How The 90s VHS Look Works

The VHS look has been popular lately in music videos and other video art,
as the 90s come back into fashion: all neon colours and diagonal lines and over-enthusiastic voices! I cannot keep that up. Now, some producers will
actually take the time to get their nice, crisp HD footage
and put it through an actual video recorder
to get that effect, but let’s be honest, most won’t. Most will use the same filter
as everyone else, so I figured to explain how it works I would talk to the guy
who wrote that filter. – VHS has very muted colour
because more information is dedicated to the
black-and-white information or the luminance part of the image. The colour suffers a little bit,
so it gets downsampled, there’s less information there, it tends to kinda get softened
and bleed outside of the edges and stuff. When we originally gathered
footage, so, they went out to Goodwill and
second-hand stores and picked up as many VHS and SVHS decks
that they could find. With the decks and camcorders that we had, we used a clean reference image
that we could later compare the recorded
version on the deck to. So, when you take an original, clean
version and the post-VHS version and line them on top of each other, you can create what we
call a lookup table, which allows us to define the colour
differences between the two images. But a lot of the time,
people are quite young, applying these retro filters or styles, and have sort of an idea of what they’re
supposed to look like, so it’s a little bit of both. – VHS is an analog format,
it’s not storing ones and zeros, it’s storing patterns on a magnetic tape, and that means that
copies aren’t bit-perfect. Not only is there random noise, but there’s also some
interesting analog glitches. – We start with a blank tape,
it looks like this. When you throw it in to
one of the VCR decks, one of them has
the lid off of it, and that is the one that actually
died making the VHS transitions. That one went through a lot and all of that got
printed onto this tape. Essentially just taking the device
and then doing a lot of bad things to it. While the tape is loaded in
through the playback heads, you can run a magnet across them and just really mess up how
it’s going to play that back, and tracking be damned:
it’ll flutter and be all over the place. This one, I believe, died
based on a belt failure, but that belt failed while I
was using two pencil erasers that were taped to my fingers
slowing down the head while dropping a magnet on
top of it. It was interesting, and then all of a sudden it
just mechanically stopped. The hardest part about that
was just getting the tape out. – There is a section in the code that is just called ‘tape damage’. There are things like what
we call the pop lines, when you are recording tape
and you get pieces of dust or debris or whatever stuck to the tape and it rolls across the scan head, that one line will create
a streak across the screen, and then there’s also a scrolling wrinkle. Generally it’s repeating
cause often that happens when the tape jams up or something like that, and you end up with a bunch of wrinkles that somebody then
reassembled the tape back. – Of course, there are some things
that a filter can’t add, like: Camera angles! Neon typography!
And fake enthusiasm! But perhaps some things are
better left in the past. – “And there’s more from Tom
at the same time next week. “Coming up later, Captain Disillusion
is going around in circles, “but next, a programme chosen for you
by the Algorithm.”

100 thoughts on “How The 90s VHS Look Works”

  1. there is the NTSC (never the same color) problem too. in PAL the colors were way more acurate.

  2. Nice video, only other thing I miss is the popping n crackling sometimes heard when the recording would start and finish

  3. Only 90s kids will remember. Only 90s kids will ever remember. 90s kids remember everything. They remember the birth of the universe. They remember humanity’s greatest downfalls. They remember things that have not happened, things that might never happen. They can see the death of everything. All of these vivid memories will haunt them forever. Will the 90s kids ever be able to forget?

  4. Obviously I grew up with a really good VHS player by Samsung. Nothing of our records looked like that, so incredibly pink and blurry!
    More like a regular 300p video with some cracks, meaning sparkles here and there.
    Color fails??? Unrecognizable… Only the quality 'cardboarded' a bit down.
    Outwearing? A bought Looney Tunes tape was bad and could only be played about 5 times – bad material I guess.
    But any record made with supermarket cassettes was almost genuinely.

  5. Dude the look is all wrong
    VHS looks like regular video just a bit blurrier
    My VCR records as good as a regular picture just has a lower Res

  6. This is stupid. VHS was never this bad. Yes after a lot of use it could degrade etc, but I have tapes over 30 years old which look great. Retro delusion by people who never used the format.

  7. it isn't that accurate. The image is too dark, and the colors are made to be unsaturated and to bleed.

  8. That outro was pure platinum perfection. I now know everything there is to know about British TV in the 1990s.

  9. Hey, do you mind checking out my new video? It’s about getting the vhs app for free (and any other app) ‼️❤️🔥

  10. More like "Next up, an advertisement that assumes you're too stupid to write grammatically correct emails without computer assistance".
    I hate Grammarly ads.

  11. Tim and Eric created this trend with Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule. In that case they actually made it with a real vhs tho

  12. A lot of these "VHS filters" simulate a very damaged tape in an almost-dead player. The real thing's usually not that bad. I still watch VHS occasionally and almst never see things like those bars of distortion scrolling down the screen.

  13. I remember reading that Metal Gear Solid V was going to have this filter applied to the whole game, but they scrapped it because it was too demanding on computer resources. How times have changed.

  14. The other thing we have to remember is that the vast majority of VHS tapes were played on CRT screens, which have an inherent fuzziness to them you don't get on modern LED screens.

  15. I frequently purchase old VHS tapes and their video quality is far superior to what you are showing in this video. Quality is good on both CRT and LED displays. Maybe you got some really tired tapes?

  16. Today real enthusiasm squashed in fear of looking 80s/90s. Everything you described artistically was established in the 80s that died in the 90s btw

  17. All the designs you’re showing seem to be more of the late 80s, not really getting into the 90s, or no later than 92.

  18. I'll never understand the fascination people have with analog. It was crap when I was living it and it's still crap. Let it go.

  19. I recently bought a vhs and getting some cables from amazon soon, I've only got one cassette though do you think that'll last for continued use?

  20. I once found a VHS tape thingy in my grandma her house and I tried to get it working and after an hour of just comlete randomness by just trying stuff I got it to play and then after 2 minutes the tape failed or idk it crashed and it stopped and I gave up😂😂

  21. That looks like a crappy camcorder or a tape that you've taped over several times. If I had a tape that looked like that I'd throw it away! All of my video tapes look normal, just not as sharp as a DVD.
    But I suppose that's not the point.

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