis – do you remember them? How about the MiniDisc, or – heaven forbid – the Furby?

Each of above was, at one point or another, the coolest, newest, most amazing thing ever. Now, they are remembered as fads – a passing craze whose best days are long forgotten and never to be repeated.

The Furby: a bizarre 90s phenomenon

Over a year ago, when I first heard about the so-called revolution of three-dimensional (3D) television, I couldn’t help thinking that this was another one of these brand new, super-duper inventions that would arrive in a blaze of hype and frenzied buying, only to disappear as suddenly as it had arrived.

A few months later, as I sat in the cinema (ironically, at a 3D screening for Toy Story 3) the final trailer finished and an advert for Sky 3D Television started playing. As I watched, slack-jawed in awe, a clip of Everton’s Tim Cahill heading home Marouane Fellaini’s cross, I was convinced that what I had seen was indeed revolutionary and was without doubt going to change the sporting world immeasurably for the better (you could say the advert had its desired effect, then).

Before long, some of my friends had watched at least a couple of 3D football matches at their local pub, and I was left feeling a bit left out.

So much so, that this week, I finally (finally!) got around to my first experience of what Sky have labelled ‘the next revolution in television’.

Football fans soaking up the 3D experience

It was, in a word, incredible. The game itself was pretty dire (Blackburn versus Manchester City), however, what pleased me most was the fact that when a cross ball was in the air, I could tell exactly where it was going: near post, far post, penalty spot or (in the case of David Dunn) straight into the goalkeeper’s gloves. Also, at no time during the match did I think a clearance had been accidentally sliced goalwards, only to realise that it had in fact been booted to safety halfway up the pitch. When watching football on 2D television (how primitive), the camera’s perspective can sometimes play visual illusions like this that wreak havoc on the nerves of even the most experienced football fans.

Of course, there are downsides to watching football in 3D, namely the ridiculous glasses required to create the illusion of three-dimensional images. Soon, though, the Gok Wan spectacles may be a thing of the past (much like the aforementioned tamagotchi). Breakthrough technologies known as parallax barrier and lenticular lens technology are said to create ‘autostereoscopic screens’, which means 3D television without the glasses may soon be a reality.

3D television sets are becoming increasingly popular

Secondly, as ‘real’ as the sport may seem when watching in glorious 3D, it simply doesn’t compare with being in the stadium, a few metres from the action, soaking up the atmosphere along with thousands of other fans. However, given the fact that football attendances are steadily falling, perhaps when it comes to public consumption of football, 3D television is indeed as revolutionary as it claims. As ticket prices to football stadiums are so steep (it costs £17-£27 to watch my local team,Aberdeen, punt the ball aimlessly en route to a likely defeat), 3D viewing in the comfort of the pub or living room armchair seems like a pretty good alternative.

Personally, I remain convinced that 3D television is the future. Perhaps ten years from now, as 3D television is watched in homes and pubs around the country with a tedious familiarity, we’ll reminisce about the ‘stone age’ of 2D television, and enjoy the fact that the 3D television craze lasted longer than many others before it.

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