At what frame rate are films shot?

Frame rates in of digital video technology - introduction

Films or videos consist of a quick sequence of images, which our brain then puts together into movements. The principle is always the same - regardless of whether it is a flip book, celluloid cinema, television or the latest digital video formats.

The frame rate (usually called "frame rate" based on English), i.e. the number of frames per second, is one of the technical fundamentals of digital video technology. We are surrounded by all kinds of "foolproof" software and devices that relieve the user of dealing with the topic by somehow making the frame rates suitable - but with often unsatisfactory results. Anyone who is serious about video filming cannot avoid consciously dealing with the subject of frame rates.

In practice, for example, these questions arise:

  • How do different frame rates affect the display of motion?
  • What role do viewing habits play in the qualitative assessment of the frame rate?
  • Which frame rates are used where today?
  • At what frame rate should I film myself?
  • Where can I actually see the frame rate unadulterated?
  • When do you have to convert frame rates - and how does it work?

When a movement appears fluid

How many frames per second (English "Frames Per Second", abbreviated "fps") you need at least to get a really smooth movement display is not clear. The perception of movement differs slightly from person to person, and it also depends on the brightness: the darker the display, the more sluggish the eye becomes and the fewer images it can distinguish per second. On a rather dimly lit screen (e.g. projection with a weak, energy-saving projection lamp) you can perceive 20 images per second as a fluid movement, while on a really bright screen or a bright monitor you need twice as much.

These numbers may seem excessive to some readers. A "not optimally fluid movement" should not be equated with a really annoying jolting effect; there are still gradations in between. And not every movement is equally susceptible to annoying jerking: slow movements tend to be good-natured even at low frame rates.
If the camera is tracking a fast object, the moving background may jerk - but in this case the audience instinctively focuses on the main object and not on the background. (In addition, the background is often no longer in focus.)
Jerking can be most noticeable when a subject moves quickly through the image or when the camera is panned quickly over a stationary subject. Professional cameramen therefore use rules of thumb for the maximum smooth pan speed (depending on the frame rate and exposure time).

Even if the jerking has not taken on any disturbing proportions, one perceives a movement at high frame rates as "smoother" compared to low frame rates. Most people perceive a somewhat smoother movement with sufficient brightness when the frame rate is increased from 25 fps to 30 fps. Another clear improvement can be seen when increasing from 30 to 50 or 60 fps. If the film contains fast movements, even higher frame rates (e.g. 100 or 120 fps) can represent a further small improvement - although not all people can still perceive this further improvement. (The advantages of such high frame rates compared to 50/60 fps may only be visible in very specific image content, so certainly not in every scene.) Values ​​above 120 fps should be meaningless as playback frame rates from the start, because then really nobody will tell the difference sees and hardly any technical advantages are discernible. (We are still talking about frame rates for playback in real time. Using high recording frame rates for slow motion is another topic.)
Whether you always want to have the maximum fluid movement at all or whether, for artistic reasons and reasons of viewing habit, a subtle jerking or a movement reproduction below the "optimal fluid" can have its stimulus is a completely different question - see "Subjective Perception and viewing habits "below on this page.

Especially with the lower frame rates, the one used always plays a role Exposure time matter because they are the degree of Motion blur certain: If the individual images are very sharp due to a short shutter speed, the jerking is perceived as stronger. If there is a slight blurring in the direction of movement thanks to the longer shutter speed, the jerking sensation is less. However, it must not be too blurred, otherwise an ugly trailing effect will result.
Classic film cameras had a so-called 180 ° shutter, which always automatically exposed at half the reciprocal value of the frame rate. B. at cinematic 24 fps the exposure time was exactly 1/48 of a second. (In the "dark phase", where there was no exposure, the film was transported further.) That certainly contributed to the fact that today we perceive exposure times of this order of magnitude at 24 or 25 fps as "normal". Irrespective of a possible viewing habit, exposure times of around 1/50 of a second are actually a good compromise between the necessary motion blur and the undesirable trailing effect.
Occasionally today a "180 ° shutter rule" is derived from this, according to which one should ideally always expose with exactly half of the reciprocal frame rate. However, such a rule is not universal, because it hardly works for higher frame rates: Even at 50 fps, the camera's exposure time plays a subordinate role for jerking, and from 100 fps a film appears smooth even without any motion blur. So you have to be careful with the low frame rates - and even then it doesn't really matter whether you use 1/40 or 1/50 or 1/60 of a second for the jerking effect. It only depends on the order of magnitude, not the exact value.

