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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Whitebalance, ISO and shutterspeed are manual too?

And too short exposuretime is a possibility for flickr.

HI I think they are all set to manual, do you mean in Dragon or on the actual Canon settings?

And what sort of exposure would you recommend? Thank mate, I appreciate the help.

If the Camera is in the Manualmode and you set ISO and whitebalance manual in Dragonframe it should be okay. But it is important.

I heard, that you should not get shorter than 1/30s. Because Cameras don't get the 100% same exposuretime for each frame. So if you choose longer exposuretime, the differences don't count that much. I have no experience with that. Its just what i heard and it sounds right to me.

Without seeing a clip it's really hard to tell what might be causing the flicker. But it sounds like you've eliminated most of the possible causes. One thing that comes to mind - you say you're wearing black, but you could still be blocking light, and if you're standing in a slightly different spot or position each frame that would cause flicker. You need to make sure you can't be blocking light that's falling on the set either directly or indirectly, such as some spill light that's hitting the background and maybe then reflecting onto the set. 

There's also a possibility the lens you're using might have oily iris blades and is responding too slowly, so it can't get to the right aperture before each frame is snapped. I'm not entirely sure how this works, because I've never had a camera that communicates with Dragonframe, so I've always had to use DF only to check my animation, and then I click off an additional frame directly onto the camera's memory card and when the shot is done I transfer them to the computer and use Quicktime Pro to turn them into a movie. This is a much more sure way to not get flicker, because the lens never budges at all, but I believe if you're letting DF adjust exposure for each frame it's letting the iris open all the way between each frame and then trying to quickly stop it down to your selected exposure before it shoots the frame. 

I'm not sure what you have to do to get DF to stop adjusting your exposure though - like I said, my camera doesn't communicate with it at all, so it's completely isolated from it, and as a result the iris blades never move as I'm shooting, they stay exactly where I set them before the shot, which is the way a manual movie camera works. Nick can probably tell you how he keeps it from interfering, he uses Canon cameras with Nikon lenses. 

I suppose you could either partially unscrew the lens so the contacts can't make contact, or use an adapter that doesn't have any electronic contact points. You said your adapter is expensive - that might be the problem right there. The expensive ones usually have electronic contacts, and that's exactly what you need to NOT have. 

Strider is right,

its much easyer if we can see a small clip.

The lense should not be the problem, because he is using a manual Nikon lense which doesn't communicate with the Camera and the iris keeps its position.

If the adapter has electronic contact points then the lens can communicate with Dragonframe, and as I understand it, that would be how DF adjusts the exposure for each frame. Unless his lens is a completely manual one. But there are also the hybrid lenses - which have an aperture ring on the lens but also electronic contact points so it can be used as an auto lens. He hasn't mentioned what type of lens it is - I believe if it's an AI or AIS then it's a hybrid. The easiest way to tell is to see if there are electronic contact points on the back of the lens. If not then that can't be the problem, and if there are and if the adapter also has contact points then it most likely is the problem. 

Ok, I checked Amazon: Novoflex EOS/NIK-NT Adapter Nikon F-Mount Lens

Looks like you're right Marc - it has no electronic contact points. I wonder why it's so expensive then? Probably something to do with F-mount lenses, which I don't know anything about. 

Ok, in that case, then it's probably either your electricity levels themselves changing (possibly as large appliances/furnaces in the neighborhood are switching on and off) or you or something else intermittently blocking or reflecting light onto the set. I know whenever my furnace kicks in the lighting level drops noticeably - I need to switch it off while I'm animating and just dress warmer.

I remember Ron Cole once had a flicker problem and eventually traced it to a small reflector he was using that moved each time he walked past it - I think it was the wind from his passing? Or he was brushing against it as he walked by. 

Firstly thanks for all your input and help Strider and Marcs I really do appreciate it.  This is my first post on here and I'm so pleased by all your help. Yeah I bought the adapter in a camera shop in London for £300, it killed me but i had a project that was due in a week and i had to get it that day.

Heres my old showreel that you can see some of the flickering i mentioned, i dont have any of my recent stuff uploaded at the moment, 

https://vimeo.com/65003968

Thanks

Having a manual lens I thought Dragon would stop using auto iso and auto white balance, is there a step by step, to changing to manual in Dragon? I may already have it on manual? 

Thanks for posting that. Man, it's still hard to tell - it seems like I'm seeing at least 2 different types of flicker. One is when a light puppet moves across a dark background area or a dark puppet moves across a light background area it looks like the entire scene is immediately adjusting, which would be the camera auto-exposing. Was this stuff shot before you got the adapter? 

But them I'm also seeing what looks like flicker in the fill light. You mentioned getting a dedo light I think, but you have multiple light sources - are you using regular room lighting as well as dedicated set lighting? When you have light coming from all around like that it's important to make sure you're not blocking any of it, so you need to make sure you step way out away from the set each time you snap a frame. When I have a setup with a lot of different light sources, especially if there's a lot of fill light, I sometimes need to step behind something to avoid affecting it differently each frame. Wearing black isn't enough, because black objects still block light and you'd be surprised how far away you can be and still affect the lighting on the set. Light is very ambient, and something in a far corner of the room can have a profound effect on your set lighting if it moves around from frame to frame. 

You could try an isolation experiment to figure out what's happening. Don't animate anything, just set up your camera aimed at the set and snap off a bunch of frames. I'd try it a number of times, once with almost no time between frames and once with a few seconds between frames. Name the clips so you know which one is which and watch them. See if there's any flicker in either. Note if the heater kicks on and write down on which frames it goes on and off. Make sure no large appliances are being used intermittently, washers, dryers, vacuum cleaners etc. - or if they are write that down too. You want to be able to eliminate that kind of interference while animating though.

Try it once with just the dedo light on, and then one by one switch on your other lights. Be sure to name the clips so you know exactly what changes you're making each time, or it won't help. 

And finally do a test where you move around between frames. This kind of testing should help you understand what's going on. 

Oh, another useful test - with only one light on and nothing else moving, just move your hand in and out of the shot. Take a dozen or so frames with it out and then a dozen or so with it in. Do this several times in a row, it can be really hard to see what's happening in a brief shot. You should have a sort of spotlight effect - use the dedo and have it pointed in at a sharp angle so your hand will be lit brightly against a dark background. 

If the dark background lightens when your hand is in shot then that's the camera or Dragonframe auto-exposing. Exposure should remain rock steady in a test like this. 

Hi Yes it was shot before the adapter, but my new stuff is doing exactly the same for some reason, its just like it will be shooting fine, and then all of a sudden on the view on dragon its like the shot lights up, and I checked on some of my old stills, and if you go through them individual,  some are completely different in terms of light.  Ive been using only two dedolights and thats it, and i always turn off the regular room lighting. I think you may have solved my problem though, it might just be I'm interfering with the lights from where i'm positioned i never actually though of that. I normally stay close for each shot so i can get in the rhythm of my next frame. Im very still as the camera is shooting, but maybe like you said im actually changing the light levels.by just being there.

Also I remember that a few years ago when I was actually filming at  my university, I never had the problem, but when I would go back home and do some shoots with the same set up and equiptment, the flicker would happen. My tutor could never work it out either. lol And sorry i didnt see your above comment, that;s a great idea,  I will give the tests a try and hopefully i can see whats going on. Thanks dude!

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