Among the few new features found on the Apple TV 4K 2021, including the redesigned Siri Remote processor and A12 Bionic processor, is the high frame rate.
Short for HFR, this is the last home theater acronym to make you understand, and generally refers to video content shot at more than the standard 24 frames per second rate.
HFR video content should not be confused with a screen with a high refresh rate. While televisions and video game consoles talk about having refresh rates of 60Hz, 90Hz, or even 120Hz, it’s all about the screen refresh rate rather than the frame rate of the monitor. displayed content. You should also not confuse HFR with HDR, which stands for High Dynamic Range.
What is HFR?
To understand why upgrading to a device that supports HFR is important, it should be quickly explained that the frame rate of a video is the number of individual frames displayed per second. Our eyes can only see individual images up to a certain speed, and then they appear as a fluid, moving image.
You will have encountered low frame rates while streaming video buffers due to poor internet connection, or when a low power computer cannot play a game or 4K video smoothly, and so some images are deleted to stop the video. a break.
Movies have traditionally used a frame rate of 24 per second, as this offers a good compromise between smoothness and cost of production, as this figure comes from an era of physical film reels and sound embedded on the same. movie. Today’s TV shows operate at a slightly higher frame rate, typically 30 fps in North America and 25 fps in Europe.
You may have seen in recent years the ability to watch some movies in theaters at a higher frame rate. The Hobbit Trilogy was recorded at 48 fps and moviegoers could choose to watch it at 24 or 48 fps, depending on the projection technology offered in their local theater. The higher frame rate version was smoother and more detailed, but some viewers criticized it for its unusual appearance, as it was different from the 24, 25, or 30 frames per second everyone had spent their entire lives. to watch.
The 48fps version of The Hobbit was considered an experiment when it was released ten years ago, and it can now only be viewed on disc or online at 24fps. But the industry is still interested in the potential of HFR; James Cameron intends to use the technology for his Avatar movie sequels, and Netflix has experimented with higher frame rates as well.
What are the advantages of HFR?
While some prefer the traditional look of 24 fps movies, higher frame rates may be useful elsewhere, especially when it comes to sports broadcasting. Here, a higher frame rate means smoother images and more clarity when it comes to viewing fast-paced action on the screen; this is particularly useful for slow motion replays.
Today’s televisions typically offer a refresh rate of up to 60Hz, so they can handle footage shot at 60fps, but it will be up to broadcasters to produce and distribute content at a higher than standard frame rate. current 24, 25 or 30 fps. For now, broadcasters are more interested in higher resolution (4K) and greater brightness (HDR).
Are there any downsides to HFR?
HFR makes more sense when used for gaming and high speed sports streaming. It can be used for all kinds of other applications as well, but has been criticized for changing the look of a movie, like with The Hobbit. A higher frame rate can make a big budget movie look too realistic, with viewers likening the footage to a soap opera instead of a brilliant production full of special visual effects.
The higher frame rate often means additional detail seen in each shot, which puts more pressure on a movie’s production team to ensure each scene is at its best. An error in a background detail of a scene previously disguised by motion blur of 24 fps video would be seen much more clearly when taken and viewed at 60 fps.
Smartphones, game consoles and HFR
Many of today’s flagship smartphones can record videos at high frame rates. Some even shoot footage in Ultra HD (also known as 4K) resolution at 120 fps, which can then be used to create slow-motion clips. Today’s game consoles, including the PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X, also work with HFR, given their ability to play games with a frame rate of 120 fps.
Some high-end TVs have a refresh rate of 120Hz, but this particular feature is unlikely to be common for some time. And, while video games can already be played on gaming PCs at 120 fps or higher, TV and movie content is unlikely to reach this level for quite some time. For now, HFR images are most often created and viewed on our smartphones.
Why does the new Apple TV 4K have HFR?
When it announced its latest streaming box, Apple took note of its new compatibility with HFR. Staying in Apple’s famous Walled Garden for now means that the 4K Dolby Vision images captured by the iPhone 12 at 60 fps with HDR can be viewed exactly as they were taken, on the Apple TV. via AirPlay.
Apple has gone out of its way to install Dolby Vision on its iPhone 12, so it makes sense that Apple TV 4K can now display those images on the biggest screen in your home. The inclusion of HFR also means that the Apple TV 4K is ready to display 4K content that has both HDR (or Dolby Vision) and a high frame rate in the future – this could suggest that the next content Apple TV + will be shot with a high frame rate. .
We hope this will also encourage broadcasters and streaming companies to further experiment with the creation and distribution of HFR content. But for now, it looks like a case of Apple preparing for the future of its streaming box for iPhone and Apple TV + productions, rather than preparing for Hollywood’s impending move from 24 fps to 60. ips.
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