However, there may be technical reasons for using a very specific shutter speed - for example to prevent light flickering or monitor flickering. More on this in the next part.

At higher frame rates (50 fps and more) one can argue in favor of using the entire available time for the exposure instead of applying the above 180 ° shutter rule, i.e. 1/50 of a second at 50 fps or 1/60 of a second at 60 fps. Electronic cameras make this possible without any problems; In contrast to mechanical film cameras, they no longer need a dark phase for film transport.
The use of the entire time has the effect that, even in rapid movements, the blurred movements of the individual images are linked directly to one another and no "time gap" arises. This has some advantages for the reproduction of critical image content; For example, it reduces the well-known misinterpretation effect by which wheels seem to turn backwards at a certain speed. The effect that pulsed LEDs (modern car taillights, display boards, etc.) suddenly seem to flash can also be reduced to a tolerable level thanks to the seamless exposure.
However, using the full time at low frame rates (25 fps and less) is not recommended, because with such a long exposure the trailing effects in fast-moving areas are too annoying. It is better to stay in the order of 1/50 of a second here; at best in lowlight scenes with a fixed camera and very little movement in the picture, you can expose times 1/25 of a second as an exception.
And there are definitely reasons to choose shorter shutter speeds even at higher frame rates. Some filmmakers even prefer times of 1/100 of a second at 50 or 60 fps, because this reduces the motion blur compared to 1/50 or 1/60 of a second and the movement can appear even more coherent overall - from isolated misinterpretations such as the aforementioned backward-turning wheels apart.

Naturally, not all requirements can be reconciled with one another. Sometimes you have to weigh up the advantages and disadvantages of different shutter speeds in relation to the frame rate used.
The higher the frame rate, the less the need for technical compromises. This is also the reason why some visionaries dream of standards with 100 or more fps.

At this point I would like to provide links to online videos that can be used to compare the different frame rates. Unfortunately, it's not that easy.

Videos on computer screens (regardless of whether they are played directly from the hard drive or from YouTube, Vimeo, etc.) are always converted from the frame rate to the monitor frequency when they are played back - and for that reason alone jerky.
Frame rates can only be compared neutrally and in their pure form where they can be played back natively without conversion - for example on televisions or projectors in connection with real video devices (e.g. Blu-ray players).

More on the subject on the page "Frame rate test videos for a practical comparison".

Historical development of film and video frame rates

The very early film cameras were still used to "shoot" with a crank; the frame rate was more a matter of feeling. With the mechanical drives, a standardization was then possible so that cameras and projectors could be coordinated with one another. Since then, the usual frame rate in the cinema has been 24 frames per second. It was created as a compromise between technical requirements and economic reason: Experiments had shown that lower frame rates were perceived by viewers as jerky, while higher frame rates only brought subtle improvements. Fast movements don't seem perfectly smooth even at 24 fps, but this compromise seemed good enough for most purposes. Film material was expensive, and with the state of the art at the time, higher film consumption would have been disproportionate to the improvement that could be achieved. Of course, you could also have opted for 25 fps; that would have been a rounder number. The fact that the standard was just set to 24 fps had to do with the 60 Hz power grid in America. 24 fps harmonize better with the flicker of 60 Hz light sources (more on the subject of flicker in the next part).

When television was introduced, 24 fps turned out to be too low because the picture tubes used flickered a lot. For the sake of simplicity, the alternating frequencies of the power grids were then adopted as frame rates for television: 50 Hz in Europe and 60 Hz in America. (Instead of 50/60 whole images per second, however, only so-called half images were transmitted. In addition, with the introduction of color television, the standard in America was reduced from 60 to 59.94 fps; more on this later.)

In addition to the constant cinema and television standards, countless other frame rates have been used over the years. In the case of classic celluloid film, this was e.g. B. the "saving frame rate" of 18 fps, which has established itself as a cheap alternative to the usual 24 fps for amateur films (normal-8 and super-8). For particularly motion-intensive film screenings in amusement parks (so-called ride films) there was later the "showscan format" with 60 fps. Films for television were often produced at 25 fps (Europe) or 29.97 fps (America) - which can be easily integrated into the 50 or 59.94 fps standard because of the integral divisors (each film image then becomes two television fields).
Since the digitization of video and film, a large number of other frame rates have been added. In principle, any frame rate is possible today, depending on the intended use. Many cell phone cameras even record their videos at a variable frame rate.

