Choosing the correct frame rate for your final delivery is very important.
In fact, choosing the correct frame rate should start right before shooting a single video in your camera – be it mirrorless, DSLR, drone, action cameras, smartphones, etc., or screen recording software like OBS Studio.
Or if you are working for a client, it’s a good practice to ask and get the frame rate of your project right before importing your footage into DaVinci Resolve.
Today we’ll see how to set frame rates, change frame rates in the middle of a project, export in different frame rates and many more!
Let’s dive right in.
What is Frame Rate?
Frame Rate is number of images (frames) captured in a second by a camera. So when you capture a 24 frames per second video and play it back – you’ll see 24 images displayed rapidly in a second, resulting in an illusion of a video.
Hopefully, you might have cameras like DSLR, mirrorless, Go Pro, DJI Mavic, or smartphone, which are capable of recording videos at a particular frame rate, say 60 FPS, 23.976 FPS, 120 FPS, etc.
After capturing video, you edit and color grade it, add some visual effects, sound design and export it (final delivery).
So it is ESSENTIAL to know the frame rate at which you’ll edit and export.
If you’re targeting your final render to be uploaded at Youtube – 23.976 FPS should be fine.
23.976 frames per second will result in a motion blur which mimics the film look we are accustomed to.
So if you are not sure what frame rate to consider, you can safely SHOOT and EDIT in 23.976 FPS.
Where to Change or Set Frame Rate in DaVinci Resolve?
You can set or change frame rate at 3 different places in DaVinci Resolve:
- Project level
- Timeline level
- Clip level
How to Set or Change Project Timeline Frame Rate Before Importing Any Clips
Project timeline frame rate refers to the frame rate of the timelines inside any given project.
(Your project could have only one timeline or a group of them, according to your requirement.)
The frame rate is always changed or set before importing any clips into the media pool.
This is how you set project frame rate in DaVinci Resolve:
- Click on “File” -> “Project Settings” (short cut for project settings is “Shift + 9“).
- Click on “Master Settings“.
- Under “Timeline Format“, there is a “Timeline Frame Rate” dropdown.
- Choose your required frame rate, say, 23.976 FPS from the dropdown.
- Click on “Save“.
Your project timeline frame rate is now set to the required value.
You are good to go ahead and import your required clips.
After you import one or more clips, you’ll note that the timeline frame rate is now locked out under “Project Settings”!
Why is Timeline Frame Rate Greyed Out in Resolve?
The timeline framerate will be disabled or greyed out once you import your footage into the media pool.
After importing, you won’t be able to change the timeline frame rate. This is how it is in DaVinci Resolve!
It’s very important that you know your target frame rate beforehand and set it accordingly.
So choose the correct frame rate before importing the footage into your media pool.
You can still change the frame rate at this stage. All you have to do is delete all the imported clips from the “Media Pool”.
Then go to “Project Settings” -> “Master Settings” -> “Timeline Frame Rate” = It should now be enabled for you to choose the correct frame rate.
But if you’re into the middle of editing and would like to change the frame rate, then there is a work-around.
How to Change the Timeline Frame Rate During the Middle of a Project in Resolve?
You can’t change your existing timeline’s fps (frames per second); however, you can create a new timeline, set your required frame rate, and copy all the clips from your existing timeline to the new one.
Here’s how to change the frame rate of your timeline during editing:
- Under the “Edit” page, click on the “Media Pool” tab.
- Go to the menu “File” -> “New Timeline” (shortcut for new timeline is “Ctrl + n” or “Cmd + n”).
- Enter appropriate name.
- Uncheck “Use Project Settings“. This will reveal different tabs like “General”, “Format”, “Monitor”, “Output” etc.
- Click on “Format“.
- Select your desired frames per second from the “Timeline Frame Rate” dropdown.
- Click on “Create“.
- An empty timeline is created.
- Now go back to your timeline with all the edits using the dropdown from the top of the timeline viewer.
- Copy all the clips by pressing “Ctrl + a” or “Cmd + a”.
- Go to the new timeline by selecting it from the timeline viewer dropdown.
- Press “Ctrl + v” or “Cmd + v”.
- All the clips will now be copied with your new frame rate to the new timeline!
Keep in mind that the new frame rate is only applicable to this particular timeline.
The project timeline frame rate is still the same that is greyed out (and not the new one that you just set while creating a new timeline).
Any new timeline created will still follow the project timeline frame rate unless you uncheck the project settings manually as discussed above.
Till now we saw how to change frame rate for an individual timeline and project timeline (collection of your created timelines).
Now let’s see how to change the frame rate (fps – frames per second) of a specific clip.
How to Change Frame Rate of a Clip in DaVinci Resolve?
- Under the “Edit” page, click on “Media Pool”.
- Select your desired clip (or select a group of clips with the help of “Ctrl”/ “Cmd”).
- Right-click on the selected clip(s) and click on “Clip Attributes…“
- Click on the “Video” tab.
- Under “Video Frame Rate“, select your desired frame rate and click on “Ok”.
The clip(s) is now updated to the new frame rate.
(You can also do the same operation when the clips are placed in the timeline. Just select your required clips and select “Clip Attributes”.)
The “Clip Attributes” reveal the properties of a clip.
