The FPS, or frame rate per second, plays an important role in the look and feel of your videos. It can be challenging to know the right frame rate for different kinds of videos or simply stick to one rate for all of your videos. But will having a higher FPS bloat your video file?
FPS affects your video size. The higher the FPS of your video, the larger the video file will be. The higher the FPS, the larger number of still images will be in your video, making the video much larger. If you need to reduce the video size, there are different programs to help with this.
This article will explain how FPS affects video file size and what to do when the FPS causes the file size to become too large. If you have to create a video with a high FPS and are concerned about the size of the file, read on.
Why High FPS Makes Files Bigger
Understanding how frame rates work in the context of the video is important in order to understand how having a high FPS will bloat the video file. This is how frame rates work for videos and movies.
How Frame Rates Work
FPS is the rate of how quickly individual frames, or images, will appear on screen. The most common FPS hovers around 24 or 30, so in the course of one second, 30 separate images will appear on screen, creating the illusion of motion.
When shooting a video, cameras do not record continuously but are constantly taking pictures at such a speed that the images will appear to be moving. The speed of the camera plays a huge role in the FPS. Cameras with higher shutter speed are capable of creating a wider range of FPS. This will make editing the frame rate to a lower speed much easier.
In the space of this second, the screen that the video is displayed on will flash several times with a bright light. This provides a canvas for the human eye to fill in the blanks itself with afterimages. The higher the FPS, the fewer flashes of light there will be.
If you’re shooting a video in High Def and have a high frame rate, you will have even worse problems with bloated file sizes. High Def movies have twice as many pixels to refresh. If your video file has twice as many pixels than average and a frame rate that’s twice as high, the file will be exponentially higher than if it wasn’t.
How 24 FPS Became the Standard
Back in the era of silent films, frame rates were significantly lower. Silent films utilized cameras that operated by hand cranks. These cameras usually worked at 16 FPS. This is the speed at which the human eye can register motion instead of individual images one after another.
However, the picture can be choppy at such a low frame rate and will still seem a bit unnatural. Filmmakers decided to speed up the film itself to create more fluid movements but still used the hand-cranked cameras. This is the reason that so many old silent films look to be unnaturally sped up. They were!
As technology advanced, the capabilities of both cameras and monitors became more impressive, and they were able to provide frame rates of 60 FPS or even 120 FPS. Consumers actually found that this made them nauseous because the human eye usually corrects moving objects with a motion blur.
An FPS of 30 mimics this motion blur since there are still moments of stillness between each frame. 60 FPS, on the other hand, does not provide any motion blur at all, resulting in an unrealistic look. However, these frame rates are useful for mediums such as video games. They are unrealistic enough that we aren’t put off by it and artificially add in motion blur.
In short, 24 FPS became the standard because it was determined to be more natural to the human eye than either lower and higher frame rates.
How Does This Increase File Size?
Simply put, having a higher FPS will increase your file size because there is much more data to process. Think of it this way: One second of a 24 FPS video file will hold 24 still pictures. One second of a 120 FPS file, on the other hand, will hold five times that many images.
When multiplied by the video’s length, it’s easy to see how having more frames per second will cause the size of the file to balloon.
Advantages and Disadvantages of High Frame Rates
Most situations don’t call for a frame rate much higher than 30 FPS. In fact, having a higher FPS than 30 can cause unanticipated problems with both your video file size and quality.
Large File Size
Obviously, the first disadvantage is having an overly large file size. If you’re trying to send a video digitally, you will run into problems if the video size is too big. This can also eat up space on your hard drive. If the file is big enough, you may not even be able to save it on your computer.
There are ways to reduce file size, but this often comes at a loss of quality, especially if you’re unwilling to invest in software.
Thomas Edison believed that the ideal frame rate was 46 FPS, saying that anything less would “strain the eye,” but in fact, the opposite seems to be true.
Surprisingly, having an FPS that’s too high can make videos seem unnatural! This may seem counterintuitive; shouldn’t having more images per second make the video seem more realistic. But as stated above, the lack of motion blur in high FPS can make people nauseous.
Since there’s less room for the human mind to fill in the blanks, 60 FPS can make videos seem unnatural or have a “soap opera” quality. An unnatural quality will distract from the content of your video.
Low Refresh Rates
The refresh rate on a monitor is the number of times that it displays a new image, measured in hertz (Hz). Most TVs operate at 60 Hz, but some are even lower at 30 Hz. Many 4K televisions, surprisingly, only offer 30 Hz. This is because the higher definition TVs have double the amount of pixels and would require much more processing power to refresh so frequently.
Older TVs almost always have a 60 Hz refresh rate due to interlacing. Interlacing is a technique where they lock two frames from videos with a frame rate of 30 together. Interlacing creates artificial motion blur, as you will get two frames in one shot. However, older pc monitors may have slower refresh rates than 60 since they were the first kind of monitor to incorporate progressive refreshing.
If frame rates continue to increase, many displays won’t be able to accommodate them since frame rates are capped at refresh rates. Therefore, a television of 30 Hz will only display an FPS of 30.
Easier To Edit
There are also advantages to having higher frame rates. For example, you can edit higher FPS videos with much more ease than lower FPS. You can always pare down a high FPS video to a lower FPS. Lower FPS cannot be converted to higher FPS.
It’s impossible to raise the frame rate of a video, but you can always reduce the frame rate. The reason for that is simple: it’s impossible to insert images where none exist, but it’s relatively simple to remove existing images from videos with too many. If you anticipate doing a lot of editing, you will want to shoot in a higher FPS.
