Trying to get that nostalgic ’80s VHS look without using After Effects? Find out how to do it all natively in Premiere Pro!

If you’ve been watching music videos (or any recently popular content, really), you know that the VHS look is very, very in right now. The ’80s and early ’90s have returned at a fever pitch in popularity, and the nostalgic look of old VHS tapes is part of the trend taking over popular culture.

For the most part, when you search how to re-create the VHS look, you will mostly find paid apps and After Effects tutorials to get what you want. But when you are editing footage in Premiere, it can be a pain to hop between the two programs. Thankfully, our friend Charles Yeager over at PremiumBeat has created a tutorial showing you how to get the look directly in Premiere without doing anything extra. Let’s check it out!


Using Lumetri Color

How to Create the Classic VHS Look in Adobe Premiere — Lumetri Color

To prep your original HD footage to look like VHS, you need to start in the Lumetri Color panel. Here, you need to increase the contrast by 55 percent to reduce some of the flat appearance, and then bring down your White parameter to about -50 to give it a “dull” look. Now, hop into the creative tab of Lumetri, and increase the faded film parameter by 30 percent, and adjust your sharpen parameter to -70. This completes the “dull blur” look that you’re going for. To eliminate a bit of the color, reduce your vibrance to -30. You can adjust the tint of the footage if you want to give it that purple “retro-futuristic” look.

How to Create the Classic VHS Look in Adobe Premiere — Adjust Tint

Now it’s time to hop into the curves in Lumetri. You’ll want to pull down the original line at the top right about 20 percent and then clip it with a pin to go horizontal. This clips some of the details in your whites, which is common in VHS footage. Lastly, add a small vignette to your footage to soften the edges of the clip.


Channel Blur Effect

How to Create the Classic VHS Look in Adobe Premiere — Channel Blur

The channel blur effect is one of the more powerful tools behind the VHS look — because it creates that signature “color-fringing” feature. Start off by adding the effect to your clip, and then increase the Red Blurriness parameter by 22 percent. After that, select the Repeat Edge Pixels box, and change your Blur Dimensions to Horizontal.

Now,  add another Channel Blur effect to your footage. Repeat the same process, but now, toggle the Blue Blurriness to +22 percent, select Repeat Edge Pixels, but this time, change the Blur Dimensions to Vertical. This will add a bit of color fringe to your footage that is typical in VHS looks.


Unsharp Mask Effect

How to Create the Classic VHS Look in Adobe Premiere — Unsharp Mask

The Unsharp Mask effect is going to give you that “digitally sharpened” look that makes the footage look dated and old. Set the amount to 100 percent, and then adjust the Radius parameter to 12. This will bring your clip closer to the old-school look you’re going for.


Noise, Grain, and the 4:3 Aspect Ratio

How to Create the Classic VHS Look in Adobe Premiere — Aspect Ratio

To really amp up the “dated” look of your footage, you can add some digital noise to your clip. Yeager actually included a VHS overlay in his article, so be sure to check that out if you don’t want to add your own noise.

If you really want to commit to the VHS look, the 4:3 aspect ratio is the final step. You can adjust the settings of your sequence to make it appear as 4:3, or you can use Yeager’s 4:3 overlay in the download if you want to keep your footage in a HD format.


Looking for more Premiere tips and tricks? Check these out.