What Do Frame Rates Mean in a Digital Age?

Frame rate is the measure of how many frames of a video file display every second, which determines the smoothness of a video’s playback. Very old video games had frame rates of 6 frames per second (FPS), and appear choppy compared to modern video games that have frame rates upwards of 125 FPS.

You may have heard about when The Hobbit director Peter Jackson filmed An Unexpected Journey and The Desolation of Smaug in high frame rate, using 48 frames per second (FPS) instead of the cinema standard of 24. There was considerable outcry caused by doubling the frame rate, and critics of the new technology reported that the film appeared too lifelike and removed them from the traditional viewing experience they expected.

A program’s frame rate plays an important role in how a show is captioned, since captions associate with particular frames and must match the program audio. Standard frame rates for traditional TV and movies include the following:

29.97 frames per second (dropframe) — This standard, used for many TV productions, is essentially 30 frames per second except for once every tenth minute, when two frames are “dropped.” Really, the frame count just skips over them and no frames of video are actually lost.

24 FPS — This is the standard used for most film productions.

25 FPS — This is the European standard for video.

Digital files have frame rates, just like traditional films and TV programs. Unlike physical film formats, a digital frame rate can be easily manipulated with video editing software. The frame rates for WMV, AVI, and FLV files are generally “unconstrained,” which means they can be modified to nearly any frame rate the user desires.

VITAC handles all frame rates and video types. For more information about our offline captioning capabilities, please click here.

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