Fantasy football gets a bit more depth


Emmet Malonewas goggle-eyed as he watched the action from the Emirates in glorious 3D. IN AVATAR’Sluscious biosphere of Pandora it is Sully and the Na’vi who battle the odds and emerge victorious. At the Emirates yesterday, it was Messrs Rooney and Nani.

Little enough fuss, of course, would have been made of the movie had it not been for the 3D technology used in its making whereas those Manchester United fans restricted to watching their side romp past Arsenal in North London on plain old flat screen TVs were probably fairly tickled by the spectacle anyway.

Up in Fagan’s of Drumcondra, however, Bertie, a bar full of punters and a fair sized sprinkling of the nation’s print media donned special specs to watch the action-packed game with an added dimension thrown in courtesy of Sky.

Most, it has to be said, seemed pleased as punch with the entire experience although given that United fans seemed to outnumber their Arsenal counterparts by something approaching 10 to one, it’s not entirely surprising that the general mood about the place was one of loud, increasingly delirious appreciation.

The graphics and promos (with their specially selected shots) were certainly eye catching and generated a fair bit of excitement during the build-up to the game. Once started, though, most people seemed much more caught up in the action itself than the added perspective provided by the combination of high tech engineering and comedy eyewear.

If you’re engaged by the match then really the technology seemed to bring little enough to the routine run of play. But during goalmouth scrambles the extra sense of depth is appreciable while a slow motion replay of an early Andrei Arshavin shot that seemed to follow a fortuitous trajectory for Sky’s 3D camera behind the goal, brought a few gasps and widespread mutterings of approval.

In fact, most people liked it and when Noel Smith from Ashbourne heard that special TVs should cost around €2,000 initially when they go on sale in the coming months before, it is hoped, quickly falling in price, he started light heartedly speculating as to what mishap might befall his current set so as to necessitate the purchase of a replacement.

Smith reckoned the picture was “surprisingly clear” and said that pre-match reservations about wearing the glasses evaporated once the game got under way. He subsequently confessed, however, to having something of a thing for gadgets. “I work in IT,” he said, as if that was all that was needed to be said on the matter for us to get the picture.

Aisling O’Kane must not because she was less entranced by it all. Having stood towards the back for most of the first half, she hadn’t really spotted any great difference although a change of glasses (“they’re clearly designed for men’s noses”) and a jaunt forward had helped at least while the promos were on. They had looked “quite good” but neither she, nor her husband, Patrick, reckoned they would be joining any stampede to the shops.

Local kids were divided on the matter too with 12 year-old Matthew Oliver from Drumcondra cool enough about the whole experience while his 13 year-old friend, John Pingle, insisted “it’s like you are there”. Seán Hayes, who had travelled up from Portarlington after discovering the location of the event through an internet forum, clearly felt the trip had been worth it, describing the picture quality as “brilliant, like watching the game through a window”.

Nearby, Adam Keane from Donnybrook observed that, “the football looks good but the shots they had of golf and Usain Bolt running looked really amazing”.

Overall, Sky’s Mark Deering seemed pleased with the reaction and said the company intends to screen a game a week in the format, starting in April. Other big events like the Heineken Cup and Champions League Cup finals could be covered too while the BBC and ESPN have plans to roll out the technology as well during the coming months.

Deering is an enthusiast himself but explained Sky had to rein itself in a little on some of the possibilities because research showed that when you had the ball popping out of the screen repeatedly it tended to make some feel nauseous.

Arsenal fans had most cause to feel grateful for the broadcaster’s restraint yesterday. They must have felt sick enough as it was.