How to Use Invisible Split-Screens like a Fincher
As seen in Zhou’s video essay about the four things Fincher doesn’t do, handheld is not one of the element that feeds the filmmaker’s work. His use of stable frames in general has allowed him to develop a filmmaking habit of mixing takes within invisible split-screens.
What that means is that instead of either alternating takes by cutting and using coverage, like all filmmakers used to do pre-digital era, or using the split-screen as a way of showing multiple angles at once, Fincher and his editors, Kirk Baxter and Angus Wall, are splitting the screen seamlessly so they can modify performances all the while showing a “continuous” take.
In the tutorial below, Ben Gill shows how to reproduce that split-screen effects on Adobe and explains what are its benefits, (i.e. why you might want to implement it in your filmmaking process):
- it allows you to manipulate each side of the split frame (as seen in the picture above) independently, which allows you in turn to —
- reduce gaps in dialogs
- increase gaps in dialogs
- make dialogs overlap
- take a performance from another take
So of course, this technique blurs even more the process of making films the way we’ve known it. It takes the collaborative aspect of film to another level because the actors’ performance, that has always been subject to tweaking thanks to editing, can be now transformed up to a point where the intention becomes hard to trace.
Does it matter? Maybe only because we still live in a system that likes to give credits to one person for a very specific skill, which is a very debatable habit.
Storytelling wise though, it gives more room for all players to reach the end goal, which is telling the best story possible.
Watch the full video below to see more examples of invisible split-screen, and how to reproduce the technique for your own projects: