Learn to Create Split Screen Videos in Final Cut Pro X

Final Cut Pro February 3, 2020 4 min read

Split screen videos can be a fun stylistic choice for a variety of video types, but they also allow you to display more information on-screen than a single clip. With split screens, you can create engaging motion graphics videos with just a little keyframing. In this tutorial, we are going to show you a variety of methods for creating dynamic split screen videos in Final Cut Pro X.

Part 1: How to Create a Split Screen in FCPX

While you might want to dive in and start creating a cool layout, it can be helpful to do a little planning first. A split screen effect works by layering the footage and changing the shape and size of your video clips, so they are displayed alongside one another. Because of this, It’s helpful to know the layout you want to achieve so you can work out the sizes to make each video.

1. Vertical & Horizontal Splits

Vertical and horizontal split screens are when the screen is divided into two sections, displaying a different clip on each side. 

For both of these types of split screen layouts, you can use the same method but just change the different cropping settings. For a vertical video, you’ll change the left and right controls, and for horizontal, the top and bottom controls.

  1. Place 2 clips on the timeline and stack them.
  2. Go to the top layer and select it.
  3. In the Inspector, find the Crop settings, and adjust either the Top/Bottom or Left/Right controls to reframe your clip.
  4. Select the Transform tool and move the clip to cover half of the screen.
  5. Repeat this process with the second clip.
  6. Fine-tune the placement and cropping of each clip until you are happy with the overall look.

2. Multiple Video Splits

To create multiple splits, you can use the vertical/horizontal method above, but you’ll need to add more layers. Creating split screens with more than 2 layers of video can become a little complicated, especially if you want to be precise about your placement. For this example, we’re going to look at splitting the screen into 4. 

  1. Start by selecting and stacking your 4 clips in the timeline.
  2. Each clip you import should be 100% in the scale setting. As we are splitting the screen into 4, we’ll create a 2×2 grid, so we’ll need to divide the scale by 2. Change each of your clips scale setting to 50%.
  3. Select the Transform tool and move each clip to a corner of the screen. 

You can use this method with any percentage to create precise split screens and video wall style compositions. Check out this handy reference chart.

Video GridNumber of LayersScale %
3×3933.3%
4×41625%
5×52520%
6×63616.6%

3. Freeform Splits

Another style of split screen, often used in music videos and motion graphics videos, is the freehand split screen. Rather than neatly laid out in equal sizes, the freeform style consists of videos arranged in whichever way you want. It will take a bit of playing around to get right, but it’s worth it!

  1. Stack up as many layers as you need.
  2. With each clip, in turn, adjust the Crop and Scale settings.
  3. Arrange the clips around the screen in the layout you choose.

Part 2: Animating Your Split Screen Video

1. Animating Your Split Screen Position

Once you have your layout looking just right, you may want to add animation to the beginning and end of your clips. Using a few keyframes, each panel of your split screen can move in to place.

  1. With your layout finished in your timeline, move the Playhead to the beginning of the timeline.
  2. With the first clip selected, go to the Inspector, and place a keyframe on the Position settings.
  3. Move the Playhead forward a few frames and place a second keyframe.
  4. Using the arrows next to the keyframe setting, move back to the first point.
  5. Select the Transform tool and drag the clip off-screen.
  6. Do this with each clip so they each animate on.

You can repeat the keyframes at the end of the clip to create an out animation.

2. Animating Your Split Screen Crop

Another way you can animate your split screen is to use the crop settings. Rather than each clip moving in to place, they will be revealed as if behind a window.

  1. Create your split screen composition.
  2. Add keyframes to the beginning of your clips, only this time, against one of the Crop settings.
  3. Go to the first keyframe and reduce the Crop setting so that the clip completely disappears.
  4. Repeat these steps with each clip until all reveal in and out.

Part 3: Tips & Troubleshooting

By now, we’re sure you understand the basic premise nailing this look: you layer your video clips up and change the scale, position, and crop of each clip to they are displayed alongside one another. Let’s look at some top tips for creating these stunning compositions.

1. Precision Editing

If you want to be super precise, but are having problems seeing what is happening, you can zoom in to your playback window, and navigate using the red box. If you want to be more mathematical about your layout, you can match the positions settings between clips.

2. Borders & Background

You can add a border around your clips by only leaving a gap between them when you reposition. As a default, the background color will be black, but you can change this by adding a color matte from the Generators window.

  1. Go to the Generators window and search for Custom.
  2. Drag the Color Matte to your timeline below the split screen.
  3. Change the duration by dragging the end, so it covers the whole split screen.
  4. Select the layer and go to the Inspector, here you can change the color.

3. Adding Text Panels

You can replace one or more of your split screen panels with a text element. Text panels are great for typography style motion graphics videos. Consider using a Color Matte as your clip, and add text on top of it.

4. Wrong Sized Clips

Occasionally, you might end up with a clip that is not the same size as the others you want to use, which can make working out scale percentages difficult. To get it to the same size as your other clips, follow these steps.

  1. Right-click the image to resize and select Compound Clip.
  2. Name the new clip, and click OK.
  3. Double-click the clip to open the Compound Clip, and resize your image.
  4. Return to the main project timeline, and the clip is now the same size as your others.

Split screen videos can be a powerful storytelling tool, and they look pretty awesome too. Your preferred layout is up to you, and with a little playing around, you can quickly create stunning animated compositions. Now, you can see how easy Final Cut Pro split screens are to make, get creative, and impress your audience!