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Weekly Video Tip: Advanced Editing with Split Screens

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By Stephen Schweickart

If you’ve been keeping up with our entire editing series, than you’re an editing wizard already. But we’re going to help expand your toolbox with this fun technique called split screen. Or picture in picture. Or video overlaying. Or any one of a dozen other names for this idea. The main concept stays the same no matter what you call it—you’re showing two video streams simultaneously.

There are a lot of reasons to take advantage of the split screen editing technique. Fast paced promotional videos and comparison videos do this a lot, and you can even set it up to make it look like you’re having a conversation…with yourself!

For you amateur editors rocking iMovie, here’s a quick step-by-step guide to get a split screen going on your video. First, load the two clips into your iMovie project. Next, go up to iMovie > Preferences and make sure “show advanced tools” is checked off. When that’s done, take your first clip—your base clip—and drop it in your timeline. Then comes the hard part: Drag your second clip over the first clip, and when you see the little plus sign on your cursor appear, simply release your mouse button. Once you’ve done this, select “side-by-side.”

You’ll see your second clip appear ABOVE your first in the timeline, and if you drag your playhead over that area, you’ll see the default effect. By double-clicking on that clip, you can adjust the way the clip transitions in and out. Now you’ve got yourself a split screen effect that’s all yours.

For those of you who have a copy of Final Cut, the process is simple and your options are basically limitless. Using the same first step as before, load up your clips into the project. Then simply stick your base clip on track one and your overlay clip on track two, or anywhere above your base clip. Before we move on we need to make sure you have a particular setting set up the right way. Above the Canvas window, your output window, there’s a drop down menu with what looks like an unfinished box on it. Click that and make sure “Image + Wireframe” is selected. This allows you to click on your clips in the canvas and move them and scale them without having to punch numbers into the next menu.

This is where your options open up like flood gates. Double click the overlay clip on the timeline, then open the motion tab in your canvas window, and go nuts! You can scale and move your clip from here, but you can also rotate, distort and most importantly crop your clip. It’s really easy and if you’re a huge editing nerd, you’re in for quite the party. Just tinker to your heart’s content, render it, and enjoy the fruits of your labor.

 Stephen Schweickart is the co-founder of VScreen. For more information on this topic, visit VScreen’s site at http://www.vscreen.com/

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