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State of Origin in 3D

On Wednesday night, 681,000 people tuned in from within Queensland to watch the mighty XXXX Maroons win an unprecedented 5th straight series win and the first 3-0 clean sweep since 1995.  In addition to these 681,000 people, there was another couple of thousand watching this sporting spectacle in 3D at a number of cinemas around the state.

I was one of them.

To be honest, I wasn’t sure that 3D TV’s would be anything but a gimmick.  I had recently seen a number of movies in 3D at the cinema including Toy Story 1 and 2 and Shrek 4.  Great movies but not really 3D worthy.  The old 3D movies of yesteryear when you would duck when something came at you from the screen are no more so what could 3D sport possibly add?

I went to State of Origin 2 at Suncorp Stadium and outside the stadium, I think it was Sony who had set up a 3D booth allowing people to watch some 3D action on the televisions wearing the special powered 3D goggles.  So I decided to sit down and watch a few minutes and what I saw delivered a massive WOW factor.  It was a game of American Football being shown and I was blown away.  Wow indeed.  What a difference.  I felt like I was there, in row B watching the touchdown in real time.  It was amazing.

So when I found out that my local Event Cinema at Chermside was showing State of Origin 3 live and in 3D in the VMax theatre I organised for a couple of mates and I to watch the game there.  The tickets were $20 each plus $1 for the glasses.  A little bit more than a movie showing in the same cinema but a lot more expensive than the $0 it would cost to watch the game at home on free to air television, albeit on a 2D screen.  But I have a 50” Panasonic HD Plasma with surround sound so I still get a great view and when watching it on HD the image quality is fantastic.

But for 20 bucks I wasn’t sure what to expect but I knew it would be totally different to watching it from home, so for me, it was money well spent….at this stage.  I was curious as to whether or not the people in the crowd would sit quietly or would they cheer and holler and yell abuse at the referee’s just like they would if they were really there at the game or in the comfort of their own home.  Would they stand for and sing the national anthem? These answers would be forthcoming in a few short minutes.  For my American readers, this might seem a bit strange to you as from my understanding, when in the cinemas in America there is plenty of cheering and clapping etc just in normal movies and singing and dancing in musicals.  In Australia we are quiet relaxed and sit quietly throughout the movie with only laughter at the funny bits and the continual rustle of paper bags and munching on potato chips and popcorn and the slurping of drinks.

So I met my mates there and we had a feed before going in.  Hotdogs of course, what else do you eat at the footy!  Actually I lie.  I had a kebab but I imagined it was a hotdog!

The first thing which was different about this night was the 2 Bronco’s cheerleaders who greeted us in the theatre.  That’s a first for me.  Having two scantily dressed absolute stunners with pom poms standing in the near dark welcoming you is a plus for me.

We took our seats which were unfortunately about 6 rows from the front and to the left.  It was essentially booked out by the time I bought the tickets so bad luck there.  When at the cinema to watch movies I generally sit in the back row or as close to the back row as possible. So comfy seats but not in the best location.

We were there ready for the pre match intro’s from the Channel 9 commentary team and while not broadcast in 3D we had to wear the 3D glasses to watch it.  Then the teams came running out onto the field.  Queensland ran out first led by our legendary captain, Darren Lockyer.  The 3D camera was placed at the end of an honour guard of little kids with their little hands outstretched in eager anticipation of touching their hero’s hands as they ran onto the field.  Uh oh, someone forgot to tell Lockyer who quickly turned left out of the tunnel and not through the awaiting sets of hands.  Those poor little kids.  In Lockyer’s defence they were all wearing blue and Lockyer probably thought they were there for the New South Wales team.   The rest of the Queensland team quickly followed Lockyers direction and also missed the honour guard except for Jonathan Thurston who went through with arms outstretched and made the kids day.

Then the NSW side came out and did run through the honour guard and at this point, with the camera now back at ground level we were nearly knocked out by a few flying knees thanks to the 3D angle.  Sweet!

The ground announcer then asks for everyone to stand for the Australian National Anthem.  No one in front of me stood up and I had quick look backwards and only 1 guy in the whole cinema was standing.  I felt embarrassed for him but then felt embarrassed for myself for not also standing but by this stage the anthem had begun so I decided to keep my seat.  However, I did sing along as I always do.

At the conclusion of the anthem the ground announcer then asked for a minutes silence in honour of the 3 Aussie diggers killed in Afghanistan a couple of weeks earlier.  Again nobody stood in the cinema but the moments silence was honoured.

So with the festivities over it’s time for kick off!  Uh oh, we have a problem.  Something has happened to the vision and the cinema quickly tries to rectify the error obviously caused when someone has turned on the kettle to make the coffee!  Unbelievable!  30 minutes of prematch with no real dramas and then right on kick off the screen goes black!  The crowd lets out a sigh as the first tackle in State of Origin is generally a big one and is well anticipated.  We missed it.

