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 Frame flicker with DSLR 
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Joined: Sun Jun 08, 2008 10:21 pm
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Post Frame flicker with DSLR
Hey folks,

I am having trouble with frame flicker on my DSLR sequences. It doesn't seem to matter if I shoot them on manual exposure, aperature or shutter priority...regardless I seem to get a little flicker now and then. I do notice that it helps to shoot the frames with less of an interval between them...say 2-3 seconds between frames and play them back fast.

I'm on a MAC platform and am wondering what people are using to combat flicker that are shooting with DSLR's.

I'll try to upload my sample shot last night to Vimeo.

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Thu Jun 12, 2008 10:07 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Hello Michael,

I've found that the faster shutter speed that you use, the more likely you'll get flicker, as each exposure might not be exactly the same as the next / previous. This happens even with high end cameras.

I get around it by generally using quite long exposures per frame and whacking a lot of ND on the lens. For some reason the exposure variations even out the longer the shutter is open, and are thus not so noticeable.

You can get, though, some de-flicker software as a plug-in to After Effects.... but I haven't tried it yet.

Cheers,
Grant


Fri Jun 13, 2008 2:25 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
I have noticed Grant's observation as well it may be because the 'thinner' you slice the natural world the better the chances you'll capture the slight variations that (to our observation) appear fluid.... or it could be mechanical similar to the old glass paradigm (which I touch on in the mid-end of this vid: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MQLCtuWCCaU :) At high shutter speeds your equipment simply can't keep things precise.

That said I've always been amazed at how much lighting 'can and does' vary in the natural world without our noticing it.

GBdeflicker can do wonders... but if it's really bad - live and learn! :evil:


Fri Jun 13, 2008 3:46 am

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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
It's pretty intresting actually that the normal variation in shutter speeds/aperature would be a larger percentage of the overall exposure the shorter the exposures would be. I know that when we do shutter testing on even the high-end film cameras there's more variation than I'd like. For a single image it doesn't really seem to matter, for a time-lapse it's a pain. How do the 'real' motion picture film cameras maintain such a tight tolerance? I have a friend who used to do repair for Panavision...I think I'll give him a call.

Anyway, here's the time-lapse from the other night. I kind of like it, but the flicker is going to drive me crazy.



Milapse's video tutorials are great. I remember we had a discussion about flicker on your channel a while ago. Can't seem to find a good solution. I did rent the movie 'Nixon' based on some research I did online about timelapse and consistent exposure. The sequences in it are very beautiful. I'll have to dig up that link and share it.

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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
I figured out the Vimeo settings...it takes me a while. :oops:

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Sun Jun 15, 2008 2:16 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
so I'm assuming on that one you let the camera meter the exposure? It looks to me that you were matrix metering... so therefore when the background and the rock started to get 'close' in eV it was going back and forth between the two. I think this one would have demanded manual or maybe center weight metering (if you wanted to tempt fate!). There is just too much dynamic range and moreover lots of movement (with all the people) throughout the frame to let the camera decide...

There are some good stretches with just a handful of errant frames. If it's worth it you can hand adjust those trouble makers or throw them out and see if it still works!


Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:06 am

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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Yeah, I use matrix metering most of the time. I wonder if I used center-weighted if it might be smoother.

I think I was on aperature priority for that shot.

I shot a few sequences this weekend on manual exposure, and saw flicker in it also...but not as much as the black-rock scene. I'm thining of breaking out my Lee filters that I used with my 4x5 years ago. I have a stack of ND filters I can use to stretch out my exposures when I'm shooting during the day.

I'm thinking that exposures of about 1/2 to 1 second will start to smooth out any 'variance' in the shutter/aperature combination. Typically the shutters are more tightly controlled in accuracy from exposure to exposure than the aperature would be (no scientific testing, just anecdotal evidence).

I will try to remember to take notes of what I come up with and what the results are.

