MSU Deflicker Filter Tutorial


This is my final post in the HDR series.  I’ve already discussed the basics of HDR photography and how I batch the HDR images.  This post is about finishing the process by eliminating flicker from your video.

What causes flicker?

Flicker occurs when each frame of a video has a different overall brightness.  When I began making time lapse videos, I often encountered some degree of flicker.  It was usually caused by forgetting to set the exposure manually, but it can also result from too small of an aperature or even an inconsistant camera.  Most of the time, I discarded the final footage.

In HDR photography, three to five images of different exposures are merged into one image.  Even though I use the same program with the same settings to process every image, there’s often enough difference in brightness between images to cause some flicker.  This difference becomes much more noticeable when the exposures are farther apart and when the HDR is strenghtened in processing, as shown in the above example.

Using a deflicker filter

I’ve talked before about the free video software VirtualDub.  One of the advantages to this software is that there are plenty of free filters available online.  I use the MSU Deflicker Filter in almost all of my HDR videos.

To install the filter, visit their site and find the download link toward the bottom of the page.  There’s an interesting overview of video flicker, a tutorial on using the filter, and links to some of their other free filters, so you might want to take a minute to read the whole page.

After you’ve downloaded the filter, unzip it and move the .vdf file to VirtualDub’s plugin folder.  On PCs, this folder is usually located here:  C:\Program Files\VirtualDub\plugins

Now open VirtualDub and the deflicker filter should be installed.

Choose the default settings if it’s your first time using this program, select your usual compression settings, and open the video file that has flicker.  Select File>Save as AVI… and choose a name and location.  Your video should now be flicker free.  If the filter causes any problems such as the video being too dark or if it doesn’t remove enough flicker, go back and adjust the filter settings until you’re happy.

If you make any HDR videos using this method, please post a link in the comments.  Good luck!

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13 thoughts on “MSU Deflicker Filter Tutorial

    1. LRTimelapse looks interesting, especially because you can gradually change settings. Right now, I have to process all my photos the same way, so the same temperature setting has to be applied to day and night shots if they’re in the same sequence.

  1. It works fine for HDR but what about night to day on auto exposure.

    I get jumps every second or so and i can’t find settings for the plugin to match.

    LRtimelapse is a lot of work for the same results. not really worth it.

    Any suggestions for Mac?

    1. I’m not sure about big changes such as day-to-night. I’ll have to test it out and play with the settings when I get some time.

      I might try breaking the video into smaller segments and then cross-fading. Just an idea–I’m not sure how well it would work.

      I’ve read a tutorial about using Photoshop to deflicker but I never tried it. It’s probably not any easier than Light Room.

      I’m at a loss for Mac advice. I like PCs for the abundance of free programs. You might look for a paid plug-in for your video software.

      Finally, I know you didn’t ask, but shooting in Av mode should minimize flicker in the future in case you mean you’re using Program mode or fully automatic mode by “auto exposure.” Sorry I couldn’t be more help.

  2. I just tried to get this working, seems like it only doesn’t work with the 64 bit version of Virtual Dub. Sadface.

    1. Trevor’s right. I installed the 32bit version on a new 64bit machine since my last comment because some plug-ins don’t work for the 64bit version.

      The only downside of the 32bit version is I once ran out of memory while processing some huge files. Since the 32bit can access 4GB of memory, this is rarely a problem and I’d recommend the 32bit version for most people.

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