Once you update the frame rate, Resolve will re-interpret the clip with the new frame rate.
When you change the frame rate of a clip, keep in mind:
- The duration of the clip might change.
- The audio of the clip will not be affected. Meaning, if you change the frame rate, the duration of the video may change, but the audio duration remains the same (which might cause out-of-sync issues).
Incoming Clips’ Frame Rate Doesn’t Match with the Project Timeline Frame Rate
After creating a new project, when you import a clip with a different frame rate (other than the one defined in the project timeline frame rate from “Master Settings” under “Project Settings”) into Resolve, then you’ll get a warning:
“The selected clips have a different frame rate to the project. Would you like to change your timeline frame rate to match? You can’t undo this action.”
Clicking on “Change” will update the project timeline frame rate with the clip’s frame rate.
Clicking on “Don’t change” will not affect the project timeline frame rate.
If you are sure and would like to have the clip’s frame rate for your final delivery, then click on “Change”. Once done, your frame rate will be locked and greyed out.
Even if you import clips with different frame rates, you won’t get this warning again. These clips will be conformed to the frame rate chosen earlier.
When you go to “Master Settings“, you’ll also notice “Playback Frame Rate” dropdown which also contains frame rate (it is independent of timeline frame rate.)
What is Playback Frame Rate?
Playback frame rate is the frames per second value you set to be output to your monitor (or other external displays).
This doesn’t affect the timeline frame rate or the frame rate of your footage. It is merely for external displays (like your desktop monitor).
Then what is the difference between Timeline Frame Rate and Playback Frame Rate?
Timeline Frame Rate Vs Playback Frame Rate in DaVinci Resolve
The timeline frame rate represents the number of frames per second of your clips in the timeline as required for your final delivery.
The playback frame rate is the number of frames per second your clips will play in your monitor (external display) which is based on the refresh rate (hertz).
For example, let’s say you have a 4K timeline with 23.976 FPS. If you have a 1080p monitor with 60 Hz refresh rate, it can smoothly display 23.976 fps without any issues (in fact frame rates up to 60 fps will have no problem in your display).
Anything beyond that will result in, what is called as “screen tearing” (but the monitor will still display what it is capable of).
Timeline frame rate can not be changed after importing your files into the timeline.
But the playback frame rate can be changed any time based on your external display needs.
(If you don’t understand the above technical concept, then let’s keep it simple – keep your playback frame rate the same as the timeline frame rate. That’s it! Once you get a hang of working in Resolve or any video editor, you’ll figure out the difference through your experience).
How to Change Export Frame Rate in DaVinci Resolve?
- Go to the “Deliver” page.
- Click on the “Video” tab.
- Select your desired frame rate from the “Frame Rate” dropdown.
Keep in mind that the frame rate shown in the “Deliver” page will be what you set your project timeline frame rate to be.
If you set your project frame rate to 60 fps, the “Deliver” page will show only 60 fps option for export frame rate.
If you set your project frame rate to 23.96 fps, the “Deliver” page will let you chose “23.976”, “24”, “29.97 (3:2)”.
General rule is that you won’t be able to select a new frame rate for export, like 60 fps when your timeline is in 24 fps (at the time of this writing).
You have to change the frame rate to the required one by creating a new timeline, assemble all the clips, edit and then export to the desired frame rate (already discussed above).
Mixed Frame Rates in DaVinci Resolve
When you have footage shot at different frame rates like 24 fps, 60 fps, 120 fps, etc, there are many questions that need to be answered like which frame rate to choose for timeline, which frame rates need to be converted, etc.
Which Timeline Frame Rate to Choose When There Are Mixed Frame Rates in DaVinci Resolve?
- Go to the “Media Pool“. Import all of your clips.
- Click the “List View“. Scroll to the right till you see the “FPS” column.
- Click on the “FPS” header to sort the column in ascending or descending order.
If majority of your clips are in 24 fps, and you want the final render to be in 24 fps, then you should set the project timeline frame rate to 24 fps.
Import all the clips with different frame rates into the media pool.
Now you need to make a decision of what to do with 60 and 120 fps footage.
If you place them in the timeline, they might not play back the way you intended.
Most probably you shot them in higher frame rates (60 and 120) for a stylistic slow motion effect.
If this is the case, then you’ll have to change the 60 and 120 fps clips to 24 fps through “Clip Attribute” settings (as discussed above).
Now when you place them in the timeline, they play back in 24 fps which will result in buttery smooth slow motion!.
Variable Frame Rates in DaVinci Resolve
DaVinci Resolve doesn’t support variable frame rate footage.
Variable frame rate footage are shot by smart phones and screen recording software like OBS Studio.
When you try to import these clips, either Resolve will show media offline error or cause audio sync issues.
Read this post “6 Ways to Fix DaVinci Resolve Media Offline Issue” on how to convert variable frame rate footage into constant frame rate.
The best way to have a smooth workflow is to determine the target frame rate before you start production.
For example, you can shoot majority of the footage in 23.976 fps and slow motion stylistic footage in 60, 120 or 240 FPS.
In this way, when you start editing, you can set project timeline frame rate to 23.976 and convert the 60, 120, 240 fps footage into 23.976 for a slow motion effect through “Clip Attributes”.
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