Film Frame Rates - When To Use Which
Shooting video is complex, and when you first start out it can be overwhelming to know where to start. One of the first and most important things to master is film frame rates. If you get the frame rate wrong, it can ruin your entire project and make your precious footage unusable. Every videographer knows that movement on a screen is just a bunch of still images blended together to become realistic, lifelike motions, but if your frame rate is incorrect your video won’t look realistic at all.
The frame rate is the number of pictures that your camera takes per second. These still images are then animated into a motion picture to create your video. It is vital to get your head around the difference between frame rate and shutter speed, as these are two very different aspects. The shutter speed refers to how long the exposure is for each picture, whereas the frame rate is the number of these pictures that are taken every second.
These frame rates can be used to either create a realistic speed for your videos or used creatively to manipulate video footage for different effects. A base or project frame rate is used to create a 100% realistic speed, and the standard frame rate is 30fps (frames per second) for TV, 24fps for movies and 25fps for PAL broadcast. If you want to speed up or slow down the regular time, you can use creative frame rates to shoot at a higher or lower speed and then edit the footage in post-production. It might seem obvious to shoot everything at a high frame rate and adjust later in post-production, however not only would this waste a large amount of camera memory with larger file sizes, but also can result in jittery and awkward-looking footage. A cameras base frame rate will always product the highest quality image.
It can be difficult to know when you should be using which frame rate to get the desired result. It is often useful to choose your frame rate based on the subject you are shooting and also the finish you want on the final video. Here are some basic rules of thumb for choosing the best frame rate for your subject:
0fps: Using a 0 frame rate is just the same as producing a still image. Still images can be used in your video projects to create animated sequences.
1-15fps: If you want to create a fast-motion effect the shoot in a low frame rate. You can then speed up the video post-production.
24 / 25fps: This is a standard frame rate and can be used in most filming. It works particularly well for dialogues and footage that will be played in real speed. This is also a good option for capturing really high-quality footage, for example for landscapes, where you want to capture every little detail.
30fps: A frame rate that is used in movies, it can be used as a project frame rate but can also be used to create a subtle slow-motion effect when stretched onto a 24fps timeline.
48-60fps: For a regular slow-motion effect, similar to what you see regular in movies and on TV, can be achieved with a frame rate of between 48fps and 60fps. It is ideal for shooting people who are moving as it can be carefully slowed down in post-production. This frame rate can also be a great option for filming people who are talking but you are not going to use their audio. If you film them speaking or singing in a high frame rate, and then slow it down later it takes the subject out of reality, making it easier for viewers to accept that the audio is missing. This is a common frame rate for slow-motion in music videos with overlaid audio.
90-120fps: If you want to dramatically show down footage and create a stopped time effect then film in a very high frame rate. You can then use a speed ramp to flip between normal speed and slow time to draw attention to crucial moments in the footage. Shooting in this frame rate can also be beneficial when shooting handheld as it can be used to stabilise the footage in post-production.
180+fps: Not all cameras are capable of capturing footage in frame rates this high. This can be used for speciality effects and super slow motion, but is not common.