Lens Flicker, tried everything to solve it! Please Help.

Hi everyone,  I have a really confusing problem. I have been doing stop motion for many years now, but only since last year have I tried to make it a profession, but one thing in stopping my work looking professional is the bad flickering in my films. I’ve tried everything. Im using a canon, so I decided to buy a high quality Nikon lens adapter, so I can mount the older style manual aperture lens. I then bought a older style manual Nikon lens, to override the the aperture, but I still have the exact same flickering! It really doesn’t make sense and I have tried nearly everything.  

Also here is my setup:

  • Using Dragon Frame
  • Using Dedolights
  • Using a canon E0S 600d, with very pricey Novoflex adapter E0S/ NIK NT
  • Using a Nikon manual aperture 55mm Macro lens
  • Wearing black clothing
  • Room with no other light coming through over than dedolights.

Thanks a lot!

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No problem Adam - I hope you get it worked out! 

One thing to keep in mind - you have a lot of light bouncing all around the room, coming in off the walls and into the set. That's where your ambient lighting (fill light) is coming from. Are the walls of your studio a light color? Because I can see detail in shadows, so there's bounce light coming off something. It's most likely your walls, and anything moving around in between the walls and the set is going to affect it very strongly. That means not only you, but don't have other people in the room and don't move things around in between frames. And no cats climbing around on the table!! 

The on-set rule needs to be extended to the entire room - nothing moves except what you want to move onscreen. And it looks like you have a LOT of bounce light filling in shadows, so you might need to put up a big piece of cardboard or a screen of some kind to step behind while you shoot each frame. 

Oh - also make sure your computer monitor isn't aimed toward the set! 

Well at my uni the walls were painted black but the room at home i have been using are all white. Im moving my mini studio to the garage soon so i can paint the walls black in there, again thanks i never thought of this. Thanks for all the great advice and I will deffo put it into practice on my next shoot, and hopefully it will finally sort this dreaded problem I have had for years! I'll keep you updated. :)

Do you have barndoors on those dedos? That can help a lot - or make your own light shields with some blackwrap or just some foil or something. You can attach it to the lighting unit with clothespins or tape or something (I wouldn't put the tape directly on the metal though, unless it's a part that stays really cool). You can also make big flags (light blockers) out of foamboard or cardboard and position them on the sides of the lights to keep the spill light under control. That way a lot less of it is bouncing off the walls. Just brainstorming a little.

Yep the dedos I bought came with the barndoors, thanks though. And thanks again for taking your time to help me.

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Ah good - that makes it much easier. Blackwrap or foil can be easily attached to barndoors using clothespins, clamps or tape. 

Sorry I can't help on the flicker but I have to say that it actually works to your advantage in the duck bathroom scene in your show reel. Gives it a very freaky flickering light effect. I hope you figure it out as I have the 500D camera and i certainly can't go dropping big bucks for the adapter.

Hello Adam,

for me it looks like you were sometimes not using the manualmode. When you compare two frames it seems like the deph of field is changing, which is only possible if the aperture is changing. Make shure everything is on manual.

Then you said you werent shooting with the manual nikon lense. The aperture doesn't close for every frame the exact same way. So this is the normal flickr of your lense. In scenes with a more open aperture the flickr isn't this strong compare to scenes with a more close aperture.

The third is like Strider said. I think there are changes in the Light. 

Testing the lens and the lights sounds like a good idea. Cause you made really good works! Keep it up.

Thanks Steve, yeah I see what you mean lol Thanks Marcs , really appreciate your kinds words, also do you know how to  change to manual mode in Dragon? Is it on the right hand side of the screen?

Im normally quite shy when it comes to showing my films, but here they are , would really appreciate any feedback.

My graduation film starring Marv & Larry the sausage and marshmallow: 
My second year film:

Thanks everyone

Just came across this.  Several causes of flicker, need to work through them.

1. Camera.  Some Canon DSLR models have some extra settings in the menus that you have to turn off.  Just turning the dial on the top of the camera to M is not enough.  Go right through all the menus looking for anything that tries to compensate or adjust.  On my Canon 7d I found a couple I hadn't seen on my older 40d, and when I changed them it fixed the flicker I had when I first got it.  It may not be the same on your camera, but try looking for these:

Press menu button.  In the first menu on the left, with one dot, you get Quality/Size settings... go down to Peripheral Illumination Correct, set it to Disable.  In the second menu, disable Auto Lighting Optimizer.  I don't know which of these two made the difference, maybe both, but it worked for me.  Also while you are there, make sure white Balance is not on Auto.  Mine is set to colour temp, currently 3400k, to suit my lights.  In the fourth menu, do enable exposure simulation, that is only for the live video assist and that lets DF adjust it to match closer to the actual exposure.

