The Mosaic-Screen: Exploration and Definition – Sergio Dias Branco

Abstract: The split screen is a well-known multi-frame technique used in film, television, and video. This essay focuses on cases in which this denomination seems incorrect, but that are currently classified under the same heading. In these instances, images of usually distinct characteristics are arranged on screen. The aim is to explore and define this specific technique, here termed mosaic-screen.

Specific terms are foundational in film, television, and video studies. This lexicon strengthens the autonomy of these fields and cultivates a common ground for their scholarship. “Split-screen”, for example, is usually used as a synonym of multiple-image or multi-frame compositions. As David Bordwell and Kristin Thompson state, “In this process, two or more different images, each with its own frame dimensions and shape, appear within the larger frame” (2007, 187).1 This is an intentionally wide-ranging description. According to it, a split screen seems to be any multiple-image layout that sets images alongside each other within the same frame. The broadness is understandable. The authors are cautious enough not to limit what can be understood by the term, exactly because there are no other terms against which to define it.

This case in point leaves the impression that the vocabulary of a field is also limited, since it may not cover or accurately describe some cases. It is this limitation that makes it continually open to improvements and additions – a way for scholarly work to keep responding to the renewed creativity of films, videos, and television series. This essay arises from these introductory ideas and aims to explore and define a new term that can be contrasted with split-screen: that is, mosaic-screen. In this stylistic device, used in regular moments of the television series 24 (Fox Network, 2001-), images that commonly vary in characteristics are arranged on screen.

Fig.1: 24 (2001). © 2001 20th Century Fox Film

In the inaugural episode of the series – “12:00 a.m.-1:00 a.m.” (1:1) –, a first image shows the van where Kim Bauer (Elisha Cuthbert) is, along with a female friend and two boys. After this image shrinks to the upper middle of the screen, an image of Kim appears on the right. The height and width of this second image are slightly smaller than the same measurements of the first one. They are both aligned at the bottom. That leaves space above, up to the limit of the screen, for the second – contrasting with the first that goes as far as the top edge of the screen. A third image is added below, a long horizontal rectangle that shows Teri Bauer (Leslie Hope) and Alan York (Richard Burgi) who are looking for Kim. Every shot has a different scale, disparate in its relationships with what is filmed: an extreme long shot is followed by a close-up and then by a medium close-up two shot. The distinct shape and size of the third image give it dominance – Teri and Alan’s anxious search suggests that Kim is not safe, something that she is starting to believe herself, as her tensely motionless face and shut eyes convey above. A fourth image of Senator David Palmer (Dennis Haysbert), a presidential candidate targeted by terrorists, is later added on the left, and the first image is replaced with one of Jack Bauer (Keifer Sutherland), Kim’s father and the agent who is handling the threat on the Senator’s life. The association between the moving images is weighted by their successive addition and arrangement.

This brief analysis of an instance from 24 makes clear that the mosaic-screen is substantially different from the split screen as form and technique. Not once was it useful or adequate to describe this composition of images as splitting the screen. To argue for the necessity of this new term it is therefore indispensable, first, to limit the applicability of the existing term split-screen – through the analysis of cases that exemplify its utilisation and the expressive effects that it generates. The same needs to be done regarding the new term. These analyses will draw a contrast between the two expressions and what they designate. The logical step after establishing this distinction by empirical evidence is to demonstrate the suitability of “mosaic-screen” to describe and name the device examined earlier.


Fig.2: Timecode (2000). © 2000 Columbia Pictures

To differentiate the mosaic-screen from the split screen, it is imperative to revisit the latter and the functions it typically plays. Timecode (Mike Figgis, 2000) is a recent work that uses this technique. The screen is divided into four equal sections; each occupied by continuous takes that are coincident in time. This video experiment transferred to film elucidates something essential about the split screen: splitting is dividing the screen into parts, in general into halves. A glance at the history of this practice confirms this. The first movie to achieve such an effect – through set design and camera placement, instead of post-production – dates from 1901 and is “a telephone gag titled Are You There? , in which [James] Williamson photographed his subjects half-length and in split-screen” (Sopocy 1978, 10).