Subjective perception and viewing habits

From a technical point of view, a higher frame rate is always better than a low one, because it refines the display of movement during fast movements. If it is z. For example, when it comes to broadcasting football matches or car races, it would not occur to anyone to use cameras with only 25 fps. It is absolutely clear that the 50 fps possible on television (or 59.94 fps in the 60 Hz countries) allow a more fluid and realistic representation of movement.
This suggests the idea of ​​overcoming historical standards and showing films in the cinema in the future at significantly higher frame rates instead of 24 fps.
With the showscan format and its 60 fps, there was already a corresponding approach in the 1970s. However, widespread use failed due to the need to convert the projectors around the world and also because of the higher film consumption. Ultimately, Showscan was only used in short ride films in amusement parks.
Since most cinemas have been digitized, films with a higher frame rate could be played almost anywhere without any problems; The procedure is called "HFR" (High Frame Rate) in cinemas. There are a few strong proponents of such an innovation among the big names in the film industry - first and foremost the successful directors James Cameron and Peter Jackson.

For 3D films, which already form a separate perception category, HFR with 48 fps has already been used in individual cases and accordingly advertised as an innovation in the cinemas - with a rather mixed audience reaction. Nobody has dared to approach high frame rates in 2D movies, where the difference might be even more obvious. This shows that the technical advantages of high frame rates are not met with unanimous approval - and that is politely expressed. There are still many opponents of the higher frame rates. This includes the vast majority of film buffs and film critics, but also many established cameramen and directors. Your argument is not a technical one, but an emotional one: The subtle jerking or the "not perfectly fluid movement" of 24 frames per second in connection with the motion blur of 1/48 or 1/50 second exposure time creates a cinema-specific look that generations of moviegoers have already got used to. Conversely, higher frame rates and very fluid movements are more likely to be seen in live television broadcasts and documentary video material and are therefore associated with cheap productions; For example, daily soap operas used to be shot with half-frame-based video cameras instead of film cameras for cost reasons. For this reason, derogatory terms such as "video look" or "soap effect" have been used for high frame rates. If you show experienced film consumers (even those who are not familiar with the technical background) a film with a high frame rate, you often get sniffing and the remark that it looks "somehow cheap". An innovation that is actually an advantage from a technical point of view is therefore reinterpreted as a disadvantage due to viewing habits.

The only question is how long such imprints last. New, as yet unencumbered film consumers are constantly growing up who are shaped quite differently. The connection between certain frame rates and certain genres, as it is based on by the critics, has been blurring for years anyway: The dominance of online videos initially led to all material on the computer screen being displayed at a low frame rate and usually also with it to see a jerky frame rate conversion; Just think of the countless YouTubers who upload almost every "I-am-important video" in 24 or 25 fps. Because of the digital cameras, we now have many documentary films, soaps and cheap productions on television with low frame rates typical for cinemas (24/25 fps). However, a counterbalance is provided by new televisions, which, with their smooth movement, also show conventional television series and feature films as if they were already being shot at a high frame rate. Discerning film lovers switch off the motion smoothing, but most "normal users" are not even aware of the topic and leave their televisions on factory settings.
Younger viewers and occasional TV viewers have gotten used to the "smooth" new look to some extent and no longer necessarily create a cheap video association. All the more, they no longer perceive lower frame rates as particularly noble or of high quality - because there have been too many poorly made amateur videos with low frame rates in circulation for years.

The discussion about the pros and cons of high frame rates in the cinema (or in fictional films in general) sometimes takes on religious traits: the advocates of 24/25 fps consider their subjective arguments to be valid indefinitely. The pure technicians do not even want to accept emotional arguments and point to the advantages of high frame rates for scenes with fast movements.
It is quite possible that the next generation of viewers will no longer be able to understand today's discussion and will perceive high frame rates as normal, even in fictional films. Low frame rates could then become a stylistic element that ties in with classic cinema - just as one occasionally shoots in black and white as an effect today, simulates dirt on the film copy or adds crackling to the sound.

Types of image judder

There are roughly two types of picture juddering: regular juddering and what is known as micro-juddering.

