Our Animation Tech Specs

January 29, 2020

While the technical side of our work isn’t nearly as exciting (even to us) as the story and creation side of what we do, we’re often asked about what settings we choose when creating video content. So, here’s the deets.

The technical specs of video and animation can be quite exhausting. There are over a thousand different combinations for how to make your video look the best on certain platforms. 

While every project is a bit different, here’s how we make decisions as to the technical side of our videos.

Pixel Resolution

Starting first with pixel resolution. Depending on what we’re creating content for exactly or where it will be shown, that will affect what pixel resolution we choose to use.

Starting first with our standard, 1920 x 1080, this is the standard high definition resolution that we use for 90% of our projects. It plays nice and crisp on standard televisions at all sizes. Much of what you see online or on television/Netflix/Hulu is at this resolution. Sometimes, however, a slightly smaller resolution is used at 1280 x 720 for streaming media because the file size is reduced by half, but the impact on quality is minimal.

One of the emerging resolutions we work with about 8% of the time is 4k or 3840 x 2160 pixels. This is what’s considered UHD or ultra-high definition. This would be for an extra clear picture only available on some platforms currently, 4k isn’t nearly as common for many reasons including:

  1. Screens that have that many pixels are still high in cost and the benefit isn’t high enough.
  2. Editing and creating at that resolution can be quite cumbersome even on the best machines.

For web videos and trade show displays, we’ve used custom dimensions specifically for the platform or web site we’re working with. This is usually something outside of our 16×9 aspect ratio. In the past for some displays, we’ve actually created videos at a 9×16 aspect ratio for a screen turned on its side.

Frame Rates

Frame rate (or frames that are shown per second of video) is another setting that has many options. For the sake of simplicity, we’re not going to go too deep here. There are 4 frame rates we primarily use for video and animation.

When making videos for the web or explainers, our default is 24fps (frames per second). This is what’s seen mostly in movies and in theaters. We choose 24fps because it leads to a cinematic feel at a lower frame count per second while still feeling smooth to the viewer. 

Another frame rate that we go with when creating hand-drawn animation or even stop motion animation is 12fps. This gives a more handmade feel to a video and makes this complicated process a little quicker by animating half of what would normally need to be,

For television broadcast, we often create at either 30fps (the standard for American television) or 60fps (which is used most often for sports)

File Types

With hundreds of options for file types, we primarily use only 2 types of files/codecs about 99% of the time.

Or default file type for web and social is H.264 .mp4. This file type is very high quality but creates a smaller than average file. That’s what makes this format ideal for saving bandwidth online.

For broadcast, there are 2 similar formats we use based on the client’s system requirements. The first being an Apple ProRes 422 HQ .mov and the second being DNxHD .mov. Both of these file formats are very high quality with larger file sizes. Since broadcast isn’t as sensitive to file size as the web is, we boost the clarity and quality here.

Every so often, we also work with unique displays and must use a specific file format that’s not one of the above mentioned.

Our standards

While there are many other technical options for a video, the ones mentioned above are the most important to note for any video project. Here’s our default settings for the majority of the videos we create.

  • 1920 x 1080 pixel resolution
  • 24 fps
  • H.264 .mp4
  • 48,000hz audio output
  • 8bit color depth
  • Target bitrate of 20mbps

Hopefully, this has helped you clear up a few complex ideas/settings. If you were referred to this page by someone, please tell your project’s producer if the technical settings for your project should be different than our standards.


Written by Matt Vojacek


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