Exploring Alternate Frame Rates


I want to explore video frame rates with my fellow artists here…and the notion of using unique frame rates for certain projects. But first I have to start with one of my stories (I love getting some of you to roll your eyes at my stories, some of which I repeat like your grandpaps).

I was an Adobe certified trainer back in the day and an Adobe beta tester as well. Because of my role with Adobe in 1991 while visiting the California Bay Area I got invited to a hush-hush preview of an exciting new technology. Yes I’m old. In my mid 50’s. :slight_smile:

The technology? A pre-Release version of QUICKTIME. This was the first (or certainly near the first) time any company had explored using desktop computers to play video realtime from hard disk. This was before there were any fully digital video editors or compositing tools that weren’t 50k plus. The technology of course was developed by Apple and was exclusive.

Now again…this is before After Effects, Premiere…and well before serious 3d animation on desktops. So a group of us were ushered in to peek at video samples playing off Macs with what were still somewhat new color computer displays. (8-Bit color display tech arrived en-masse around 1986-1988)

What did we see? Well you had to hold your head close to the screen! The “video” was playing at 5-10 FPS. The size of the video was around 240x180! A postage stamp. I recall telling a tech, “Very cool…but can you make it BIGGER” He rolled his eyes and suppressed hitting me. Drives and hardware were so damn slow back then.

The size of course increased. Things quickly evolved to 15 FPS and then to 30. “Dropping frames” and stuttering video was a problem for a long time. Audio and video would lose synchronization. It took years for standard def to become stable. Then of course we got HD 15-20 years later.

IIn this thread I’d like to chat about deliberately using frame rates other than 24-30. Why to use low frame rates, and if there might be justification to sometimes use something like 60 fps.


Crazy as it seems Thomas Edison was an early proponent of high video frame rates. He said anything less than 46 FPS would “strain the eye.” Well of course the early silent movies were 16-20 FPS before theaters settled in at 24fps. American TV landed on 29.97 FPS and Europe adopted a slightly lower FPS rate.

People complained about the Hobbit when it was delivered to theaters at 48fps. It seemed too much like a stage play or TV soap opera…and not as “theatrical”. James Cameron hasn’t given up on the idea and Avatar sequels are also slated to be 48fps. Frame rates increased a sense of reality but not always enjoy-ability.

Simon Cooke of Microsoft’s Advanced Tech Group says faster is better and has math and studies to back it up.

Recommended reading:


I vaguely recall bringing this topic up here (or elsewhere online) a few years ago…and was prompted again today by what I saw at the 3DCoat website. I was struck at how dynamic the video was on their web-page. Stared at it study why it looked so good…and so different. Then it struck me: higher frame rate. Especially with fast camera movement…higher hz can really help. But Arghh…more rendering!

There is a time and place for 60 fps. But there are projects that don’t really don’t need 30 or 24. Sometimes the camera is not moving much and I could render at a low frame rate and then mash it with a tool like twixtor. Other times a stop-action might work with 5-10 fps. Maybe render at 24 and up-sample frame-rate to 48?

It’s time for me to actually be thoughtful when choosing project frame rates.


A few links for you to judge yourself:



I depends of the subject. The more realistic you want like sports and maybe nature documentary the increased frame rates help, artistic they might not and even be detrimental, a cartoon for example has coded ways to show speed that would lost its meaning at 60fps.



This video is from a few years ago. I don’t know what he decided for A2.

Some elite producers seem to like the idea and are willing to pay extra…and absorb some criticism to do it.


Of course video games are played at 60-120 fps. Some say that HFR may become standard for TV and movies. Not just 60 fps. Even up to 120. Yikes. YouTube supports up to 60 fps.

Is it best, safest and smartest to say flexible frame rates are coming.

Try cranking up the settings and riding w/Mario. Whattya think?

Avengers Trailer at 60fps…including some treatments done in c4d:


Interesting subject. I really liked the Hobbit in HFR. The plot and the color grading were terrible, but the realistic looking animations and horizontal camera pans were phenomenal. No stuttering, less motion blur, everything seemed much more realistic.I used to render my animations for DVD in 50 fps with fields. This resulted in nice smooth movements. Unfortunately, these interlaced animations only worked well on the corresponding TVs.

I then had to switch to 30 fps with Motion Blur. With the extremely bad motion blur from the Physical Renderer of Cinema 4D this was a real step backwards.I have been rendering my animations at 60 fps for about 1 year now and my customers are all very satisfied. But I create technical animations and no action films, in which half the plot may sink into the motion blur.

More than 60 fps I think is pointless, because there are hardly any players for it.


I see frame rate the same as I see pixel resolution, lower fps and lower resolutions are great places to hide imperfections and lower budgets. There is a reason many games and videos in recent years have gone for the ‘pixel art’ style despite a general push for more realism, better textures, better lighting etc. Its quicker and easier to do. The same applies to frame rates. You can hide a much more basic animation in a 24 fps video with motion blur, than you can in a crisp 60 fps video that shows every tiny detail of motion.

I’m a huge proponent of higher frame rates where it makes for a better experience, computer games and watching sports, where 120 fps is more or less the point where higher speeds stop giving much of a benefit. 30 is just bearable (and the standard for many consoles), 60 is considered the standard experience, but 120 is nice when you see it. As evidenced by the abundance of TV sets doing 100+ interpolation.

But for film, I don’t honestly see much of an advantage. I think it is nice to pull back a step from reality. If a film is recorded and viewed in super mega high def 12k to the point where you can see the stitching and seams, the nails and glue lines, and the brush strokes of the paint on the set, then this detracts from the realism, it wouldn’t add to it. Same goes for the framerate. If a higher framerate reveals to the audience that something has been keyframed along a smooth spline and that there are no micro-movements on the CG characters of hairs blowing in the wind, smoke sims lacking details that a higher framerate would show, then it has only removed from the experience.


Interesting! I don’t think I’ve known any c4d artists doing this.


i completely agree with that. especially the point about resolution in films. if too high def, even scenes shot in real environments can look like a studio set, made a lot of movies feel cheap instead of adding to the experience.

as for the framerate topic, of course it depends on what you’re doing. i’m often animating and rendering at 12 fps for my cartoony or stop motion look stuff, i did even go down once to 8fps, to get a really choppy stop motion feel. but here’s a question that lately came up in a discussion with a friend: let’s say you’re doing a carton character animation that you would animate and render at 12 fps, but the final delivery format should be 25 fps. some would say animate at 25 fps and hold keyframes for every other frame, others like me would just animate at 12 fps (i really prefer even numbers for character animation) and render at 12 fps (much faster of course), comp at 12 fps and just put that final 12 fps comp into a 25 fps comp for final output. worked just fine for me in the past, but how would you guys approach that?


I can’t imagine any alternative to what you are already doing.


From my experience–its all based on clients specs for their desired playback depending on the device or system they are using to play the material.

24fps = more filmic look-feel–my preference.
30fps = typical spec for web video and broadcast.
25fps = UK/european clients.
60fps = Sometimes for 360 fulldome animation for smoother playback . Sometimes they may throw in Stereo 8K on top of that just to break our balls and make me wonder why I chose this career. :wink:

In cases where we know we will want to play with the footage and retime (slow mo effects, bullet time and the like) higher frame rates like 120fps and up (just the renders–not the final output.
The HFR stuff looks too bizarre to me personally.

I started in the early 90s (In my 50s as well) and remember sometimes in order to cram all our animation clips onto an interactive cdrom, our specs would start at 320pixels and15fps, but would often squish them down as low as 8fps. CG animation sucked in the 90s.


Yes but it was much easier to ‘wow’ clients.