When you shoot time lapse or slow motion, chances are that your resulting footage contains quite some flicker, or has a “restless” quality to it. With time lapses that is mainly due to the difference in brightness from frame to frame. Slow motion has its own problems that can cause flicker. Even regular footage may cause flicker, for example when you’re shooting in a LED lighted studio. There’s not much you can do about it, except with the new plug-in Flicker Free from Digital Anarchy.
Flicker Free is still in beta. It’s a plug-in for After Effects, Premiere Pro, Assimilate Scratch and Final Cut Pro 7 / X / X 10.1. I tested the Final Cut Pro X 10.1 version. Flicker Free analyses your clip and removes flicker. It has few parameters to set: Sensitivity, Time Radius, Channels, Threshold and Detect Motion.
The plug-in works as any other plug-in does in Final Cut Pro X: you drag it to the clip that needs processing in the Timeline. I tried it with four different clips: first with two slow-motion clips and one time lapse. Only the time lapse had a visible flicker. The other two were OK, but with a noticeable “restlessness” about them — it’s hard to explain, but I assume these clips did have flicker in them, only too fast or slight to be obvious, but quite noticeable on a subconscious level. I later tested with an old fluorescent lamp that doesn’t seem to flicker until you slow down the footage from 120fps to 24fps (20%).
Below you’ll find three ultra short clips:
- No Flicker Free applied to a clouds time lapse
- Flicker Free applied to the same clouds time lapse
- The slow motion clip of an old fluorescent lamp first without Flicker Free and then with Flicker Free applied
I did not change any of the parameters on any of the test clips. All clips that I tested Flicker Free with were noticeably much “quieter” to look at. One of the time lapse clips, which did show a noticeable flicker before, was completely flicker free — no pun intended — afterwards. Because its flicker was so obvious before applying Flicker Free, it also gave me an insight in what the plug-in does exactly.
It appears that Flicker Free adjusts your footage frame-by-frame for large differences in brightness and/or exposure. By slightly adjusting each frame that falls outside the “safe range” as determined by the plug-in’s algorithm and parameter settings, the entire clip becomes much smoother to look at.
The time lapse clip had quite large differences in brightness as it is a recording with an interval of 30 seconds. I noticed that the processed clip got rid of some of the high brightness and contrast changes where the interval had failed the camera to record the dramatic changes in the weather smoothly.
Applying Flicker Free to all of that clip proved to take away the drama in the clouds in the second half. That’s not a drama by itself, though, as you can apply less or more of the clip by keyframing the results. Of course, you can see the most obvious workings and results of Flicker Free in the fluorescent lamp clip…
My final test was to change the parameters according to the explanation in the online tutorial. Much to the advantage of the developer, I couldn’t improve on the already excellent results by tampering with the defaults.
Although Flicker Free isn’t the cheapest plug-in out there, it certainly belongs to the realm of highly sophisticated, highly necessary add-ons for any type of video project, even if you’re using the best equipment. LED studio lighting, for example, seems often to produce a visible flicker when the footage is slowed down enough. Flicker Free therefore is on par with plug-ins like those of CoreMelt and Crumplepop.
p>Flicker Free is yours for approx. €72.00 — at least during its beta testing phase.