Turn Your Smartphone Camera Into a VHS Camcorder for #TBT

For the '80s-obsessed serial killers.

There aren’t many fathomable reasons to filter your crystal-clear smartphone’s camera to look like a messy, tracking-riddled VHS-style camcorder. For ‘90s parties, maybe. Or if you’re making a movie about a serial killer. Or you are a serial killer. But if you ever really wanted to just in general — then here you go, you weirdo.

A new app on the iTunes store makes your iPhone’s camera look like a retro camcorder. Developed by Rarevision, whose company name is extremely era-appropriate, the app is quickly catching on, and because curiosity is inherent to our species, we gave it a whirl.

Here’s what you need to know:

  • iPhone only. Sorry, everyone else.
  • It’s functions a la Instagram, altering nothing to the phone’s camera.
  • It’s a video app, absent of any snapshot function, but you can take screenshots as you normally would (power button + home button).
  • You can have a date stamp in the corner, and you’re able to change the date, going back all the way to year 1 when people were invented.
  • Interesting settings you can tinker with: black and white, widescreen (off by default), video resolution (480p to 1080p), frames per second (23.9, 25, 29.97) and the best, “Tilting Device Makes Things Worse.” Moving your iPhone while shooting warps the image.
  • If you really want to fuck up the image even more, you can drag your finger across the screen while shooting to increase the white noise.
  • The zoom button can be found on the left of the screen. Zooming in and out mimics the “jump” they do in yesteryear’s camcorders.
  • Indie filmmakers are going to make a lot of cheap horror movies with these.

I didn’t shoot video because the offices of Inverse are a euphoric playground only the privileged few may be granted to see in action, but using the aforementioned screenshot method you can see the HUD and exactly how things look through the filter below.

The frame rates, to most people, offer nothing but aesthetic differences, but for filmmakers wishing to insert cheaply-made “home movies” to their narrative films (which I imagine this will be the app’s most productive use), they’re extremely helpful in achieving the appropriate look.

But if you don’t give a damn about that stuff then this is basically one hell of a fun distraction. Instagram #TBT and ‘80s/‘90s party go-ers will go nuts, but I can’t shake off the feeling that this is telling where our priorities lie in our obsession with nostalgia: That it doesn’t matter what we did or how we lived, just how things looked.

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