Frame rate

From Academic Kids

Frame rate, or frame frequency, is the measurement of how quickly an imaging device can produce unique consecutive images called frames. The term applies equally well to computer graphics, video cameras, film cameras, and motion capture systems. Frame rate is most often expressed in frames per second (often abbreviated "fps", but not to be confused with FPS or first-person shooter) or, equivalently, Hertz (Hz).

Contents

Flicker fusion frequency

The frame rate is related to but not identical to a physiological concept called the flicker fusion threshold or flicker fusion rate. Light that is pulsating below this rate is perceived by humans as flickering; light that is pulsating above this rate is perceived by humans as being continuous. The exact rate varies depending upon the person, their level of fatigue, the brightness of the light source, and the area of the retina that is being used to observe the light source. Few people perceive flicker above 75 Hertz or so.

These rates would be impractical for the actual frame rate of most film mechanisms so the shutter in the projection devices is actually arranged to interrupt the light two or three times for every film frame. In this fashion, the common frame rate of 24 fps produces 48 or 72 pulses of light per second, the latter rate being above the flicker fusion rate for most people most of the time.

Video systems frequently use a similar approach referred to as interlaced video. Broadcast television systems such as NTSC, PAL, and SECAM produce an image using two passes called fields. Each field contains half of the lines in a complete frame (the odd-numbered lines or the even-numbered lines). Thus, while only using the bandwidth of 25 or 30 complete frames per second, they achieve a flicker fusion frequency of 50 or 60Hz, at the expense of some vertical judder and additional system complexity. The "frame rate" of interlaced systems is usually defined as the number of complete frames transmitted each second (25 or 30 in most broadcast systems). However, since a conventional television camera will scan the scene again for each field, under some circumstances it may be useful to think of the frame rate as being equal to the field rate.

References

Computer science

Frame rate is also a term used in realtime computer systems. In a fashion somewhat analogous to the moving-picture definition presented above, a realtime frame is the time it takes to complete a full round of the system's processing tasks. If the frame rate of a realtime system is 60 Hertz, the system reevaluates all necessary inputs and updates the necessary outputs 60 times per second under all circumstances.

The designed frame rates of realtime systems vary depending on the equipment. For a system that is steering an oil tanker, a frame rate of 1 Hz may be sufficient. For a realtime system steering a guided missile, a frame rate of 100 Hz may not be adequate. The designer must choose a frame rate appropriate to the application's requirements.

Frame rates in video gaming

Frame rates are considered important in modern gaming where the differences in technology performance can make the difference between a game that is playable and one that is not. A frame rate of approximately 25fps is considered acceptable for a game to be playable, although some gamers are happy to make do with rates as low as 5-10fps.

A culture of competition has arisen among gamers with regards to frame rates, which gamers striving to obtain the highest fps count possible. Among the fastest cards using the most recent, 3D-heavy games, frame rates of 90-100fps are not unheard of. This does not apply to all games - some games apply a limit on the frame rate. For example, the Grand Theft Auto series as of GTA 3 applies a standard 30fps and this limit can only be removed at the cost of graphical stability. It is also doubtful whether striving for such high frame rates is worthwhile. An average 17" monitor can reach 75Hz, meaning that any performance reached by the game over 75fps is redundant.

Even with expensive monitors that can reach even higher frequencies, the effect is somewhat lost as the human eye has difficulty in perceiving differences in frame rates above around 50-60fps. Indeed, this is why televisions operate at 50Hz and 60Hz with PAL and NTSC standards respectively.

See also

fr:Trames par seconde sv:Frames per second

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