24p or 25p video myth buster

Categories: Miscellaneous 12 Comments

If you are filming with a video camera or a DSLR why are we constantly being told to film in 24p to make it closer to film when it’s a lot of tosh. No one can tell the difference between 24 and 25p as long as they are edited in 24 and 25p respectively so why are so called gurus always banging on about 24p.

24 and 25 frames per second is a term that comes from the film world, if you are producing a 16mm film for the cinema then choose 24 fps and if you were producing a 16mm film for TV then choose 25 fps.

16mm cine projectors run at 24 /25 fps and other frames in between but your TV set does not process your video footage the same way as a cine projector so where does this myth come from.

“Film like” is the answer, video manufacturers have been giving us film like features for years…cine gamma, 24p filming and now shallow depth of field large sensor cameras. Video artists have been craving that cine look for years and have been taken along on that CINE LOOK bandwagon till they and we have been brainwashed into thinking that by setting your video camera to 24p, cine gamma that you will indeed get a picture closer to cine…NO.

Film has a unique look depending what emulsion you use 125ASA for a smother look or 400ASA for a grainer look etc, etc. Film stock between manufactures also add to that look, film has a far greater latitude than video which means it can handle a wider range of exposure before it whites out.

A 35mm film produced 25 years ago will transfer onto a Blu ray HD DVD without any problem but the “look” is indeed film. Video tries to emulate film in many ways but sadly for the artist if you want the true film look then USE FILM !

Video will always look electronic no matter how good it is and this myth about using 24p over 25p to get that true film look is nothing more than fantasy, if its produced on video you can not see any difference between 24 and 25p.

While we are on this topic can news producers stop sending idiots out on news shoots with their cameras switched to 25p as it looks crap, I am forever watching locally produced news where one news insert has been filmed at 25p…you can’t miss it in your viewfinder the moving people behind your talking head are staccato, its a sad sign of the times when we get badly trained operators who do not know their cameras and how to set them up properly.

I have used 720 50p for a few years now with great success, it transfers to DVD like a charm and now shoot 1080 50p, the “p” or progressive look is a closer match for todays plasma and LCD TVs and does not give you those jaggy edges seen in interlaced footage.

I started filming when I was 12 years of age using various super 8 film cameras not because I wanted a film look but video as we know it today in small camcorders had not been invented. You had 50 foot reels of film which lasted 3 minutes and 30 seconds and that was filmed at 18 fps to “save” precious seconds of expensive emulsion, remembering the projector was also set to 18 fps. In fact if you want a true 70s Super 8 look then you should set your video camera to 18p.

I filmed on Ektachrome 400 which gave me a better results in lower lighting conditions but it was all a toss of the dice whether anything turned out in low light, what a disappointment if your two week wait was in vain. It took two weeks for your Kodak film to go to Hemel Hempstead, get processed and come back.

My uncle Ted used a 16mm Bolex at 24 fps and his footage looked fantastic, much richer and less wishy washy than my super 8mm footage. Film gives you a sense for not waisting shots or precious time on filming rubbish unlike video.

Video like digital photography has changed the mind-set of many people to the detriment of the medium being used, it’s like a lot of things today, if it does not cost then who cares, we are riddled with boring footage and hundreds of needless photographs all to end up in the same prison, the HARD DRIVE.

Only when you have saved your pocket money for film stock and used your 3.5 minutes of film wisely can you have any sence and appreciation for that true film look…I am not nicknamed the “Archiver” for nothing.

The only time it makes sense is if you are filming on video and your footage was to end up on film for the cinema then 24p would be preferable but in general 24p has become the flavour of the “film look tool box” along with cine gamma and shallow depth of field…given to us to emulate a look by the camera manufacturer.

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12 comments on this post

  1. That’s very enlightening, Philip. I’ve been tossing up the value of Sony’s $4000 s-log firmware update on the PMW-F3 (ie) increased gamma, dynamic range. Perhaps 4:4:4 recording at 10bit might be a much better option.

    I too used to film in 8mm on a Canon 814 Auto Zoom. (There are still clubs around for Super 8 enthusiasts.) Not long ago I pulled it out of retirement and tried a new roll of Ektachrome 400 for curiosity. For all its nostalgia, even with today’s modern editing technology, it just wasn’t worth it!

  2. Frank says:

    Gosh this brings back memories of also shooting films on super 8 as a boy. Sending the edited reel off to get striped so I could add music and dub dialogue clumsily through the Eumig projector. If I had a choice between today’s HD camcorders or yesterday’s Super 8 it would be a no brainer – give me today’s technology any day.

