Create a Split-Screen Template in Motion for Final Cut

Posted on by Larry

Here’s a playful, animated split-screen effect that is easy to create in Motion and a big time-saver when working with split screens in Final Cut Pro. This takes less than ten minutes to create.

NOTE: This template is included as a free download at the end of this tutorial.

(Images courtesy of

Here’s where we’re going – creating a Motion generator that displays a 3-way animated split screen, where the size and position parameters for all images are baked into the template. All you need to do is fill it with video in Final Cut.


This effect consists of three layers:

We’ll create this for a 1080p project, however it can be scaled to any size or frame rate in Final Cut to match the specs of your project without damaging image quality.

Creating this takes less than ten minutes, but you can tweak it as much as you want after the basic template is created. There are lots of ways to adjust this.


Open Motion and, from the Project Browser, select Final Cut Generator. Then pick the image size, frame rate and duration you want.

NOTE: Because the background uses generated media, you can stretch the duration of this clip in Final Cut to whatever you need. Using 30 seconds is fine for the template.

NOTE: Normally, backgrounds fill the frame. Naturally, I picked one that didn’t.

You are now done with the Background group. Twirl it up and ignore it.


You don’t need to measure anything, you could simply rough things in by eye, but I’ll show you how to use guides to make it easier to be precise.

We need to allow room for Safe Zones and make all three drop zones the same size. Here are the numbers I used for a 1080p frame.

Into these three equal areas we will add drop zones to hold the images in Final Cut.


We could add the drop zones now, but I think it’s easier, since we’ve marked their space, to add the blurry border. This border could be anything you want, but I’ll keep it simple.

Here’s what this looks like currently.


Select the drop zone, then in Inspector > Properties:

NOTE: Crop is located at the bottom of the Properties panel. Click Show to reveal the contents. Don’t change top or bottom crop.

Add a second Drop Zone:

Add a third Drop Zone:

(Click to see larger image.)

Here’s where we are now. We’ve now completed the template.

Choose File > Save (shortcut: Cmd + S). Because this is a generator, Motion saves it automatically into the Generator browser. I store all my custom Motion templates in a folder with my name. You can use whatever folder you want.

Click Publish and you’re done.


The really nice thing about any Motion template is that once you create it, you can reuse it as many times as you want from inside Final Cut. No need to go back into Motion again.

Here’s what it looks like in the Final Cut Viewer.

Play the timeline. Everything moves – the clips in the drop zone and the animated background.

Very cool!

FREE TEMPLATE: Here’s the Motion template we just created. Unzip this and drop the entire folder (“3-way split screen”) in [ Home Directory ] > Movies > Motion Templates > Generators. It will appear in the Generators browser the next time you relaunch Final Cut.


Because every element is separate, you can modify template this by changing backgrounds, playing with the colors, feathering the border layer – even remove it entirely.

This is a highly-flexible template. You can use this same idea to create a 2-way split screen or add far more images. Just remember each image needs its own drop zone and all drop zones need to be centered in their space.

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12 Responses to Create a Split-Screen Template in Motion for Final Cut

  1. Philip Cutting says:

    Great little tutorial. Thanks Larry.

  2. Emily says:

    Thanks so much Larry, this is very helpful. I’m currently working my way through your motion tutorials and it’s so gratifying to make my own transition/text/effects etc. for Final Cut. Just got a grant for a 6 half hour episode series and you are saving my bacon. 🙂

    • Larry says:


      Thanks for writing (and you only need to post once – all comments are moderated and don’t appear till I approve them. Not to avoid disagreement, simply to avoid spam.)

      I’m delighted I can help. Please contact me directly – – if you have specific questions.

      Thanks and good luck with your series!


  3. George Henderson says:

    I haven’t opened Motion since the version that came with FCP6.
    Looks like you had a lot of fun with this?
    GEEZ, I probably should spend the fifty bucks for a version that works on my M1 iMac.
    Double-GEEZ, I probably need a Mac Studio too!!!!

    Thanks Larry

    • Larry says:

      ah… George:

      You don’t need a Mac Studio to use Motion. But, for $50, given what Motion can do, the purchase should be a no brainer. THEN, you can buy a Mac Studio…!

      Motion takes a bit of time to learn, but it can do some very fun things.


  4. Philip Snyder says:

    Great tutorial, Larry.
    Very useful template. I learn something new with each one.


  5. Barry Stone says:

    This was fun. Next question: How do I edit the clips within the template. Starthem earlier picks different part of the frame etc

    • Larry says:


      A drop zone can only contain one clip. If you need to change shots, create them as a stand alone movie.

      And when adding a clip to a drop zone, the In is the frame you click on when selecting the drop zone.


  6. Luke says:

    Being retired and 74, learning new stuff is still exciting and keeps me young. Larry’s excellent tutorials are contributing greatly to that. Thank you Larry.

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