Is it considered a filming technique to get one-shot frames unnoticeably embedded in movies to subconsciously affect the viewers' mind?

  • This technique is used by Nolan in Memento, as well, when a shot of Leonard briefly replaces Sammy in the institution.
    – user6091
    Sep 11 '13 at 14:03
  • 1
    If anything, it would be an editing technique... You certainly can't film this way.
    – Catija
    Sep 13 '15 at 2:07

No, its is not considered a filming technique to do this, at least not an effective technique.

It is a bit of an urban legend that subliminal messages are effective. Subliminal stimuli are sensory stimuli that are below a threshold of being consciously perceived - in the context of movies these are usually thought of as single frames spliced into the scene. Classically these are usually thought of in the context of advertising - "Eat more popcorn" - but you could conceive of them being used to influence the audiences response to the movie.

However studies of subliminal stimuli have not really shown that they are effective, and they continue to be an urban legend, alongside the idea that they are somehow 'banned' by regulatory authorities. For more reading on this see the following wikipedia page, and a snopes page on the urban legend. The snopes page highlights that basis of the urban legend was was a falsified scientific study from the 1950's, which has never been replicated, and the legend has been repeated as fact in other media, such as an episode of Columbo from 1973.

The only movie that I can consider using something inspired by this technique is Fight Club, where very brief images including the Tyler Durden character were spliced into the movie before the character was introduced. However these images were several frames long and deliberately long enough to show as 'glitches' for the audience to see, clearly not subliminal. Later in the movie Tyler also describes how, when working as a movie projectionist, he used to splice single frames of pornography into family movies. The use of (almost) subliminal images in the movie are used to hint that the character is somehow not entirely real, but it is also a bit of an 'easter egg' buried in the movie.

  • 3
    And let's not forget the scary single frame flashes of the demon face in The Exorcist.
    – Nobby
    Jan 22 '12 at 20:23
  • Sidney Lumet used this technique in one of his films.
    – JuanZe
    Jan 24 '12 at 4:59
  • If you are referring to The Pawnbroker, I've never seen it but the flashbacks are described as "almost subliminal at times" so it is perhaps inspired by the idea, but again, clearly (like Fight Club) not "unnoticeable".
    – iandotkelly
    Jan 24 '12 at 5:26

Many filmmakers make use of manipulation of the viewers atention, giving information subconsciously, to make them feel in certain ways. For example, this dream scene from The Exorcist (1973), using that single frame techinque.

It could be seen as a rough technique, because it comes from the days when movies where edited literally with sccissors. Nowadays, digital technology allows many other ways to manipulate viewers attention or how information is given.

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