Easier To Slow Down
It’s also much easier to add a slow-motion effect to a higher FPS video. A video with 24 FPS will resemble a stop-motion video, with long pauses in between each image. High FPS videos can create slow-motion effects with ease.
What Size FPS Should I Use?
Different frame rates are better in different contexts, depending on what kind of effect you are trying to achieve.
- 16 FPS: Early silent films fluctuated around 16 frame rates per second. Old-timey cameras were hand-cranked, resulting in inconsistent and slower frame rates. If you’re filming something meant to look like it was filmed in the past, 16 is an ideal FPS.
- 24 FPS: Most TV shows are filmed in 24 FPS, though they are slowly moving towards 30 FPS. 24 will work for most kinds of videos.
- 30 FPS: Movies are typically filmed at this frame rate since it reveals a little more detail than 24. 30 FPS is also used for sports broadcasts since the fast motion tends to get blurry at lower rates.
- 48 FPS: 48 FPS is a newer frame rate used by filmmakers. The idea is that this is a more “cinematic” frame rate and will reveal more detail. However, for the reasons described above, this high frame rate can actually be distracting to audiences. Peter Jackson filmed the second Hobbit film in 48 FPS, to mixed reactions. Most theaters don’t even project higher than 24 FPS.
- 60 FPS: If you have any intention of editing parts of your video to slow-motion, you should film in 60 FPS. If you’re a professional videographer with a wedding to shoot, anticipate that your clients will want some of the special moments slowed down.
What Kind of Camera To Use
When shooting a video, a good rule of thumb is that the camera’s shutter speed should be at least twice as much as the FPS you want for the video. If you would like to shoot a standard 30 FPS movie, you should invest in a camera with a shutter speed of 1/60. If you already have a camera, check on the shutter speed.
If you find that your camera has too low a shutter speed, there are plenty of affordable models out there.
- If you’re a streamer or YouTuber, an excellent camera that’s capable of shooting 1/60 is the Razer Kiyo Streaming Webcam, which comes equipped with an adjustable ring light.
- If you’d prefer to get a handheld, the AiTechny 4K Camcorder is a similar price and shoots in 4K for even higher definition recordings.
How To Reduce File Size
There are several reasons you may want to reduce the file size of your video. Perhaps the best option for your video is having a higher FPS, but you don’t want to take up all of your storage. In that case, you will likely want to find a way to compress.
Many movies above 30 FPS are deemed too large to be sent via email, but for some situations, such as wedding videos or school projects, it may be unavoidable. Videos are rarely burned onto a physical copy anymore. There are several programs that help reduce the file size:
Store on the Cloud
This isn’t a way to reduce your file size, but it will free up storage on your hard drive. If you don’t want to risk losing any video quality, you may just want to store your video elsewhere.
- DropBox is among the most popular services. The free tier offers only 2 GB of data storage, but DropBox Plus, the next tier up, offers two whole terabytes. DropBox Professional offers 3 TB of space. If you find that you have lots of videos with high frame rates, storage on the cloud may be the best bet for you.
- Microsoft OneDrive offers a free tier and a number of paid tiers, which offer different storage capacities and features. It’s available on a variety of different platforms and comes standard on several devices.
Keep in mind that a large video file will take a very long time to upload to one of these cloud-based services! If you don’t have six or seven hours to upload, you should consider compressing the file.
Several software programs can compress video sizes. Some of them even come standard with certain computers, so you may already have access. If not, there are a number of options out there with many different features. If none of these videos give you the features you need:
- QuickTime: QuickTime is Apple’s default media player. With your file open, choose to export the file as 1080p, 720p, or 480p. QuickTime is only usable on Apple products, and it is very limited in its functionality. Still, if these aren’t obstacles to viewing the video later, QuickTime is an excellent, simple option.
- VLC: VLC is an extremely popular video editing app and is available for free to download on Windows, Mac, Linux, and Android. VLC does not offer an estimate of your file size, so you may want to double-check it with a different app. It also allows you to reduce the resolution of your video, which will lower the file size even more.
- HandBrake: HandBrake is also available for a free download and offers a lot more features than either QuickTime or VLC. HandBrake tends to work very slowly, but if you want the most function for no cost, this may be the best option. This video explains how to use HandBrake:
Maybe you don’t have enough room on your computer to download one of these programs or would prefer to use a web-based service. In that case, there are a number of video compressors available on a browser.
Online video editors lack a lot of the functionality of downloadable software and will often have a watermark. They will also often not be able to process video files over a certain size, which can be problematic if you’re trying to reduce a large video size!
- ClipChamp: ClipChamp is a web-based service you’ll need to sign up for that will help you edit your video, either for free or for a relatively small fee. The free tier puts a watermark on videos and will only export videos that are less than 480p.
- Online Converter: Online Converter will take a video in a large number of different formats but will convert it into an MP4. Online Converter is relatively customizable and easy to use compared to some web-based services, as long as you don’t mind the MP4 format.
- PS2PDF: The only supported format on this platform is MP4, even for inputted videos, but it is extremely simple to use and will not leave a watermark on your video.
Higher FPS will cause video files to grow exponentially in size and can cause a lot of issues with data storage. There are plenty of ways to compress the size, though if you want a wide range of options to edit your video, you will likely need to pay more for software. Filming in an FPS of 60 or above will ensure that you are able to edit the video to different speeds.
However, most video media is displayed at 24 FPS, which is relatively low, so it may not be worth it to go for a higher FPS at all. With the info above, you should be able to determine the best frame rate for any project you take on.