2.  Lens and adapter.  With an older manual Nikon lens with no electronics and no physical lever on the camera to open the lens between shots, the iris should stay put.  A later lens made for digital cameras, and a Nikon-to-Canon adapter with electronic connections, can give you flicker.  The simple adapters only cost around $12 on eBay, with shipping from China included.  You want to have the lens stay stopped down so the viewfinder and live view are actually a bit dark, and you need to adjust the brightness of the live view in Dragonframe to compensate.  That way the lens stays put, instead of opening up for a bright view as still cameras normally do, then stopping down when you press the shutter, but not always to the exact same position.

3. AC Power supply.  The mains power can vary, and most lights will get brighter and dimmer when the voltage goes up and down.  I found I had this problem in my studio, the power varies by a couple of volts as businesses in the neighbourhood turn equipment on and off.  I fitted a Double Conversion UPS that smoothes out the power.  (It converts 240v AC to DC, charges a battery, then converts back to 240 v (or 120v in the US) AC, a couple of volts less but is steady. Not a normal UPS, that kicks in if the power fails, they don't actually smooth the power.

I was able to test with a multimeter in shot, and with 2 cameras shooting single frame simultaneously.   The meter, plugged into mains power, had the needle going up on the brighter frames, down on the darker ones.  I could vary the power by turning my 1200 watt oven on and off, rather than wait for it to vary from other causes.  It was the same with both cameras, which showed that when I thought my first camera had a fault, it was the mains power at my ABC studio, not the camera after all.  When I plugged the  lights into a borrowed double conversion UPS, but still metered the unfilted AC mains power, the needle still showed variation, but the lights remained steady.  When I clipped the meter to the UPS it showed steady power.

Lights.  Even with my power converter I've been getting flicker from one light, a halogen downlight with transformer I made into a movie light.  It seems to be getting unsteady in its old age, it used to work but I've been using it for 12 years.  It is the second one to go on me.   But Dedo lights should not do that.  I animated on a show using Dedo lights, plugged into Ballast units, and despite being in a curtained off corner of a factory in a run-down industrial area where I would expect the power to be pretty dirty, there was no flicker.  I think the ballast units must be smoothing it.  Not sure because Dedo lights are way out of my budget so I don't have any to test.  You could test that by plugging the ballast into a dimmer switch - if you can dim the lights, then the ballast does not protect the light from voltage changes.  If it stays the same, or stays steady until you turn the dimmer too low and then cuts out, then it does steady the power.  

If you have a mix of lights, some may be steady and others may vary.  Most fluorescent lights are not dimmable, so do not react to small changes in voltage.  

Test by pointing lights into different areas so you can tell which light is which, and shooting a coupe of seconds at single frame.  If all lights go bright and dark at the same time, it's AC power or camera.  If it is only one particular light flickering, it is either that light, or varying power which doesn't affect the others because they are Fluorescents or protected by a ballast or otherwise undimmable.

This is the kind of lens adapter I use.  In fact, I just ordered one, for US $7.50 with rear lens cap, and shipping included:  http://www.ebay.com/itm/Nikon-F-Mount-Lens-to-Canon-EOS-EF-adapter-...

It might have a little bit of movement in it when it is clicked in.  Nice if it didn't, , but I haven't found that actually causes me any problems.

It's good to get a Canon rear lens cap with it, so you can leave it on the Nikon lens.  It is getting a bit harder to find the basic ones, there are more auto-confirm adapters around, which is what you don't want.

I had to look up Nikon G lenses since your adapter seems designed for them -  it seems they are the modern ones without an aperture ring.  This is mostly the cheap kit lenses, though some better Nikon lenses are now that way.   As Ken Rockwell says on his site,  "G is not a feature, G is a handicap. G stands for gelded."   I don't think that is what your 55mm Micro lens is, but just making sure.  

A agree with all the suggestions so far. I just wanted to throw out another suggestion. Pardon me if this has already been mentioned, but don't ever plug your lights directly into the outlets on the wall. They will be affected by any other power drain like the furnace, fridge, etc. as Strider says. Always run your lights and your camera off a power conditioner or power strip with battery backup to make sure your electricity stays dead nuts stable. Also, it may be underestimated, but standing in exactly the same spot, and even the same position is critical, because shadows and light bounce around more than you think. Good luck!

From the Dedolight website:   

Dedolight daylight electronic ballasts incorporate several safety features such as over voltage, overload, overheat and short circuit protection. All have active power factor correction circuitry and automatic input voltage adjustment from 90-260 VAC. Daylight electronic ballasts may be found under ”Daylight Power Supplies”.

So it looks like, if you are only using the dedo lights, that should correct any voltage varitions in the mains power, as I suspected.   That is good news, the other things should be fixable. 

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