2020’s Advanced Guide to Video Frame Rates and FPS

PTZ camera for live streaming

We do not have to convince that online video streaming is more popular than ever. More than 85% of all internet users in the United States watch online video content monthly on their devices. If you’re not creating online content, you could be missing out on 85% of possible leads. 

While you may be convinced to pick up a camera right now, shoot a short video, and immediately upload it, we suggest you wait. We’re here to help educate you on the settings inside your camera like your frame rate. Once you know what goes into making a great video, upload away, and utilize your OVP platform as much as possible.

In this article, we’ll be answering: 

  • What is a Frame Rate?
  • What are (FPS) Frames per Second?
  • Why Does Frame Rate Matter?
  • What is a Good Frame Rate in Video?
  • Do Higher Frame Rates Mean Better Quality?
  • The Differences Between 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps
  • How to Choose the Best Frame Rate for Your Videos
  • Frame Rates and Live Streaming
  • Recommended Live Encoder Settings
  • Final Thoughts

According to HubSpot, 81% of businesses are using video as a marketing tool. That’s up from 63% over the last year. If you’re looking to enhance business communication with video, there is no better time to begin. Frame rates are not something that can be ignored when it comes to online video content. If you want users to click on your video and continue watching to the end, the correct frame rate will have to be chosen during your filming process. If the incorrect one is used, the editing of your video can look unprofessional, meaning people may become uninterested.

What is a Frame Rate?

video resolution settings

Video is a series of still images that, when viewed in order at a certain speed, gives the appearance of motion. Frame rate refers to the number of individual frames or images that are displayed per second of film or video.

The frame rate is the speed at which those images are shown. Each image represents a frame. To create the perception of motion, the brain automatically will add or fill in the missing information. This speed tricks your brain into thinking it’s smooth motion. 

What is (FPS) Frames per Second?

Frames per Second (FPS) is a measure of how motion video is displayed. With the way our brain add missing information in to create motion, the higher the FPS, the smoother the motion appears before the eyes. For example, if a video is captured and played back at 24 frames per second, that means each second of the video shows 24 distinct still images. 

In general, the minimum FPS needed that helps avoid any jerky motion is 30 frames per second. For high-motion content, you’ll be looking at around 60 frames per second. But, more on the best numbers later.

Why Does Frame Rate Matter?

Understanding frame rates before you shoot video is extremely important when it comes to producing high quality, business content. The frame rate greatly impacts the style and viewing experience of a video. 

When choosing a frame rate, you are choosing between how realistic you want your video to look or whether or not you plan to use different techniques like slow motion or transitions. 

What is a Good Frame Rate in Video?

low latency streaming

While frame rates in TV and movies were standardized by The Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE), frame rates in video content haven’t been. Frame rates are used in digital cameras used on DSLR, mirrorless, and smartphone devices. 

These indicate the quality of the camera when capturing video. Cameras have a base frame rate, which you will need to check in your settings before you start capturing content. Frame rates can also be found in the settings of your video encoder.

There isn’t a “best” frame rate for video. Each frame rate has a specific use, so it entirely depends on what you’re shooting.

For a video on the web, most TV and film, 24 frames per second is the industry standard. Live TV like news programs, sports and soap operas, 30 frames per second is common. Those 6 more frames per second allow for a smoother feel that works well for video that is less cinematic. 

60fps and 120fps are used for recording video to be played back in slow motion. 

In order to figure out the best frame rate for your videos, you will have to determine what type of content you’re looking to create. Content should be encoded and uploaded in the same frame rate that it was recorded in when uploading to a hosting platform like Dacast.

Do Higher Frame Rates Mean Better Quality?

Higher frame rates do not necessarily mean better quality. Like we mentioned previously, each frame rate has a specific purpose. Higher frames per second, the slower the slow motion will be. 

For example, videos recorded in 120fps will then be slowed down to 24 frame rate, which creates that smooth slow-motion effect. The notion that higher resolution video looks better with higher frame rates is really dependent on the display capabilities. For example, if you have an OLED display with 60-120 frames per second, it will show the content much better compared to an LCD display at 24-30fps.

While some cameras may be able to film at 120 frames per second, they can only film at 720 pixels instead of 1080. So, the higher the frame rate, it comes at the cost of video quality

While frame rates are one of the most important technical aspects of video content, they are not as important as video quality. Consumers have a low tolerance for bad streams and video quality. For many, 90 seconds is the most they will tolerate when it comes to low-quality content. If after 90 seconds, the video is still low quality, they will look for a different video.

What’s the Difference Between 24fps, 30fps, and 60fps?

The most common frame rates in videos are 24, 30, and 60 fps. Since there are three major frame rates to consider for uploading business video content online, we’re giving an explanation of each. This will help you ensure your encoder, camera, and other live streaming equipment settings are optimized before you hit record. 

