How to Restore Old Movies on Your Computer (12 Steps)
By Alan Donahue
Over time, home movies captured on VHS tapes lose quality and fade until they bear only a slight resemblance to the original footage. Luckily, digital storage has made home movies last a lifetime, and not only can computers store footage, they are used to restore the footage and make it look nearly as good as the original. Through multiple steps, you can restore an old movie and then share it on a DVD, through an email or on a website like Youtube.com.
Upload the footage to the computer. If the footage is on a VHS tape, an analog video converter is needed that features an RCA input. Plug the RCA cords from the output of the VCR into the input of the computer's capturing device. Capture footage around 10 to 15 minutes at a time to make restoration and editing easier.
Start a new project in Adobe Premiere Pro. Name the project "Restoration" or "Home Movies" to make it easy to remember and access later. Adobe Premiere provides all of the tools, filters and extras needed to really restore and make an old movie look new again.
Import the home movie files by clicking on the project window and selecting "Import . . . ." Find the files that you uploaded to your computer. Highlight multiple files by holding the "CTRL" key and clicking on each title.
Play the video in Adobe Premiere Pro. Take notes for key scenes where problems occur and write down a basic time line of scene breakdowns. For example, you could write "Birthday Party: Cake" for a scene and put notes like "Too Dark," "Audio Noisy" and "Add Music/Titles." Staying organized will make the restoration a lot easier and less time-consuming.
Drag and drop a video clip into the time line. Start with whatever clip you choose, because the order can always be changed later.
Click on the "Effects" window. Type in "Brightness and Contrast" in the search box. Click and drag the "Brightness and Contrast" filter onto the video in the time line. Click on the "Effect Controls" tab next to the preview window.
Click on the arrows to expand the brightness and contrast controls. To make a clip more vivid, bring the contrast up a little and the brightness down a little. If a clip is too dark, bring up both the contrast and the brightness. If it is too bright, bring the brightness down and play with the contrast until the picture looks good.
Use the "Color Correction" filter to fix faded color in videos. Often an older movie will look too yellow, too blue or too red, and this color is automatically adjusted by applying this filter. After the filter is applied, you can change the brightness and contrast again to make the picture appear even clearer.
Fix noisy audio by applying the "Denoiser" filter to audio on clips. The Denoiser helps eliminate most noises, but some distortion can occur if applied too heavily to clips. Expand the Denoiser in the "Effects Tab"" window. Bring down the noise meter to around 5 dB. Test the audio to hear how it sounds, and play with the slider until it sounds clean.
Add titles to video clips by going to "File," "New" and "Title." Use the text tools to create different titles for the home movies. Scroll through the bottom of the text window to choose pre-programmed fonts and styles.
Repeat this process with each clip, and order them on the time line. Press "Enter" to render the effects and see a preview of the finished video.
Export the final home movie by clicking on "File," "Export" and "Adobe Media Encoder." Choose a file format like AVI or MPEG and press "OK" to start the export process. Wait until the movie finishes, and then test it again in a separate media player to make sure it works. Compare it with the original file to see the differences and improvements.
Alan Donahue started writing professionally in 2003. He has been published in the Norwich Free Academy "Red & White," UNLV's "Rebel Yell" and on various websites. He is an expert on wrestling, movies and television. He placed second in the NFO Screenwriting Contest and received filmmaking awards from Manchester Community College and Norwich Free Academy. He currently attends Academy of Art University.