Wednesday, June 7, 2017

First Things First: Shooting Ratio and Film Rate Explained

Film Rate Calculator

This tool is intended to give an indication of the number of film rolls needed to shoot a given amount of footage. The actual results may differ slightly due to the rounding system used for this tool.


The Shooting Ratio in filmmaking and television production is the ratio between the total duration of its footage created for possible use in a project and that which appears in its final cut. In the Golden Age of Hollywood (1930-1959), it was normal to have a 10:1 ratio. A 90 minute feature film would have have shot roughly 25 hours of film. Certain directors like Alfred Hitchcock were known to have a 3:1 ratio so he could control the edit by leaving the studio no other options.

The shooting ratio has skyrocketed over the last 20 years. Due to the relative inexpensive nature of digital filmmaking, cameras often shoot for extended periods that cover several takes, resets and everything in-between. Film has always been associated with a more disciplined style of shooting with the camera rolling only between “Action” and “Cut”…well technically between “Speed” and “Cut”!

I have edited 9 feature films over the last 15 years and I can attest to the fact of getting more and more footage into the edit bay on every project. Here’s an infographic that compares 8 films shot over the last 35 years to give you an idea of the actual numbers and ratios.


In motion pictures, television, and in computer video displays, the frame rate is the number of frames or images that are projected or displayed per second. Frame rates are used in synchronizing audio and pictures, whether film, television, or video. In motion pictures and television, the frame rates are standardized by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Editors (SMPTE). SMPTE Time Code frame rates of 24, 25 and 30 frames per second are common, each having uses in different portions of the industry. The professional frame rate for motion pictures is 24 frames per second and, for television, 30 frames per second (in the U.S.).

In computer video streams, the frame rate describes playback rates for AVI and QuickTime movies. The video playback rate for an AVI or QuickTime movie directly relates to the perceived smoothness of its playback. The higher the number of frames playing per second, the smoother the video playback appears to the user. Lower rates result in a choppy playback. (As a reference point, film uses 24 frames per second to allow the viewer to perceive smooth playback.) Several factors affect the actual frame rate you get on your computer. For example, your PC processor or graphics hardware may only be capable of playing 10-15 frames per second without acceleration.

In developing motion pictures, television, and video, frame rate information is used as a reference for audio signals. The recorded signal includes information about location in time using a 24-hour clock, and individual frame numbers. This signal is used to synchronize multiple audio and video machines during the recording and editing process. Using a master synchronizing device, the operator can issue location commands from a central machine and have all slaved machine follow the master.

~ By Margaret Rouse - TechTarget,

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