Fig.3: Coupling (2000-02, 2004), “Split” (3:1). Images © 2002 Hartswood Films.

In its simplest form, the split screen bisects the screen. In an episode of the British sitcom Coupling (BBC, 2000-02, 2004) fittingly called “Split” (3:1), the break-up between Steve Taylor (Jack Davenport) and Susan Walker (Sarah Alexander) is visually conveyed by a tear on the screen, later replaced by a white straight line. As the narrative splits into two, so does the screen, each with its own half, each with its own shots. In this sense, the act of splitting is inseparable from the act of separating what was one and the same. The famous split screen that “disappears” when Sean Bateman (James Van Der Beek) and Lauren Hynde (Shannyn Sossamon) cross paths in The Rules of Attraction (Roger Avary, 2002) inverts this logic, yet it fundamentally stresses the same features. The characters are filmed in two frontal close-ups during the conversation. “Show me your eyes”, she says, right before removing his sunglasses. The physical touch followed by eye contact make them closer – and it is this new closeness that stands out against their separation on screen. Accordingly, the camera rotates and the two shots merge into one shot. Although eventually giving way to unity, the split screen here remains associated foremost with division.

Fig.4: Conversations with Other Women (2005). © 2005 Gordonstreet Pictures

Technical decisions and choices of screen format can be important factors when employing the split screen. Much like Timecode, Conversations with Other Women (Hans Canosa, 2005) divides the screen from the start, but in two parts instead of four. The film tells a love story between a man (Aaron Eckhart) and a woman (Helena Bonham Carter) who remain nameless until the end. The wide-screen format of the movie emulates the aspect ratio of anamorphic cinematographic processes like Panavision (2.39:1) – a wider screen configuration than the standard American wide-screen (1.85:1) chosen for The Rules of Attraction – through the combination of two sets of shots captured by high-definition video cameras. This allows the two associated shots to contain more visual information and detail. It consequently enables the split screen to fulfil various purposes throughout the motion picture. A shot and a counter-shot of the pair in their first exchange of words can be presented at the same time. One frame is able to accommodate the two of them or just one while displaying a flashback on the left or showing a flash-forward on the right. The ending accomplishes something similar to the sequence from The Rules of Attraction. It joins two shots, one of him, one of her, both in the back seat of two taxicabs, into one shot. Not through a camera movement, as in the previous case, but simply by way of a gradual matching of the two shots, facilitated by digital video technology.

Fig.5: Bye Bye Birdie (1963). © 1963 Kohlmar-Sidney Productions

The partition of the screen may take other more inventive and complex forms – namely, it may be in more than two parts, the partitioning may be uneven, or the dividing lines may not be straight. Two examples suffice to illustrate this diversity. The Laramie Project (Moisés Kaufman, 2002) adapts a play that re-enacted interviews conducted about the deadly beating of Matthew Shepard, a gay 21-year old student. Shepard’s funeral is evoked using intricate lines that divide the screen, incorporating five shots and giving prominence to Matt Galloway (Joshua Jackson) who is narrating the event. Bye Bye Birdie (George Sidney, 1963) belongs to a cycle of popular wide-screen teenage comedies produced in the 1960s. Sketchy lines split the screen during a musical number about phone gossip, mirroring the carefree life of six adolescents. The Laramie Project shows multiple views of the same event. Bye Bye Birdie displays views of different, subsequent events. The two recall that the split screen is frequently linked with simultaneity and causality.

Fig.6: My Name Is Earl (2005-), “Stole a Motorcycle” (3:16). © 2008 20th Century Fox Film

