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    How to get this look? (VHS / early video)
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    Wish I were banned. Drew Ott's Avatar
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    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzwCxYRl...d=7086jwwu5i1r

    Call me crazy but I think itíd be fun to shoot with a VHS type camera. I think itís pleasantly old like 8mm film.

    How would you go about creating this look? Buying a VHS camera might be sort of expensive because youíd have to buy tapes, a way to digitize, etc. Is the first generation of DV cameras bad enough quality to emulate this look? I canít even remember anymore.
    "You'd better cure all those personal problems that might be holding back something you want to say." -John Cassavetes


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    Shoot 720p on your smartphone, overexpose, drink a lot of coffee.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Ott View Post
    https://www.instagram.com/p/BzwCxYRl...d=7086jwwu5i1r

    Call me crazy but I think it’d be fun to shoot with a VHS type camera. I think it’s pleasantly old like 8mm film.

    How would you go about creating this look? Buying a VHS camera might be sort of expensive because you’d have to buy tapes, a way to digitize, etc. Is the first generation of DV cameras bad enough quality to emulate this look? I can’t even remember anymore.

    2 points of reference with samples


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    There were various degrees of tech involved in analog home video gear. From the 70's up until the early to mid 80's, tubes were used (with various trademarks such as Newvicon, Trinicon, Saticon and the like). These were replaced with CCD's not long after the camcorder form factor replaced the two-piece systems with decks. The tube cameras had a much more distinctive look, where highlights would smear and streak and sometimes burn the tube permanently if you weren't careful. What was common about all of these cameras was relatively bad low light sensitivity and a tendency to desaturate quickly in those scenarios. Also the color balance shifted continously, and sometimes you'd get swaths of different colors in one corner of the frame (often green).

    It's rare to find a truly vintage camcorder or two piece setup with the deck portion in good mechanical condition. What may be worth looking for is a camera that has a composite video out, where the footage can be captured externally via a recorder. Many of the two-piece setups used a proprietary multipin cable that provided camera power and returned video, but some allowed you to break out the video via RCA presumably for simultaneous monitoring onto a TV. I bought several '82 manufacturerd Magnavox cameras with Saticon tubes that had those breakouts off eBay and married them to Datavideo firewire recorders that had a dongle for composite video in. Those recorders died a while back--it's getting trickier to find recorders that can intake an analog composite signal without a converter to SD-SDI (and even then, not that common--the old Atomos Samurai Blade will do it). I used this setup on a few projects, most notably this Key & Peele sketch: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vlxkcewBEe0

    That said, the tape recordings often added their own muck to the image, via skew, dropouts and tracking errors. One trick to emulate older footage is to shoot with a more recent camera like MiniDV, and run the recordings through a couple of generations of VHS recording. For another Key & Peele sketch (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4k-Dd71CqnM&t=22s) we used relatively late model SDX-900 cameras for the opening video sections, which were subsequently run through VHS to add the vintage look. After we cut away to the Alexa "behind the scenes" cameras, the next time the video footage is seen at 1:12 it is camera native without the VHS.
    Charles Papert
    charlespapert.com


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    Senior Member paulears's Avatar
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    I don't think VHS or betamax had 'a look' - at all. They just had a low resolution compared to the difference with SD, which just looked like broadcast on your TV. There was a definable line structure, and the inevitable occasional skew to a few lines near the bottom, and of course occasional dropout. If you pop a gentle blur onto HD footage sparkle up the red content a bit and turn the contrast down a bit - that looks remarkably like 240 line VHS. The blurring of edges kind of does it. Not sure it's a look to emulate though?


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    Quote Originally Posted by Drew Ott View Post
    Call me crazy
    You're crazy I hate that look, hated it all the years that it was all I had to shoot with (well, Super VHS), and I hate that many memories were preserved in such an atrocious format. Many people know that the horizontal resolution was 240 lines (per picture height, so actually a total of 320, people had a weird way of expressing resolution back then). But that was luminance only! The chrominance was only 30 lines! Even Super VHS color was only 30 lines. Only its luminance resolution was 400. I'm so glad to have moved on. I still have some old VHS tapes that I should digitize soon, to preserve them, and I'm not looking forward to it that much.

    However, I will grant you the nostalgia, and you are not alone. The 80s in general have enjoyed a resurgence in pop culture. For me though, it's more like PTSD ;)

    Buying a VHS camera might be sort of expensive because you’d have to buy tapes, a way to digitize, etc.
    It wouldn't be that expensive. You could probably find a camcorder and tapes on eBay for less than $100. Then you just get one of those RCA-to-USB adapters for around $30.

    But it might be easier to shoot with your normal camera and just apply a post-production filter. This one by Red Giant looks good, https://www.redgiant.com/products/universe/vhs, but it looks like at least $30 a month (you can't buy it outright, you have to subscribe). If you do a search for something like "vhs filter", you'll probably find something cheaper or even a tutorial on how to do it for free by some recipe of settings your editor might already have.
    Last edited by combatentropy; 01-04-2020 at 11:17 AM.


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    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy;1986812547This one by Red Giant looks good, [url
    https://www.redgiant.com/products/universe/vhs[/url], but it looks like at least $30 a month (
    Not super impressed with that plug-in. The tape artifacts look pretty good, but I don't really buy the color rendition. And they have not done their research well. They say they profiled the JVC KY-1900 camera "the exact model camera that Marty McFly used to record Doc Brown in “Back to the Future” which is not accurate--that one was the JVC GR-C1, an actual consumer camcorder, whereas the 1900 was a three tube industrial model with a broadcast style lens. I own several of the 1900's and used them on other Key & Peeles (not going to be a bore and list them here). Very different look than the classic VHS camcorder of that time.

    I have many hours of home video footage from early 80's shot on multiple cameras that I begged, borrowed and stole access to--that era is forever burned into my mind with a very specific set of attributes so I'm picky about the emulators!
    Charles Papert
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    Wish I were banned. Drew Ott's Avatar
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    Great info, Charles, thanks so much. It sounds like it’ll be pretty involved to get the setup I’m looking for just to use for fun. The idea of shooting MiniDV and running through VHS might be the easiest option, or the Red Giant could also possibly work. Of course the easier the method I choose, the further I get from the authentic VHS look.
    "You'd better cure all those personal problems that might be holding back something you want to say." -John Cassavetes


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    Also worth mentioning is the VHS Camcorder phone app which does a pretty good job of approximating the look you are going for, for minimal cost.
    Charles Papert
    charlespapert.com


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    Senior Member Cary Knoop's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by combatentropy View Post
    The chrominance was only 30 lines! Even Super VHS color was only 30 lines. Only its luminance resolution was 400. I'm so glad to have moved on. I still have some old VHS tapes that I should digitize soon, to preserve them, and I'm not looking forward to it that much.
    Yes, the bad colors are virtually unrecoverable.


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