Decapitated Cap

Who said forums can’t be fun (despite most of them these days having degenerated into garbage dumps for people who never read the After Effects help) ? It so happens that the dirty little place that the Video CoPilot forum is, provided some interesting entertainment value this weekend when one zealot kid got into an argument with another kid about After Effects99fps limitation and then of course as usual it quickly degenerated into this wild furball that cited anything from The Hobbit‘s mostly failed 48fps approach to the finer points of human ocular anatomy. The facts are simple:

Pro

  • There are enough cinema/ video cameras that can shoot 120fps or beyond, not to speak of dedicated high-speed cameras.
  • Industrial cameras used for quality control can go up as high as 10000fps.
  • You can generate insane framerates in video games.
  • Most 3D animation programs can do fractional keyframes based on genuine time or framerates up to 999fps.

Contra

  • The human eye never sees anything more than 80fps, the average is much lower at around 50fps. The rods and cones in our eye don’t respond that fast, our nerves can’t forward the impulses that fast, our brain can’t process the data that fast.
  • There is no realistic way to view such high framerates. While there may be all sorts of monitors that do 200Hz or more using all sorts of technical tricks, they are still limited in the amount of data they can process.
  • That data has to come from somewhere and the sheer amount will kill you.
  • Because of the first point, even if it were technically possible, you as a puny human would never see all discrete frames unless you slowed things down.
  • To make matters worse, if you started to project such high framerates, each person would see a different frame because naturally our brains are not telepathically synched. As a result, the viewing experience may get worse, one of the problems that already led to people mostly snubbing at 48fps – the older you get, the slower your visual system operates, the more unpleasant it gets because you “miss” frames.
  • Those framerates in games are not so impressive, after all, because most of the animation is based on conventional framerates and you e.g. see the same pose of a character as doubled, tripled or quadrupled frames. It’s mass over class.

Does all that mean that After Effects should be able to deal with more than 99fps or should it not? Of course it would be useful, if the program took the burden of managing your framerates off the shoulder and you could actually make better use of such high framerates for time-remapping and time-stretching. Still, it’s not the topmost priority in my view and once you start to think about it, you see the implications – the whole program’s temporal logic would have to be rewritten and in turn so would have most effects plug-ins that use these functions. It could be an endless chain of dependencies and for that reason, while I’m sure it will be coming one of these days, I don’t see it happening soon.

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