What is Video Frame Rate and Why Should You Care

What is Video Frame Rate

So you just picked up a brand-new camera and you’re finally ready to start shooting video spots, YouTube uploads and Facebook videos for your business. You have the scene perfectly set up and the lighting is glorious. But then, you power the camera on and it asks you what frame rate you want the video to be.

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Wait, frame rate? Does that have anything to do with the high definition? Or 4K? And what setting should it be? If you’re on the newer side of video production you probably have some questions regarding video frame rate.

At Wave.video we want everyone to feel comfortable in the area of video-making. Even though Wave.video users don’t need to learn the fundamentals of filming to come up with great videos, we want you to feel confident when you bump into some pro terminology, such as video frame rate.

Today, we’ll make sure you have a complete understanding of what it is and what the best video frame rate is for your project.

What Is Video Frame Rate?

In the technical world, the video frame rate is referred to as frames per second (or FPS).

A video isn’t just one continuous recording. Instead, it is individual images that are then flashed on a screen in quick succession to make a moving image. FPS refers to how many of those individual pictures are used in a given second.

To easily get it, look at the flipbook.

Flipbook_Frame rate

Traditional Frame Rates

Alright, so we now know that frame rates refer to the number of times images are flashed on a screen during a given second to give the illusion of movement. Let’s dive a bit deeper now into traditional frame rates. These are also considered standard frame rates.

Frame rates refer to the number of times images are flashed on a screen during a given second to give the illusion of movement.

  • Traditional film, such as the classic movies in the movie theater, was shot at 24 frames per second.
  • Television, on the other hand, was shot at 30 frames per second.

If you watch a movie, let’s say a classic like Casablanca or Indiana Jones, there’s just something different about how the movie looks compared to a television show, isn’t there?

It might be something you can’t exactly describe, but you know it’s there. This difference is the frame rate. The 30 frames per second give off a slightly smoother visual appearance to the presentation. In general though, when you’re setting up your video, you’ll be asked if you want to use 24 FPS or 30 FPS.

  • If you want more of that classic movie look, you’ll select 24 FPS.
  • If you want a regular television program look, select 30 FPS.

Newer Video Frame Rates

Some movies are now produced at 60 frames per second. This helps give the movie an incredibly smooth appearance. 60 frames per second isn’t often used as it does take up a large amount of space. It can take up at least double that of 30 frames per second, so many productions do not use this kind of frame rate. The faster frame rates do help with some kinds of productions though.

60 FPS is mostly used in these 2 cases:

  • Action movies
  • Fast-moving sports

For action movies, there will be less motion blur. Motion blur occurs when there is movement in the frame, but it is moving too fast in-between frames, so it looks blurred. By doubling the frame rate it reduces this blur, which in turn gives off a crisp, clean look.

This is also helpful in fast-moving sports. If you watch NASCAR, baseball, or other sporting events, there are some camera angles where the movement looks blurred. Again, this is because the movement is too fast for the 30 frames per second. However, with 60 frames per second, that image would have been smoothed out.

Slow Motion & Time-Lapse Video Frame Rates

Slow Motion Shot

Speaking of sporting events, have you seen a super slow motion shot of a baseball batter swinging his bat. The video looks almost too crisp and smooth.

 

This is because slow-motion shots, when planned out, use more frames per second. These super slow motion shots might have 120 or even 240 frames per second.

When a slow-motion shot is captured it is done in real-time. It then must be slowed down to obtain that “slow motion” look. If a regular 30 FPS shot is slowed down it will look strange, almost jumpy. Perhaps you’ve seen a movie where a shot is in slow motion but it isn’t smooth at all. It is jumpy and even a bit discombobulating.

Usually, all slow-motion shots are pre-mapped out during pre-production. However, if a director decided he or she wants a slow-motion shot and the editor slows down a regular, 30 (or 24) FPS shot, it will have this look. To keep the shot consistent looking with the rest of the movie, they will record at 120 or 240 (or so) FPS.

Keep this in mind if you plan on doing any slow-motion shots for your production. The more frames per second you record the better it will look out of post-production.

Keep this in mind if you plan on doing any slow-motion shots for your production. The more frames per second you record the better it will look out of post-production.

Time-Lapse Scene

On the other side is time-lapse. With a time-lapse, you might record a sunrise. This might be over the course of a few hours.

 

With this kind of shot, you don’t need to shoot 30 FPS. All the information will be compressed, so six hours of footage is squeezed into six seconds. When this is the case having 30 FPS is pointless. Instead, time-lapse photograph might just be eight or 10 frames per second. You don’t need more than a few frames per second to maintain a smooth shot.

Time-lapse photograph might just be eight or 10 frames per second. You don’t need more than a few frames per second to maintain a smooth shot.

Does Frame Rate Affect The File Size Of My Video?

Absolutely it does. Think of it this way. Let’s say you have a one-minute video shot in HD at 30 FPS. That is 1,800 individual pictures stitched together to make a video. Now, let’s say you decided to shoot in HD at 60 FPS. That’s 3,600 individual pictures. More pictures mean it will take up more space. It could end up being twice the file size, so keep that in mind.

Another factor that will affect your file size before putting it into the video editor is the resolution (the higher the resolution the larger the file). And once you run it through the video editor there are all kinds of factors, including added graphics, filters, sound effects, transitions, and how you compress it.

Does Frame Rate Affect The Quality Of My Video?

No. The quality of your recorded video is based on the resolution. In general, the higher the picture resolution the higher the quality. The frame rate will affect how smooth the video is, but it won’t impact the clarity of the video.

How to Decide What Frame Rate Is Best For My Production?

To answer this you’ll need to consider what you want to do with the video and where you’re going to be presenting it.

First, if you’re producing an interview, you’ll probably want to stick with 30 FPS. This keeps it clean and easy to watch. If you shoot a regular interview at 24 FPS people might wonder why it looks “different” (as in a cinematic movie “look”).

Now, if you’re making a documentary and you want the interviews to match the reenactments, you might want to consider shooting the interviews at 24 FPS (you may also want to consider shooting the interviews at 30 FPS to help differentiate the interviews from the reenactments).

Generally, you don’t need to shoot anything in 60 FPS. Yes, we know your iPhone or Android phone probably now has a 60 FPS feature on it. Realistically though it’s not all that necessary. Phones just have the storage space and a fast enough processor to record at 60 FPS, so phone companies include it and use it as a marketing tactic, but in reality, you probably don’t need it. Now, with that said, if you’re going to be producing fast-moving machinery, sporting events, or other activities, 60 FPS might be beneficial. This will improve the clarity of the fast-moving shots.

And if you want something to be in slow motion (or you think you might like to use slow motion), shoot that scene at the highest frame rate possible. At least you’ll then have it for use in post-production.

Let Us Help You With Your Video Production Needs

Now that you know what a video frame rate is and what the different frame rates mean you should be able to now decide the correct FPS for your project. However, if you do have some follow up questions, or if you’re not totally sure what kind of file size will work for cloud storage, we’re here to help. So feel free to reach out and contact us with your extra frame rate, video editing, and cloud storage questions. We’re here to help.

What is Video Frame Rate and Why Should You Care

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