Pangolins are very rare animals, and the Critically Endangered Chinese Pangolin is even more so than others. Almost all of the pangolins rescued by Save Vietnam's Wildlife are Sunda pangolins, but on my last visit we were able to see some of their newer arrivals including Chinese pangolins.
Getting night-time footage of these animals is very difficult, and I never use flash or bright lights on animals, especially on nocturnal animals, so I carry a soft head-lamp. The previous night releasing pangolins in the forest, my head lamp broke, so we used an LED lamp to record a bit of video of these amazing animals instead.
Although it didn't show up on the screen when checking the video, this LED lamp caused a terrible flickering on the end result, so be warned, never make the mistake we did!
I may never get another chance to film this species, but luckily, I was able to salvage the video thanks to Digital Anarchy's Flicker Free plugin: here's how.
Removing the Flicker
Flickering is a common enough problem and can be avoided, but in this case it was use an untested light source or get nothing at all; there are not many options at 3am in the forest of Vietnam!
It was such a disappointment to see the resulting footage, to say the least, but after a few Google searches I found the Flicker Free plugin for Adobe Premiere Pro, and tried the demo.
Thank goodness it worked a treat, with a few tweaks to the configuration and some trial and error, I quickly found the best results from the options the plugin provides.
Situations like this are usually one-off events, and I'm sure DA are probably inundated with requests for free trials and discounts for Flicker Free. But once they heard of the incredible work done by Save Vietnam's Wildlife, they generously offered to help spread the word of one of the most endangered species on the planet!
After installation, you can drag and drop the effect onto your video clips as with any other video effects, and then choose from a number of presets to find the best option that works for that clip. There were actually 4 different options for the problem of rolling LED bands, and although I used the same light for each video, some of them required a different preset than the others. I'm no video expert, so it was just a matter trying each one and finding the best result, with a bit of tweaking of the additional settings too.
Similar to using the stabilization effect in Premiere Pro, you just wait a few seconds for the plugin to work its magic and have a look at the results.
It is a clear improvement. In one or two the flickering was so bad that nothing could get rid of it, but Flicker Free still managed to improve upon the original footage in those cases. But for most of the clips it is no longer noticeable at all, while the original footage was unusable. You can see the final video below!
I and the charity (and the pangolins) are so grateful for being able to salvage this footage thanks to the wonderful team at Digital Anarchy.
You can also follow Save Vietnam's Wildlife and their mission to save pangolins on their Facebook page or donate at www.savevietnamswildlife.com