Video Frame Rate – how a fortunate technological accident is on the verge of being ‘corrected’ (Part 3)


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

The Golden Age of Television

So this is where the difference between video and film occurred. Video forfeited the magical glamorising effect of film's 24 frames per second, but in doing so got closer to the (sometimes unpalatable) truth. Until the late 1990s, most television was created in video based on the 50 fields per second standard (one frame = two interlaced fields, odd and even), and this is where I suggest we were so very, very fortunate. In fact I don't think it is too great a leap to suggest that the mandatory use of 50 Hz interlaced ('50i') video influenced a golden age of television where the programme makers responded masterfully to an unintentionally-direct conduit between programme and audience.

Studio-based drama positively crackled with the immediacy that the high frame rate gave, just like live theatre. Music programmes such as The Old Grey Whistle Test captured the excitement of live music perfectly, and the unpretentious directness of video was matched with the utilitarian studio and unshaven, slightly worse-for-wear performers playing for the love of the music and nothing else. Comedy benefitted particularly from video, with subtlety and comic timing transmitted into our living rooms intact.

But, I suggest, this fortunate historical accident is about to be 'corrected'. Since digital technology became available and it was discovered that video can be made to look like film by halving the frame rate, there has been a trend towards using 'film effect video' throughout broadcasting. I clearly remember the first time I saw it being used in the studio on Top of the Pops and found it unusual enough to phone my brother to tell him. Most people, I suggest, would not have noticed it directly. Given a direct comparison they might see the difference, but the effect of inappropriate use of 'film effect video' is indefinable and pernicious.

Continued tomorrow:

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