What is Frame Rate?

Wednesday | 2021 10 13 | Camera

Frame rate matters and anyone who tells you otherwise isn’t paying attention. From the creative aspects like slow motion, to the practical considerations like being able to mix frame rates in the edit — the amount of frames per second you shoot matters. In this video, we’ll answer the following questions: What is frame rate? Does frame rate matter? And what frame rate should I use for video? This is the Ultimate Guide to Frame Rate Explained.

FPS Explained: Frame rate is measured as frames per second (fps), or the number of still images captured by the camera or presented by the projector every second. For decades, the standard frame rate (what some call the cinematic frame rate) has been 24 fps. Since digital cameras came into the picture the frame rates commonly run at 30 fps, 60 fps, or even 120 fps. Since the number of frames per second has a direct relationship with the “smoothness” of the motion, you might assume that a high frame rate is always better. But it all depends on the look you’re going for.

They call 24 fps the cinematic frame rate because it “looks” like movies do. The amount of motion blur associated with that particular frame rate can be achieved in digital formats, which is an aesthetic choice many videographers make. With The Hobbit, director Peter Jackson chose to shoot and present the films at 48 fps to create a more immersive 3D experience. More recently, director Ang Lee topped that with films like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk and Gemini Man at a whopping 120 fps.

Some filmmakers have gone the other direction, away from “smooth and perfect” motion to something noticeably jagged and smeared. Directors like Wong Kar Wai, Tony Scott, and Quentin Tarantino have used a process called step printing, in which they shoot as low as 6 fps and “copy/paste” each frame 4 times to create 24 fps. Along with an open shutter, we get a normal rate of motion but with the look and feel of slow motion.

No matter if you’re working in cinematography or videography, frame rate matters. As you build your shot list and storyboard, remember these considerations and how frame rate works. Frame rate, like every other creative decision, has a direct impact on the finished product. What is frame rate? An opportunity to use the tools at your disposal to tell more immersive and


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