How to Determine the Best Frame Rate for your Project

Frame rates, otherwise known as frames per second, measure the frequency that video frames appear on a screen. While a higher frame rate will enable you to duplicate the look of professional animators, it will require twice as many frames (and twice as much work!) as slower animated projects. Knowing which frame rate to apply to your project will enable you to set the right tone for your film, dazzle the audience, and make the impossible seem effortless.

If you are a beginning animator, you may want to begin by filming at 12 to 18 frames per second. Although the action will have a choppy look, starting small will give you an opportunity to focus on the movement of your characters and evaluate set details that could be animated as well.

The standard frame rate for animation is widely recognized as 24 fps. This also happens to be the rate at which we shoot motion picture films. While it may sound intimidating to produce 1,440 frames for every minute of animation, you can produce a 24 fps product while remaining in your 12 fps comfort zone.

When you feel confident with the filming process, begin a new project by creating twelve poses per second, but taking two shots of every pose at a 24 fps speed. This will enable you to speed the slower motion to 24 frames per second and duplicate the technique made famous in the Wallace and Gromit movies. It also saves you a tremendous amount of time. You can leave the action as-is to achieve a traditional stop motion look, or add a small amount of motion blur in between your frames during the editing phase of your movie.

Most television programming is set at 30 frames per second. This particular frame rate is an enormous undertaking for even the most experienced animators, as it translates into 1,800 different shots for a one-minute segment. Again, if you are comfortable animating your character’s movements, you may want to make fifteen different poses, take two shots of each with the speed set at 30 frames per second, add a bit of motion blur and watch the fun!

Many animators refer to this technique as “shooting on 2’s”. This simply means that they are shooting two frames of each movement. Singular action shots are referred to as “shooting on 1’s”.

If you have invested a great deal of time in setting up your shot, you may want to opt for shooting single frames because it will give your animation a smoother, more fluid motion and may be well worth the extra time. Single frames can also do a better job at capturing sequences that involve rapid or complicated motion.

Whichever number of frames you shoot, be mindful of the rate at which they will ultimately be seen. Experiment with various speeds during the post-production phase of your film. Above all, enjoy the process of animation, for it is a craft like no other.