If, for example, the frame rate is too low for a smooth display of motion, a steady jerk occurs. Frame rates of up to 15 fps are definitely jerky, frame rates from 50 fps are definitely fluid. However, one can argue about where exactly the limit lies: For example, proponents of the "film look" perceive the traditional cinema frame rate of 24 fps to be sufficiently fluid; on the other hand, fans of high frame rates would still describe 24 fps as jerky. The frame rate of 29.976 fps, which is particularly common for Internet videos, is sometimes classified as "already too fluid", sometimes as "not yet fluid enough", depending on the viewer.

Frame rate conversions (e.g. playback of 23.976 fps in a 59.94 fps environment using 3/2 pulldown) can cause jerking that goes well beyond the jerking caused by the frame rate itself.
Sometimes the jerks come almost too seldom to be considered even. A typical example is the playback of 25 fps video after conversion to 29.97 fps: Here every fifth frame is repeated, which leads to five jerks per second. But at least it's still regular.

One speaks of micro-stuttering when the movement is by and large fluid, but is interrupted by occasional single stuttering. This can happen a few times per second or just every so and so many seconds. The stuttering can be caused by frame repetition or frame omission.
If you play a video several times, micro-stuttering is usually not reproducible, but occurs again and again in different places. The cause of micro stuttering are the differences between the video frame rate and the monitor frequency, but also the lack of synchronization between the video source and the screen (as is almost always the case with computer monitors). Even playing 59.94 fps video on a 59.94 fps computer monitor will therefore still result in occasional micro stuttering.
Real video devices and televisions are usually synchronized; on them, videos that are rotated and played back at the same frame rate show smooth movement without micro-stuttering.

Unfortunately, micro stutters are most noticeable when the movements are otherwise very smooth. For example, on a 59.94 fps computer monitor you will notice every micro stutter in 59.94p material immediately, while when playing 24p material the micro stutters go unnoticed in the already strong permanent jolting.

Overview of the most common frame rates today

movie theater

The cinema has had 24 frames per second since the beginning, and this has remained the standard to this day. By the way, we're talking about a real 24,000 frames per second, not around 23,976 frames per second (see also "Television in America").
Only recently have higher cinema frame rates such as 48, 60 or 72 fps been discussed under the acronym "HFR": 48 and 72 fps have the advantage of being whole-number multiples of 24, so that they are compatible with older cinema projectors . On the other hand, 60 fps would be easy to slow down to 59.94 fps and would then be compatible with existing DVD and Blu-ray formats as well as for television in 60 Hz countries.

Since the cinemas have been working with digital projectors, they have become quite flexible when it comes to frame rates - even beyond feature films. Some cinemas now also offer public viewings of football games, opera performances and other live events, whereby the frame rate specified by the broadcasting station (usually 50 fps in this country) is used.

Television in Europe

European television standards were derived from the 50 Hz power grid. The local black and white television and the analog color television standards PAL and Secam therefore worked with 50 fields per second. Video cameras always delivered this format directly. Material that was shot on film was mostly available in 25 fps, so that two successive fields were always generated from the same film image after the television scan. Movies that were supposed to be shown on television were simply accelerated from 24 to 25 fps. (More on this under "Standard conversions")

When digital television standards (DVB-S, DVB-T, DVB-C) were introduced, the key data of the analogue standards were adopted in order to remain compatible and ensure a smooth transition.

Since the introduction of HDTV, there has been both a standard with 1280 x 720 pixels and 50 full frames per second (mainly used by public broadcasters) and a standard with 1920 x 1080 pixels and 50 fields per second (mainly used by private broadcasters). With the introduction of DVB-T2, a standard with 1920 x 1080 pixels and 50 full frames was added for the first time - although its possible quality advantage has not yet been exploited because the broadcasters are only upscaling their previous transmission signals.
The UHD standard provides 3840 x 2160 pixels with 50 full frames per second. But whether UHD television will ever be broadcast on a larger scale is still completely open.

Today, the majority of television broadcasts are shot digitally and no longer on film, but there is still a distinction between 25 and 50 frames per second: live broadcasts and "live on tape" broadcasts (news, sports broadcasts, Talk shows, game shows etc.) always run in 50 fps. Fictional content (series, television films, daily soaps, etc.) is almost exclusively made in 25 fps. There is a colorful mix of 25 and 50 fps for documentaries - depending on the camera used and the preferences of the filmmaker. (sometimes even between 25 and 50 fps within a documentary film). Movies are still shot at 24 fps and accelerated to 25 fps for television broadcasting in Europe.

