How to Avoid the “Flicker Effect”

What is it, and how is it caused? Better yet, how can it be avoided? Believe it or not, the flicker is most likely created by elements outside of your set that can easily be controlled.

In order to make sure that your camera is not the culprit, be sure to set automatic controls to manual. These include white balance, shutter speed, shutter speed and focus. Make sure that your image stabilization is turned off. If any of these options are set to automatic, your camera will create a flickering interference throughout your film.

Try to film only at night. The room where your filming takes place should be completely dark, allowing no light from outside sources. If you must commence shooting in a room that contains a window, use care to ensure that it is completely covered so that there can be no interference from outside light sources.

Make sure that you do not use fluorescent lights, unless you are trying to create a specific lighting effect. Fluorescent bulbs have a flicker that, although sometimes not visible to the naked eye, will eventually captured on film.

Try to make any superfluous objects in the room as dark as possible. If you have a makeshift studio set up in a bedroom or office, be mindful that white or light colored objects have a way of reflecting colors into the room. Use dark sheets to cover these items, or remove them altogether. This applies to your clothing, as well. Try to wear dark clothing to make yourself as inconspicuous as possible.

Remember that you are most likely the object that is closest in proximity to the set. In many cases, the flicker you see when your animation is played back can be the result of your own shadow as you lean in to shoot your frames. Look carefully at your set before each picture is taken in order to make sure that you are not affecting the lighting in any way.

Finally, sit back and wait a few seconds before taking each shot. Sometimes the camera needs a moment to ready itself, and taking this small break can make a world of difference in the final product.

If you have already gone through the task of making your film and are seeing the flicker for the first time, there may no be much that can be done to remedy the situation. You may be able to remove the brighter frames in post production and create copies of the normal shots that came immediately before or after the lighting change, or you may want to avoid the hassle and decide to embrace the “silent-movie” look of your film.

The good news is that, if you aren’t pleased with the final product, you can follow the steps outlined above to ensure that your next film doesn’t suffer from the dreaded flicker effect.