This ref calls foul on 2010’s live 3-D World Cup screenings

Watch your favourite teams disgrace themselves in living, breathing 3-D!

It appears that FIFA is so busy blowing the whistle on other companies breaking FIFA regulations, that they haven’t kept their eye on the ball on their home ground. The monolithic soccer body was in charge of all the theatrical 3-D screenings of the World Cup matches, and these simply didn’t make the grade.

The biggest problem with these screenings was that the commentary was present enough for audiences to hear that there was a commentary, but it wasn’t loud – or clear – enough for us to hear what was being said. This was really irritating, as I found myself continuously bending my ear to catch the odd phrase. A cinema manager assured me that this problem had manifested itself at all live 3-D World Cup screenings internationally. “It’s the vuvuzelas,” I was told. How then are we able to hear the commentators when we watch the games at home? Whatever the TV stations are doing to ensure clear commentaries for the normal broadcasts can surely also be executed for the 3-D screenings?

Then there’s the problem of cinemas which aren’t performing to technical standard. NuMetro’s 3-D screen at Hyde Park, Johannesburg, was too tightly masked. In other words, the moveable black screen borders which enclose the picture, were tightened for a shorter, wider (so-called “Scope”) image, whereas the soccer picture was “squarer” than the masking allows. The result? The top and bottom of the picture were lopped off, depriving the audience of the match statistics that appear in the top-left and middle-bottom parts of the screen.

The Il Grande, or cinema 11, at NuMetro’s Montecasino complex, boasts the largest non-IMAX 3-D screen in the world. Sadly, its digital projector, which, when originally installed, delivered a crisp, clear image from corner-to-corner, seems to have slipped out of alignment – horizontally as well as vertically. Simply put, if the top left-hand quadrant of the screen is in focus, the other three quadrants aren’t. This unclear picture put a serious damper on my enjoyment – and certainly dulled the sense of reality that the format (and the ads!) promised. The third screen to come under random review was Ster-Kinekor’s 3-D theatre at Greenstone Mall. Here, the picture was correctly framed and perfectly in focus.

Was it a worthwhile experience, with prices ranging from R100 a ticket (earlier matches) to R200 (the final)? Decidedly not! Yes, the prospect of attending live 3-D screenings of the matches was an exciting one, but, the technical imperfections spoiled not only the enjoyment of the 2010 matches, but the reputation, going forward, of all live 3-D sports screenings.

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