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Ryan Fleet

What causes flicker in film

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Im not talking about light flicker - Im talking about film not having what looks like a constant exposure. Ive seen this on transfers from the same model cameras. One looks steady and the other flickers I dont get it.


Is this caused by the camera not being in good shape or is it a transferring issue?

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I once had a bad roll that flickered due to uneven x-ray damage. I've also seen footage flickering caused by a faulty camera that couldn't maintain a steady speed.

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There are lots of variables in your question. Camera, stock, processing, telecine, playback system, I mean it could be a lot of things. Film stock is pretty consistent and any professional lab will be too. So at that point, it's really down to the camera.


I'd love to see the samples you discussed, it would be easy to determine the problem.

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To me that looks like ever so slight variations in the film speed in the camera likely caused by tension in the film path somewhere. You can see that the flicker also appears to correlate with some slight frame registration jitter.


Those cameras are very cheap and simple cameras with very little registration precision. Something like a Bolex with a trailing arm, a well tuned ACL or a pin registered Arri is not going to have those issues. But they are also $1K,$2K or more cameras. Not $100 cameras.

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Another thing about those K-3s. They were infamous for film path issues, especially faulty loop formers. Most rebuilds usual take the loop formers out all together and make the loader manually make the loops... which takes some paying attention to what youre doing.

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