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Mon Jun 16, 2008 4:57 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
This discussion is getting me curious if there is a 'sweet spot' for DSLR shutters in terms of longevity and consistency... I'm wondering if there is a target range that is the best for our use?? for example would 1/30th to say 1/120th give you the longest shutter life and exposure consistency??


Tue Jun 17, 2008 6:04 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
That was a sweet video.

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Tue Jun 17, 2008 8:47 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Thanks Lucasburg.

I shot another TL today. Shot it on manual part of the time, aperature priority part of the time, center weighted metering. Minimal flicker. I did something different this time...I shut the shutter on the camera for the viewfinder. I wonder if that alone would make any difference.

It's 1am and I've been shooting a job since 3pm, so I need to get some sleep.

I'll process this TL tomorrow and post it.

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Tue Jun 17, 2008 10:55 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
milapse wrote:

GBdeflicker can do wonders...


Is it actually worth the money? I think it costs around 70$. Premiere Elements itself has about the same price....

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Wed Jun 18, 2008 4:16 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Michael Slade wrote:
I shut the shutter on the camera for the viewfinder. I wonder if that alone would make any difference


Absolutely! I'd lay money on that bet.. ;)

Michael wrote:
Is it actually worth the money? I think it costs around 70$. Premiere Elements itself has about the same price....


Guess I enjoyed the early adapter price! It used to be like $40... Anyway If your into quality I do think it's worth it. It's done wonders on some trouble sequences that I've run up against. Slight variations are sort of a given with timelapse unless your willing to follow all the golden rules (manual manual and ND filters) WITH manual glass. Even then the natural light in a scene can fluctuate given cloud cover, haze, etc.


Wed Jun 18, 2008 10:07 am

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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Gbdeflicker makes a huge difference. If you just run it, as is, in after effects, then it makes a good difference.

If you tweak the settings and customize gbdeflicker (as they suggest on their website) then you get even better results.

How convenient!!! I posted a video of me testing it the other day.



p.s. can't seem to get the vimeo embedding to work..not sure why.

||||- I helped you out... check out the code -Milapse-||||


Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:24 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Try adding www. before the vimeo.com/xxxxx address. Random, but I think that is the problem.


Wed Jun 18, 2008 6:54 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Wow, seems to work well. I think it's worth $75 personally. I'm working on an easy low-cost solution for ND filters, but now with the GBDeflicker, it might not be necessary to worry about making longer exposures in bright sunlight.

Hmmmmmm.....

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Thu Jun 19, 2008 11:28 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
MILapse thanks for mentioning this forum in your recent video.

Hi gang. I generally shoot slow t-l sequences. A recent favorite shows the growth of a small orange mushroom over several days. A friend is working on a PBS nature documentary, & I would like for him to use the sequence. However, the sequence has a lot of flicker... It partly makes the sequence look more natural, however, I would like to reduce it. I already went through and by hand selected the images that looked the least extreme. But it still flickers...

I shot the scene on a homemade set with 24hr flourscent lighting (they flicker and probably contributed). Also, I shot aperature priority and might have not used the highest f-stop (I'm sort of new to flicker issues & was probably in a hurry after spending hours prepping the set). If I could do it over then I would probably use the highest f-stop and possibly add a neutral density filter or two.

Anyway, my typical workflow is pretty simple. I generally shoot jpg for t-l projects>edit with CS3> convert seq. to video with QTPro. I work in a PC environment. What is the best way to fix my flicker issue? I've know about GBDeflicker ($79) for awhile but considered it a pipe dream since I don't own Premiere, etc. Too expensive. However, I just learned about the much more affordable Premiere Elements ($99)!!! Will this scaled down version cut it? Has anyone out there used GBDeflicker with the Elements version???

Mike, hope this doesn't come across like hijacking your thread...

Cheers,
Kurt

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Fri Jul 04, 2008 1:40 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
I'm a little fuzzy on my advanced photoshop skills but I seem to remember from watching tutorial videos that there are techniques for matching the exposures from one picture to another, one of these days I will try to dig it up and see, might help with flickering if you can somehow normalize all the exposures in a sequence.