TV in America

In the USA and other American countries, based on the local 60 Hz power grid, black and white television was set to 60 fields per second. Japan, South Korea and a few other Asian countries have also joined this standard (while China, India and North Korea also adopted the 50 fps standard from Europe).
When the NTSC color standard was introduced, however, the frame rate had to be reduced by 1/1000 in order to avoid technical interference problems. This resulted in the crooked number of 59.94 fields per second that is generally associated with NTSC today. Such a crooked number would no longer be necessary for digital video standards, but for reasons of downward compatibility it has unfortunately been retained to this day (and makes processing more laborious than necessary in many places).

Video cameras in the "NTSC countries" always recorded 59.94 fields per second directly. When shooting for television with film cameras, 29.97 frames per second were common for a long time, of which one film frame met two television fields (i.e. the same principle as with 25 fps film in Europe).
In order to broadcast 24 fps cinema films on television, a more complicated process was necessary: ​​First the film was slowed down from 24 to 23.976 fps and then subjected to a so-called 3: 2 pulldown: Each film frame was alternately converted into 2 or 3 television fields, so that a rhythm 2 - 3 - 2 - 3 etc. resulted. Due to the uneven distribution, movies on American television always stuttered slightly more than the same films when they were broadcast in Europe - and even more so than US TV series that were shot at 30 fps.

For the digital standards, just like in Europe, the key data of the analog standard were adopted - in particular the crooked frame rate of 59.94 fps. Even the standards when HDTV was introduced developed parallel to Europe: Today there is a standard with 1280 x 720 pixels and 59.94 frames per second and a competing standard with 1920 x 1080 pixels and 59.94 fields per second, each from around half of the television channels are used.
The UHD broadcast standard provides 3840 x 2160 pixels with 59.94 frames per second. As a precaution, however, a variant with a real 60.00 fps was also included in the official standard - as a small glimmer of hope that one day, the absurdly crooked frame rates will be rid of.

A change compared to the past has occurred in the production of fictional content: American television films and series are now exclusively produced at 23.976 fps, while 29.97 fps have practically died out. The lower frame rate has certain advantages, especially for international marketing (23.94 fps is much easier and better to adapt to 50 Hz-based television standards). The jerking due to the necessary 3/2 pulldown is also less and less an issue, as newer televisions automatically recognize the corresponding material and can undo the pulldown during playback ("reverse pulldown") - so the films then run on the television in pure form 23.976 fps, although the broadcast takes the detour via 59.94 frames or fields with pulldown. (This is just another example of how historical standards later become a burden and have to be artfully circumnavigated.)

Video cassette, DVD and Blu-ray

The original purpose of video equipment was to record television broadcasts. Therefore, the video standards in Europe and overseas exactly followed the respective television standards (50 fields / second in Europe, 59.94 fields / second in America).
Most cassette formats (especially the widely used VHS cassette) still worked analog.
Only with the introduction of DVD did digital video technology find its way into many living rooms - and here too the possibilities again corresponded exactly to the digital television standards: in Europe it is in the 576 / 50i ("PAL") format and in America in the 480 / 59.94i (" NTSC "). The American "NTSC" version also has a trick that allows movies to be saved in progressive 480 / 23.976p; This option was very interesting for home cinema fans in the heyday of DVD, because there were special progressive DVD players and projectors at the time.
In principle, the game was then repeated one more time with the Blu-ray Disc ("BD" for short); Here, too, there is a distinction between the standards known from television, 1280 x 720 pixels with 50 full frames / second and 1920 x 1080 pixels with 50 fields / second - and of course the corresponding 59.94 versions on the American side. However, with the Blu-ray, a separate standard for feature films was officially added for the first time, with 1920 x 1080 pixels and real 24 frames per second. Since then, home cinema fans in Europe have been able to watch films without speed-up and pitch changes, and in America the jerky 3: 2 pulldown is no longer available. (Strictly speaking, there are even two sub-versions of the feature film standard: one with a smooth 24.00 fps and one with 23.976 fps. Today about 1/3 of the feature films in global Blu-ray production are mastered at 24.00 fps and 2/3 with 23.976 fps - always depending on the frame rate in which the material was already available. The user does not notice the difference because the player and television can play both versions equally.)
The Blu-ray standard was later expanded twice, first for 3D films and then for Ultra HD films ("UHD-BD"). This means that other resolutions and frame rates are also possible, some of which go far beyond today's television broadcasts. However, players for the new Blu-ray variants are much less widespread than players for the original Blu-ray standard - and even the normal Blu-ray has never been able to build on the widespread use of the DVD. As a result, the extended Blu-ray standards have to be viewed more as niche products, while the broad market can only be reached with normal Blu-rays and of course with DVDs. It is of no use to bring discs into circulation that are technically state-of-the-art, but hardly anyone can play them.