Fig.7: Suspense (1913). © 1913 Universal Film

In a scene from a recent episode of My Name Is Earl (Fox Network, 2005-) set in the 1950s sitcom imagined by a comatose Earl (Jason Lee), Billie (Alyssa Milano) is talking on the phone with Joy (Jaime Pressly) while Earl and his brother Randy (Ethan Suplee) eavesdrop. The screen is subdivided into three areas. Billie and Joy are at the top – each one on the phone –, and Earl and Randy at the bottom – listening in together. This causal connection explored by the split screen has been commonly allied with phone conversations: the divided screen is able to show the simultaneous communication between people who are in different places. Are You There? and a film like Suspense (Phillips Smalley and Lois Weber, 1913) are early and repeatedly referenced illustrations of this use.2 In addition to an imaginative triangular division, Suspense uses the split screen to explore the causality and simultaneity of events as a means to create tension: during the wife’s (Lois Weber) distress call to her husband (Val Paul), the man (Sam Kaufman) who is trying to break into the house is included on the left side of the screen. The split screen is generally connected with simultaneity as well as division – the technique is often used as a division that allows simultaneity. That is why it is regularly employed in television news and live sportscasts. Daniel Chamberlain and Scott Ruston claim that “both of these forms use the split screen to emphasise simultaneity of experience, whether during a crucial point of the game, or to unite geographically distant guests of a news programme” (2007, 17).

Fig.8: Carrie (1976). © 1976 MGM Studios

As Bordwell and Thompson point out, in scenes like those discussed above, “We gain a godlike omniscience as we watch two or more actions at exactly the same moment” (2007, 187).3 This effect can be even more elaborate. Brian De Palma has adopted the split screen almost as a signature technique, amongst others like slow motion. His filmography contains many different uses of the split screen, from Sisters (1973) to Femme Fatale (2002) – in the first, for example, suspense is intensified when the screen is split into two crossing points of view, from an apartment where criminals are cleaning the scene of a murder, and from a flat across the street where a witness awaits the police. In a famous scene from Carrie (De Palma, 1976), the young girl (Sissy Spacek) suffers the ultimate humiliation of being soaked in pig’s blood before her colleagues and teachers at the high school prom. De Palma brings the split screen into play to express Carrie’s telekinetic power – fuelled by her rage – and its sheer dominance. Spatial relations are maintained as the screen is split in two: Carrie is on the right, directing three gazes toward the left that result in the shutting of all exit doors, as shown on the left. Her image then moves to the left to preserve the spatial coordinates of the scene on screen: she is about to look to the right to switch off the white lights and immerse the room in red light. The split screen, a form salient in its artificiality, becomes thus more concrete, co-ordinating the motion within the scene to match the movement of Carrie’s image. The consistency of spatial relationships could have been maintained by an immediate swap of images. Instead, the atypical movement of the image to the left expresses her dominating power to move and rearrange anything at a distance.

This succinct survey of the usage and functions of the split screen reveals the importance of technical decisions like screen ratio and the prevalence of relationships like causality and simultaneity. It also explored examples of more ingenious uses of the technique that sometimes highlight authorship. Obviously, some of these aspects may also be related with the new term – but not screen division, the first mentioned trait. The mosaic-screen does not divide the screen. It “splinters” the screen.


The mosaic-screen presents fragments on screen. It may be used to produce similar effects to the split screen, but it allows for other ways of achieving them. Let us return to 24 to investigate these ideas further. Recent style analyses of the series invariably look at the use of multi-frame imagery. In his insightful essay, “ 24: Status and Style”, Steven Peacock observes a moment from “1:00 a.m.-2:00 a.m.” (1:2) that typifies how the programme “uses split-screen and real time to convey the suddenness of shifting events” (2007, 26). Bauer is on the telephone with his boss Richard Walsh (Michael O’Neill) who has been ambushed and is calling for assistance. As Peacock attentively notices,

The full-screen image of Bauer only gives way when he recognizes the voice (and tone) of the caller. As the screen splits to share the men’s images, Bauer gives Walsh his undivided attention. […] Finally, as a gunshot rings out, a split-screen of both men is suddenly broken as the image of Walsh vanishes to black (2007, 26).

