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How to Split Screen in Final Cut Pro

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Here are 4 ways you can make split screens in Final Cut Pro to get that professional look without paying for extra plugins. Split screens are a fantastic way to show off a product, conduct an interview or just add some extra flair to your footage. In this video I’ll share several different ways to create split screens with Final Cut Pro’s built in tools and at the end I’ll share a tip that surprised even this 10 year video editing vet.

All right, technique # 1. Easy peasy.

Technique # 1 is by far the easiest and fastest way to create split screens in just 3 clicks. Stack 2 clips in your timeline. Right click on the top one and select Transform. Hold down shift, click and drag the clip to the right. Holding down shift restricts the movement to left and right and won’t let the clip go up or down revealing transparent spots. Select the bottom clip, hold down shift, click and drag the clip to the left. Split screen! Let’s make it a bit more interesting with some animations.

Go to the Wipes section in the Transitions browser and drag and drop Center on to both clips. Drag the transition edges to the left to shorten them to about 1 second and 14 frames. In the Transition inspector, set the Border under Edge Treatment to 0. Play it back and boom. Split screens! You can get a ton of different looks by playing around with the on screen controls and published parameters. In a second I’ll show you how to add several screens with a split screen grid.

To make a horizontal split screen, right click on the top clip and select Transform. Click and drag up and then select the bottom clip, click and drag down. Split screen! Now let’s animate it. Go to the Replicators/Clones section in the Transitions browser and drag and drop Duplicate on to both clips. Drag the transition edges to the left to shorten them to about 1 second. Select the top transition and in the Transition inspector, set the Origin to Upper Left and set Shape to Rounded Rectangle. In the bottom transition set the Origin to Lower Right and set Shape to Rounded Rectangle. Hit play. Oooh. Smooth lookin split screen!

Ok, technique #2. Mask and you shall receive. It isn’t as quick as #1 but it is more customizable. Add a third clip to your 2 stacked clips and make them all the same duration. Disable the top and bottom clips by selecting them and pressing V. Go to Effects, then Masks and drag and drop Shape Mask onto all 3 clips. Go to the beginning of the clip and in the video inspector set Radius X to 0, Y to 540, Curvature and Feather to 0. Set a keyframe for Radius X, move forward 10 frames and set Radius X to 320. By the way, these numbers will only work for 1080p footage. Just divide your footage width by 6 to get your X value and divide your footage height by 2 to get the Y value. 

Enable the top clip, go to the beginning. In the video inspector set Radius X to 320, Y to 0, Curvature, Feather to 0 and X Position to -640. Set a keyframe for Radius Y, move forward 10 frames and set Radius Y to 540. 

Enable the bottom clip, go to the beginning. In the video inspector set Radius X to 320, Y to 0, Curvature, Feather to 0 and X Position to +640. Set a keyframe for Radius Y, move forward 10 frames and set Radius Y to 540. If the composition is off, disable the shape mask, right click on the viewer, select Transform and move your clip left or right. Enable the mask and adjust the X Position. Check it out. 3 screen split! Later on I’ll show you that trick I discovered after 10 years of editing but first I want to show you how to layout several screens.

Technique #3 is perfect for making grids. Reset your 3 clips and add one more. Select all 4 clips and in the Video Inspector set scale to 50%. Select your bottom video, right click in the viewer and select Transform. Move it to the upper left corner. Repeat for the other clips putting them in different corners. To get precise, enter values in the published parameters. Divide your footage width and height by 4. In this case it’s 1920 divided by 4 which is 480 and 1080 divided by 4 which is 270. So the upper left corner is -480 and 270. Upper right corner is 480 and 270. Bottom right corner is 480 and -270. Bottom left corner is -480 and -270. Just think of the center as 0, 0. Anything below or to the left is a negative value. Make sense? 

We’ve got a pretty good grid going on but it needs some animation life. Go to Movements under Transitions and drag and drop Scale onto each clip. The clips above the timeline will be converted to a storyline and will have a transition at the beginning and end. You can delete the end transitions. Select all the transitions, press Control + D and change the duration to 20 frames. This looks pretty good but they all move at the same rate. Let’s offset these for more character. Click and drag to select the top 3 storylines. Then press period 5 times to nudge them to the right. Unselect the second to the bottom storyline and nudge the 2 selected storyline 5 more frames. Select the top storyline and nudge it 5 more frames. Now the animation is staggered for a clean modern look. Split screens!

Technique #4 is a freestyle rap. This method will make your hands clap! In this technique we’ll mix and match shape sizes. Reset your 4 clips and add one more clip. I know, it’s getting out of hand. Next, go to Generators and add a custom Solid Color generator underneath all your clips. This will be your border color. Right click on your top clip and select Crop. Use the corner handles to crop your clip and move the box to adjust your composition. Right click and select Transform. Move your cropped clip. Do the same for the remaining 4 clips working your way down from top clip to bottom. Have fun. Make different size rectangles and squares and leave some space between your clips. Just Crop, Move, Transform and Move until you get a layout you like. This technique of crop, move, transform is a new discovery for me. I’ve been editing for 10 years and only recently discovered it when researching this video. Now you don’t have to wait 10 years! Now that you can see all 5 clips, make any final adjustments. Select the bottom custom color generator and pick your border color. 

Now let’s add some animation. Go to the beginning of the clips, select a clip and under Transform in the Video Inspector set a keyframe for scale all and set the value to 0. Move forward about 10 frames and set the value to 100%. Select that clip and copy with Command + C. Select the other 4 clips and Paste Attributes with Shift + Command + V. Uncheck Position and Crop then click Paste. Now all your clips have the same growing animation. You can adjust the animation timing by selecting a clip and opening the keyframe editor by pressing Control + V. Adjust the keyframes to change the start and end times and the duration. Here’s what we’ve got. Freestyle split screens!

Nice work! Now that you’re a split screen expert you can make pro looking videos in a snap. You may want to check out this video my friend Chris made called How to mask moving objects in Final Cut Pro. Click here to check it out.

About Dylan Higginbotham

Hey there. I'm Dylan Higginbotham, and I'm pretty dang obsessed with Final Cut Pro X plugins. Subscribe below because I love giving away free plugins and contributing great content.

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