Video portals, media libraries and streaming services

The great age of video portals began with increasing Internet bandwidths - above all of the market leader YouTube. In the early days, YouTube standardized everything that was uploaded to 29.97 fps because it was believed that this was best suited to computer monitors. However, the limitation was soon lifted and other frame rates were passed on unchanged; since then there has been a colorful mix of different frame rates on YouTube. Only the high frame rates (everything over 30 fps - especially 50 and 59.94 fps) were halved. But in 2014 this barrier also fell, so that YouTube now accepts frame rates of up to 60.00 fps and reproduces them unchanged. The driving force behind this development were probably the computer gamers who wanted to show their game videos just as smoothly as a live game.
Most other video portals are not quite that advanced and still only support frame rates of up to 30 fps.
In this context, it should be pointed out again that the actual motion playback of YouTube videos ultimately depends on the playback device and software used. Most graphics cards convert everything to the 60 Hz monitor frequency (i.e. a maximum of 60 fps) and occasionally lose a frame, which then causes additional micro-stuttering. However, there are also alternative playback devices for YouTube (e.g. TV receivers and smart TVs), some of which are clocked at 50 fps or which can be switched. Furthermore, you can download YouTube videos and then ideally play them smoothly on a suitable video device - which is of course not a process suitable for everyday use, but only demonstrates the basic possibilities.

The media libraries of the public and private broadcasters function in a technically similar manner to video portals, but they are only stocked with material from the respective broadcasters. In practice, the frame rate in Germany has so far been almost always only 25 fps - even for studio programs and news that are actually available in 50 fps and could definitely benefit from the better display of movement. This is one of the reasons why media libraries do not yet achieve quite the same picture quality as the HD broadcast on television.
If you use the media libraries from your computer, you also have to accept the conversion of the frame rate to the monitor frequency of the computer - and then 25 fps already seem quite jerky. However, there are more and more smart TVs and other devices that allow the use of the media libraries directly from the television and sometimes also play 25 fps natively. Presumably that would also work with 50 fps - if the broadcasters finally offered it.

Paid streaming services primarily offer films and series. Therefore, the frame rates used here are 24.00 and 23.976 - just like on Blu-ray Disc. This applies not only to movies and purchased series from American television stations, but also to series produced in-house. Nowadays, 24 / 23.976 fps is the international exchange format for fictional content. Only material that was originally shot for European television stations can sometimes also be available in 25 fps on the streaming services.
Whether you can play the frame rate natively also depends on the respective playback device for streaming services: computers require conversion to the monitor frequency, which jerks a lot at 24/25 fps. Alternative devices such as special streaming boxes or TV receivers / smart TVs with the appropriate app may also be able to display the frame rate natively, but this has to be tested on a case-by-case basis.

Filming yourself with camcorders, cameras and cell phones

The development of camcorders, which interested amateurs could buy to make films for themselves, was for a long time based on the existing television sets - because they were the only practicable way of playing back video films in the living room at home. Accordingly, analog camcorders (VHS, VHS-C, Video-8, S-VHS-C, Hi8) were always offered in two different versions to match local television standards: The versions offered in Europe filmed at 50 fields / second, those in America and Japan at 59.94 fields / second. Even with the beginning of digitization (in the videographers sector it came back in 1995 with the MiniDV system, a digital cassette standard), the strict separation according to continents continued. Even the jump to HD (initially with HDV based on the well-known miniDV cassettes, later without a cassette in the AVCHD standard and its successors) did not change anything fundamentally; almost every camcorder was still available in two separate versions depending on where it was sold.

The more frequent playback of videos on computer screens, the boom in flat-screen televisions and the spread of video-capable digital photo cameras then softened the boundaries a little. Obviously, some (cheap) manufacturers found it increasingly unnecessary to build separate device versions for the 50 Hz world (Europe etc.). Suddenly some cameras, which were sold in Europe, were drawing in the "American" standards with z. B. 29.97 fps. Most of the buyers didn't even know this and went straight to filming; newer televisions and of course computers reproduced the "foreign" format without any problems. They experienced difficulties, however, when they wanted to edit their films together with recordings from other cameras, play them back on an older television set or even transfer them to VHS cassette.

