Why Do Frame Rates Matter?

Why Do Frame Rates Matter

If you are into creating videos of any kind, you will need to know about frame rates.

Using the correct frame rate can transform a choppy, jerky video into a smooth and professional-looking film.

Today, we will be covering why frame rates matter.

The concept of frame rates intimates many novice filmmakers since it can be a bit confusing. However, we will break frame rates down into easy-to-understand language and explain why they are important.

We will describe what a frame rate is and how it will impact your experience. Furthermore, this guide will cover how to choose a proper frame rate and how to test frame rates on your monitor.

Let’s get started.

What Is a Frame Rate?

To understand frame rate, you first have to understand video.

Video is essentially a collection of still images played at a certain speed. Each image is called a frame.

The frame rate determines how fast those individual images play.

Frame rate typically refers to the number of frames per second. For instance, if a video played at 24 fps (frames per second), that means that 24 images played over one second.

Frame rate can vary from video to video, but there are a few main frame rates that most videos and movies use, including 24 fps and 30 fps.

When it comes to slow motion, movies/videos tend to use higher frame rates, such as 60 fps or 120 fps.

How Does Frame Rate Impact My Experience?

Frame Rate Experience

Frame rates can impact your experience both as a filmmaker and a movie watcher.

Let’s take a look at a few different ways that frame rate can affect video.

Realisticness

One of the main factors that frame rate affects is how realistic your film looks.

The frame rate can either make your movie look realistic, hyper-realistic, or not realistic at all.

Most movies and shows use 24 fps because that particular frame rate resembles reality the most. It looks the most real and mimics what humans see most closely.

However, whenever a film has a higher fps, such as 40-60 fps, the film does not resemble reality anymore. Instead, it looks hyper-realistic.

The film looks too smooth and perfect. Some sci-fi and fantasy movies will use a high frame per second.

Lastly, if a film has a lower frame per second (you may see this in some animation videos), it will look awkward and not reminiscent of reality. The video will look choppy.

Style

Another factor that frame rate can affect is the style of your video.

Generally speaking, frame rates around 24 will give your film a very movie-like feel. Not only will it look realistic, but it will look very professional.

High frame rates will look hyper-realistic, as mentioned above. Typically, frame rates above 30 will give the film a fast-paced feeling. You will be able to see every detail of the frame.

The main reason high frame rates feel unnatural is that the audience won’t see any natural motion blur.

When we see a fast car driving by, it is normal to see a bit of blur in our vision. We don’t pick up every detail of the car.

However, a high frame rate will pick up so much more detail than our naked eyes would. So when we watch a high frame rate, it will seem a bit odd since it doesn’t resemble reality.

Some filmmakers will also use a slow frame rate as a stylistic choice. Slower frame rates will look more jerky. Using slow frame rates could also lower how professional the video looks.

If you use a low frame rate, it will look more like a home movie than a cinematic film.

Smoothness

Frame rate is one of the main factors that contribute to how smooth the video looks.

Generally speaking, anything above 24 fps will look smooth. Just remember that the higher you go, the more smooth the video will look.

However, keep in mind that a video can look too smooth. Anything above 30 fps may start to look unrealistic and a bit odd.

The main downside of a lower frame rate is that the video will look very choppy; it won’t be smooth. You will see a lot of jerky movements since there are fewer frames to cover the movement. Lower frame rates will also be more blurry.

How To Choose the Proper Frame Rate

How to Choose the Proper Frame Rate

Now that we know a bit more about how frame rate works let’s look at how to choose the proper frame rate.

There are a few factors to think of when choosing a frame rate.

Decide How You Want Your Video To Look

The first thing you need to think of is how you want your video to look in regards to realism, style, and smoothness. These factors will depend on the genre you are filming (documentary, action, thriller, sports event, etc.).

If you go with 24 or 30 fps, your video will have a cinematic look. The video will be smooth and will look the most realistic. Most mainstream movies and television shows are shot in 24 fps.

On the other hand, if you film at 60 fps, the video will look hyper-realistic. It will be very smooth, and you won’t see a lot of motion blur.

Anything above 60 fps, such as 120 fps, is mostly used for slow motion. While 60 fps may still have a bit of noticeable motion blur, 120 fps will have no motion blur at all. The film will be ultra-crisp, even when slowed down.

Keep in Mind What Kind of Video You Are Shooting

Another important factor to keep in mind is what kind of video you are shooting, content-wise.

For instance, how you shoot a sports game will be different than your set-up for a documentary.

The general rule of thumb is to have a higher frame rate for action-type films. If you are shooting a lot of movement, you will need a higher frame rate to pick up all of the details.

If you are shooting simple interview-style footage or basic video that does not require slow motion (like vlogs), a typical 24 fps will work fine.

Consider How Much Storage You Will Need

The last thing you should think about is how much storage you will need.

Higher frame rates have more images per second of film. Therefore, the file will be a lot bigger. If you are shooting a video in 60 fps, for example, you will need a lot more room on your computer or device than you would with 24 fps.

Higher frame rate videos will also take a lot longer to export and upload. If you are in a time crunch, shooting in anything higher than 24 fps will not be a good idea.

Lastly, you will have to keep in mind where you will be uploading the video. Some platforms will not be able to support higher frame rates. Even if they support higher frame rates, it could take a few hours (or even more) to upload.

Choosing a Frame Rate

Let’s take a look at the most popular frame rates that people use.

  • 24 fps – This is the universal standard frame rate and will work well for just about any movie or video.
  • 30 fps – Not many filmmakers use this, but many games take advantage of 30 fps. You could also use this setting for filming sporting events due to the extra frames.
  • 60 fps – You will need to use 60 fps if you want to shoot high definition video.
  • 120 fps – This setting is really only for high-end games or for shooting clear slow motion without motion blur.

Testing Frame Rates on Your Monitor

Monitor Refresh Rate

The way you can test frame rates is by testing your refresh rate on your monitor.

The refresh rate is essentially how fast your monitor can play images per second.

Find Your Refresh Rate

The first thing you need to do is find your refresh rate.

  1. In the start menu, click the control panel icon.
  2. Click on the display icon and go to the settings tab.
  3. Select the monitor tab in the advanced section menu.
  4. You should see a refresh rate drop-down menu in the monitor settings tab.
  5. Now, you will see the refresh rates for your monitor.

Test Different Refresh Rates

You should be able to test the refresh rate of your computer under the display settings. You will need to find the display adapter properties option, then click on the monitor tab.

Here you can change the refresh rate of your computer. You can test a few different rates out and see how they look.

However, keep in mind that you should never go above the max refresh rate of your computer. Doing this could distort the images on your monitor.

Conclusion

We hope that this guide has helped you learn more about frame rates and why they matter.

Frame rates can affect the style and smoothness of your film and how realistic it looks.

If you want your video to be smooth and look realistic, then go with 24 fps. This setting will also look cinematic.

To film a sporting event, go with a higher frame rate, such as 30 or 60 fps. These rates will give the video more detail at high speeds and will reduce motion blur.

Finally, use 60 or 120 fps for filming slow motion.

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