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Frame Rate - Everything You Need To Know

Frame Rate - Everything You Need To Know

November 26, 20235 min read


Frame Rate | Cover Image.png


Frame rate, often measured in frames per second (fps), is the frequency at which consecutive images, known as frames, are displayed in an animated display. The concept is used in various fields, including film, video games, and computer graphics, to quantify how smoothly motion is portrayed. A higher frame rate typically results in smoother motion representation, enhancing the visual experience.

What does it really mean?

The frame rate can be compared to a flipbook. Each page of the flipbook represents a frame. When you flip through the pages rapidly, the drawings appear to move smoothly; this is similar to a high frame rate, where more frames per second create smoother motion. If you flip slowly, the movement looks choppy, akin to a low frame rate with fewer frames per second, resulting in less smooth motion.

Frame Rate Explained Using Flip Book

History of Frame Rate

Early Experiments (Late 1800s): In the late 19th century, the limitations of film sensitivity and camera mechanics meant that capturing motion was a challenge. Early photography required subjects to remain still for extended periods, making the capture of motion a significant hurdle.

Hand-Cranking Era (The late 1800s - Early 1900s): With improvements in film technology, it became possible to capture more frames per second (fps) by hand-cranking film through a camera. This period saw wide frame rate variations, typically ranging from 14 to 26 fps. Films shot at these varying speeds resulted in different perceptions of motion. Lower frame rates often produced a jerky, less fluid motion, while higher rates offered smoother movement.

Standardization and Sound (1920s - 1930s): The introduction of sound to film in the 1920s necessitated a more standardized frame rate. Sound synchronization required a consistent speed, leading to the adoption of 24 fps as a standard for most films. This standardization balanced technical needs with the desire for natural-looking motion and economical use of film.

Television Influence (1940s - 1950s): The advent of television brought new considerations. TV systems in different regions (NTSC in North America and Japan, PAL, and SECAM in Europe and other regions) used different frame rates, generally around 25 or 30 fps. This difference influenced film production and distribution, especially for content intended for both cinematic and television viewing.

Digital Age and High Frame Rates (1990s - Present): The digital revolution in filmmaking and projection technologies in the late 20th and early 21st centuries brought about the possibility of higher frame rates. Films began exploring rates like 48 fps or even higher for 3D films and certain action sequences to create an ultra-smooth, hyper-realistic visual experience. This has been a topic of both technical interest and artistic debate, with some filmmakers embracing high frame rates for their clarity and others prefer the traditional look of 24 fps.

Why does the frame rate matter?

Frame rate matters for several key reasons, particularly in film, video games, and other visual media:

  1. Motion Smoothness: Higher frame rates generally result in smoother motion portrayal. When more frames are shown per second, movements appear more fluid and natural. This is crucial in fast-paced scenes or in gaming where quick reactions are essential.
  2. Visual Comfort: A frame rate that is too low can cause a flickering effect, leading to eye strain and discomfort. A steady and appropriate frame rate ensures a comfortable viewing experience.
  3. Realism and Immersion: In video games and virtual reality, higher frame rates contribute to a more immersive experience. They make the virtual environment feel more real and responsive, which is vital for user engagement and realism.
  4. Artistic Expression: Filmmakers often choose a specific frame rate to achieve a certain look or feel. For instance, the traditional 24 fps in cinema creates a certain motion blur that audiences often associate with a "film" quality. Conversely, higher frame rates can be used for hyper-realistic effects or for clarity in action scenes.
  5. Synchronization and Standards: Consistent frame rates are essential for the synchronization of audio with video. Inconsistent frame rates can lead to audio desynchronization, disrupting the viewing experience. Moreover, industry standards like 24, 30, or 60 fps ensure compatibility across different playback systems and mediums.
  6. Technical Limitations and Performance: Higher frame rates require more processing power and data bandwidth. This is a significant consideration in streaming, broadcasting, and gaming, where hardware capabilities and internet speeds can limit the feasible frame rate.

FPS Explained

Commonly used Frame Rates

  1. 24 fps: This is the traditional frame rate for cinema. It's been the standard since the introduction of sound in movies, as it provides a good balance between the natural motion and cost-effectiveness of film stock. The 24 fps rate creates a cinematic look with a certain motion blur that audiences often associate with high-quality film production.
  2. 25 fps: Standard in countries using the PAL (Phase Alternating Line) and SECAM (Sequential Color with Memory) television systems, such as in Europe and parts of Asia. This frame rate aligns with the electrical power grid frequency in these regions (50 Hz).
  3. 30 fps (29.97 fps for NTSC video): Common in countries using the NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard, like the USA and Japan. It's used for television broadcasting and can also be found in some lower-end digital video cameras. This rate is closely tied to the 60 Hz power grid frequency in these countries.
  4. 48 fps: Sometimes used in high-end film productions, particularly for 3D movies. Director Peter Jackson famously used this frame rate in "The Hobbit" trilogy to create a more immersive and detailed visual experience.
  5. 50 fps: Used for high-definition broadcasts in PAL and SECAM regions. This frame rate offers a smoother motion than 25 fps and is often used for sports broadcasts and other high-motion content.
  6. 60 fps: Common in high-end video game consoles and PC gaming, where smoother motion provides a more immersive and responsive gaming experience. It's also used in HDTV (High Definition Television) and by some streaming services for sports and other high-motion video content.
  7. 120 fps and higher: These are ultra-high frame rates used in certain specialized contexts, like high-end gaming monitors, VR (Virtual Reality), and some experimental films. They provide extremely smooth motion, which is particularly beneficial in fast-paced gaming and VR environments for reducing motion sickness and improving realism.

Each of these frame rates serves specific purposes, balancing factors like motion smoothness, technical limitations, and viewer experience. The choice of frame rate is thus a crucial aspect of both production and broadcasting in various media.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why 24 fps is better than 30fps?

24 fps is often preferred over 30 fps in cinematic content for its traditional, filmic quality that imparts a more organic, motion-blurred aesthetic, closely associated with classic cinema. This frame rate also aligns well with the historical standards and artistic preferences of the film industry.

Which frame rate is best?

The "best" frame rate depends on the context: 24 fps is ideal for a traditional cinematic look, 60 fps or higher is preferred for smoothness in gaming and action videos, and 30 fps is a standard for general broadcast and online video content.

Which is better 30fps or 60fps?

60 fps is generally considered better than 30 fps for its smoother and more fluid motion, especially in fast-paced environments like video gaming and action-packed video content. However, the choice between the two can depend on the specific needs of the content and the capabilities of the playback device.


  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frame_rate
  • https://www.adobe.com/in/creativecloud/video/discover/frame-rate.html
  • https://developer.mozilla.org/en-US/docs/Glossary/FPS



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