Today there is an almost unmanageable frame rate chaos on the market for self-filmmakers. Some large camera manufacturers still adhere to the dogma that cameras in 50 Hz countries are sold on a 25/50 fps basis and cameras in 60 Hz countries operate at 23.976 / 29.97 / 59.94 fps have to. Only a few models can be switched freely between the versions; with some it is at least about tricks, or if necessary you can have them loaded with a different firmware during service.In contrast to the times of analog cassette systems, frame rates are now just a software issue, while the underlying hardware is the same worldwide. There are no longer any technical reasons for the fact that different camera models are still offered separately according to sales area, but rather should prevent gray imports (because video devices are sometimes cheaper outside the EU). Some manufacturers still offer their consumer camcorders separately by region, but make the almost identical professional versions switchable. You can see from this that this is about sales strategy and not about technical limitations.

If you would like to film in a frame rate that is not assigned to your region (for possible reasons for this see "Advantages and disadvantages of different frame rates"), it is best to use a switchable camera.

For some cameras that are not officially switchable, there are also "secret" key combinations circulating on the Internet that still make it possible.

The last option would be to self-import a corresponding camera from the USA or another 60 Hz country; However, this needs to be carefully considered because of the customs formalities and possible problems in the case of a guarantee.

After decades of 50 / 59.94 fps dominance in the field of self-filming (field video with high frame rates), amateur videos with low frame rates increasingly appeared at the beginning of the new millennium. With the video-capable cameras (especially DSLRs and DSLMs), many models came onto the market that could only record at low frame rates from the outset (at best 29.97 fps - sometimes only 23.976 fps). However, this was not always seen as a disadvantage, rather the associated "film look" was emphasized. When, after years of further development, most cameras were finally capable of 50 or 59.94 fps in full HD resolution again, cameras with 4k / UHD functions came onto the market, which were then again limited to 29.97 fps at best. With cameras like this you often have to weigh up whether you prefer to use a high frame rate and remain limited to HD resolution, or whether you want to film in 4k / UHD and accept the lower frame rate. 4k / UHD is only slowly becoming possible with 50 or 59.94 fps.

In addition to the frame rates derived from television, there are now cameras in the somewhat higher price segment that can record with real 24.00 fps - so suitable for people who want to use them to produce low-budget cinema films or cinema commercials (which is due to digitization the cinemas has been significantly simplified). If you can record in 24.00 fps right away, you save the otherwise necessary upspeed of 23.976 fps (see "Norm conversions").
Some older digital photo cameras recorded videos at 30.00 fps, so this frame rate also appears occasionally. However, cameras were later adapted to the existing video standards, so that on current models, instead of a smooth 30.00, 29.97 fps are now common (even if the even number 30 is usually mentioned in the technical data - see also "Format designations").
In the early days of video-capable compact cameras and later video-capable DSLRs, there were always half-baked interim solutions. B. could only record with 15 or 20 fps because the sensors did not allow higher frame rates. So you shouldn't be surprised if you have to deal with very unusual frame rates beyond all standards.
There was never a smooth 60.00 fps in the amateur sector, but certain digital cinema cameras already offer this frame rate in addition to 48 and possibly 72 fps, because these are the possible standards for HFR films in the cinema.

In addition to classic camcorders and video cameras, cell phone cameras must also be mentioned at this point. In terms of numbers, most of the amateur videos are made with a cell phone. When it comes to frame rate confusion, cell phones shoot it down: As part of the exposure control, they produce a variable frame rate, i. H. the frame rate can change in the middle of the running video. The idea behind this is that cell phone videos are mostly viewed on other cell phones or on computer screens, where their recording frame rate is going through a conversion anyway. Then it doesn't really matter whether the recording frame rate remains constant or not.
However, videos with variable frame rates cause problems in post-production. At the latest in an editing program, they have to be converted into a fixed frame rate - and together with the further conversion during playback, things then get jittery and jerky. Slightly older editing programs, software players and video converters have difficulties with processing variable frame rates from the outset, which can lead to runtime fluctuations and asynchronous sound.
If you are filming with your cell phone and need the videos for more than just sharing them quickly with other cell phone users, you should buy a cell phone with a camera that can also be set to fixed frame rates (e.g. 50 or 59.94 fps). Unfortunately, this is only available in the somewhat upscale price range.

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Author: Andreas Beitinger
Last change: July 2017
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