One of the questions we often get asked at both the Conventions and Expos we attend is “How do your videos look so smooth!?” The answer is pretty simple: We’re magic witches from Hogwarts.
When I was first starting out, I thought it was as easy as slowing down a clip in post but would end up with a choppy slow motion shot that didn’t look nearly as good as I wanted it to be. This is one effect you don’t want to fix in post.
The truth is that it’s done utilizing a combination of techniques that support one very important Camera Setting. We shoot at 60 frames per second (FPS). If you’ve ever shot at a higher frame rate, you’ll notice that your footage does look a lot smoother when you follow action shots. As a side note, higher frame rates have become a point of contention with HDTVs in recent years as movies have that odd ‘hyper real’ look to them when your TV has ‘motion smoothing’ setting on. It’s a digital way that HDTVs create additional frames so that motion looks less blurry but often results in an image that looks more like a sporting event rather than a movie. A movie is typically shot and watched as 24fps, in the UK this standard is 25fps. There’s an interesting history about FPS standards which relates to the history of film that I won’t get into in this post. For those interested, check out this article about The Hobbit films and shooting at 48fps.
So, you’re shooting your footage in 60fps but it doesn’t look slow and smooth in your editing suite. Now what?
The reason for this is that the editing sequence (by default) is set to interpret footage in the format it was filmed at. In North America, your export output will be at 24fps. Your sequence settings should match that. Secondly, your clips shot in 60fps need to be reinterpreted as clips matching the 24fps sequence. This will result in your clips being slowed down 2.5x their normal speed. To illustrate further:
Sequence timeline settings should be 24fps (or 23.976 for DSLR cameras)
Clips that are shot at 60fps should be interpreted as 24fps if you want them to be 2.5x slower.
Viola! Smooth slow motion!
Other things that help:
A camera that can shoot at higher frame rates (120fps)
A Stabilizing kit for your camera rig (Glidecam, Gimbal, DJI Ronin)
Shooting at a flatter focal length (to keep subject in focus during movement)
Our team likes to mix things up in our edit to keep things fresh. Check out our latest Edmonton Expo Cosplay Music video and see if you can spot the difference in the clips that are 24fps and 60fps
ps. Be sure to also follow our NEW project Date Knight.