However, the writer overlooks how their physical distance is emphasised exactly because the screen is not simply divided. The two distinct images are presented over a black background. The full close-up of Bauer gives weight to his calm assessment of the situation and his attempt to find a way to help. The partial close-up of Walsh stresses his feeling of entrapment, the way he feels cornered. It is certainly fundamental to understand how “the abrupt loss of a link between the characters is coupled with the viewer’s own sense of momentary disengagement from the sight of the person on screen” (Peacock 2007, 27). Nevertheless, the possibility of a loss of contact between the characters is made visible by the introduction of the mosaic-screen. Walsh’s image vanishes into the same blackness that already surrounds the two images. This arrangement of images on screen conveys, not quite an anticipation of disconnection, but the prospect of a disconnection, establishing it as something that can happen at any instant. This creates a permanent tension and, more interestingly, an uncertainty about what is going to follow. 24 seems, on one level, to merely stress continuity and contiguity of action, but actually it does something else. It directs the audience’s attention from the almost unlimited possibilities of the story to the limited scenes of the plot. It therefore constantly brings to mind the fact that some events are not shown – and consequently that those that are shown were selected and are fragments of an unravelling sequence of simultaneous events. As in the mosaic-screen analysed in the introduction, the preponderance of the limits of the screen has vanished. The spectator does not look at the screen as a whole but concentrates on one of its parts like in the split screen. The isolated images and intervening spaces of the mosaic-screen ask us to choose between images as if we were selecting from various smaller screens, each one with its own narrative – unlike Timecode, which does not formally disperse its images. What occurs at the end of this sequence relates to this notion of fragmentation: we stay with Bauer and lose contact with Walsh’s story line for a brief time.

Fig.s 9-11: 24 (2001). © 2001 20th Century Fox Film

The mosaic-screen arranges diverse images normally with distinct aesthetic properties: colour, scale, framing, and especially shape and size, which are somehow independent from the encompassing dimensions of the screen that are divided by the split screen. In another paper on 24, Michael Allen is sensitive to these differences between mosaic-screen and split-screen. His stimulating account of the history of multi-panel forms spans from medieval paintings to comic books and covers an ampler view of multiple-image techniques. The scholar views the way multiple images are organised in the series as different from screen splitting and describes it as image composition on screen – even if he accepts the inapplicable expression split-screen. His analysis of a multi-panel from “3:00 p.m.-4:00 p.m.” (1:16) stresses the significance of a compositional element that is usually key in the mosaic-screen: the gutter, the space in between comic book panels. As Allen remarks,

The gutter between Teri/Kim and the guard is the standard size, indicating spatial coherence (they are at the same location), as well as narrative significance (the dead guard indicates that Teri and Kim are in imminent danger). The gutter between Teri/Kim and Jack, however, is noticeably wider, suggesting that Jack’s attention is away from his wife and daughter and focused on other matters […]. In this way, 24 utilises one the major features of the comic book layout aesthetic to reveal and substantiate narrative and psychological detail developed on other layers of the text. (2007, 44)

In this passage, Allen is responsive to how the mosaic-screen composes attention – which differs strikingly from the way the split screen divides it. If the split screen draws attention to points of division both along and within the screen edges, the mosaic-screen draws it to the relationships of the detached images set out on a customarily black background. The split screen is routinely used to connect images whereas the mosaic-screen is habitually used to disconnect them. There are, of course, cases in which the mosaic-screen explores situations that have become usual in the split screen – phone conversations, as evidenced, are regular in 24 –, but here, the space around and in between the frames, more easily conveys degrees of disconnection, prompting the above interpretation.

Fig.12: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). © 1968 Mirisch-Simkoe-Solar Productions

However, it is a mistake to think that large gutters are enough to define a mosaic-screen. The Thomas Crown Affair (Norman Jewison, 1968) is notable for its use of multiple-frame imagery, split screens as well as mosaic-screens. In an exemplary moment, the film presents two shots on screen. A close-up of Thomas Crown (Steve McQueen), a millionaire thief, occupies the whole screen, but is split into six by an added grid. A medium shot of one of his accomplices in the bank robbery then fills one of the resultant parts. The grid lines have three noticeably different thicknesses, but this does not belie that the screen is split – confirmed when the grid dissolves a few seconds later into Crown’s close-up. This moment can be fruitfully contrasted with the last instants of the opening credit sequence. Two pictures on the left get smaller: one of the protagonist and one of Vicki Anderson (Faye Dunaway), an insurance investigator who will become his lover. A narrow vertical figure of Vicki is expanded from left to right; the final height is more than three times that of the first pictures. The scale and colour differences contribute to a sense of balance: the figure on the right is in full body, poised, and predominately in black and white, whereas the ones on the right include a close-up in orange and a medium shot in green. A moving picture of a man walking in a hallway is inserted and is at variance with the first three still pictures – but it appears at the centre of the screen, prolonging the equilibrium, the inaugural stability of this often tense thriller. In the first moment, the split screen is used as a means to unevenly fracture a shot and incorporate another. In the initial credits, the mosaic-screen is employed to achieve a vivid sense of adjusted balance.

