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European Filming Standards for US-Based Productions (Light Flickering, Shutter Speeds, etc.)


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Hi everyone,

I have a question that's never popped up before for me. I'm based in the US, but I'll be doing a shoot in France for a week and I have a request for advice, any answers to my questions, if possible!

I'll be filming in 24P, and I would normally double my shutter speed to 1/48, but I'm curious about the different power specs, and whether or not I would encounter any flickering with European HMIs, LEDs, etc. If it's relevant, my lights are:

  • Aputure 600x
  • Aputure 600d
  • Arri M18
  • Nanlux Evoque 1200
  • Joker2 Bug 800

Any advice or recommendations for US-based productions, capturing and editing in NTSC, but filming abroad? 

Thanks so much!

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On 6/7/2022 at 3:05 AM, Adam French said:

Hi everyone,

I have a question that's never popped up before for me. I'm based in the US, but I'll be doing a shoot in France for a week and I have a request for advice, any answers to my questions, if possible!

I'll be filming in 24P, and I would normally double my shutter speed to 1/48, but I'm curious about the different power specs, and whether or not I would encounter any flickering with European HMIs, LEDs, etc. If it's relevant, my lights are:

  • Aputure 600x
  • Aputure 600d
  • Arri M18
  • Nanlux Evoque 1200
  • Joker2 Bug 800

Any advice or recommendations for US-based productions, capturing and editing in NTSC, but filming abroad? 

Thanks so much!

You shouldn't get flicker off your own lights , 1/50th is the safe shutter speed for Europe or any 50hz country, re practical lights , fluorescent ,s etc .. but now they're a lot of LED lights that don't play by the rules .. but general rule 1/50th . Power is also 220v ..most pro gear is multi voltage , but in the old days you had to change out the bulbs in lights and plugs are different of course .. if your driving take care ! French drivers possibly the most aggressive on the planet ..

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Reasonably modern movie lights, which includes everything you list, should not flicker at the mains frequency and should behave consistently worldwide. 

It's increasingly difficult to predict how any lighting will behave, no matter where you are. A lot of modern lighting devices are based on LEDs. Many of them do flicker at the local mains frequency, or perhaps twice the mains frequency (see here at 2:55). Others may use driver electronics which can cause them to flicker at any rate the designer found convenient. Others use pulse width dimming, which may also operate at any frequency. Interiors of modern airliners seem to be almost exclusively lit with LEDs using pulse width dimming (see here at 3:14). It's increasingly common for people to want dimming or even colour mixing for interior spaces and generally that will be done with pulse width. Car tail lights are another issue.

Even if you can set the camera up to avoid flicker with one set of lighting, the adjacent light won't be phase locked to it, so you may find there is no solution which makes everything not flicker at once. Some of these problems are also caused by rolling shutters. If you can stand the smeary motion rendering, try the largest possible shutter angle, ideally approaching 360 degrees, but that's not likely to be what you want for a single-camera drama.

This is a growing problem and there is no good solution.

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For shooting at 24fps in 50hz countries you should be using a 172.8 Degree or 1/50th shutter. This will sort out most fixtures tied to mains frequencies- small tungsten, metal halides and fluorescents.  

Modern film fixtures- Flicker Free HMI and LED will be fine as usual.

As far as practicals go, with the transition to LED it’s effectively the same as everywhere else with a hodge-podge of fitting, and the odd ones that will be problematic.

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