In the interests of not leading you on, let’s just say straight at the top here; this is not going to be one of those posts that poses a question and gives you a straight forward answer, because when it comes to the best frame rate for YouTube, there is no direct answer.
However, my personal opinion as somebody who has been creating content on YouTube is – 24fps is a universally accepted baseline for YouTube frame rate quality for vlogging, educational videos and normal every day use. 30fps 60fps and higher is optimal for gamers and any higher is personal choice and only really needed for advanced video editing and slow motion content.
Like many things in the YouTubing world, the answer to this question varies substantially depending on what type of content you are making, and what your personal circumstances are. We’re going to do our best to lay it all out for you so that, while we can’t just say “this is the best frame rate for YouTube”, you should at least have all the information you need to determine the best frame rate for you.
What Are Frame Rates? Why does YouTube Frame Rate Matter?
When you boil it down to its most basic components, video is essentially just a sequence of regular still images shown in quick succession.
Before the days of digital media, these image were stored on film and literally rolled in front of a bright light at a set speed to get the effect of moving pictures projected onto a screen, but these days we can just store it all in a digital file.
Frame rate is, quite literally, the rate at which the images—or “frames”—rush past your vision. If the frame rate is too low, the video will start to look more like a slide show than a video. If the frame rate is too high, the video will look fine but over a certain threshold, the human eye ceases being able to tell the difference, and those extra frames don’t come for free, as we’ll get into later in the post.
Shooting Frame Rate Vs Showing Frame Rate
The frame rate you shoot video at is not necessarily the frame rate you will show the video at. Two well known examples of this are silent movies and slow motion.
Silent movies were shot at the very limit of where film stops looking like motion and starts looking like choppy slideshow footage—typically between 16 and 18 frames per second. However, to give the final result a more fluid feel, they were shown at between 20 and 24 frames per second, which is also why movies from this era have that comical sped-up look to them.
At the other end of the spectrum, slow motion footage will often be shot at much higher frame rates than the human eye can discern, such as 480, and even 960 frames per second. The footage is then shown at something more reasonable, like 30 or 60 frames per second, with the result being much slower video.
How to Choose the Best Frame Rate for Your YouTube Channel – What Frame Rate Should I Use?
So, now that you know what the main variables are and how they affect your footage, how do you go about settling on a frame rate for your content?
Again, we can’t give any definitive answers that will suit everyone, but we can give you some firm guidelines that should steer you to the right answer.
Remember, we’re talking about the frame rate that you show export your videos at, not necessarily the frame rate you shoot at.
What is the lowest frame rate for YouTube? [The Hard Floor]
Unless you are recreating the old silent movie effect we were talking about, you should never use a frame rate lower than 24 frames per second.
Below this speed your video will start to look choppy, giving the impression of low quality footage, or possibly Internet connectivity issues.
Even YouTube suggests that a lower frame rate(below 24 FPS), you will experience choppy quality, and the video will seem like it’s lagging in real-time. As a matter of historical fact, 24FPS for movies was initially agreed upon back in 1926 by projectionists, as motion pictures hit the talkies.
What is the highest frame rate on YouTube? [The Pointless Ceiling]
Showing video over 120 frames per second goes beyond what the human eye can distinguish, and so is wasted. And we’re being generous with 120, the truth is it’s closer to 75 frames where our eyes tap out.
The quality of the video will look fine, of course, but you will be putting a lot of unnecessary file size (not to mention processing time when editing) into your videos for little-to-no gain on the end result.
What is max frame rate for YouTube? – In 2014 YouTube added 60fps but that has been its top end frame rate every since. After years of capping video playback at 30 frames per second. Back in June 2014, YouTube announced that 60 FPS video playback was on the way in “the coming months.
Does YouTube support 120 fps videos? – No. YouTube currently supports up to 60fps HD video playback on Chrome and Safari. However, If you upload a 120fps video to YouTube, it will be converted to 60fps automatically for compatibility and compression.
What is the difference between 60fps and 120fps? – A 60Hz monitor refreshes the screen 60 times a second, so at 60 fps there is a frame drawn every time the screen refreshes, and at 120 fps there is a frame drawn every time the screen refreshes and once in between refreshes, so it’s not shown on the screen but does get drawn.
How much does frame rate cost? [Economics]
Good video recording equipment is not cheap, and it gets more expensive when you need it to do more, such as record at higher frame rates.
If money is no object for you then you can disregard this point entirely, but if, like the vast majority of us, you have to work within budgetary constraints, you might want to prioritise your spending. If the best camera you have can only shoot in 720p, you should look to upgrade it when you can, but 720p video is not the end of the world.
On the other hand, if you are shooting your video in 4K, but you have had to drop the frame rate and other settings because your hardware isn’t up to the task of editing and exporting, you need to ask yourself if 4K is really that important to your channel.
Finally, when all other factors have been considered, we come to the stylistic reasons for choosing a frame rate. As a general rule, 30 frames per second is fine for the majority of content on YouTube. If you are filming something cinematic—perhaps a short film—you will want to drop the frame rate to 24, as that is the standard rate for movies, and our brains recognise it as such.
On the other hand, if you are just vlogging or shooting regular footage, 30 frames per second avoids the weird disconnect we get from seeing footage that is shot in a cinematic frame rate but isn’t actually cinematic. If you are shooting action footage—a point of view recording of you surfing, for example—you will want to bump that frame rate up to at least 60, if not 90 or 120 frames per second. The lower number of frames is most evident when things are moving fast, and that tends to be the case for action footage.
