Clashes between Arsenal and Manchester United rarely require any added spice. Indeed, punters were reminded in yesterday's pre-match build-up that, as if they didn't already know, "down the years this game has always had an extra dimension". But to those watching in nine specially selected pubs across the country yesterday, that is exactly what the match had as they witnessed the world's first 3D screening of live football.
With everybody in the packed East London bar wearing black-rimmed shades, it looked more like the annual meeting of the Buddy Holly convention than a Sunday afternoon's football in the pub.
But bars full of people in shades in January could soon become the norm as Sky, which trialled the world's first live 3DTV broadcast, plans to roll the technology out from April.
Most sports' fans have dreamed of being right in the thick of the action: Lining up in the tunnel, hearing the roar of the crowd, getting the nod from the referee and filing out onto the pitch surrounded by their heroes.
Yesterday, the patrons of those nine pubs finally achieved that ambition. Well, at least it felt like they had as they donned their special glasses.
One moment, they were getting comfortable on their bar stools, pints of ale in hand, the next they were at the Emirates, standing on the pitch as the two teams walked out. They were there as Nani chipped in the first ever 3D goal. For those who ducked as the ball seemed to shoot out of the screen, it was almost a little too real. "That's the money shot," one Sky executive was heard to say.
To produce the 3D images, Sky teams began filming with special cameras around six months ago. Their cameras project the farthest-away point in the shot backwards, so that objects in the foreground – like players – stand out clearly.
The viewer gets a more accurate impression of the dimensions and pace involved, a point laboured somewhat by the match commentators.
One spectator, 29-year-old Jeff Westcott from Northamptonshire, looked slightly dazed by the whole experience as he stood in the corner of the packed bar. "I only came in here because there were seats," he said, adding: "But I'm pleased I did because I really think that it is an improvement on D television. The close-up shots are particularly impressive. It is like being there but also having the benefit of replays."
A friend, 28-year-old Simon Fairway, agreed. "Where they have replays and can give you a different perspective, close-up and in 3D, it is a big step forward.''
There have been groans from observers who say that 3D will never truly catch on until viewers can watch without the inconvenience of wearing specs.
Taking the glasses off for a second, some viewers saw that the screen was headache-inducingly blurred. One said: "I felt like I was in the stands, watching the match drunk without the specs on, which is perhaps more realistic than the 3D."Reuse content