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Eliminating flicker in still photos

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Neil Orman
Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 3:07:16 am

I'm having a very difficult time trying to eliminate flicker in still photos I'm trying to animate/scale up in FCP7, and I'd appreciate any tips on how to get rid of that. I've already googled this problem and tried several suggested fixes I either read on forums or attempted myself (listed below), and none of them have solved it. Admittedly I'm kind of groping around in the dark here. I'm finding the issue doubly strange because I have four photos, two taken with one point-and-shoot digital camera (no issues with flickering, when I scale them up) and two taken with another (flickering, distracting images when I scale them up, far below 100 percent). Last I read about related issues where forum-respondents wanted to know the dimensions of the photos, and in this case they are 2816 X 2212. Also in terms of the photos themselves, the images I'm scaling up are of a section of a park, on a cloudy but still-bright day, with a lot of detail in things like the leaves of bushes and shrubs, and it's in that detail where a lot of the flicker happens.
These are the fixes I've tried so far:
-In forum posts regarding someone else's problem, someone had suggested scaling the images down in Photoshop, which I tried and it didn't fix the problem.
-Applying a slight Gaussian blur (this didn't help, and I'd also rather not make my photos blurry, but would obviously rather scale up clear, nice photos.)
-In FCP7's Effects menu, there were filters that said they dealt with things like 'Deflicker' and 'Deinterlacing.' I tried them and they didn't solve it.

Like I said any guidance on this would be hugely appreciated, whether the fixes involve FCP7, Photoshop or whatever else.

Thanks a lot, Neil

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:50:47 am

What kind of sequence are you working in? SD? HD? Progressive? Interlaced? Frame rate? Codec?

How are you monitoring the footage (inside FCP on your computer monitor or on a TV/Broadcast monitor via a video output device like AJA and Blackmagic make)?

If you are monitoring from within FCP what size is your Canvas window set to? Anything other than 100% and FCP will only show one field which can degrade the displayed image quality of images and text.


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Neil Orman
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 11:45:46 am

Thanks Andrew. To answer your questions, I'm working in an SD sequence at a rate of 29.97 using the codec (I believe) Apple ProRes 422. I also believe the sequence is progressive not interlaced, although I can't tell when I look at the sequence settings, sorry. (If there's a default in FCP7, that's what it is.) During editing, I'm looking at the sequence in the canvas window at 100 % on a computer monitor, although I've been exporting to Compressor and then putting the movie on a DVD to watch on a TV screen, and that's where I really notice the flickering.
Please let me know if you, or anyone else, have any idea what might be causing this. I need to finish my project today so I'm really hoping to solve this.
Thanks again, Neil

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Nick Meyers
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 2:19:13 pm

this problem is almost impossible to fix properly without decent monitoring.

even a DV camera hooked up to a TV would give you a better idea of what is happening than nothing.

it's more than likely your sequence is not progressive, but interlaced,
that's more the standard for SD.
you can tell by checking the "Field Dominance" menu in your sequence settings.
"None" is progressive, Upper or Lower else is interlaced

the images might be a bit large for SD. it depends on how much you need to blow them up, of course.

one trick that works for me, with TEXT in SD sequence, is to add a Blend fields filter.
i use the Too Much Too Soon blend fields (free)
but the FCP flicker filter pretty much does the same thing i think, when it is set to max,
so maybe this trick wont work for you

if the flickering is worse DURING your moves, then you can keyframe the gaussian blur up a bit during the move.

that's if you apply the blur to the clip in FCP.
another way is to selectively blur the trouble spots in Photoshop
i think your can get a demo period on that now with Adobe's creative cloud approach.

i've been doing some graphics work today, and i'm enjoying working with layered Tiffs.
they keep all their layers in Photoshop, but in FCP appear as a single clip.

it's vey easy to update an image in PS, save it,
then bounce back to FCP where it updates, and you can monitor it on an external monitor.


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Neil Orman
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 4:13:18 pm

I really appreciate these suggestions Nick, and you taking the time. I'm going to try them now. Thanks very much again and I'll let you and everyone know how it goes.

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Andrew Kimery
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 16, 2013 at 8:46:20 pm

In my experience the speed and type of move (zoom in/out, slide left/right/up/down) can impact the amount of flickering as well so you should try to adjust the moves you are doing and see if that helps. The flickering happens basically because in interlaced video the fine details of the image (or text) will 'jump' from scan line to scan line in a very not smooth manner. This is why the suggestion to add a slight blur to the image (or reduce the size) sometimes works as it gets rid of the fine detail. And, honestly, since you are working in SD you don't gain anything by having such massive image files as end result, in terms of image quality, is less than the lowest quality setting you'd find on a digital camera.

Good luck, it takes a bit of trial and error, but once you get it figured out the same methods should work in the future (so make sure to write down what steps solved the problem! ;)).

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Mark Suszko
Re: Eliminating flicker in still photos
on Oct 17, 2013 at 2:52:50 pm

One problem that catches a lot of FCP beginners is that there's a check box in the set up or preferences panels that tells FCP to leave imported images at whatever size and resolution they natively were, or to automatically scale them to the codec screens size of your project. This means you may think you're working with the full-size file but really are not.

If you're getting flickering on thin lines, you are somehow working in interlaced, or at least watching an interlaced display. What happens when you create a freeze-frame of the shot?

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