Welcome to The Queue — your daily distraction of curated video content sourced from across the web. Today, we’re watching a video about how filmmakers create the illusion of doubles, twins, and clones through various visual effects.
The gag of having one person appear on-screen as more than one character is almost as old as cinema itself. But actors playing multiple roles in a film is one thing. Having them share the screen and interact with each other is another matter altogether.
Over time, numerous techniques have been used to pull off the illusion of twins, clones, and duplicates. Some films are lucky enough to have actual twins at their disposal. Others simply rely on body doubles, avoiding the need for visual effects entirely. For everyone else, until the advent of computer-generated effects, pulling off a “doubling” was a matter of editing. And the oldest and most effective trick in the book was the split-screen, which goes at least as far back as the French illusionist Georges Méliès.
But, as the video essay below emphasizes, the real magic happens when filmmakers combine techniques. When optical mattes, body doubles, and motion-controlled cameras are intertwined and mixed-and-matched to sell us on the trick.
The video offers an impressively dense look at examples of different “doubling” techniques across cinema history and how their limitations led to creative solutions. So, if you’ve ever wanted to know the ins and outs of one of film’s longest-serving visual effects, you’ve come to the right place.
Watch “Creating Doubles: The Split-Screen and Beyond”: