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News & Insight

How 24fps Became the Standard & 8 Times You Should Not Use It

By Justin Heyes on August 21st 2017

It takes about 10-12 frames per second for our brains to blend the individual frames into continuous motion, in an optical illusion called the Phi Phenomenon. The perception of a series of still images as continuous motion can date back to 1878 when Eadweard Muybridge captured a series of images depicting a galloping horse in motion. It would take almost another 20 years for Edison to release the Kinetoscope, the precursor to modern-day motion picture as we know it.

With the advent of digital media, the cost of film has no factor on which frame rate yet cinematographers and DPS still shoot at the generations old standard mainly for aesthetic reasons. But, twenty-four frames are not the end-all-be-all frame rate for every movie, narrative, and project. The people over at Aputure explain 8 times when you should not use 24 fps.

[REWIND: 10 PREDICTIONS FOR THE FUTURE OF PHOTOGRAPHY]

In the early days of film cameras were hand cranked, which caused in consistencies from movie to movie. Even further still, projection houses would speed up frame rates of movies to get that one extra projection at the end of the day. It wouldn’t be until 1929, with the introduction of the optical sound track, that the standard of 24 fps was established. The 24 frames per second standard was the smallest number that was easily divisible by 2, 3, 4, 6, and 8 allowing editors to quickly find where to make their cuts; not to mention was the most cost effective.

Frame rates as we know them are not arbitrary, each “standard” came about because of specific limitations on shooting or distribution. Whereas the ‘film-look’ was established as a universal standard, the ‘video-look’ derived from the frequency of electricity, 30 fps for counties based on 60Hz (NTSC) and 25 fps for 50Hz (PAL).

For over 80 years the sequence of 24-frames has been ingrained into society as ‘cinematic’. Filmmakers in the know have been trying to push higher frames, such as the ones used in The Hobbit, for years; Thomas Edison himself even pushed for a standard at 46 fps at one point.

Cinematics isn’t about a certain look or a particular frame rate, it is about suspending reality for a brief moment to tell a story. The higher frame rates used for sitcoms, soap operas, or sports have a look that is too ‘real’ and makes this suspension of reality more difficult to achieve. Who knows in another 80 years’ time 48 fps will be the new standard and 24 will seem old school.

About

Justin Heyes wants to live in a world where we have near misses and absolute hits; great love and small disasters. Starting his career as a gaffer, he has done work for QVC and The Rachel Ray Show, but quickly fell in love with photography. When he’s not building arcade machines, you can find him at local flea markets or attending car shows.

Explore his photographic endeavors here.

Website: Justin Heyes
Instagram: @jheyesphoto

Q&A Discussions

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  1. Christian Sainz

    24 fps is the most appealing, I’m not a fan of higher frame rate because it’s distracting.  True art is always changing, but if it’s not broke then don’t fix it.

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    • Justin Heyes

      24 fps was the most economical. It was be ingrained in cinema history for so long society thinks that’s is the way movies should look

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  2. Black Z Eddie

    I hated the Hobbit at 48 fps.  It should be illegal…banned!  lol

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  3. Jen Chan

    ClickBait

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  4. Jen Chan

    [Jen Chan has deleted this comment]

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  5. Tom Stoncel

    Clickbait

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    • Justin Heyes

      Hey Tom,

      Please explain how this is Clickbait. 

      The title is “How 24 FPS became the standard and 8 Times You Should Not Use It”

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