24fps

This frame rate is the one used by most of Hollywood. It makes video content seem more cinematic. While an average person may not be able to tell the difference between this frame rate and a higher one, most professionals can. 

One of the main disadvantages of filming in 24fps is that it can look quite choppy and unprofessional if slowed down at all. If a broadcaster plans to shoot footage with the intention of slowing it down in post-production, we always recommend filming at a higher frame rate.

30fps

Many modern cameras offer the option to film video content in 30 frames per second. Traditionally, this is the frame rate that was used for TV video content in the USA. As your camera is capturing more still images per second than it was with 24fps footage, this is ideal for sports and other fast-moving videos.

If you bought your video camera between 2000 and 2010, they will most likely only have the option to film in 30fps.

60fps

60fps is the near equivalent to 50 frames per second. If the camera that you’re planning to create video content on was manufactured in the US, it will likely offer the ability to film in 60 fps rather than 50. Some cameras will have the option to film in both.

This frame rate is a high frame rate mostly used for slo-mo. Typically a video is recorded in 60fps is then slowed down to 24 or 30 fps. This allows for a smooth slow-motion effort during post-production. 

Any frame rate that is over 60 frames per second is considered a high-speed frame rate. Some cameras on the more professional side will go as fast as 1,000 frames per second. You may have seen video examples like a bullet going in slow motion or a water balloon popping.

Which is Better: 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps?

Now that you know the differences between the most common rates, you may be wondering which is better 24fps, 30fps, or 60fps?

All three common frame rates have a place in today’s digital world. There isn’t one answer to which is better 24fps or 60fps or which is better between 30fps or 60fps. Your frame rate choice depends on your video camera, your encoder settings, post-production, the type of content you’re creating, and where you will be hosting it. Shooting at either 24 or 30fps should give you your camera’s best performance and quality it has to offer.

How to Choose the Best Frame Rate for Your Videos

Since you will choose your FPS based on what you’re shooting, here are the most optimal use cases per frame rate. 

24fps

  • If someone is speaking
  • Landscapes 
  • Video where you need to get details and textures 
  • HD video

30fps 

  • Can be used as-is and can be slowed down to 24fps
  • Sports and other fast-moving content 
  • TV shows and vlogs
  • HD video

50fps

  • This is the interlaced field rate of PAL. Some 1080i HD camera record at this frame rate
  • HD video

59.94fps

  • HD cameras are able to record at this frame rate. While it’s sometimes referred to as 60fps, it’s best to use 59.94 unless you really mean 60fps
  • Compatible with NTSC video

60fps

  • When the subject needs a more graceful appearance 
  • Adds emotions to the shot
  • Great to slow down video shots during sporting events
  • Can be slowed down to the perfect slow-motion ability 
  • HD video

When you know the type of content that you’ll be shooting, ensure that your camera setting is correct and so is your video encoder. Once those are dialed into the correct frame rate, you have chosen the best frame rate for your video. 

As a rule of thumb, you can get away with lower FPS (which would also lower the amount of bandwidth you are using) if you are streaming low motion content. If there is heavy motion, you will probably want a higher FPS to make the motion feel more fluid.

Frame Rates and Live Streaming 

live streaming solution

If you’re a business that is interested in live streaming video content to your employees or your clientele, you’re going to have to know the settings that create the best-finished video product. Most online streaming platforms will back 60fps.

At a minimum, you should try to stream video content at least at 30fps. 

As with video resolution, frame rates affect bandwidth requirements. Video content with a higher frame rate has more data to transmit compared to a video with a lower frame rate. 

Other reasons why frame rates matter in live streaming include: 

  • When the live stream concerns something fast-paced like a sports event stream or a concert, a stream with higher frames per second will produce better video. The fast-moving motion of the event is able to be captured using more frames per second.
  • For live streams where the event isn’t high paced like a church service or a government meeting, high frame rates aren’t typically required as most of the motion can be adequately captured by a lower fps as well. 

Higher frame rates are becoming the new norm as increased bandwidth capability reaches more viewing devices. This means until it’s the norm, it’s critical to pay attention to all the settings on your devices and encoders to ensure the proper frame rates are being chosen. 

Frame Rates and Encoders

video transcoding

According to HubSpot, video was the number one media format in 2019. While video technology continues to advance, the quality of the captured images has never been better. But, the file sizes have also grown exponentially.  This brings the various types of live video encoders to light. Encoders are either hardware or software that brings raw video and converts it into a digital format and size that becomes compatible with online players and devices. There are two types of encoders – software encoders and hardware encoders. Let’s discuss the differences. 

