The World Cup in 3-D

I haven’t watched the film Avatar in 3-D yet, only the normal 2-D video. I can only imagine the audience reaction as the characters and assorted objects literally popped out of the screen. I think 3-D was created for, and is ideal for action films, but wait…

Although sport is filled with action (for the most part), you wouldn’t normally expect to watch it in 3-D. However, sport has not been spared the attentions of the 3-D aficionado’s at our sports broadcasting networks, and thus the 2010 World Cup football tournament is currently being broadcast for the time in glorious 3-D; around 25 matches at least.

I’m really lucky to be working as a Media Venue Manager on the FIFA project here in South Africa, and caught the first half of two games, in FIFA’s HD Cinema, located at the International Broadcast Centre (IBC), right next to the Soccer City stadium, host of the opening ceremony and final game.

Unlike action films which I suspect leaves one twisting and turning in one’s seat, dodging things popping out the screen, 3-D sport scenes really gives one the impression of being right there at the stadium. It’s the next best thing to actually sitting in the crowd. You get the feeling that you’re looking into a box with live persons performing inside. It’s utterly amazing, and I am now convinced that there is no other way to watch sport; most sports at any rate.

Having to wear those geeky-looking 3-D glasses over my own pair of spectacles is not exactly comfortable, but tolerable considering the unique opportunity I’m being accorded to watch for free. For those who don’t have those new 3-D TV sets that are now being sold everywhere (at huge cost), some of the games will be broadcast in selected cinemas around the world. I highly recommend taking in at least one game; it’s a truly memorable experience.

It’s a given that the technology will evolve and true 3-D TV sets which don’t require those pesky glasses will probably be commercially viable pretty soon. I’ve heard that we can expect to watch 3-D holograms of matches at the 2022 FIFA World Cup.

What talent, and the music….

Kseniya Simonova? Yeah, doesn’t ring a bell, does it? This mighty talented young women hails from the Ukraine, and that’s probably why she is relatively unknown.

But my! oh! my! what talent! Sand animation? I’ll bet not too many people have that particular talent. On the attached YouTube video she paints the sad history of her country in sand, with some really beautiful, but sad music for accompaniment.

I particularly enjoyed that Apocalyptica rendition of the Metallica hit, Nothing Else Matters, at the end, which is a personal favorite of mine. I hope you enjoy as I and more than 14 million other people no doubt did.

Shaolin Monks, Wheel of Life

Publicity photo from CoJ website

I attended a performance of the Shaolin Monks, Wheel of Life, at the Teatro Theatre at the Montecasino Casino Resort in Johannesburg yesterday.  I was suitably impressed, not by the supposed superhuman feats of the supposed practicing buddhist kung-fu monks, but by the visual spectacle. 

The Wheel of Life has a  production team which includes Director Micha Bergese (currently artistic director and choreographer of The Millennium Show in the Central Arena of The Dome in Greenwich, director and choreographer for concerts featuring Mick Jagger, Leonard Cohen, Julio Iglesias, The Pogues, Tina Turner and Sarah Brightman among others), Set Designer Mark Fisher (Cirque du Soleil, Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Beijing Olympics 2008), Lighting Designer Steve Nolan (Montreux Jazz Festival for the last five years, and concerts featuring some of the biggest names in music), Composer John Harle and Sound Designer Simon Honywill. With a team this impressive, it was to be expected that they would create the required mystical atmosphere for the whole production which would lend itself to the superhuman tag the cast was crowned with. 

Apart from the fantastic displays of skill involving the handling of traditional weaponry by individual cast members, all the other acts which alluded to some sort of super-human or supernatural powers, such as lying on a bed of nails while a block of concrete is broken on a disciple’s stomach, walking on carefully positioned meat cleavers, or being held aloft by a set of supposedly razor-sharp spears, can, and has easily been explained by science. 

However the open gasps and mimicked expressions of pain from some members of the adult audience is indicative that they still think that there is some element of the supernatural involved. This is rather surprizing, what with all the available information related to explaining these acts, but no more surprizing than members of certain religious groups believing the same when they witness or participate in, acts of body piercing and self-mutilation, which supposedly occurs under the influence of a supernatural entity or god. In short , why people believe that the East is still mysterious, is an even bigger mystery.

If you’re wondering why a skeptic such as myself bothered to attend this performance, then let me assure you it had nothing to do with wanting to witness supernatural feats, or even curiosity. I just enjoy live stage acts, which involve music, lighting and choreography. I would certainly enjoy a David Copperfield or Siegfried and Roy performance, happily knowing there is actually no magic involved; only the wonders of science being put to work to delight the senses.

So, if you’re going to the East and expect to see kung-fu masters leaping tall buildings, mountains and trees, or smashing through solid walls with their bare hands, then you’re going to be very disappointed. In the same vein, if you are going to pierce your body with all sorts of sharp objects or flay or self-mutilate yourself in any way, expecting to reach a higher level of consciousness, spiritual understanding, get credits for entering a mystical heaven or just to impress some deity with your devoutness and dedication, then you are also going to be seriously disappointed. 

Rather let the masters of showmanship, such as these Shaolin Monks, provide you with the pleasure of watching (albeit sadistic in some instances) without the pain and disillusionment. The human body can without a doubt withstand a great deal of distress, but it’s really dumb to self inflict it, if you’re not going to make some money out of it.