24 or 30fps. What Frame Rate is Better for Stock Footage? December 9, 2016

Here is a common question often asked by new stock footage producers: Does the choice of frame rate affect sales?

The answer is YES.

Of course, the reason is because if a buyer wants or needs 24fps, they may pass on your perfect video clip if you shot it at 30fps. Conversely, if the buyer needs or wants 30fps and your videos are all shot at 24fps, they might look elsewhere. But, since you have no idea what your prospective unknown stock footage buyer wants, what do you shoot?

A better question might be: Will you get more sales with one frame rate or the other? That, unfortunately, is nearly impossible to answer with any certainty.

My response when asked this is always shoot 24 (or 23.976) frames per second. Adapted from film, that frame rate is the lowest acceptable frame rate for smooth, natural flowing video and it can be easily utilized in 30fps projects.

If someone wants 24fps, you have it covered. If someone wants 30fps, dropping a 24fps clip in a 30fps timeline is easy-peasy these days. In Adobe Premiere Pro, for example, putting a 24fps clip in a 30fps timeline will automatically duplicate every 4th frame of your video to “pad out” the playback to 30fps. Hardly noticeable, and some would argue it gives your 30fps projects more of a “film look” since the motion is mimicking film’s frame rate.

This “frame doubling” conversion is often referred to as the 3:2 pulldown, and you’ve seen it on TV your entire life without even noticing. Despite American NTSC television being a 30fps (29.97fps) system, most high-end TV content is actually shot at 24fps and “converted” to 30fps before it reaches your living room.

And if it’s good enough for Hollywood, it’s good enough for me.

Plus, by shooing 6 fewer frames per second gives each frame about 20% more bandwidth (when shooting at a constant bit rate). Not to mention, shooting 6 fewer frames per second has the added benefit of standing out in the cold for shorter lengths while shooting time lapses.

But what about down-converting 30fps to 24?

You might think that since moving 24fps UP to 30fps is so easy, then doing the opposite would be just as effective. Sadly, that’s not the case. If you forcibly remove frames that were naturally shot in-camera to drop 30fps down to 24fps, you get a “stuttering” effect during playback. This “stuttering” playback, which may look like dropped frames, is much more noticeable than the playback of an up-converted 24fps clip in a 30fps timeline.

So that is the reason I say shoot everything 24fps (or 23.976fps) when you don’t know the frame rate being used in the end-product. Since the up conversion from 24 to 30 is far less destructive than going the other way, 24fps video will appeal to more buyers, resulting in the possibility of more sales.

Now, if someone wants 25fps, that’s their problem. You can’t please everyone.

And whatever you do, don’t “convert” your footage. Just upload the frame rate that was shot and let God sort it all out.

James Orlowski

James Orlowski is the owner of Orlowski Designs, LLC. He is an accomplished videographer and producer with nearly 20 years of video production.

A graduate from Penn State University with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and a Master's Degree in Multimedia from Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA, he has years of experience shooting and selling stock footage on many of the major Internet-based microstock footage agencies.

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Orlowski Designs, LLC
4K Stock Footage and Media Production