Frame Rates

Posted on Sep 17, 2019


When shooting video, there is a camera setting know as FPS when setting the output quality. FPS refers to frames per second in any given video. This goes back to the earliest forms of video presentations, where many individual still pictures were put together in a reel. Played or spun rapidly and projected using a light source, the result is the illusion of movement. Hand drawn animation works very much the same way with artists creating slight movements between drawings, taking separate photos onto film, then playing them altogether. Flipbooks achieve this effect when rapidly flipping the pages and seeing the simple animation.

Feature length movies are typically filmed at around 24 FPS, which can give the film a more cinematic look. The picture quality can be higher with the slightly lower frame rate.

The video one sees on television in North America is broadcast at a frame rate of thirty (30 FPS). This was the NTSC (National Television System Committee) standard for many decades before the advent of digital broadcasting. The ATSC (Advanced Television Systems Committee), when it became the prevailing system in 2009, also utilized the 30 FPS rule.


Internationally, a different standard for broadcasts has been used. PAL (Phase Alternating Line) has been used in Europe, Australia, and parts of Asia. PAL uses more lines of resolution, which causes a lower frame rate of 25. If converting a PAL video to NTSC, small black bars would appear taking the place of the missing resolution lines. However, there is no discernable difference to the average television viewer.

When presenting slow motion videos, the camera shootings will be set for a higher than normal frame rates, such as 60 or 120 FPS. This allows more frames to be presented per second even when the video is slowed down. Thus, the result is a smooth slow-motion video rather than a choppy visual that only has 30 pictures to be shown per second. Below is an example from X-Men: Days of Future Past that was shot with special cameras achieving 1000s of frames per second to create a hyper slow environment.


Knowing various technical specifications is important when producing video, particular for television broadcast. If you have any questions or would like to inquire about video products, contact today!