Cookies   I display ads to cover the expenses. See the privacy policy for more information. You can keep or reject the ads.

Video thumbnail
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."