Fig.13: The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). © 1968 Mirisch-Simkoe-Solar Productions

Buffalo ‘66 (1998). © 1997 Cinepix Film

Frame dimension, contour, and position can guide the spectator’s scanning of a mosaic-screen. A mosaic is produced from arranged pieces. The Tracey Fragments (Bruce McDonald, 2007) uses multiple-image devices recurrently and variedly to convey Tracey Berkowitz’s (Ellen Page) confusion and desperation while she searches for her younger brother. The use of the mosaic-screen is at times striking – as when the 15-year-old is travelling at the back of an empty city bus, naked, and covered by a torn shower curtain. On the left, there are fragments of the same shot: the middle fragment shows her seated, the other two are of the floor and of the adjacent seats to her right – in other words, the images follow a compositional pattern that respects the actual spatial relation of what they show. There is no masking over the shot as in the first example from The Thomas Crown Affair. The pieces were clearly moved away to amplify the feeling of isolation and loneliness. An image of the bus on the road is situated at the bottom right and is considerably bigger than the other three. That alone makes it prominent, but this image is given even more emphasis because it is rotated to the right – a rotation that we follow. This more dynamic positioning combined with the movement of the bus creates a greater disparity between this image and the stillness of the fragments on the top left. At times, the film combines multiple insets forming a saturated and dispersed image, cubist in its effect – encompassing multiplied viewpoints, simple quadrilateral forms, interlocking planes, and a sense of collage, obviously connected with the idea of mosaic. Buffalo ‘66 (Vincent Gallo, 1998) corroborates that mosaic-screens can forgo gutters between images. Billy (Gallo) sits on a bench right after his release from jail and an image of him in the shower is placed at the centre of the screen. One by one, several images of his recent past fill the screen until the initial shot of the protagonist on a bench disappears under them.

Instances like these from 24, The Thomas Crown Affair, The Tracey Fragments, and Buffalo ‘66 clearly demonstrate the expressive potential of the mosaic-screen and make obvious its formal differences from the split screen. These concise analyses prove that this formal and technical practice exists and has a set of distinctive characteristics. Even so, this is not the same as arguing for the appropriateness of the term, which may be unsuitable to designate such a technique.

Mosaics and Screens

Craig Knowles recuperates the concept of mosaic as an art form that can be explored in filmmaking. According to him, multiple-imaging in motion pictures is part of a history of decorative and artistic mosaic forms whose origin can be traced back to the Greeks (2003, 9). For Knowles, mosaic forms maintain a connection with this source: a mosaic as a picture or a pattern produced by small coloured pieces of rock, tile, or glass. His thesis aims at extending what he labels as “image mosaic” by adding the dimension of time through film creation – and he is only interested in the concept of mosaic for this purpose. It is not surprising then that he simply gathers modes of presenting several images on screen: multiple exposures, dissolves, insets, superimpositions, and the split screen. In his study, the image mosaic is really any “tiled image” (Knowles 2003, 52). It almost goes without saying that Knowles is referring to something different from “mosaic-screen”. Legitimately for his goals, the author not only makes no attempt to distinguish between multiple-image practices, but also mentions the listed techniques as simply creating image mosaics – and hence their effects seems similar and their distinctions become vague. This raises reservations. Maybe “mosaic” is not the right word to append to “screen” in order to name the technique in focus.

A defence needs only to recall that the word “mosaic” is already used to describe something similar in the context of interactive television. As stated in the description of one of these services, interactive video mosaics4 can display as few as two and as many as twelve video streams. These video windows can be scaled and the mosaic also includes a channel list and a menu for additional details on selected video streams or television channels. What is fundamental to our discussion is that the variety of information to be displayed begs for an arrangement that is conceptually similar to the mosaic-screen technique: isolated frames or areas, more or less heterogeneous, are arranged and combined on screen.

