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AFL Grand Final – In 3D

Earlier this year, I watched the Rugby League State Of Origin – Game 3 in 3D at the cinema.  You can read about that here.

For the first time, the AFL (Australian Football League) got in on the act and telecast the 2010 AFL Grand Final in 3D.  Yesterday’s game between the highly fancied Collingwood Magpies and last year’s Runners Up, the St Kilda Saints was attended by over 100,000 people at a sold out MCG but by millions across Australia and around the world.  It is the biggest day on the Australian sporting calendar and I wanted to experience it for the first time in 3D on the big screen.

As with the State of Origin match it was difficult to get use to the new angles.  As 3D images are gathered using different cameras to 2D, it meant that the usual angles you are use to when watching the standard 2D games are no longer available so it takes some time to get used to it.

While the images are sharp and in your face and 20 feet tall on the cinemas big screen, and while the surround sound makes it sound like you are actually at the stadium, there is something missing.

The commentators commentate not only by what they are seeing live, but they are also commentating on what they are seeing on their monitors, and their monitors are using the 2D feed, not the 3D feed.  So at times during the commentary they will be making mention of something which we just aren’t seeing.

With fewer cameras in the 3D broadcast we missed images all game of the coaches who add a lot of theatre to the game through their emotions when things don’t quite go right.  The throwing down of headphones, the curse words that any good lip reader can pick up, the angry faces getting redder and redder as the game progresses.  In the case of Collingwood and their famous president, Eddie Maguire who, from his seat in the stands, shows so much emotion when his team does not do well as was evidenced in the 2002 and 2003 Grand Finals when his team lost both years to the then mighty Brisbane Lions.  I missed these images in the 3D broadcast.

As this was Channel 7’s first 3D AFL broadcast the guys who control what we watch in the broadcast centre, ie the game day directors, are different as well.  You know the guy who says “switch to camera 1, now 3, go to camera 12, switch back to 3, now the coaches box camera……”  Well they are two different directors and therefore 2 different perspectives.  I also think that as 3D broadcasting is new in Australia and this was the first ever 3D broadcast of AFL, that the 3D director is not actually an Aussie who doesn’t understand the game.   I could be wrong on this one.

The atmosphere is good though.  It is great to watch the game on a massive screen with other people clapping and showing their respective support for their team.  Add in popcorn, chips and drinks and it rivals any Grand Final party at home which are held all across Australia.

So today I watched the replay which I had recorded in high definition on my 50” Panasonic Viera Plasma.  I saw the reactions from the coaches.  I saw Eddie Maguire blowing a gasket.   I heard the commentators comments match what was being shown on the screen.  I saw the game from a different angle.  I watched the game with far more cameras capturing a lot more images and emotions from the crowd.  I also saw that there were cameras at outside broadcast spots in and around Melbourne and it was great to see the fans who didn’t make it to the ground, enjoying the game in their thousands.

What makes AFL great is not just the game itself but the raw emotion that this great sport generates through its fans.  AFL in the southern states of Australia is a religion.  From March to September each year it is most peoples main talking point.  They worship the players and they can’t wait for each week when their team plays.  I live in northern Australia where AFL is popular but doesn’t have the same religious feel that it does in Victoria, and I get caught up in it each week when my beloved Brisbane Lions play.  I want to see the emotion from the crowds and while 3D has a little bit of this, it doesn’t show enough.  Although there was one exception.  During some of the 3D angles there was this one St Kilda supporter in the crowd who was wearing a red T-Shirt and he always seemed to react to the big St Kilda moments before the rest of the supporters near him.  He was good theatre!

For those who have been living under a rock and don’t know the result.  Well it was an epic game of Aussie Rules.  Collingwood started the game strong and by half time led the Saints by 24 points.  St Kilda came back in the second half and finally hit the lead with about 7 minutes remaining, leading by 5 points after a Brendon Goddard high flying mark and goal.  The final 7 minutes was an arm wrestle with both teams trying to gain an edge.   Collingwood fought back again to take a one point lead through a goal to Cloke and then with about 90 seconds remaining, St Kilda scored a crucial point to level up the scores.  The last 90 seconds seemed like a year and at the end of it and with the scores tied at 68 all the first draw since 1977 and only the third in VFL/AFL history meant that we would be back again next Saturday to try and crown the premiers. Draws in AFL are rare with only 2 or 3 a year at the most.

When the final siren sounded there was a feeling around the cinema and at the ground that there should be extra time.  There isn’t and we reset for next weekend.  There will be extra time next week should the game end up as a draw again.  I don’t think the nation could take another tied result especially considering our federal election also ended up as draw in August.