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Fri Jul 04, 2008 3:40 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
I am shooting manual exposures 90% of the time now...and also remembering to close the eyepiece shutter. I am surprised at the amount of flicker I have reduced just by doing those two things. No ND filters to lengthen my exposures...yet.

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Fri Jul 04, 2008 6:19 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
dont use the highest f-stop, it will cause diffraction problems and make the image less sharp, when shooting under fluorescent lights try to make the shutters longer the 1/50 of sec. I believe that the poer net works at 50 Hz, so you want to make sure that you expose long enough to have several of those tick in each exposure.


( http://www.granitebaysoftware.com/TipTi ... icker.aspx )

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Fri Jul 04, 2008 9:08 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Andrew Curtis wrote:
I seem to remember from watching tutorial videos that there are techniques for matching the exposures from one picture to another


That would be interesting. I've searched for a tool to do this, saving the individual, "normalized" photos, but with no luck, so I've occasionally adjusted a bunch of individual photos manually which pretty much sucks. :-(

There is a free deflicker solution that works reasonably well, perhaps not quite as effective as GBDeflicker, but in many cases it does the job and for the price you can't really complain. :-) I'm talking of MSU Deflicker which is a plugin for VirtualDub, a small freeware program that won't do a lot of fancy stuff, but you can compile your time lapse with the deflickering filter uncompressed and import it into something else if you please.

The discussion about the source of flicker for DSLRs is interesting. I've experienced quite varying exposure, maybe 1/3 stop from frame to frame with all settings fixed, lens wide open and an exposure time of several seconds. How on earth does that happen? I can only think of inaccurate shutter speed being the issue, but it makes no sense to me that a camera can miss the correct shutter speed by about 1/2 sec and yet be capable of 1/4000 sec.

Interestingly, my DSLRs seem to suffer significantly worse from flickering issues than the compacts I've had (Powershot S2 and S3). Those I can just leave in P (semi-automatic) mode and let the camera adjust both aperture and shutter speed along the way, and flickering hardly ever gets out of control as it does with my DSLRs. The differences I can think of that might explain this is a different metering system (which unfortunately fails faster in the dark than with DSLRs), electronic view finder (no stray light) and a very different shutter mechanism.

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Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:45 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
flyvholm wrote:
Andrew Curtis wrote:
I seem to remember from watching tutorial videos that there are techniques for matching the exposures from one picture to another

The discussion about the source of flicker for DSLRs is interesting. I've experienced quite varying exposure, maybe 1/3 stop from frame to frame with all settings fixed, lens wide open and an exposure time of several seconds. How on earth does that happen? I can only think of inaccurate shutter speed being the issue, but it makes no sense to me that a camera can miss the correct shutter speed by about 1/2 sec and yet be capable of 1/4000 sec.

Interestingly, my DSLRs seem to suffer significantly worse from flickering issues than the compacts I've had (Powershot S2 and S3). Those I can just leave in P (semi-automatic) mode and let the camera adjust both aperture and shutter speed along the way, and flickering hardly ever gets out of control as it does with my DSLRs. The differences I can think of that might explain this is a different metering system (which unfortunately fails faster in the dark than with DSLRs), electronic view finder (no stray light) and a very different shutter mechanism.


I think you are over looking the fact that on a DSLR the aperture opens and closes every single shot (I think the majority of the flicker can be traced to the aperture not closing exactly to the same place each time) - that is the reason I have switched to manual lenses and have eliminated my flicker problems. Shooting timelapse with my bolex (again manual aperture) I never had flicker like we do with the DSLR cameras.

timt

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Fri Jul 11, 2008 12:57 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
pixelbot wrote:
I think you are over looking the fact that on a DSLR the aperture opens and closes every single shot (I think the majority of the flicker can be traced to the aperture not closing exactly to the same place each time)

In above mentioned example with my DSLR I used fixed maximum aperture. Regarding compacts, they too operate the diaphragm with every shot. However, the diaphragm is much smaller and perhaps more consistent for some reason.

