Home > 360MC Research & Development > Split Screen Technique – Research

Split Screen Technique – Research

For our last artefact for the 360MC module we have to base it around the theme of ‘Memory’ with the obstruction being to incorporate a split screen element into the piece.

To gain a better understanding of how split screen works with regard to narrative and presentation i shall be looking at certain examples within film or even a scene within a film that uses split screen to put its narrative across to the viewer.


One of the first films that i think of with relation to split screen is ‘Timecode’ (2000) directed by Mike Figgis and starring Salma Hayek.  The film consists of four screens that each depict a certain character within its narrative.  The basis for which it is set like this is presented within the trailer with the questioning behind the film being:

‘Would you like to hear what people say when you leave the room?  Would you like to watch your friends as they stab you in the back?  Would you like to know where your lover goes after they leave your side?’

The tag line really sums up the style in which the film is filmed and presented as:

‘Four cameras.  One take.  No edits.  Real time.’

This next example isn’t a whole film which split screen is an element of like the previous example but it uses this technique in an interesting way.  The scene is from ‘(500) Days Of Summer’ (2009) directed by Marc Webb.

It poses the ‘expectations’ that the main character has of re-kindling his love for a girl who broke his heart against the ‘reality’ of what is actaully happening within the setting which defies his expectations which we are watching at the same time.

Another of my favourite films that also uses split screen technique is ‘Requiem For A Dream’ (2000) directed by Darren Aronofsky.

This is used to show the action that is the mother on one side of the door and the son in the living room trying to take his mom’s television set away.  Seeing both charcters in their seperate areas really does give effect with regards to emotion and no cutting in between of this which i would feel would lessen the effect.

Perhaps or without a doubt the most prolific director to incorporate unique and stylised scenes within his films is Quentin Tarantino.  In particular the one scene which uses split screen is in ‘Kill Bill’ (2003)

In this particular scene we are watching Uma Thurman (characters name unknown or simply known as ‘The Bride’) lying in a comatosed state when an assassin named Elle Driver is in a seperate room preparing; dressing up in a nurses uniform and preparing an antidote before entering the brides hospital room.

This gives a sense of being in two places at once and doesn’t have cutting in between the two places.

Independant/experimental film pieces

Whilst going through Google Creative Labs and looking at the different film pieces i found this particular video which takes split screen to a whole other degree using multiple screens to join together people in completely different locations and countries as if they are right next to each other.  It is a music video for a band called SOUR and the song is called ‘Hibi No Neiro’.

I really like how it incorporates different people into the same video such as making a face using the bottom and top halfs of a face using four different people that looks like it matches up almost seamlessly.  And also how the people are doing the same actions and almost are choreographed to fit in with the finished visuals of the video.


From seeing how split screen has been incorporated into main stream and independant film pieces, i want to look at how this popular technique was first formed.

“The technique first started out in a very complicated and old-fashioned way of creating a split screen technique.  You had to use an optical printer to combine the two images by copying them onto one negative.”

“Several early films that featured this technique started off as early as 1903 but it can be first seen to of originated in the 1960’s with films such as Paul Morrisey and Andy Warhol’s ‘Chelsea Girls’ (1966).”

“Throughout the decades the split screen technique has been used in many TV shows with perhaps the most popular being  ’24’ which gave the show a ‘real-time’ element showing different characters and events happening at the same time and the audience being shown this through the use of two shots on the screen at the same time.”

“Also within the world of music video the technique of split screen has been used with the best known being Michael Jackson’s ‘Billie Jean’ (1982) directed by Steve Barron. “

“Micheal Gondry used the split screen technique in an early music video piece he directed for a band called Cibo Matto titled ‘Sugar Water’ (2005)”


(Picture courtesy of http://danceonpaper.com/2009/04/15/video-craft-sugar-water/)

How does split screen work?

“Depending on what kind of video is being produced, split screen can be achieved by placing the camera in an area that will be easy to cut and attach the other side seamlessly – left and right.  This is mainly for videos which include a clone of the main subject (so they would be both sat on the  sofa at the same time for example)…or to perhaps give an illusion of there being more than two subjects!”

It can also be used within the post-production process if you want to place two images alongside each other (or however relevant to the narrative it would suit).

There are no limits to how it can be used and the future development of the technique can only get greater.

(Information/Research courtesy of Wikipedia)


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