There may be some objections to the use of the word “screen” as well. Recently, while arguing against Alan Goldman’s definition of moving image – and, in the process, arguing for his own –, Noël Carroll called into question the term “screen” (2008, 77-78).5 For Goldman, an image is a moving image if and only if it is (1) capable of movement and (2) mechanically projected on a screen (2002, 93-99). Carroll’s objections have to do with the fact that televisual images, for example, are not projected onto a screen. The phosphor screen of television sets is not a surface for projection; it is part of a device that generates the image. He concludes that if a screen “is that upon which you see something else or through which you see something else […] this is clearly too broad” (2008, 78). Carroll is right to contend that “screen” is, at the same time, too limited and too vague. What weakens Goldman’s definition is the meaning that he ascribes to “screen”: a surface for projection. This does not mean that the word is, in itself, problematic.

All there is to do is to explain what “screen” in “mosaic-screen” stands for. Evidently, the word is inherited from “split screen”, a point of departure for this entire argument and a related technique – so similar that until now the two have not been distinguished. “Screen” simply means image as when we say “off-screen” to refer to what lies outside the frame of an image – the off-screen space that is beyond what is visible on screen or the off-screen sound whose origin is situated in that space. This is an entrenched and comprehensible use of the word.

Examining the two words combined leads to other observations. In the two terms, “split screen” and “mosaic-screen”, the prefixes have a different relationship with the shared, second word. The difference between a verb – “split” – and a noun – “mosaic” – underlines the differences between the techniques. The verb indicates that the split screen emerges from the form and boundaries of the screen; it entails the action of dividing the screen into parts. The noun denotes that the mosaic-screen is arranged over the screen; it identifies a type of composition of images on screen.

The foremost evidence that this new term is needed is how the images produced with this technique have observable and significant differences from the ones created employing split-screen imaging. Behind this assertion is the idea that specific terms can be established and refined – and sometimes established through a process of refinement. As such, the differentiation between the split screen and the mosaic-screen is as critical, and as subtle or apparent, as the one between a matched cut and a jump cut. The clear distinction drawn between split-screen and mosaic-screen in the first sections demonstrated the necessity and usefulness of this new term by showing its descriptive value and practical application.

One of the advantages of what is proposed here is that it does not require or call for the substitution of one term for another. This is of special significance given that terms become ingrained by their usage – which means that if this essay were proposing such a replacement, even if for a more precise expression, it would encounter resistance, at the least, or indifference, most likely.6 The reasoning followed recognises the utility of the term “split-screen”, but claims that another denomination should be used for some specific cases of multi-frame imaging that currently fall vaguely under the existing general term. It has been made clear that split-screen and mosaic-screen are two distinct multi-image techniques and this is the chief reason why we should have two terms to designate them. The split screen divides the screen into two or more parts. The mosaic-screen arranges one or more detached images on screen. These two general definitions are open. They do not tell us if the split-screen parts have varying or equal dimensions, or if the mosaic-screen images have similar or different characteristics. Usually, split-screen parts are equivalent and mosaic-images are heterogeneous, but that is not always the case. Let us allow some room for the kind of formal diversity celebrated throughout this text regarding these frames within frames, these images within images.

Mosaicked Research

This paper has been narrow in its purpose, but it aimed at being penetrating. It identified a form and distinguished it from another form through observation. It also proposed an adequate and defensible name to give to this new form. In brief, this has been mainly an analytical and theoretical effort.

