Video Frame Rate – how a fortunate technological accident is on the verge of being ‘corrected’ (Part 6)


What could this possibly have to do with a music web site? Guest contributor Ray Purchase explains:

Live Music Needs High Frame Rate

But the worst film-effect travesty of all, I suggest, is its use for live music. Programmes such as From the Basement and Live from Abbey Road are made in film-effect video and do look superficially 'sophisticated' as the makers intend. But as live music programmes they fall very flat, with a complete absence of excitement and connection to the performers.

Despite its visual stylishness and expensive production values, Later with Jools is still broadcast in high frame rate. Because of his apparent awareness of the difference between film and video mentioned earlier, I would like to think that Jools Holland knows what I know, and has a say in how his programme is made!

At Glastonbury, the BBC uses higher frame rate for the live coverage, but tends to use film effect for the sequences recorded by presenters walking around the site. It does the same thing in sports coverage, where 'the build-up' sequences to, say, the Boat Race, are in film effect while the live coverage is 50i. Maybe because of its use as subliminal visual shorthand, 50 fps is safe for the time being in these areas. However, a disturbing trend is for classical music to be broadcast in film effect e.g. the recent individual finals for Young Musician of the Year where any semblance of tension, excitement and occasion was completely absent. I fear it can only be a matter of time before The Proms are broadcast entirely in film effect, and for me it would ruin it.

Don't Throw the Baby Out with the Bathwater

In conclusion, my plea to the TV programme makers is to use frame rate as more than just subliminal visual shorthand. The programme should be created from the ground up with the frame rate in mind and, if I were doing it, my default position would be to use high frame rate if possible. Sky Arts' Playhouse Presents is an unashamed return to the TV culture of the 70s, yet they use film-effect. If, instead, they made these programmes in 50i, I suggest that the effect would be electrifying...