What Is Frame Rate in Video (and Why You Should Care)? 

Blog 1 min read | Sep 20, 2023 | JW Player


Frame rate and frames per second (FPS) play a big part in the quality of your video on demand (VOD) and live streaming. Getting this technical camera and playback setting right can take your videos to new levels, while getting it wrong can negatively impact the viewer experience.

However, more FPS isn’t necessarily better. It’s a bit more nuanced than that.

Fortunately, determining the right frame rate for your video isn’t too complex, and we’ve written this article to help you figure it out. Below, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know about frame rate in video, including what it is, why it’s important, and how to find the right FPS settings for your content.

What Is Frame Rate?

Videos are just a compilation of thousands of pictures played in quick succession. It’s the digital equivalent of the classic flipbook.

What Is FPS?

Frames per second (or FPS) measures how fast your video displays. For example, when you shoot a video at 30 FPS, that means each second of your video shows 30 unique still images.

If there’s not a whole lot of change going on from scene to scene, this will look natural and fluid. However, if there are massive changes going on within that 1-second period, 30 FPS might look jerky and blurred.

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Frame rate indicates how fast you capture and display those pictures (or frames). It refers to the number of frames displayed per second of video. A higher frame rate leads to smoother quality, while a lower frame rate can cause motion blur and shakey scenes.

However, that doesn’t necessarily mean higher is better. The right frame rate for your video will depend on the scene, context, and playback use case.

Why Is Frame Rate Important?

The frame rate you choose for your video impacts the playback and viewing experience, and it’s a decision you make from the get-go. You can’t necessarily go back and change it later without reshooting the scene—and that’s not always possible once you’re in the post-production editing phase.

Fortunately, most modern-day video equipment and software can handle frame rates from 24 FPS to 120+ FPS. However, it’s up to you to decide what you’ll use—and this mostly depends on your style and content.

The default for most video content is 30 FPS, and that’s what you’ll find on your iPhone or Android video recording settings. If you want to capture high-motion content or slow down a scene while maintaining fluidity, you’d want to bump your settings up to 60 FPS.

Doing so would allow you to capture more frames per second, but it’s also going to drastically increase the required video storage—and it might not impact the viewing experience if you’re just recording a talking-head interview or a scene of two people talking.

Let’s look at some real-life examples.

The Bourne Identity series was likely recorded with 24 or 30 FPS. That’s why the action scenes appear jerky, and there’s a huge amount of motion blur while Jason Bourne fights off enemies. However, this fits the aesthetic of the film, and while the scenes might be nauseating to follow for the viewing audience, the chaotic filming matches the tone and story of the movie.

On the other spectrum, think about The Matrix. This film took high-motion action scenes and regularly slows them down to extreme slow-motion shots. Some of the super slow-motion scenes were shot at 300 FPS to give them a very fluid playback quality, as you can see whenever Neo is dodging bullets.

300 FPS (or 60 FPS, for that matter) would look ridiculous in The Bourne Identity, whereas 30 FPS in The Matrix would have looked jerky and incomprehensible at times. This leads us to the question: what’s the right frame rate for your video content?

What Is a Good Frame Rate?

The right frame rate for your videos and live streaming ultimately depends on your style of filming and the content you’re showing. Here are a few of the most popular frame rates and associated use cases:

24 FPS

24 FPS is almost equivalent to how humans perceive action in real life. As you look around you, go on a run, or have a conversation with friends, your brain is typically processing things at around 24 FPS. This is the frame rate used in some television shows and most movies and for a cinematic experience.

While the human eye naturally captures life at 24 FPS, it’s capable of doing much more. Reacting to visual signals, the human eye could essentially consume 1,000 frames per second. However, most TV screens can’t do the same. Your typical LCD screen only has a refresh rate of around 60 hertz (hz), and that essentially converts to a maximum of 60 FPS for our eyes.

Typical Use Cases:

  • Talking-head clips
  • Landscape photography
  • Product reviews
  • Podcast recordings
  • Some live streams
  • Cinematic scenes

30 FPS

Most television has shifted to 30 FPS. Many shows aren’t going for a cinematic experience—instead, they want to capture smoother action. You’ll see most sports and news broadcasts in 30 FPS, and this is also the go-to frame rate for most live-streaming content.

Most social media platforms (Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and LinkedIn) recommend using 30 FPS for live-streaming content on their networks.

Typical Use Cases:

  • Most live streaming
  • Sporting events
  • News broadcasts
  • Action scenes
  • TV shows

60 FPS

60 FPS dabbles into the world of high frame rate. Many video game streamers need to use this quality to capture intense action recordings, and it’s also the frame rate you’ll want to capture in if you plan on slowing down the footage later for some slow-motion playback.

For example, if you’re shooting a sporting event but want slow-motion replays, you’re going to need some cameras capturing the action in at least 60 FPS.

Typical Use Cases:

  • High-action video gaming streams
  • Slow-motion replays
  • Elegant playback or slow-moving b-roll
  • High-definition video
  • Action scenes

120+ FPS

120 FPS is reserved for super slow-motion action (such as The Matrix fight scenes) where you want to capture high-action footage and slow it down for playback.

Typical Use Cases:

  • Super slow-motion content
  • High-action footage

Choosing Your Frame Rate

Frame rate isn’t just determined by the capture setting you set on your cameras. It’s also controlled by your encoder and transcoder. Ideally, you want to match these settings to your source content—however, you might need to adjust these settings to accommodate lower bandwidths, especially during a live stream.

For example, when you’re shooting a sporting event, you might record all of the action in 60 FPS but stream in at 30 FPS. This will require less bandwidth on your part and improved playback for your users, but you’ll see have the source files you need to slow down scenes when you’d like (for replays or post-event clips).

Bring Your Videos to Life With JW Player

Choosing the right FPS for your video content can make or break your videos or live streams. The untrained naked eye usually can’t tell the difference between 24 FPS and 30 FPS, but the context of your content begins to become more noticeable with high-motion scenes like action movies, sports, gaming, or the news.

Whether you’re shooting a television series, live sporting events, or a Sunday church sermon, JW Player has the complete end-to-end video platform you need to deliver top-notch content:

  • Delivery: Deliver beautiful, buffer-free video experiences to viewers on varying devices and bandwidths with a range of preferred settings.
  • Playout: Use the fastest HTML5 video player on the web to surprise, delight, and engage your audiences at scale.
  • Engage: Improve user engagement and retention with automatic engagement elements like Article Recommendations, curated content, and real-time analytics.
  • Monetize: Earn what you deserve with ad integrations, flexible subscriptions, and advanced player technology (and keep 100% of your revenue).

Want to try it for yourself? Sign up for a 30-day free trial to experience everything the platform has to offer. Already know what you want? Chat with a JW Player video expert to get the ball rolling.