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Working with Frame Rate and Shutter Speed

Since the Media Unit has expanded its offer of film making equipment to students this academic year, one of the most common questions we are asked is in relation to DSLR cameras, and ‘best settings’ to capture natural, cinematic video for a range of video outputs, from interviews, to architectural survey to timelapse and stopframe.  Most of these questions has straightforward, simplistic and well rehearsed answers, but one causes more confusion and mixed responses than most; the issue of shutter speed, frame rate and their intertwined relationship.  DSLR cameras are capable of capturing sublime video footage for documentary , TV and narrative cinema, but the operator must have a good understanding of the principals of photography (shutter speed, aperture, frame-rate and ISO or ‘speed’), and the ability to make quick changes to these settings while recording to achieve the desired result – with frame rate and shutter speed often the most mystifying of these elements.

Instead of a long winded and complex explanation of why shutter speed and frame rate are important we would like to share two great videos we’ve found that do this better than we could. The first is  a brief history of Frame rate; this is a really fun and interesting explanation of why we record moving images at particular speeds, including some history and the difference between cinema and TV standards.

The second is a full explanation and demonstration of how changing both shutter speed and frame rate can alter the look of video and some tips on best practice.


Featured image by Gregory Pruden.

The Media Unit
Media Unit Manager for the Sheffield School of Architecture.