Motion pictures are shot at 24 frames per second (fps). Twenty four fps gives video the “film look” that most are used to. Like most digital footage, 24 fps is the norm even if it will not be transferred to film. In stop motion if you are dealing with 24 fps, this means you will need 24 pictures for every second of video. That is a lot of pictures. Because of this, there is another consideration which is called shooting on doubles. Shooting in doubles means each frame will be doubled. Therefore, you will have 12 different pictures with each picture being used twice, making 24 fps.
In stop motion, 15 fps is widely accepted. This keeps the movement relatively smooth as well. Because stop motion films are expected to have the choppy or more jerky look to them, 10 to 12 fps is a great place for beginners to start. Deciding the amount of frames you want really depends on what type of project you are taking on, as well as how much time you want to put into a project. The basic thing to remember is that the more frames you have per second, the smoother your motion will be.
Depending on what program you choose, you may need to calculate how to adjust your frame rate based on the software is presets. Editing programs like Final Cut are set up for 24 fps or 30 fps. Identify this and change your number of pictures accordingly. For example if your timeline is set to 30 fps and you want to have your animation at 10 fps, you will want to use each picture three times. If you want the animation 15 fps you will use doubles of each picture, and so on.
Single Frame vs Double Frame
The difference between shooting in single and double frames is exactly what it sounds like. Shooting in single frames means that for each second of video, or 24 frames, you will have 24 different pictures. Shooting in doubles means that you will have 12 different pictures. Each picture is used twice. What you are capturing determines whether you should use single or double frames.
If the camera is moving at all, it is best two use single frames. Camera movement appears jittery and choppy if shot in doubles. Also, when there is faster movement, it is generally better to use single frames. If a character’s hand is waving, a flag is moving, or a character is running, single frames should be used. If these actions are done in double frames, movement does not register with the viewer. However, Lego characters and props move differently than other stop motion characters, and therefore shooting in doubles works for almost all situations. Lego figures already have the boxy look to them, so viewers will expect a choppier animation.