Getting Up to Speed on Frame Rate: A Beginner's Guide

Getting Up to Speed on Frame Rate: A Beginner's Guide

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Have you ever wondered why some videos look smoother than others? Why some have that classic "cinematic" look while others look more like home movies? Or why old Disney animations have that distinctive “choppy” look. The answer, more often than not, has to do with frame rate. But what exactly is frame rate? Read on to find out.

A brief history of frame rate

Frame rate is the number of frames, or individual images, that are shown per second in a video. The earliest films were shot at 12 or 16 frames per second, which was the standard until the late 1920s. Around that time, filmmakers began experimenting with higher frame rates, eventually settling on 24 fps as the industry standard. This remained the case for nearly a century—that is, until our modern age of digital filmmaking and television production.

Nowadays, most videos are shot at either 24 or 30 fps, with some films (most notably high-budget blockbusters) being filmed at higher rates like 48 or 60 fps. Shooting at a higher frame rate results in smoother motion and a more "perfect" image, but it also requires more storage space and processing power, which is why it's not used as often as lower frame rates.

Why frame rate matters

Depending on your project and desired aesthetic, you may want to experiment with shooting at different frame rates. For example, if you're shooting a slow-moving intimate scene, a lower frame rate like 24 fps may be appropriate. On the other hand, if you're filming fast-paced action sequences and want to create a dramatic slow-motion “speed ramp” in post-production, then a higher frame rate would be more suitable.

Frame rates around the world

It's also worth noting that different regions have different standard broadcast formats—NTSC (used in North America) broadcasts at 30 fps, while PAL (widely used in Europe) broadcasts at 25 fps. If you're producing a video for international distribution, make sure to keep this in mind so that your final product meets the requirements of your intended audience.

In conclusion, frame rate is an important consideration for any video editor or creator. By understanding what frame rate is and how it affects the look and feel of your video, you can make informed decisions about which setting is right for your project. So get out there and start experimenting!

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