Shooting Frame Rate
For most of the content on YouTube, your shooting frame rate will be the same as your final frame rate. It makes life a little easier when editing and exporting, and most YouTubers don’t need to do anything fancy with their video settings.
If you are doing something like slow motion, however, you will probably have a bit of frame rate adjustment to take care of, but if you’re making slow motion videos, you probably don’t need us to tell you that.
The middle ground lies when you are shooting footage that contains both. An example of this might be a “follow-cam” shot of a skateboarder, where you would have normal speed footage as they skate along, but switch to slow motion when they do a trick. In this case it would make more sense to shoot the whole thing in the higher frame rate and deal sort it all out in editing.
Adjusting Frame Rates in Editing
Frame rates can be adjusted after the fact, but it’s important to remember that, at the moment, you should avoid reducing the frame rate to something lower than what it was shot in. At least with the regular software tools we have today.
Because there will still be the same amount of frames available, slowing down the footage will result in that slide show effect we talked about. There are clever AI-based tools being developed that can interpolate between two frames and insert more frames to make the transition smoother, but at the time of writing, these tools are far from perfect and not widely available.
Increasing the frame rate—which will have the effect of speeding up the footage—should be fine, since the process is just cutting out frames and squashing the remaining ones together. It is always easier to remove information than it is to add it.
These days, if you are buying a dedicated recording device that is not a webcam, you won’t need to think about frame rate unless you are doing something like slow motion. Generally speaking, all cameras will offer at least 24 and 30 frames per second recording, with most cameras also offering 60 frames per second. If you are happy with the quality of the video itself, the frame rate will be fine.
If you are shooting something like slow motion, you will need a special camera for that, but you probably already knew that. It’s also worth noting that, with the ever-impressive quality of phone cameras, many YouTubers are forgoing expensive cameras and just using their iPhone or Android, and who can blame them? The quality is great on those little devices these days.
Frame rates are typically the kind of thing that you don’t think about unless what you’re doing is intrinsically linked to it—such as is the case with slow motion video. For the most part, YouTubers are more concerned with things like the resolution, especially with more and more 4K displays hitting the market every day. And the truth is there is no need to think about it for many YouTubers. For most of us, we can buy a camera, set it to a recording pre-set, and the frame rate it spits out will be perfectly fine for the content we are making.
Top 5 Tools To Get You Started on YouTube
Very quickly before you go here are 5 amazing tools I have used every day to grow my YouTube channel from 0 to 30K subscribers in the last 12 months that I could not live without.
1. VidIQ helps boost my views and get found in search
I almost exclusively switched to VidIQ from a rival in 2020.
Within 12 months I tripled the size of my channel and very quickly learnt the power of thumbnails, click through rate and proper search optimization. Best of all, they are FREE!
2. Adobe Creative Suite helps me craft amazing looking thumbnails and eye-catching videos
I have been making youtube videos on and off since 2013.
When I first started I threw things together in Window Movie Maker, cringed at how it looked but thought “that’s the best I can do so it’ll have to do”.
I soon realized the move time you put into your editing and the more engaging your thumbnails are the more views you will get and the more people will trust you enough to subscribe.
That is why I took the plunge and invested in my editing and design process with Adobe Creative Suite. They offer a WIDE range of tools to help make amazing videos, simple to use tools for overlays, graphics, one click tools to fix your audio and the very powerful Photoshop graphics program to make eye-catching thumbnails.
Best of all you can get a free trial for 30 days on their website, a discount if you are a student and if you are a regular human being it starts from as little as £9 per month if you want to commit to a plan.
3. Rev.com helps people read my videos
You can’t always listen to a video.
Maybe you’re on a bus, a train or sat in a living room with a 5 year old singing baby shark on loop… for HOURS. Or, you are trying to make as little noise as possible while your new born is FINALLY sleeping.
This is where Rev can help you or your audience consume your content on the go, in silence or in a language not native to the video.
Rev.com can help you translate your videos, transcribe your videos, add subtitles and even convert those subtitles into other languages – all from just $1.50 per minute.
A GREAT way to find an audience and keep them hooked no matter where they are watching your content.
4. PlaceIT can help you STAND OUT on YouTube
I SUCK at making anything flashy or arty.
I have every intention in the world to make something that looks cool but im about as artistic as a dropped ice-cream cone on the web windy day.
That is why I could not live on YouTube without someone like PlaceIT. They offer custom YouTube Banners, Avatars, YouTube Video Intros and YouTube End Screen Templates that are easy to edit with simple click, upload wizard to help you make amazing professional graphics in minutes.
Best of all, some of their templates are FREE! or you can pay a small fee if you want to go for their slightly more premium designs (pst – I always used the free ones).
5. StoryBlocks helps me add amazing video b-roll cutaways
I mainly make tutorials and talking head videos.
And in this modern world this can be a little boring if you don’t see something funky every once in a while.
I try with overlays, jump cuts and being funny but my secret weapon is b-roll overlay content.
I can talk about skydiving, food, money, kids, cats – ANYTHING I WANT – with a quick search on the StoryBlocks website I can find a great looking clip to overlay on my videos, keeping them entertained and watching for longer.
They have a wide library of videos, graphics, images and even a video maker tool and it wont break the bank with plans starting from as little as £8.25 ($9) per month.