Software encoders

  • Video conversion programs that run on a computer 
  • Have a graphic interface to manage the conversion process
  • Allow control over elements such as bitrate and stream quality 
  • Low cost and easy operation

Hardware encoders

  • Standalone, dedicated devices that do not require a computer to use
  • The only purpose is to encode raw video into streaming data
  • Small, portable case but can also be set up as large, permanent fixtures 
  • Include specialized internal components that don’t hare recourses with any other processes

In order to upload your content, your video must be encoded to fit the needs of your video hosting platform

Recommended Live Encoder Settings

h.264 encoder

At Dacast, we use the RTMP protocol for ingesting live streams. The platform transcodes that live video content into the HLS streaming protocol. Finally, that streaming content reaches your viewers via top-tier CDNs. 

Most live streams move from the encoder to the online video platform in RTMP format. Then the platform transcodes this video into HLS. RTMP encoders are all configured in the same basic manner. To ensure your live stream is stable and fully functional, if you’re planning to live stream the video content you’re creating, you will have to configure your encoder to use the settings below.

First, ensure you are following everything in the Common Settings section. Then select the most appropriate Resolution & Bitrate (depending on your needs) and configure all settings for that size exactly.

Common Settings:

The following settings are recommended for optimal live streaming, regardless of your selected resolution and bitrate:

VIDEO CODEC
H.264 (X.264 may work)
FRAME RATE 25 or 30
KEYFRAME INTERVAL
2 secs (or 2x frame rate)
SCANNING Progressive
ENCODING BITRATE Constant (CBR)
AUDIO CODEC AAC
AUDIO BITRATE 128 kbps
AUDIO CHANNELS 2 (Stereo)
AUDIO SAMPLE RATE 48 kHz (48,000 Hz)

Resolution & Bitrate Settings:

Select one of the following configurations and ensure your encoder is set up with these exact settings for optimal live streaming:

ULD LD SD HD FHD
Name Ultra-Low Definition Low Definition Standard Definition High Definition Full High Definition
Video Bitrate (kbps) 350 350 – 800 800 – 1200 1200 – 1900 1900 – 4500
Resolution Width (px) 426 640 854 1280 1920
Resolution Height (px) 240 360 480 720 1080
H.264 Profile Main Main High High High

Video and audio codec:

  • The video codec profile we recommend to use for H.264 is High. You may also see an X.264 option; this is simply another implementation of the same protocol. You can use either one.

Audio bitrates:

ULD LD SD HD FHD
Name Ultra-Low Definition Low Definition Standard Definition High Definition Full High Definition
Video Bitrate (kbps) 350 350 – 800 800 – 1200 1200 – 1900 1900 – 4500
Audio Bitrate (kbps) 64 64 128 256 256

Bitrate Recommendation:

  • We recommend a standard or low definition (480p/360p) under 1000kpbs (audio and video bit-rates included based on the table above).

Frames per second (FPS):

  • Simply put, most users should generally set frames per second (fps) at 30. For people in certain regions of the world, however, 25 frames per second is standard. However, 30 fps will work anywhere.

Connecting to your Online Video Platform:

Generally, this requires gathering a few pieces of information. With Dacast, this necessary information includes:

  • Stream name
  • Stream URL
  • Login code (unique for each stream)
  • Login password

Every platform is different and will require different settings. These are the correct settings for Dacast. At Dacast, we offer streaming solutions for businesses. Everything from video hosting to advanced paywall and monetization capabilities. Our online video solution is built around the largest and most powerful Content Delivery Networks in the world.

We have the capability to help you live stream video content or host the video content for Video on Demand (VOD). Let your end-users find your videos when they need them all while you relax knowing your frame rate is correct and your video content will look great for them when they click play.

Final Thoughts

live streaming quality experience QoE

Now you know just how important frame rates are for online video content. Whether you’re looking to stream sporting events online or simply host training videos for your employees to watch, your video will need to be filmed at a certain frame rate. 

If you get that wrong, you’ll miss out on a lot of business due to people clicking away from a lower quality video. Don’t let that happen! With the increased amount of time spent online due to COVID-19, now is the perfect time to set your business up for digital video success. If you’re looking for more information on frame rates, hosting platforms, and live streaming solutions, visit the Dacast knowledge base and have a look around. We write articles to help businesses take charge of their online video content. 

We also offer a 30-day free trial for business professionals like you to try our streaming solution for free. No credit card required. Interested, visit our contact section for more information. 

If you’re interested in a powerful online video platform with a hosting solution with scalable live streaming delivery, check out our streaming solution plans or start a free 30-day trial below.

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Still have questions or feedback about frame rates and video encoders? Send a message to our 24/7 technical support team, and we will get back to you. For regular tips and exclusive offers, you can join our LinkedIn group.

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