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What does FPS mean? Why You Need to Understand Video Frame Rates  

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Do you remember the iconic scene from The Matrix Trilogy where Neo’s Bullet Time Scene where Neo dodges bullets in a super slow motion shot? Or the van falling off the bridge from Inception? These were created by controlling the FPS or frame rate to slow down or speed up time in a video.

We guarantee that once you know and understand FPS or video frame rates, you will never look at videos the same way again!

So, is FPS just a way to control the speed of your video? What does FPS mean? What frame rate should you be filming in? How many frames are there in 1 second? If you’ve been wondering about these terms and what they mean while making videos, follow along as we explore them:

  • What does FPS mean? 

  • What FPS should you shoot at?

  • Fun Facts on TV and FPS

  • FPS in Cinema and YouTube

  • FPS in Gaming

What does FPS mean?

Frames Per Second or FPS is the rate at which back to back images called frames appear in a display and form moving imagery. 

Hate to break it to you, but, the video content that we consume daily isn’t moving. They’re still images played one after the other. If a video is shot at 24fps this means that each frame is played back 24 times in a second. They change at a different rate across mediums depending on a lot of other factors. 

High FPS people running example - What does FPS mean and why you should understand frame rates

How many frames are in 1 second of video? What FPS should you shoot videos at?

There are 24 frames in 1 second of video. This is the standard frame rate for videos.

Regarding what frame rate you should shoot videos at, it depends on the kind of video you’re aiming for. 

  • Cinematic: If you’re aiming for a cinematic look then 24fps is for you.

  • Social Media Videos, Ads and YouTube:  If you’re shooting it for social media it can be at 30fps which is the default and most widely used format. If you’re shooting action videos and you want them to look more realistic or play around with them later, we suggest you shoot at 50 or 60fps. 

  • Old School: If you want the film to look old (think a Charlie Chaplin movie!), you can shoot at 12-16fps.

30 and 60 are the most common fps available on smartphones for your regular social media posts. Shooting at higher FPS will deliver smooth footage and also give you the ability to slow it down processing it through a video editor without any jitters or shakes. This is used mostly in case of a slo-mo video or a shot. 

Anything above 60fps or higher can be used for a slo-mo, some phones have a slo-mo mode built-in that shoots in 240fps and this enables you to slow the video down 10 times later using a video editor. 

Here’s a video highlighting the difference in a very simple manner:

Fun facts on TV and FPS

Did you know that a movie being broadcasted over TV in your living room can have a different frame rate than your cousin living in a different part of the world? This happens because there are Three Television broadcast frequencies across the world with different fps namely NTSC, PAL, and SECAM.

  • NTSC stands for National Television Standards Committee; it was the first television standard for the US which was later used in Japan, Canada, and many other countries. NTSC is displayed at 29.97 frames per second. 

  • PAL stands for Phase Alternate Line is played in European countries and is displayed in 25 frames per second. 

  • SECAM stands for Sequential Color and Memory and is used in China, USSR, Pakistan, and a few other countries. It is also displayed in 25 frames per second but it is incompatible with PAL due to the way its processes color information. 

What does FPS mean? Why You Need to Understand Video Frame Rates  

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FPS in Cinema and YouTube

We mentioned The Matrix bullet-time scene, didn’t we?

Neo matrix bullet scene FPS in cinema example - Clipchamp blog

That was shot at an extremely high frame rate to slow down time to such an extent that we see a bullet passing by alongside using a lot of VFX. 

The standard fps in the cinema is 24 fps. YouTubers often use this for cinematic footage and B-rolls.

A film can be shot at a higher fps in some portions and can later be pulled down to 24 fps to match the other shots. 

The video output after exporting has a constant fps throughout the video. That's because video output cannot have multiple frames per second in different shots throughout the video.

FPS in Gaming 

In gaming, fps depends on the capacity of one’s graphic card and overall system. A better setup helps render out more frames per second and that allows smoother gameplay. 

In the case of the popular first-person shooter games, the player with the higher fps has a slight advantage over the player with lower fps. This is because the one with the higher fps can experience seamless gameplay and it’s easier for the player to pick on their targets! 

Games can be anywhere around 30 and 60 to 240fps.  

A player can also benefit from having a monitor with a higher refresh rate.  In fact, there are several online tools available that work as an fps counter.

first person shooter game fps example clipchamp blog

Now that you know all about FPS, will you be looking at videos the same way?

Looking to control the speed of your video? Follow our easy step-by-step guide to slow down or speed up your video

The possibilities are limitless when you edit and play with your video clips on Clipchamp’s video maker, so get started!

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