How to prevent and solve timelapse flickering

If you encounter flickering in your timelapse footage that means that you haven't fully mastered the basics of timelaspe. This blog post will explain how to prevent and how to solve timelapse flickering.

Timelapse flickering

This article talks about the most common mistake timelapse photographers make, timelapse flickering.

Timelapse flickering, most often caused by your lens aperture not closing properly can be prevented in a number of different ways.

How to prevent timelapse flickering

  • The lens twist method. You're going to lock your aperture by enabling the Depth Of Field preview button and simultaneously slightly twisting your lens off your camera body. This method works for Canon only, sadly. If you have a solution for Panasonic cameras please let me know!
  • Using a manual aperture lens. Manual lenses such as Rokinon, Samyang, a lot of older or vintage lenses will have a manual aperture, which means you have to twist a ring on the lens to set our aperture.
  • Shooting wide open. Shooting at your widest possible aperture will result in 0 flickering however your lens probably isn't at its sharpest when wide open. Often the sweet spot for a lens as far as sharpness and aberation goes is around f9 to f11 (generally, not always!)

If you do end up with timelapse flickering in your footage there are a number of ways you can solve this.

How to solve timelapse flickering

  • LRTimelapse has a dedicated workflow to deflicker both photo and video sequences. I can not recommend LRTimelapse enough. Check out this video that explains what the software does or read more on this blog post here. Buy LRTimelapse from the developer website here.
  • GBDeflicker is a plugin for After Effects by Granite Bay Software. It analyses your sequence and adjusts the exposure through a number of different, adjustable ways in the effects tab in After Effects.
  • GBS has released RawRamper a while back which adds LRTimelapse style functionality to your After Effects software, allowing you to ramp certain editing settings. RawRamper also deflickers. I haven't tried RawRamper so can't recommend it, yet. If you'd like to see me review it let me know!
  • Flicker Free by Digital Anarchy is a plug in tool that fixes flickering caused by out of sync cameras, time-lapse, or slow-motion video. I haven't tried this one myself but my friend Martin Heck from Timestorm Films swears by it.
  • Another plugin (sadly it's quite expensive) is DEFlicker by RE:Vision Effects. They call it the best solution for problematic high frame rate and timelapse footage. I also haven't tried this one but it should work considering it costs a fair penny!
  • Davinci Resolve Studio apparently has a built in deflickering tool. I don't use Davinci (tried it once, couldn't get it to work!) but for those of you that use it this might be useful.
  • TLTools is a free app that has deflickering built in. It's donationware so if you end up finding it useful please consider donating to the dev team.
  • TLDF aka TimeLapse DeFlicker is a standalone app for Mac and Windows that deflickers your footage and generates video files. It's quite affordable ($49 at time of writing) and has decent reviews (once again I haven't used this. I only ever use LRTimelapse or GBDeflicker)
  • There's a free way to deflicker too! It's called frame blending. You pretty take the average exposure from a bunch of frames before and after each frame to level out the exposure bumps. This effect is called Visual Echo in FCPX. If you speed up your footage in Premiere Pro you can simply enable Frame Blending and it will also even out small exposure bumps. This can produce some artefacts such as ghosting but is an easy, quick and free fix.

Do you have different timelapse flickering solutions? I'd love to hear them! Let me know in the comments section below.

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