Before we get to the how-to part; what IS split screen video? A simple definition, courtesy of Wikipedia, is: “the visible division of the screen, traditionally in half.” That part seems obvious, but did you also know that split screen video is a technique used by video creators to have one actor appear to be in the same scene twice?
Watch the video below, created by my colleague Matt Pierce, to see an example of a split screen video without a visible division.
Regardless if your split screen is explicitly visible or not, you’ll approach creating the effect in mostly the same way. The only difference? When you want to feature the same person in the same scene twice, it will be crucial that your camera stay in the exact same location, and that you plan out exactly where your actor should sit or stand.
With a visible split screen, however, the placement of your actor(s) during filming won’t be as important; you’ll have more wiggle-room when you edit.
When should you use split screen video?
Showing a visible division of the screen can be useful when you are trying to show cause and effect, or illustrate how one thing relates to another. Really, though, the possibilities are endless. If you want to view some examples of effective use cases, check out The 15 Best Uses of Split Screen in Cinema History for inspiration.
One popular example of split screen video which might come to mind is The Brady Bunch.
It’s important to note that while this technique can be impressive and attention-grabbing, it can also be distracting to your viewers. You’ll want to use it sparingly so you don’t overwhelm anyone.
Viewers might have trouble understanding your message if there’s too much on-screen activity, so just be sure it’s an enhancement, and not a distraction.
When used appropriately, split screen video can be a powerful and engaging effect. Now that the disclaimers are out of the way, we can get to the fun part!
Before creating your split screen video…
Just like any other video you create, you’ll want to have a plan before you start. Write your script and put together a storyboard to ensure you have all of the footage you need before you begin editing your video.
After you’re done recording, you’ll be ready to edit your video. In this example, you’ll learn how to achieve the split screen effect using Camtasia.
Time to get started!
Step 1: Import your video clips
Load all of your video footage onto your computer, and import it into Camtasia.
Select Import, choose your files, and click Open. To import multiple clips, you can hold the CTRL button while clicking on each individual video, to bring them all in at the same time.
I want my split screen to show three separate videos; David Bowie – Space Oddity [Official Video], a David Bowie Space Oddity lyrics video and Violin – Space Oddity – David Bowie – Sheet Music, Chords, & Vocals.
Time-saving tip: If you are using a video you captured on a mobile device, you can share it directly to Camtasia using TechSmith Fuse, a free companion app. You’ll open the app, select the video, and Share to Camtasia. This grants you quick access to your content, and lets you to skip a few steps.
After importing, drag and drop the video clips you want to use from the media bin onto the project timeline. Use a separate track for each video clip.
Step 2: Crop, resize, and move
You will need to resize, move, and crop your videos, so that everything fits together nicely on a single screen.
Start with the media on the top track, so you can see the changes you make as you crop and resize. Think of the tracks like a stack of pictures; the preview pane will display the uppermost track.
Select Crop. Remove any unwanted parts of the frame by dragging the edge.
To resize or move the video frame, select the Edit icon.
Toggle the edges of the frame to resize, or click and drag to move.
Step 3: Edit audio
Once you’ve cropped, resized, and rearranged, the last thing you might need to edit is your audio. Your desired outcome will determine whether or not this step is necessary. For this example, I only want to use the audio from one of the videos, so I’ll delete it from the other two clips.
To remove audio from a clip in Camtasia, right-click on the media, and select Separate Audio and Video.
Then, select the track with the audio, right-click and choose Delete.
Step 4: Produce your video
Once your video is exactly how you’d like it, you need to produce it. This will finalize your video file. You can upload the finished video to a hosting site, such as YouTube, Vimeo, or Screencast.com, or save it locally as an MP4.
That’s it! Creating a split screen video is THAT simple.
We’d love to see your examples of split screen videos. Share them with us on @Camtasia!