Now that the mosaic-screen is clearly identifiable there is much work to conduct. The histories of this stylistic device and of the split screen are not coincident – even though there is a common genealogy that, for instance, links the multiple screen projections of Napoleon (Abel Gance, 1927) or Chelsea Girls (Paul Morrissey and Andy Warhol, 1966) with these two forms of multi-image composition. As we have seen, the split screen was first achieved optically in 1901. The effect of a mosaic-screen could have not been attained in the same way, but a mask placed in the camera could have solved the problem. There are therefore noteworthy differences between how the split screen and the mosaic-screen can be, were, and are, produced in camera, optically, or digitally. The mosaic-screen is not a product of non-linear editing and other digital technologies, as the examples from The Thomas Crown Affair demonstrated, but it is made easier and, in a sense, encouraged by them. The similarities between this technique and the configurations of multi-streaming and interactive video mosaics also extend to the windows displayed and opened on computer screens – practices that, as Lev Manovich remarks, shift attention to the spatial dimension of editing (2001, 157). The history of the mosaic-screen is yet to be written. Its connection with other forms and practices remains to be studied in detail. This essay has sought to open this mosaic of research possibilities.7


Allen, M. 2007. Divided Attention: Split-Screen Aesthetics in 24. In Reading “24”: TV Against the Clock, ed. S. Peacock, 35-47. London: I.B. Tauris.

Aptiv Digital, Inc. Interactive Video Mosaic, Pioneer Digital Technologies, Inc. (accessed 10 Sept. 2008).

Bordwell, D. and K. Thompson. 2007. Film Art: An Introduction, 8th ed. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Carroll, N. 2003. Engaging the Moving Image. New Haven: Yale University Press.

–––. 2008. The Philosophy of Motion Pictures. Oxford: Blackwell.

Chamberlain, D. and S. Ruston. 2007. 24 and Twenty-First Century Quality Television. In Reading “24”: TV Against the Clock, ed. S. Peacock, 13-17. London: I.B. Tauris.

Goldman, A. 2002. Specificity, Popularity, and Engagement in the Moving Image. Film and Philosophy 5 (6): 93-99.

Knowles, C. B. 2003. The Temporal Image Mosaic and Its Artistic Applications in Filmmaking. MA thesis, Queen’s University.

Manovich, L. 2001. The Language of New Media. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

Peacock, S. 2007. 24: Status and Style. In Reading “24”: TV Against the Clock, ed. S. Peacock, 25-33. London: I.B. Tauris.

Sopocy, Martin. 1978. A Narrated Cinema: The Pioneer Story Films of James A. Williamson. Cinema Journal 18 (1): 1-28.


1. I use this textbook not only because of its popularity but mainly because it is the most thorough of its kind. It contains general information about film techniques and structures, updated in successive editions, therefore summarising and reflecting the current knowledge on the art of film.

2. See, for example, Allen (2007, 38-39).

3. They also call attention to the two uses of the split screen discussed in an earlier paragraph: the depiction of phone conversations and the creation of suspense.

4. For further information about this instance of an interactive video mosaic from Aptiv Digital, Inc. see

5. For reference, Carroll (2008, 73) contends that “x is a moving image if and only if (1) x is detached or a series thereof; (2) x belongs to the class of things from which the promotion of the impression of movement is technically possible; (3) performance tokens of x are generated by templates that are themselves tokens; (4) performance tokens of x are not artworks in their own right; and (5) x is two-dimensional”.

6. In “Fiction, Nonfiction, and the Film of Presumptive Assertion: Conceptual Analysis”, Carroll (2003: 193-224) argues that ‘films of the presumptive assertion’ is a more correct designation to the kind of films that we call ‘documentaries’. However, in his usual pragmatic fashion, he acknowledges that this new term “is quite a mouthful. And it does not have a nice ring to it. So, I am not suggesting that we attempt to make ordinary folk replace ‘documentary’ with this cumbersome locution. […] The reform I am not suggesting is not primarily a linguistic reform, but a theoretical one” (220).

7. I am deeply grateful to Dr. Catherine Grant (University of Sussex) for her comments and encouragement.

Author Bio

Sergio Dias Branco teaches film and television at the University of Kent, where he is completing a doctoral thesis on the aesthetics of television fiction series. He has presented research papers at the University of Nottingham and the University of North Carolina, Greensboro, amongst others. Forthcoming chapters in books include essays on allegory and subjectivity in The Addiction (Abel Ferrara, 1995) and on Battlestar Galactica (UMS, 2003-) and genre aesthetics.

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  1. Great stuff mate,

    Now I can intellectually articulate that appreciation for 24 that i’ve had for years now so much more eloquently. Keep up the great work!

    – andy