I’ll be watching this one from home.  In high definition 2D with the camera angles I am used to which in all honesty is still pretty good compared to the grainy black and white images from a few decades ago.  It works for me.

What did you think of the game?  Happy with a rematch next week or do you think extra time should have played?  Did anyone watch it in 3D?  What were your thoughts?

A Different Kind of September

In Australia, September is the end of the football season for both AFL (Australian Rules Football) and the NRL (National Rugby League).  The season proper finishes in August and both codes conduct their finals series in September.

The AFL Grand Final is always played on the last Saturday in September and the NRL Grand Final traditionally was played on the last Sunday in September though this changed a few years ago and it is now played on the first Sunday in October but for all essences of this post, September is footy finals time.

This year is different.  For the first time in 19 years, one of my 2 teams is not featured in the September action.  I am one of the few Aussies that have a love of both codes.  For my American readers who don’t know the difference between the two, well I would need to write a book to tell you the differences, but in the interest of saving time either YouTube both games and see for yourself or trust me that both codes are worlds apart.  They have nothing in common.  Even the footballs used are different.

My team in the AFL is the Brisbane Lions.  I have been following them since 1987 when they first entered the competition.  They started off slowly; not winning a lot of games but by the mid to late 90’s started to see some early September action.  Then in 2001 they made the Grand Final and went on to win it and become the AFL Premiers – which is a very hard thing to achieve.  What makes the Brisbane Lions even more awesome is that they threepeated this achievement and also won the 2002 and 2003 premierships, plus they played in the 2004 Grand Final only to lose it to Port Adelaide.  So four Grand Finals in row and only the second team in history to do so. The Brisbane Lions were the greatest team in history and certainly of the new millennium.

Then we hit hard times.  With an ageing list, we missed the finals from 2005 to 2008 before welcoming September action again in 2009, making it into the second week of the 4 week finals campaign, which most Lions fans were satisfied with after the lean previous 4 years.  We started the 2010 season with four straight wins and high expectations only to win another 3 games for the year – in a 22 game season – and miss the finals again.

My team in the NRL is the Brisbane Broncos.  I have been following them since 1998 when they first entered the competition.  They started off with a bang winning many of their first games before faltering late in the year and just missing the finals in their maiden year.  In 1991 they made the finals and went on to the Grand Final and won by beating St George 28-8.  They came back to Brisbane to a hero’s welcome and went on to repeat this success the following year also against St George, this time in a close encounter, beating them 14-6.

Since their maiden premiership year in 1991, the Brisbane Broncos have featured in September finals every year, until this year.  During this 19 year run they won the premiership 6 times.  In addition to 1991 and 1992, they also w0n 1997, 1998, 2000 and 2006 making them the most successful club of the past 20 years.

The Broncos missed out on September action by only one game and all season I was confident of more September action.  The Lions missed out by about 5 games and I knew their September dream was over half way through the season.

The finals series this year have been interesting but I have been more of a casual observer with no real preference who wins.  I have only watched a couple of games live in both codes and haven’t been concerned about hearing scores before watching replays etc.  Without one of my two teams there, I just don’t really have the usual high amount of care factor.

This Saturday, is the 2010 AFL Grand Final and I will be watching this game in 3D at the cinema much like I watched the Rugby League State of Origin game 3 earlier this year.  You can read about that here.  The AFL Grand Final is a huge event and similar I guess to the Super Bowl in the NFL.  It doesn’t matter who plays in it each year, I always watch it.  This year, the team most Australian’s love to hate, Collingwood, who have won 14 premierships, the last of which in 1990, will be taking on St Kilda, who has won only one premiership, way back in 1966.  I would love to see St Kilda win it with a kick after full time.

Is that a little mean?  Probably.  Do I care?  Not at all.

Also this weekend is the penultimate round of NRL finals series with 4 teams left battling it out to earn a place in the following weeks Grand Final.  One of these 4 teams is the Gold Coast Titans who only joined the NRL in 2007 and are the only Queensland team left.  I will jump onto their bandwagon and hope that they can not only make the Grand Final but also win it.

But don’t worry.  As soon as the 2011 NRL and AFL seasons kick off again, I will be back on board the Broncos and the Lions.  After all, I’ve supported them for more than half my life.  I’ll stick with them through thick and thin, which I have also been through the years….currently at thick striving to get back to thin!

Enjoy the rest of the September action, especially if your team is still involved.

Who will win the AFL and NRL Grand Finals and how will you be watching the games this year?  BBQ?  Quietly at home?  Cinema like me?