Then when the screen did return we were in like a 5th dimension.  It was difficult to watch.  Not 2D and not 3D but something all together different. After a few minutes of uncomfortable watching someone called out from within the crowd ‘turn your glasses upside down’.  So we did and everything came back into focus.  So for the first half we all looked like idiots wearing our 3D glasses upside down!  But at least the images were correct again.  This problem was rectified at half time and we were able to look (semi) normal again.

One thing which was weird about this broadcast was that all of the camera angles I was use to when watching rugby league were different.  Sometimes a ball kicked from the 30 looked like it was kicked from half way and when the ball was kicked it looked like it went a lot further than normal.  The lines across the field indicating different 10 metre zones looked longer than 10 metres as well.  So it took some time getting use to the new angles and distances.

The second half was an epic game of rugby league with the lead changing a couple of times.  The atmosphere in the cinema was electric and high 5’s aplenty were being thrown around when Queensland finally killed off NSW in the dying minutes.

The images on the cinema screen were different to what I saw on the Sony 3D TV a few weeks earlier. They weren’t as crisp or as 3D as I expected so don’t make a decision to buy a 3D TV based on what you see at the cinema.

So was it worth it?  Absolutely.  Despite a couple of technical hiccups, it was a fun night but next time I will get my usual seat at the back and centred.

I wonder if the AFL grand final will be broadcast at the cinema.  I might just be back there on the last day Saturday in September.

This is the video I took of my mates and I singing the national anthem at State of Origin 2 at Suncorp Stadium.  I guess it is a bit different to singing it in a cinema.  The bloke is Lloyd and the chick is Amina!  Great people both.

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My Top 5 State of Origin Memories

30 years after the inaugural State of Origin game was played in Brisbane between Queensland and New South Wales, the battle resumed tonight when Queensland descended into enemy territory to take on New South Wales at ANZ Stadium.

State of Origin is a great time of year when everybody is talking about it.  There is no middle ground and if you aren’t a rugby league fan there is no hiding from it.

In commemoration of the 30th anniversary here are my Top 5 Origin Memories.

5. Gorden Tallis Tackle

It was Game 3, 2002 at the Sydney Football Stadium. This match ended in an 18 all draw but it isn’t this result which stands out to me. It was a tackle in the 15th minute that was quite unlike any other I had ever seen. While Rugby League is known for the big hits this tackle by Gorden Tallis on NSW Fullback, Brett Hodgson was quite unique. Returning the ball from a Darren Lockyer down the field kick, Hodgson had stepped Tallis at the 35 metre mark and about 17 metres in from the touch-line when Tallis has stuck out a hand and grabbed Hodgson by the back of the jersey and then has slung him towards the touch-line and seconds later bundled the bewildered Hodgson into touch. It was an amazing tackle and is my all time favourite tackle.

4. It’s On – Fight Club

Origin football is known for a bit of biffo and here are a couple of my favourites.

3. Alfie back from England

The series was level at 1 all heading into game 3.  Queensland had been thumped in game 2, 26-8 and looked nothing like the team that won game 1, 34-16.  Queensland’s prodigal son, Allan Langer who was in his second season at Warrington in the English Super League arrived to wear the famous number 7 jersey.  He played an awesome game that night and set up try after try before scoring one himself.  It was an inspirational home coming for the little legend.  Queensland went on to win the game, 40-14 and win the series.

2. Another Queensland try from the death

It was Game 1, 1998 at the Sydney Football Stadium. QLD were down and out trailing by 5 points with a minute left to play and deep inside their own territory. Kevin Walters kicks deep down field on the first tackle and the ball is regathered by Ben Ikin. NSW regroup in defence but 2 tackles later, Tonie Carroll is sent over the try line from a pass from Walters. Lockyer converts after the siren for a memorable QLD win.

1. That’s not a try, that’s a miracle!

It was Game 1, 1994. QLD were down and out trailing by 8 points with 5 minutes left to play and deep inside their own territory at the Sydney Football Stadium. Willie Carne scored a try and with a successful Meninga conversion, QLD trailed by 2 points. With a minute left to go, one of the greatest try’s in rugby league history unfolded. Starting with Langer the ball then went through the hands of Walters, Carne, Renouf, Hancock, Smith, Langer again and then onto Meninga who threw the final pass to Mark Coyne who scored sliding over the try line. Commentator Ray Warren calledthe match and he famously said, “That’s not a try, that’s a miracle!” Indeed it was and it is also my favourite try of all time.

I love Origin!  Well done to Queensland for winning tonight, 28-24 in Game 1 of the 2010 series.

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What are some of your favourite origin moments?
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