Today, I wanted to share with you a few secrets about flickering, why you get brightness or contrast flicker and how you can take care of it. Keep reading to create better timelapse videos!
Flicker can occur at different steps in your workflow. It can be on your raw sequence when you come home from your shoot, or it can show up after using Lightroom. Those are 2 different types of flicker. But no need to worry as there is a way to get rid of it completely!
vYes, you don’t want to reduce flicker on your timelapse videos, you want to fully remove it. It does not look good and you can not share or sell a timelapse with visible flicker, it’s not visually pleasing. Quality over quantity!
1. Brightness Flicker
Caused by: fast shutter speed, exposure ramping, Lightroom
How to get rid of it:
1) Fast Shutter Speed: Shoot with a slower shutter speed by using a ND filter during the day. Brightness flicker comes from the aperture that does not open the exact same way when shooting with a fast shutter speed, even if you keep the same value. Using a slower shutter will reduce or remove the risk of having brightness flicker on your sequences.
2) Exposure ramping: When you do a bulb ramping during a day-to-night or night-to-day timelapse, you will end up with brightness flicker you voluntarily created in order to keep the proper exposure as the light changes. To clean it, use the Holy Grail Wizard of LRTimelapse along with the Visual Deflicker.
3) Lightroom: Doing some heavy color correction with Lightroom can create brightness flicker caused by the ramping between the different keyframes. You can easily get rid of it by using the Visual Deflicker of LRTimelapse or other plugins such as Flicker Free or Neat Video for After Effects and other editing softwares.
2. Contrast Flicker
Caused by: Lightroom contrast settings such as Whites, Blacks, Contrast, Clarity and Dehaze. Lightroom has a way of applying those settings differently from one frame to another. The program is reading your images and applies the contrast settings after analyzing them.
Even though this is not an issue for still photography, it’s definitely not ideal for a timelapse sequence made of hundreds of images where things are constantly moving. The goal is to keep the exact same look on every frame with a smooth transition if needed. Usually, cars, boats, people or clouds are the reason why you end up with contrast flicker on your timelapses, specially if they take a lot of room in your composition.
How to get rid of it:
Contrast flicker is very annoying and very hard to remove. LRTimelapse will not get rid of it with the Visual Deflicker. The first step is to use a slow shutter speed as much as possible when shooting, in order to blur motions and make big elements blurry or invisible on your images.
The second way to remove contrast flicker is to not use the contrast settings too much on Lightroom. Use low values (maximum 10 or 15) and utilize the Tone Curve tool instead of Whites and Blacks to create contrast. The Tone Curve has a more linear way of applying contrast settings, which result in less contrast flicker.
If you still have contrast flicker after all of that, you can use a powerful plugin called Flicker Free by Digital Anarchy. It’s doing an amazing job clearing up almost any contrast flicker on your timelapse videos. The plugin is not free, but this is the best investment I have made after LRTimelapse in my career. I highly recommend it if you are serious about your timelapse work.
The 3rd type of timelapse flicker is what I call Natural Flicker caused by a natural source in your timelapse. This could be neon lights, a ferris wheel or any other big source of light that is constantly changing.
Watch this video about 3 Types of Timelapse Flicker to learn a little more about this topic.
What to remember
Ending up with a flicker free timelapse is not really hard. You just need to smooth out anything you can, from your camera settings to color correction between the keyframes on Lightroom. If you have LRTimelapse, ending up with brightness flicker is pretty much impossible.
Doing heavy corrections on your raw sequences can create bad contrast flicker and it’s never a good thing. Go easy with the ramping between keyframes, specially during a day-to-night timelapse, and you will see that creating flicker free timelapse videos is very easy.