Guillotine Splicer


One of the most critical steps in learning how to edit on a Steenbeck is using a Guillotine Splicer. This guide highlights the best workflow for using a guillotine splicer for both picture and audio. 

Getting Started

What is a Guillotine Splicer

Guillotine Splicing


The first step in editing and cutting your film is marking your in and out points. Use a grease pencil to make a mark where you would like to make the cut either in or out. You may want to consider making a line mark vertically from a sprocket hole as this is where the splicer will cut.

Once you have made your mark, give yourself some slack on your source reel (the left side of the table) by rewinding the film on the Steenbeck. You do not need to rethread your film for every splice if you rewind the film, pull the slack, then cut and splice. Be sure to give yourself enough slack that you can pull the film far enough towards yourself to make the cut. The more slack you have, the easier it will be to maneuver the stock.


You will now want to prepare your Guillotine Splicer to make the cut. Secure your splice tape (no other tape should be used on your film other than splice tape) onto the front of the splicer. Raise the blades so that your film can run across the splicer.

Before making the cut line up the sprocket holes with the spikes on the inside of the splicer. Line up your in/out mark with the innermost blade (the straight one) and pull the blade down to cut through the film, then wipe off the grease pencil marks before splicing together.

Splicing Together

To splice two pieces of film together, bring both pieces of film to meet in the middle of the splicer, being careful to line up the sprocket holes with the spikes. The spikes are there to help you create an accurate splice. The half sprockets on each piece of film should line up down the middle. Pull your tape forward and over the film. Press firmly to secure it in place and check that your half sprockets now make one sprocket. Now, pull the top of the splicer down on top of the film and push down firmly. It is suggested that you push down the splicer three times to ensure the film is cut cleanly.

Lift the top of the splicer and check that a clean splice has been made. You will know if it is a clean splice if the two half sprockets have lined up correctly to create one sprocket and there is not an excessive amount tape overhanging the top or bottom of the film. Do not, unless otherwise advised, place tape on both sides of your film. Doing this can cause your film to rip when run through a projector.

Cutting Sound

The only difference between cutting film and audio is the blade that you use. When splicing sound, you will want to follow the instructions for cutting film but instead of using the innermost blade you will use the outer blade (the diagonal blade). This will mean that the splice you make will not be audible when played through.

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