VHS Camcorder app makes your video look nice and bad

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Perfect for making a found footage, horror film short set in the 80s?


Wow, this is worse than all those Instagram filters that ruin perfectly good photos.

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I read about this yesterday but didn’t see an example until now. And although I wanted to love it, I’m actually disappointed. The quality isn’t degraded nearly enough! The horizontal bits of noise are much too fine-grained; in reality, they were taller. Also, the frame rate and overall image resolution are far too good. I’ve looked at some actual VHS videotape recently and was completely jaw-on-floor astonished at the utter lack of horizontal resolution. Does anyone remember watching sports in the 1970s, with the score shown in absolutely gigantic letters that covered one third of the screen? That’s what NTSC could do with million-dollar, broadcast-quality equipment.

I saw some evidence of the horizontal tearing/smearing at the bottom of the frame (video engineers certainly have a name for this), but it wasn’t enough.

Also, no loss of vertical sync (with agonizing slow roll until it’s recaptured).

Overall it’s a nice try that makes me a bit nostalgic, but it leaves much room for … additional degradation.


Y’know what would be great fun(for true authenticity) would be the incorporation of actual VHS hardware into the situation.

With a suitably bulky iphone case, you could have a VHS write head, a read head, and a continuous loop of tape (obviously the case would be transparent, so you could see them at work). Assuming the ‘lightning’ port is up to it, you’d send the video out to be written to tape, and then pull the results in from the read head when they passed by a few moments later.

Through the app interface(or just by jarring the phone) the user could inject feed rate glitches, skips, and similar issues as desired.

Since each loop of tape would degrade over time, in its own unique way, no two such systems would produce identical results, nor would a given ‘filter’ persist long enough to really, really, wear out its welcome.


Wait, you contend that Instagram photos are perfectly good before filtering?

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The settings let you go down to 480p resolution and 23.976 fps, which looks reasonably bad. But your other suggestions are great and I hope a future update brings these along with others to the app, why not!

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This is the perfect embodiment of this Brian Eno quote that was recently making the rounds.

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As I recall, the guys from “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!” actually ran some of their footage through a vcr while banging on it to get the tracking errors and glitches they wanted.

(Just looked it up- specifically, they did it on the “Check It Out! with Dr. Steve Brule” spinoff.)

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Yes, for great effect!

@fuzzyfungus’ suggestion may be better suited for that same purpose—‘enhancing’ already shot footage with something less cumbersome yet more customize-able than an actual VCR. I imagine the added lag would be too much for filming with the device in-line.

Does it make your suits look like they have shoulder pads?


I want to know whether the Wiz Khalifa hoverboard arrest used this app

and whether it’s native marketing for the app and the hoverboard.

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I’d be surprised if anyone but a collector would still have an analog camcorder. DV/miniDV doesn’t suffer from the banding distortion at the bottom. So I’d say this is VFX. I mean, like, you’d have to go way out of your way to find something that would record that way that isn’t completely worn-out or broken by now.

I can’t even find a VCR out trolling garage sales. And I kinda need one, for digitizing some tapes. But nobody’s got an old VCR kicking around anymore. Can’t blame them…

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If you have any way of doing so(it’s not a hugely normal request, so a personal contact or the like may help) your local school or library may be worth an inquiry. The combination of institutional procurement processes(which tend to make people averse to being the one who actually makes the decision to throw something away, unless as part of an upgrade or where the lifecycle has been planned in advance) and the fact that a lot of VHS-era material was either never reissued or hasn’t been purchased in a different format makes old gear tend to stick around in closets forever.

There may be some difficulty in letting you have it, even if you offer them generous compensation in something they actually want(rules for the disposal of ‘surplus’ and ‘obsolete’ gear are good in that they help prevent an incentive for corruption and self-dealing by those in a position to declare institutional assets ‘surplus’ or ‘obsolete’ and then fire-sale them to themselves or their confederates; but they tend to be calibrated for stuff that is actually somewhat valuable, which can make getting rid of cheap and/or worthless stuff tricky, even if the offer is more than generous); but they may be able to let you borrow one in the same way that other non-book items are sometimes lent out.

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