It’s been said that sports provide one of the best 3D experiences, but 3D sports broadcasts have been few and far between. There was one NCAA football game between Oregon and Cal on the Versus network, and the National Championship between Oregon and Auburn will be broadcast in 3D as well. Must be something about my alma mater, the University of Oregon. Regardless, there haven’t yet been many chances to experience sports on a 3D TV, which is surprising but also par for the course considering the technology’s so new. But even if there had been a ton of 3D sports broadcasts, the Official 2010 FIFA World Cup on 3D Blu-ray would be an experience worth sharing with anyone who’d listen, or in this case, anyone who’d watch.
Having seen the entire Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film on 3D Blu-ray, I’m here to say that the word on the street is right. The FIFA World Cup in 3D is an absolute showcase, not just for the quality of the soccer, but for the impressive potential of 3D Blu-ray technology in general. If you’ve doubted the impact of 3D Blu-ray, this film will make you a believer within its first five minutes.
This 3D Blu-ray release serves as a highlight reel of sorts from the entire World Cup tournament, so you see snippets of just about every game and play that made a difference. It also presents a handful of compelling stories, such as those of underdogs such as South Africa and Nigeria. Throughout the film, the highlight-reel moments are put to an inspirational or motivational score depending on the scene, which helps make the highlights all the more dramatic. Not that the artificial excitement was needed, mind you; these highlights truly are the best of the best, and each one is compelling on its own. For instance, the Ghana vs. Uruguay game that went into a shootout is full of dramatic music and even has slow-motion camera work, but none of it was technically necessary. Does it help set the mood? Yes, it does, especially considering the highlights are taken a bit out of context, but for soccer fans the exciting play is all the “mood” necessary.
It’s surprising to learn that for as drop-dead gorgeous as the imagery is in this release, the entire presentation is “just” in 720p rather than 1080i or even 1080p. The decided lack of grain, the impressive contrast and the saturated colors just pop off the screen, and that’s before taking the 3D effects into account. Add the 3D effects, though, and you’ll literally feel as though you’re in the game and/or in the crowd. Seeing the 3D effect of camera shots from inside the stadium is just remarkable. Honestly, the Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film has some of the best 3D I’ve seen so far. In most of the 3D Blu-ray releases I’ve reviewed so far, it has seemed as though shots that spanned big crowds and/or had little to no zoom were incapable of having much depth. This film proves otherwise. You are in the middle of the crowd in this film. There’s also virtually no sign of crosstalk, which is an impressive feat considering all the people in the extreme foreground in some of these scenes.
That’s not to say the imagery is perfect. In the very beginning and at the very end, several scenes show school-aged kids playing soccer in the dusty streets of South Africa. Somehow, the camera used to film these scenes had a speck of dirt on the lens that was not brushed-off at the time nor removed during post-production. The fleck only takes up about an inch, but it’s noticeable enough that it’s somewhat distracting for a few seconds. However, that one-inch piece of dirt is essentially the only flaw in an otherwise pristine transfer, which leaves very little to complain about visually.
The audio leaves a bit more to be desired, although there is an interesting phenomenon worth mentioning that’s unique to this World Cup 3D release. Technically the film includes surround sound, but the majority of the audio track hinges on the play-by-play announcer, which doesn’t exactly present the best of opportunities for a rear- or side-channel mix. However, for all the misgivings people had about the vuvuzela horns that blared through almost every match in the tournament, this 3D Blu-ray release manages to minimize their audio impact (and annoyance). This is due to two things. First, the surround-sound mix, although minimal, helps immerse viewers ever so slightly “in the moment” and thus enable them to “tune out” the vuvuzela horns. Second, because the audio engineers utilize a surround-sound setup, they were able to quiet the background noise to a certain degree that the broadcast TV stations simply weren’t able to during their normal, live broadcasts of the 2010 World Cup. So, while the horns are still noticeable, they’re not the first thing you pay attention to when firing up one of these highlight reels.
To be fair, though, with 3D effects this sweet, the audio was bound to take a backseat to the video anyway. As a working stiff, I missed most of the 2010 World Cup proceedings, although I kept up with scores as my schedule allowed. Getting the chance to not only see these highlights, but to experience them almost first-hand via 3D, was appreciated in more ways than one. First, it let me see a lot of the action that I missed on live television. But second — and arguably more important — the Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film 3D Blu-ray enabled me to see just how accurate all those claims were about sports and 3D TV. If every broadcast and every highlight reel can live up to the quality and execution of this 3D Blu-ray Disc, then sports fans have more to look forward to than most other movie-consuming crowds. World Cup soccer in 3D is just that good.
Click this link to buy Official 2010 FIFA World Cup Film 3D Blu-ray from Amazon.com.
- Score: 9.2
- Frankly one of the best 3D presentations we’ve seen to date. Even if you don’t consider yourself a fan of soccer, this is one 3D Blu-ray Disc you’ll use as a showcase piece for the foreseeable future.
— Jonas Allen