What are Superimposed Images in Film

What are Superimposed Images in Film?

The layering of images in filmmaking can create various impressions that otherwise were never before able to be achieved. In fact, throughout filmmaking and production, the superimposition of images is a common practice that allows the filmmaker to subliminally draw comparison between images and connect with the audience. Sometimes referred to as the “3rd Shot” the superimposition of images is a common theme in films today, but what are superimposed images in film and how are they achieved?

What are Superimposed Images in Film?

Superimposed images and creative dissolves have been used since the early days of Alfred Hitchcock films. Hitchcock superimposed the image of the “wrong man” and the “real man” through double-exposure very early on in film history.

Hitchcock would later superimpose images in The Ring produced in 1927. But, what are superimposed images in film?

Superimposed images, or superimposition, represents the layering of two or more images in a single frame. The purpose of superimposed images in film is to create connections, and to show the relation between the images or the moments.

Superimposition of one image over another is commonly used in transition, as one scene ends and another begins.


You probably recognize superimposed images having been used in dissolves. Dissolves are used in film to advance the plot as well as to offer a glimpse into the connections between various elements of the film.

The layering of images, one atop the other, in a dissolve is common when a filmmaker is showing a character that is recalling or remembering certain events or imagining things. 

Info for the Audience

Superimposed images have been used in cinema to showcase life flashing before a character’s eyes. Or to show them daydreaming of what could have been.

Not only does the superimposition of images in film offer a unique metaphorical connection of theme and elements of the story. It can also provide the audience with additional information and details which can be used to add dimension to the film.

All in All

So, what are superimposed images in film? They are a layering of two or more images into the same frame. In order to achieve a desired metaphorical connection. Or plot advance in which the audience gains insight into a character’s past, future, or current thoughts.

Superimposed images are used in filmmaking for a variety of purposes, to add dimension and to deepen thematic connections.

The use of superimposed images has been present for almost 100 years in filmmaking. And continues to form a foundation for dissolves and transitions that give forward momentum to the underlying plot.

Are you a more visual learner that could use a video to help solidify your understanding? Fandor has a fantastic educational video to check out!

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