Filmmakers call for fractional frame rates to be phased out

Mike Wheatley

A coalition of filmmakers is calling for the TV electronics industry to scrap “fractional frame rates” in favour of nice round numbers.


The NoMore2398 coalition argues that fractional frame rates are relics of the past that ought to be consigned to the dustbin, as they cause a number of issues that can affect the quality and distribution of video content.

The call to phase out support for fractional frame rates was first spotted by FlatPanelsHD, which said the NoMore2398 coalition is led by JayDee Vandenberg, a director of post production at Walt Disney Animation Studio.

Fractional frame rates were introduced way back in 1953 by the U.S. National Television System Committee at a time when colour TV broadcasting was just beginning to emerge. They made it possible for colour broadcasts to remain compatible with existing black-and-white receivers, which at the time were still in use by the majority of households.

The problem with colour broadcasts was that the bandwidth it used could interfere with the audio signal and cause something called “inter-modular beating”. To resolve this issue, broadcasters decided to reduce their frame rate by 0.1%.

Fractional frame rates have persisted throughout the industry ever since then. So any content that’s said to be shot in 24 frames per second is in reality broadcast in 23.976fps. Frame Rates such as 30.00 and 60.00 are in reality shot in 29.97fps and 59.94fps

The NoMore2398 coalition says the use of fractional frame rates causes all manner of problems, with the most prominent being slightly out-of-sync video and audio. They also lead to higher production and distribution costs as it means assets need to be stored in both of the formats, add unnecessary complexity and they are slowing the adoption of High Frame Rate, the coalition argues.

FlatPanelsHD pointed out that the new Xbox Series X console, for example, accepts 24.00fps Blu-ray discs, but always outputs the content at 23.976Hz, resulting in a dropped frame every 41 seconds.

The coalition is calling on the TV electronics industry to rectify the situation by phasing out support for fractional frame rates over time in TVs, recorders, playback devices, cameras and everything else, “so that content can be displayed at its intended frame rate.”

"We invite all stakeholders, content creators, industry leaders, television and movie executives, editors and mastering artists to agree on a timeline upon which fractional frame rates will no longer be supported by newly released equipment,” it states on its website. “We invite the manufacturers to use non-fractional frame rates (e.g. 24fps) and accurately indicate the correct frame rate for each device."

The coalition has created groups on Facebook and LinkedIn and is inviting video and filmmakers to add their voices to its cause.