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Color correcting 1984 VHS footage

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Robby Cuenot
Color correcting 1984 VHS footage
on Sep 20, 2015 at 5:17:19 am

Hello everyone,

It's my first time posting at CC, and I am absolutely a beginner when it comes to video editing. I've done some work in After Effects for school projects and small special effect videos, but never anything relating to video accuracy.

The video I am dealing with is a VHS recording of my parents' wedding from 1984. I have already ripped the video to my computer using a Black Magic Intensity, and am working with the 8-Bit Uncompressed file. The quality is actually much better than I expected for such an old tape, but the colors in the video are very inaccurate. The whole film has a blue/green tint to it, and all of the highlights are a very vibrant green. Some sample images will be shown below, as well as a link to 4 small clips of the video (98MB total - RAR).

My question: Is correcting the color on something like this even possible? I am not looking for perfection, just a way to make the color shift less noticeable. And if it is possible, what would be the best way to do it? I have fiddled with Color Finesse, but can't seem to get anywhere close to a realistic color scheme. Also, there are several different scenes, so I have a feeling that each venue will need fine tuned (church, outside, reception).

If anyone has any answers or suggestions I am all ears :)

Video Samples:


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Chris Wright
Re: Color correcting 1984 VHS footage
on Sep 20, 2015 at 5:10:45 pm

1. AE's shadow/highlight filter will bring up the exposure geometrically
2. color finesse had a grey point eye dropper. that will set the white balance.
3. then use curves to remove the tints. set its transfer mode to color.

there's a few parts you'll have to have custom adjustment layers/keframes. the colors go absolutely bonkers for 1 sec.

you can finish off with neatvideo/DCT blocks, unsharp and a film lut or something. this needs bluray because a mpeg2 couldn't handle the low rez.

i played around with it in AE 2015. I didn't keyframe anything.

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Robby Cuenot
Re: Color correcting 1984 VHS footage
on Sep 21, 2015 at 3:07:57 am

That looks much better! I know I'll have to work with it some more to get the aisle scene just right, but this gives me a great spot to work from. Thank you Chris!

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Jim Arco
Re: Color correcting 1984 VHS footage
on Sep 21, 2015 at 11:53:55 am

We work with a LOT of old VHS video. Chris' suggestions are right on!

In addition to his ideas, there are techniques and probably even third-party filters to reduce the over-sharpened edges. We often use blend modes, such as screen or multiply, to brighten very dark footage, or bring detail back in overexposed footage. You may also want to use Warp Stabilizer to reduce the shaky camera.

The VHS tape format had numerous technical compromises, such as the 'color-under' method of recording the chroma information. Additionally, the inexpensive (relatively) cameras of the era often had simple lenses coupled with a single saticon-tube imager that was prone to lag and blooming. In low-light, they performed poorly and had a lot of image noise.

Colorburst Video

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