Shutter Speed is basically the amount of time the shutter stays open. In still photography the concept is a easier to grasp. The shutter opens, stays open for a set period of time exposing a single frame of your film or sensor to light and then closes. Although with digital cameras it is not a physical shutter, it is merely the set speed at which your sensor captures your scene.
In video, it isn’t that simple. And yet it is. You see, pro and prosumer camera have variable frame rates, which is not the same as shutter speed (electronic shutter or physical shutter) Frame rate is the number of distric frames per second that are recorded and displayed. So wrapping your head around these two distinct variables that DO work in tandem can be a little confusing.
24fps (frames per second) is the accepted standard at which to shoot to get your digital video to look the most filmic. But what is going when you have a shutter speed that is differnet than your FPS?
If I am shooting 24fps at 1/60 ( shutter is open for 1/60 of a second) , each of those 24 frames in 1 second are exposed for 1/60th of a second. Simple right?
But be aware that having your shutter open for such short periods of time dramatically affects the amount light coming into your camera. Meaning, the higher the shutter speed, the darker your image will be, and the more light you will need to properly light your scene.
Now couple a fast shutter with a fast frame rate and you can have some dramatic footage.
I bring all of this up to show you a few examples of different shutter speeds and how they can improve shots in certain situations
Check this out *Warning! Graphic War Footage!*
Very effective for this type of film and scene. According to my sources this was shot at 1/800.(although there are other factors involved here!)
Another example, although not as drastic.
*watch the scene of the snacks being hit and knocked around
I shot this at 24fps with a shutter speed of only 1/60. I think it worked pretty well capturing the fast movement.
One more with some different shutter speed demonstrated.
The problem with the “Saving Private Ryan Effect” is that it has been overused. And not used properly. I have seen some things that are down right nauseating. Add that dramatic staccato effect with some jerky hand held camera and you’ve got a recipe for a barf fest.
I guess what I am saying is, don’t speed up that shutter just because you can. Use it sparingly, and only to move your story along, or to give a dramatic punch. And please….stop with the meth addict hand held camera work.
I’m dsto, and I’m out!
**I know this is a very brief and over simplified explanation. If you have other thoughts or corrections, pleasae feel free to discus them in the comments section.