Shutter speed and frame rate are two closely related — and often confused — camera settings. The good news is, with a deeper look into what each setting means, you rely on them to really bolster your video making game.
To help us identify the nuances between these incredibly important techniques, we called on filmmaking collective Story & Heart. They teamed up with Emmy-winning filmmaker Ray Tsang to break down the similarities as well as the differences.
Watch the lesson below to see frame rate and shutter speed in action (literally), and scroll on for the highlights of these two techniques.
Frame rate is the number of individual frames that comprise each second of video. Also known as FPS (frames per second), the most common frame rates are 24, 25, and 30 frames per second.
Shutter speed is the amount of time that each individual frame is exposed for. In video, shutter speed is almost always in fractions of a second. The number used in setting your shutter speed refers to the denominator of that fraction. So, if you set your shutter speed to 60, that means each frame is exposed for 1/60th of a second.
Same, but different
Frame rate can be mistakenly equated with shutter speed. In other words, some people believe that if they are shooting with a shutter speed of 1/100th of a second, that they are in turn shooting 100 frames per second. This is not the case. As explained in the video above, the typical frame rate we shoot at is around 24 frames per second, (and sometimes 25 or 30). Shutter speed means you’re exposing each individual frame for 1/100th of a second.
How to set your gear
As a rule of thumb, you want your shutter speed to be approximately double the number of frames per second that you are recording. So, if you’re recording at 30 frames per second, you want your shutter speed to be 1/60th of a second.
Even though you generally set shutter speed to be double the number of frames per second, you can achieve some stylistic effects by straying from the norm. Shutter speed will have a noticeable effect on the look of your video, especially when it comes to motion. A fast shutter speed such as 1/400th of a second will produce crisp frames that have a choppy look when played back. On the other hand, a slow shutter speed (such as 1/30th of a second), produces a series of blurred frames looks smoother when played back.
As you can see Story & Heart’s tutorial above, a faster shutter speed renders a high-energy, crisp tennis ball, while a slower frame rate gives you a blurry bouncing ball — and a more relaxed mood. Play around with it! You may find that a higher or lower shutter speed will better suit the vibe of your video.