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Brian De Palma Archives - Blog

20 Split Diopter Shots in DRESSED TO KILL

On 11, Jan 2018 | No Comments | In Cinematography, Production, Uncategorized | By vashi


My love for the Split Diopter shot knows no bounds. It’s a cinematic device that is both obvious and supremely effective. I’ve explored it in depth here and here.

I now triumphantly return with even more visual storytelling examples from Brian De Palma’s epic thriller DRESSED TO KILL:


12 of the 20 Split Diopter shots in DRESSED TO KILL


To reiterate…the most effective use of this optical device is to emphasize a story point and for it not to be a visual gimmick. De Palma incorporated this technique across every film he directed and it is a staple of his visual style.
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Splitting The Focus in De Palma’s ‘Blow Out’

On 11, Oct 2013 | 7 Comments | In Cinematography, Low Budget Filmmaking, Production | By vashi

Schneider Optics Split Focus Diopter

Schneider Optics Split Focus Diopter



A Split Focus Diopter is half convex glass that attaches in front of the camera‚Äôs main lens to make half the lens nearsighted. The lens can focus on a plane in the background and the diopter on a foreground element. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, Brian De Palma championed the use of this tool to enhance the visual and emotional experience of his films.

The Split Diopter allows for Deep Focus cinematography but requires much less light. It also delivers a distinctive look that blends sharp and out-of-focus imagery all in one frame. Subjects in both foreground and background can be kept in focus. In the video below are all 15 Split Diopter shots from Brian De Palma’s film Blow Out (1981).

15 Diopter shots in De Palma's Blow Out

De Palma used the Split Diopter to enhance the drama in ‘Blow Out’

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