Add a VHS Effect to Your Videos | Create a Retro VCR Look in Premiere

by Alex Marriott | March 4, 2022

Applying a VHS effect

Call it aesthetic or nostalgia but the VHS effect has blown up in popularity in the past few years.

Videos recorded in VHS look more high contrast with dull whites. The objects on the video are more blurry with color bleeds and in general, the whole image has a grainy texture, a yellowish greenish tone, and colors appear more muted. You can even sometimes see glitches, vignettes, and a solid constant twitching movement.

Nowadays we’re using digital recorders. We have to recreate the organic feel of tape videos the best we can — and it’s all about the details. Let me show you how to do this vintage style in Premiere Pro. ????

How to Add a VHS Effect to Your Videos

Lumetri Scope

Under the ‘Lumetri’ tab, head on over to basic correction. The goal with the VHS effect is to raise the contrast and dull the whites.

Basic Correction

  • Whites: Lower to 80-90
  • Blacks: Raise to 10

Curves (White)

  • Make a point in the middle of the white line
  • Grab the top corner point and lower it to dull the whites
  • Raise the bottom corner point to brighten the dark tones

Creative

  • Faded film: Raise to 30-32
  • Sharpness: Reduce to -30
  • Vibrance: Reduce to -15
  • Saturation: Reduce to -9

Color Wheels & Match

  • Shadows: Slightly bump up the Magenta ting
  • Highlights: Inch towards the Greens
  • Mid tones: Add a hint of Yellow

Vignette

  • Amount: -2

Distortion Effects

Okay, let’s go back to the editing mode and click on the ‘Effects’ tab. We’re going to look for ‘Channel blur’ and add it to our clip. This effect is going to help us recreate the color bleed on the edges of the objects.

Note: Make sure to drag the Channel Blur panel above the Lumetri layer so it doesn’t modify the vignette.  

  • Channel Blur
      • Red Blurrieness: Raise to 30
      • Check box for ‘Repeat Edge Pixels’
      • Blur Dimensions: Horizontal

    Next, drag a new channel blur effect to the clip right below the first one.

    • Channel Blur
        • Red Blurrieness: Raise to 15
        • Blue Blurriness: Raise to 30
        • Blur Dimensions: Vertical

      The next effects we will add are going to help us regain some of the sharpness while keeping the blurriness. We’re going to use ‘Unsharp Mask’ and ‘Color Emboss’.

      • Unsharp Mask
          • Radius: 20
          • Amount: 80
        • Color Emboss
          • Relief: 2.5

        Back to Effects. Let’s search for ‘Noise’ and grab ‘Noise and Grain’ for our clip.

        • Noise and Grain
          • Amount of Noise: 20

        For the last time on Effects, look for Wave Warp.

        • Wave Warp
          • Wave Type: Smooth Noise
          • Wave Height: 2
          • Waves Width: 1000
          • Directions: Zero degrees
          • Pinning: Horizontal Edges

        Aspect Ratio

        For the final touches, I’m going to add some black bars (a letterbox) to the sides of my footage to make a 4:3 aspect ratio.

        On the project window, click on the paper icon to add a new item. Here, let’s create a color matte and make it black. Create two black mattes and add them to the timeline, on top of our clip. Next, look up ‘Crop’ under the Effects tab and apply it to both black mattes.

        • Black Matte #1
          • Crop (left): 86
          • Edge Feather: 30
        • Black Matte #2
          • Crop (right): 86
          • Edge Feather: 30

        That’s it! If you love this effect; select all of the effects, right click, and ‘Save Preset’. This way, you can just drag and drop this effect to any of your clips in the future and get the VHS effect in seconds.

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