Luddites Rejoice! New Glasses Let You Watch 3D Films in 2D

By Patrick Morgan | May 2, 2011 2:00 pm

Eyestrain. Headaches. Nausea. For some people, this is all part of the 3D movie experience. And until now, your choice was to either suffer through 3D; find a cheaper, low-tech theater; or else forgo some new films altogether. But that was before one guy invented 2D Glasses, a pair of specs that converts projected 3D images into 2D (yup, you read that right). It’s touted as a way of preventing eye strain while still enjoying a flick with your 3D-loving friends.

The story starts at the end of 2010, when inventor Hank Green wanted to watch Tron Legacy in 3D with his wife. She confessed that 3D movies give her headaches; Green wanted to see the film in all three dimensions, but didn’t wanted to see it alone, which sparked the idea of modifying 3D glasses into 2D glasses. As Green writes on his website, “after a lot of poking and twisting and gluing and cutting and cursing and sawing, I had created my first pair of 2D Glasses.” He then went to see Voyage of the Dawn Treader in 3D with his wife, and she “could watch the movie in 2D, and even switch to 3D for the action scenes!”

So how does this work? Most movie theaters nowadays use polarized glasses to trick your brain into seeing three dimensions: Two synchronized images with different polarizations are projected onto the movie screen, and each polarized lens on your 3D glasses lets only one of the images in. Because the images are projected at the same time, but show a view from slightly different locations, your brain combines the two images as one 3D image. With Green’s 2D glasses, both lenses have the same polarization, which means that you’re blocking out that second image that gives the illusion of depth, and you only see one, 2D image. 3D has now become 2D.

Unfortunately, the glasses are only meant to work at most 3D movie theaters, which use passive (or polarized) glasses to convert two images into three dimensions. This means that you can’t use the glasses to convert the images on your high-tech 3D televisions; most of these glasses are battery-powered active shutter glasses that “rapidly block one eye at a time so that each eye sees only the frame meant for it.” And it also won’t work with the old-timey red-and-blue 3D glasses, if you’re using those, for some reason.

After Green made the first pair for his wife, word quickly spread. He started getting the glasses professionally made and launched a company, aptly named 2D Glasses. And you can now order your own pair for $10, shipping included. Good luck, though, finagling your way into paying the 2D price for a 3D film.

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Image: 2-D Glasses, LLC

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Technology Attacks!
  • Bertrand Le Roy

    He did not invent them, in the sense that he was not first. He was definitely first to commercialize them.

  • Sue Halliday

    as someone who regularly runs 3D films in our science centre and fights with the computers to make sure the 3D is optimum this article really tickled me! Oh for the days when we thought colour was amazing compared to black and white!! Luddites unite!

  • Jessica E.

    I just had to comment because I’m in the habit of watching the Youtube channel Hank shares with his brother, John, and I’m sure he’s going to be quite tickled when he finds he’s been mentioned on a Discover blog.

    Personally I’ve never had a problem watching 3D films; the only issues that arise for me when at the theater is when the camera is very unsteady. Think any of the Bourne films or Cloverfield–I’m the only person I know to actually be physically sick after about 20 minutes of those on the big screen.

  • Sieben Stern

    it wasn’t the 3D that gave his wife a headache – it was when she tried to figure out the plot that her head started hurting!! XD

  • Magoonski

    @Sieben Stern I know you’re joking but Hank and his wife are Nerdfighters and thus ‘made of awesome’ not made of stupid, so your joke is waayyyy off.

  • Jack C

    Sue H – It’s not for backward tendencies that some of us need this. It’s physiological. You wouldn’t insult a blind person as being illiterate because they need Braille to read a book. I would hope theaters would hand these out the way they provide other accommodations. And as part of my ticket price, the way they did with 3D glasses.

  • Amber

    If I could get a pair of these, some of my friends would be thrilled. My eyes are unequal (20/20 in the right, 20/200 in the left) so seeing my first 3D movie (Avatar) left me with a 3 day headache. That was not worth repeating, so I keep either asking to see 2D movies, or skipping group outings to shows because everyone else wants to see 3D.

    I wonder if two red (or blue) lenses would work with the old Red/Blue 3D…

  • Smelly Pirate

    rather spend $1 for an eyepatch tbh

  • Steffen

    Bertrand, an independent invention is still an invention!

    I’ve still never seen a movie in 3D. -_-

  • Geoffrey Kidd

    I rather suspect the theater will also *STILL* charge you the extra $3 for those migraine-inducing “special” glasses, even if you bring your own. I’ll pass on both and get my entertainment via NetFlix, thank you.

  • Phaota

    Would have been easier to just watch the 2D version movie.

  • Jason

    I’ve only seen a few movies in 3D and I don’t intend to see any more. You can’t convince me they’re worth the extra cost. They manufacture a scene to make something jump out at you and it just seems so artificial and intentional. I hope this is just a passing fad.

  • Online Life Experience Degree

    I just had to comment because I’m in the habit of watching the
    Youtube channel Hank shares with his brother, John, and I’m sure he’s
    going to be quite tickled when he finds he’s been mentioned on a
    Discover blog.Â


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