When the 2010/11 UEFA Champions League season reaches its climax at Wembley Stadium on Saturday in front of record numbers of television viewers around the world, an exciting dimension will be brought to the drama – because, once again, Europe's showpiece final is being broadcast in 3D.
The contest between FC Barcelona and Manchester United FC for European club football's blue-riband trophy will be aired by 113 broadcast partners in more than 220 territories, with an anticipated average audience of over 160 million viewers and a total reach in excess of 300 million across the globe. This will make it the biggest final in UEFA Champions League history.
Viewing figures for the UEFA Champions League have been impressive throughout the campaign. In just a couple of examples, the semi-final first leg between Real Madrid CF and Barcelona produced the highest audience of all time for Spanish channel FORTA, while Spain's largest-ever UEFA Champions League audience of 14.1 million tuned into TVE for the second leg in Barcelona. Moreover, FC Spartak Moskva v Chelsea FC on NTV Russia last autumn achieved an unprecedented UEFA Champions League audience in Russia of 12.2 million viewers.
Meanwhile, developments in camera, post production and TV technology have made it possible for 3D coverage – which will make some lucky fans feel as if they are following the action from Wembley itself. Televisions can now process and deliver information, much as the human eye sends messages to the brain. The result is a match experience perfectly befitting the occasion.
Glasses are needed to watch the match in 3D, of which there are two types – active and passive. The type required is dependent on whether the viewer has an active or passive 3D set. Active glasses have LCD lenses (battery required) which alternately 'black out' each eye depending on whether the right or left image is being shown on screen. Passive glasses use polarisation to separate left and right images – the left lens filter blocks out the right image, and the right lens filter blocks the left image.
Europe's first 3D channel, Sky 3D, launched in April 2010 and has regularly broadcast the UEFA Champions League in 3D this season. The set-up is in place at Wembley for a 3D final, with temporary stands housing the cameras and equipment for this exciting innovation. Thirteen true 3D cameras will follow Saturday's game.
For people in central London, the website Visit London offers information on places where supporters can watch the action.
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