  3. HD Warrior says:

    HD wins every time, I love moving images and back in the 1970s the only choice was Super 8 film, it was a good medium to learn with, gave you discipline and taught one not to waste precious costly footage on rubbish…almost.

  4. HD Warrior says:

    I wanted 16mm like my uncle Ted but eventually portable Betamax came along so my need for 16mm faded.

  5. Daniel says:

    Hello

    Thanks for this. I must admit that I never really understood the desire to conform to 24fps, and never observed a difference between 24p and 25p.

    But I suspects that it will be down to personal choice…

    I am, however, still a bit confused with 50fps workflows. I can see a possible benefit in shooting at 50fps – getting more temporal resolution (right?). But with your 50fps workflows, do you edit at 50fps, render a master at 50fps, and then render to DVD or Blue ray at 25fps? And what about web delivery, do you deliver web media at 50fps or render down to 25fps?

    Hope that made sense…

    Sincerely
    Daniel

  6. HD Warrior says:

    You have no choice all SD DVD play at 25fps, web delivery is the same if you upload at 50fps you cause a lot of un-nesasary buffering, all my reviews are recorded at 50fps, edited 50fps 720p and uploaded at 25fps.

  7. Daniel says:

    Hmm…many thanks.
    So you make a 720 50fps master movie- then let the encoding application remove the extra frames to deliver a 25fps sequence?

  8. HD Warrior says:

    Hi Daniel,

    My point is more 24p v 25p, I think the US audience would not be able to distinguish the difference between a video shot at 24 then one at 25p.

    You guys in the US have a greater distance between 24 and 30, the UK is kidding itself with 25 and 24p.

  9. Ian Lynn says:

    Since being a kid in the sixties I could always tell ‘electronic’ studio video from film – there was just something about it. How could this be if they were both displayed on the same TV system? Years later I would realise why.
    I agree totally about 24p – 25p. But I think 50p is retrograde if you want the ‘film look’ – great for capturing slo-mo but uncomfortable for me to watch. Why? Well for years in the 80s and 90s I composed music for documentaries. I worked with off-line VHS, edited in Avid. Strangely, I was always disappointed when I got to see the final online pictures because they looked like video to me, where the offline looked like film.
    I discovered this was because in those days you saved precious disc space by discarding one field on import, in effect de-interlacing. Suddenly it made sense and I realised I had sub-conciously noticed what I call the ANIMATION RATE.
    50i is fifty fields a second, which means the ANIMATION RATE is fifty pictures per second, with movement between each field (this is why VHS pictures sometimes used to flicker when you freeze frame instead of giving you a steady picture). However, when you tele-cine real film to video, each pair of fields come from the same FRAME of film, so the ANIMATION RATE is only 25 fps. In a cinema, you can show each frame twice, making the flicker rate 48 pictures per second, but the perceived ANIMATION RATE is still 24.
    Since becoming a video cameraman/editor myself, I have de-interlaced everything (with the associated slight loss of resolution). Therefore I was so thrilled when I got my EX3 and could finally shoot progressive 25p. But now there is 50p, where each frame is a complete frame, but the ANIMATION RATE is back to 50 and it may be slick and full definition, but looks like video again.
    When film is transferred to interlaced video, you can still tell it is film because each pair of fields make up one stationary frame, so the perceived ANIMATION RATE is still 25.
    But IMHO the real enemy for us lovers of Film look is the new TVs with “Tru-Motion”, which cleverly interpolate the ‘missing’ frames to give us 50 fps. Suddenly my beautiful film-like 25p footage looks like cheap video again. Worse still, even real feature films look like cheap video on these TVs. Rant over, now I give up.

  10. Jan says:

    Are you sure it is the news crew that are filming in 25p ? Hear localy some of the stations are sending in 25p.

  11. Alistair C says:

    Thanks Ian

    Having only recently moved focus from stills to video, I’ve been baffled as to what fps to shoot at. We in South Africa are PAL like the UK I figure. So all my kit has been set up with that in mind – 25p and 50p . . . but then there is that 24p question raised in your post.

    Right now I’m shooting a lot of stock work so I’m going with 24p as a standard. I’m thinking that those who are used to 30p or 60p will also have an understanding of 24p since it’s prevalent the world over.

    I’m assuming, though, that there is a downside? Your post infers that the slower frame rate of 25p is too “choppy”? So the faster frame rate would be smoother, obviously?

    I was of the understanding though that 25p with a shutter at 50 should blur movements sufficiently to look more “natural”. But now I’ve read your post and have no idea 😉

    Or is it just a personal taste thing?

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