Today I came across an argument about movies, videos, tv, and the big issue of frames per second and how it affects us, the viewers. You see, pretty much any movie you watch is filmed at a rate of 24 frames per second, (and played back at the same) where your camcorders and home videos are almost exclusively shot at 30fps. For those very few in the world who can’t see the difference, or those who can, and actually prefer the faster frame rates, the following is for you.
First off, I’ll unleash my bias by saying that if 24p is done away with, I’ll either shoot myself in the head, or stop watching movies, and these two choices in essence are not mutually exclusive. I’m a producer/designer of creative media, a professional photographer, a cinema hobbyist, and founder of a creative agency. I am an artist, but not a snob, I hope.
I like what Grego at the link above stated: “In a visual field like video and film, if something looks better, it is better. That is not redundant language but speaks to the truth of what is appealing to the visual system in humans.”
That is so true, in my experience. Standards are one thing that play a factor, and sometimes newer, better standards and formats come along that change our ability to comprehend and appreciate the message being presented. We’ve gone from 16fps in the early film days to 24fps today. Of course, it didn’t stop there, and many years ago went on to 30fps, and now we’re hitting the 60fps mark and higher. We’ve had 30fps for a long time, but there’s a reason why it’s never really grabbed hold in cinema. People don’t like it. Subconsciously. It’s nature. I don’t understand all the scientific reasons, I haven’t pioneered or even read psychological studies on the issue. But I’ll credit Steven v2 and Grego (from the link) for their comprehensive explanations.
Some people will (and do) like the faster frame rates for one reason: more information. They appreciate not having critical moments (and I mean “moments”, because any movie worth it’s weight will not really have critical moments which are unwatchable) appearing blurry, and they prefer having more clarity to less. I assume most of these types of individuals are logical, left brained, and the literal thinking type. That’s fine. But I think there is an aspect to this that isn’t really being discussed. While I’m a creative type, so is the left brained individual. Just because he/she doesn’t pick up a paintbrush or a camera, they are seen as non-creative. Inventing is creative. Research is creative. Sharing “data”, or logical explanations on why or how things work very often requires a creativity, just not a type that translates directly to a commonly accepted art form.
The debate really IS a preference issue, but there is a reason, I believe, for the differences in preference. My logical thinking friends often like to dabble in art, but they prefer a more scientific approach. They often use Gimp, and think it’s the shiz, because it’s more technical (gotta use linux), and they don’t see how you could need anything else. Case in point is Ken Rockwell, talking this very day on his website about how film is better than digital, because one magazine chooses to print “film” images in one section of their mag more often than digital. The problem: Ken Rockwell, isn’t that creative, at least not in the artistic side of photography. He’s very keen technically, but when a guy says there is no need to shoot RAW in a pro DSLR – that JPEG is better all around, then it’s clear that the guy has missed the biggest message of raw yet: creative power. Is that a sin? No, it’s just clear that from a creative standpoint, these folks just aren’t as advanced and intuitive. I’m not telling you how to study your petri dishes or how to design your electronic chips, and Ken and his chums shouldn’t dictate to me and the more creatively (artistically) advanced or aware how we should like our media served up. Their preference is not ours, nor is it the majority.
Movies look better at 24p, and if I’m making it sound like it’s a religious issue, so be it. My faith is vested in the hope that this standard sticks around for a VERY long time.