The Best VHS Smartphone Apps (Plus Bonus Tips and Resources)
Want that vintage VHS look without actually buying an old camcorder? Here are smartphone apps and editing tricks to help you out.
Vinyl records went away for thirty years, and now they’re everywhere. Audio cassette sales have been on the rise for a couple of years. Are laser discs the next retro-media comeback? Probably not before the inevitable CD revival.
And then there’s VHS. Frankly, we’re here for VHS nostalgia. And that’s why we were all in a couple of years ago when it seemed like the entire Video Production Blog-O-Sphere was releasing “How To Get VHS Looks” content in the form of overlays and video tutorials. We certainly did our part to help you make your new footage look old. More than once, actually. We regret nothing. It’s a cool look.
Regardless, the days of needing an NLE to recreate an antiquated footage format are done. They’re so done that shooting with an actual VHS camera is now the SECOND easiest way to get a VHS look.
Today, all you need is an app and a phone. Welcome to the future. You want to know how we know it’s the future? Because the date is written in little boxy digital numbers in the corner of the glitchy, washed-out screen. Perfection.
Now, let’s check out some of the best VHS apps you can download and use directly on your smartphone, and take a look at a few tips, tricks, and resources for recreating the timeless VHS look in your video projects.
Alright, the first selection on our list of the best smartphone VHS apps is one simply called Camcorder. As you can see in the image above, this is a simple-to-use app that has a fun retro design aesthetic for recording camcorder-esque home videos straight to your iPhone.
With Camcorder, you can actually upload a video from your camera roll, and it’ll automatically add both the filter and the oh-so-vital “date in the corner” effect. This iOS app is currently free to use and ad-free.
Next up, a Google Android app called Vaporgram. Featuring a cool, old-school, computerized interface, Vaporgram identifies as a “vaporwave, VHS, and glitch editor.”
While the app does gear itself more toward photo editing for Instagram, it also includes an easy-to-use VHS video filter, as well as plenty of other glitchy graphics, RGB effects, GIFs, and stickers—all of them just oozing with that fun vaporwave aesthetic.
Vintage Cam 8mm VHS Camcorder (Android)
Vintage Cam 8mm VHS Camcorder might be a mouthful, but it fits the bill as a cross-purpose app that can add several different filters and effects to your videos for that complete retro vibe. So, you get your VHS fix, as well as other video looks like 8mm.
VHS Glitch Camcorder (Android & iOS)
VHS Glitch Camcorder (a.k.a. Rad VHS Camcorder) shines not just for its consistent VHS app filtering, but also for its plentiful bells and whistles. You can add different effects and glitches, and it even includes some basic montage editing features.
While free to try, fully utilizing this app will require a $4.99 monthly subscription.
Rarevision VHS Lite
“Retro 80s cam” Rarevision VHS Lite is one of the most popular VHS apps out there and boasts that it’s been used by the likes of Snoop Dog, Die Antwoord, and SNL. Its format is indeed simple to pick up, and it offers unique modes for different styles and effects.
How to Create Your Own VHS Effects
If you’re looking to create simple VHS effects while on-the-run, then using an in-phone app is going to be your best bet. However, if you really want to explore the VHS aesthetic, and create more beautiful, professional-looking VHS looks and effects, then you might want to move from your smartphone to your laptop or computer.
You’d be surprised how much of the VHS or retro content you see in films or on television is actually just regular digital footage that’s been edited to appear dated and old. While it takes a little bit of editing knowledge, many of these trippy VHS effects can be done quite simply in Adobe Premiere Pro and After Effects.
And, yes, we know we touched on this approach at the top of the article, but, hey—everything old is new again, right?
Regardless of your skill set, check out these helpful tutorials that outline some of the best practices, tips, and tricks for creating cool VHS video effects:
- How to Create the VHS Look in Premiere Pro + Free VHS Effect Presets
- Free Vaporwave and Synthwave Graphics for Your Next Project
- How To Create Realistic Old VHS Footage
- Everything You Need to Create a Rad 80s Logo Reveal in After Effects
- Learn to Create Your Own 8-Bit Art in Adobe After Effects
Cover image via Rarevision VHS Lite.