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Sat Jul 12, 2008 5:55 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
flyvholm wrote:

There is a free deflicker solution that works reasonably well, perhaps not quite as effective as GBDeflicker, but in many cases it does the job and for the price you can't really complain. :-) I'm talking of MSU Deflicker which is a plugin for VirtualDub, a small freeware program that won't do a lot of fancy stuff, but you can compile your time lapse with the deflickering filter uncompressed and import it into something else if you please.

I tried MSU Deflicker out, it's quiet doing a fine job. Do you know if it is possible to process single image with VirtualDub? I do not want in the end an uncompressed avi, but just the processed image series.

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Sun Jul 13, 2008 2:27 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Michael wrote:
I tried MSU Deflicker out, it's quiet doing a fine job. Do you know if it is possible to process single image with VirtualDub? I do not want in the end an uncompressed avi, but just the processed image series.

Me too, so I am glad you asked, because that led me to realize that it is indeed possible in VirtualDub. That will come in handy!

File -> Export -> Image sequence.

EDIT: After Effects can also export image sequences, so if you have GBDeflicker this can also be used to generate deflickered versions of your originals.

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Mon Jul 14, 2008 3:16 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
Would turning on Mirror Lock Up in my Xsi help with this? Seems it's one less thing for the camera to have to do.

Jim


Mon Jul 14, 2008 7:47 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
jimbeaux wrote:
Would turning on Mirror Lock Up in my Xsi help with this? Seems it's one less thing for the camera to have to do.

Jim


It's unfortunately not persistent mirror lock up... So it will move the mirror before every shot.

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Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:21 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
flyvholm wrote:
Michael wrote:
I tried MSU Deflicker out, it's quiet doing a fine job. Do you know if it is possible to process single image with VirtualDub? I do not want in the end an uncompressed avi, but just the processed image series.

Me too, so I am glad you asked, because that led me to realize that it is indeed possible in VirtualDub. That will come in handy!

File -> Export -> Image sequence.


Cool, how could I forget... Who needs photoshop if one has virtual dub? 8-)

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Mon Jul 14, 2008 12:22 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
To deflicker a timelapse shot, since I am in AE anyhow, I use Filmfix which can be found on toolfarm.com.
I picked it up half price...deals happen on a regular basis.
Filmfix also can stablize a shot but I think Mocha AE does a better job for that also found on toolfarm.com
Cheers,
cd


Thu Sep 11, 2008 10:28 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
fwdinc wrote:
To deflicker a timelapse shot, since I am in AE anyhow, I use Filmfi


It's important to note that plug-in only works on 6.5 and 7... I used to use it.


Fri Sep 12, 2008 5:06 am

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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
milapse wrote:
fwdinc wrote:
To deflicker a timelapse shot, since I am in AE anyhow, I use Filmfi


It's important to note that plug-in only works on 6.5 and 7... I used to use it.


True, but a free upgrade to the CS3 version was due this summer.

http://www.redgiantsoftware.com/feature ... atibility/

but for now I am round-tripping. I haven't found any article that compares different deflicker software.

What are you using now instead of filmfix?

Cheers,
cd


Fri Sep 12, 2008 9:48 am
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
I'm also a big VirtualDub fan. It's free price and plain GUI could fool you, but it's a powerful video tool, espcially when used in concert with AviSynth (also free).

For deflicker I use VirtualDub with this filter from Donald Grafton. I've found it's very effective and the default settings usually don't need to be tweaked.

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Thu Sep 18, 2008 8:02 pm
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Post Re: Frame flicker with DSLR
milapse wrote:
fwdinc wrote:
To deflicker a timelapse shot, since I am in AE anyhow, I use Filmfi


It's important to note that plug-in only works on 6.5 and 7... I used to use it.


Hi MiLapse,
I have watched your timelapse guides and have learned a lot. Thanks!
What deflicker software are you using and what do you think is the best deflicker software...if money was no object.
(open to other members too)
Thanks MiLapse
Cheers.
cd


Sun Sep 21, 2008 5:44 pm
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