The future of hockey on screen: The 3-D Stanley Cup?

When guys like James Cameron and Peter Jackson agree that the future of film is in 3-D, you're compelled to listen.

They don't just talk about Cameron's upcoming CGI-epic "Avatar" or redoing Jackson's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy in three dimensions (and who doesn't want to see 12 hours of 3-D walking?); they talk about how the technology should be adopted by movie theaters, television makers and DVD distributors.

Michael Lowe is a believer, especially when it comes to hockey. As Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe & Mail reports, Lowe has partnered with Conversion Works -- which is working with Cameron on a 3-D "Titanic" rerelease -- to develop a hockey history documentary in 3-D, and the results that Dowbiggin saw "might be described as Gary Bettman's happy dance." (So it feels like a labor stoppage or a bad day for Jim Balsillie?)

From the Globe & Mail:

A former junior hockey player himself, Lowe has received permission to adapt vintage hockey photos and films to 3D for a film about the sport he loves. His plan is to create a 55-minute feature film called For Lord Stanley for distribution. He would later like to expand that to a six-part history of the sport.

"I think that, properly positioned, hockey can still overtake the NBA as third-most popular sport in North America," Lowe told Usual Suspects. "What we've always lacked is a way to translate the speed and excitement of the game. That's what 3D can do."

Hey, wasn't that what HDTV was going to do?

The mind boggles at the thought of 3-D hockey games, because they weren't shot with that format in mind. Where's Gordie Howe poking his stick at the crowd? Where's Bobby Orr scoring "The Goal" and then flying right over the audience?

OK, seriously: Think about the differences between the traditional swinging camera at center ice vs. the camera mounted behind the net on a power play; which one offers the better 3-D experience?

Lowe told the Globe he wants to create a 55-minute 3-D feature called "For Lord Stanley" that could be expanded into a six-part series. We wish him luck, because anything that makes hockey on the screen better resemble hockey in the arena is a good thing. If nothing else, perhaps 3-D technology will force television producers to consider innovative ways to cover the game beyond the current, staid cost-effective model.