VHS Generation loss

James / May 26th, 2010

Have you ever wondered how many times a VHS tape can be copied before the quality gets so bad, you can’t even tell what it is anymore? I actually tried this experiment backΒ in 2002 when I had a little too much extra time on my hands. Using two VHS tapes, I copied the footage back and forth until it deteriorated beyond being watchable. If you’re bored enough, check it out.


  • dennis

    May 26, 2010 at 1:04 pm

    Haha great experiment james! I always wondered this too πŸ˜‰

    keep it up!

    ps: what about BETA ? :-p

  • gonzoneil

    May 26, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    I worked for a printshop so I once did the same experiment with photocopies. it turns out you get even less generations out of photocopies, depending on the machine. and that’s with using new paper every time, you reused the tapes and probably stretched the hell out of them.

    also, the clip you used just gets funnier the more times its viewed in succession. great foresight on that one!

  • Nintendo_Master

    May 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Haha awesome! I wonder what Beta would be like if you did the same thing XD Hey from the UK by the way πŸ˜€

  • Blackanier

    May 26, 2010 at 1:12 pm

    Lol, such a stupid experiment.
    I LOVE IT !!! πŸ˜€

  • encey

    May 26, 2010 at 1:17 pm

    Cool — how many copies did it take?

  • asshole13

    May 26, 2010 at 1:32 pm

    You should hold a contest to see if anyone can guess/count how many times the VHS was recorded. I tried to but failed because i was laughing so hard.

  • Jigglysaint

    May 26, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Congratulations James, you just admitted to making the very first youtube poop that pre-dates youtube.

    That was actually pretty interesting. I knew about generation loss, but aside from audio copies I might have made, I haven’t seen the full effect. I guess as each copy is made, less and less is transfered over to the new copy.

    It is also a perfect metaphor for imbreeding(and explains so many people).

  • clammy

    May 26, 2010 at 1:55 pm

    After about 1 minute it starts to resemble some of the mucky movies i saw as a teenager which had been copied quite a lot.

  • May 26, 2010 at 1:59 pm

    How interesting that the sound of the punch remains almost clear until the end. I remember how we used old VHS tapes for recording again and again. Damn I miss these times.

  • Ed Sigma

    May 26, 2010 at 2:14 pm

    Whoah, the colours!!!!

  • May 26, 2010 at 3:01 pm

    Reminded me of “Decasia”, a film that consists of decaying film material from older films. It’s somewhere between boring and fascinating.


    There are some excerpts on youtube.. awesome soundtrack as well, really creepy.

  • Skimaskkass

    May 26, 2010 at 3:02 pm

    Fucking amazing James, I loved it!

  • TimAH

    May 26, 2010 at 3:17 pm

    The end reminds me of being 13 and trying to watch the playboy and similar channels on cable by flipping back and forth. You’d catch a glimpse, then it’d be complete fuzz, then flip back to catch another glimpse. Kids these days have it so easy.

  • Quincy

    May 26, 2010 at 3:18 pm

    Nice , just made an account to tell that you’re awesome James.
    Greetings from the Netherlands.

  • HurricaneSeb

    May 26, 2010 at 3:21 pm

    Lol. I think this is my first comment on the site, but, I’m a long time watcher.

  • May 26, 2010 at 3:24 pm

    Im surprised it lasted that long, I was expecting maybe 10 times but im pretty sure it was atleast 20.

  • M3n747

    May 26, 2010 at 3:35 pm

    Wow… Now imagine you’re watching this really drunk or on drugs. πŸ˜€

  • May 26, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    uuuuuuhh im gonna punch you now LOL awesome experiment

  • godguitarist1

    May 26, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    I would watch it if Bliptv worked :@ unless you put it on youtube but that doesnt help the problem that i cant watch any spoony or angryjoe πŸ™ oh well i’m guessing it’s an awesome video anyway πŸ˜€

  • May 26, 2010 at 4:23 pm

    I counted 61 copies. Holy crap!

  • May 26, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    Board James indeed! πŸ™‚

  • MikeBridges88

    May 26, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Could you start a new segment called experimental James? Kind of a Have you Ever Wondered What Happens When….

  • MikeBridges88

    May 26, 2010 at 4:33 pm

    Man this vid needs some fucked up IDM on it

  • operacat

    May 26, 2010 at 4:57 pm

    Dude- I found this to be VERY scary! Something creepy about an old video tape…I expected a damn screamer!

    Great job! Thanks for sharing an awesome older project!

  • May 26, 2010 at 5:16 pm

    Oddly enough, I thought the audio quality was getting better and better for a while

  • Cory Power

    May 26, 2010 at 5:21 pm

    Well that was…annoying.

  • May 26, 2010 at 5:24 pm

    I tried that same thing once.I have a huge collection of bootlegs in my closet from glam rock to black metal .I used to buy sell and trade online for years back till about 2003.Some day ill transfer them all to dvd little by little. Might take a few years to do that,lol.

  • Purdy

    May 26, 2010 at 5:25 pm

    that shit was trippy..
    seemed like some sort of psychological brainwashing video

  • syntheticsw

    May 26, 2010 at 5:28 pm

    Nice experiment. It would be even better, if you displayed the actual
    Nr. of copies

  • RoDriGoD

    May 26, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    My count reached 65 copies. I’m I right?

    Good experiment. I’ve had that in my mind for many years. Some of my old VHS tapes had/have poor quality and now I know more or less which number of copy was my copy πŸ™‚ Thanks James!

  • kevenz

    May 26, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    haha quite funny I guess…. acid trip at it’s best.

  • cloob1

    May 26, 2010 at 6:33 pm

    Must… go… punch… my… wife… hard… too…

  • May 26, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    Punch you now….Punch you now….puhhhhh rooorr, haha my god that sounded demonic at times, Awesome james πŸ™‚

  • McButton

    May 26, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Oddly enough, I recorded this video to my old VHS player, and when I dubbed it back and watched it, I got a call saying I’d be dead in 7 days. What the hell does that mean?

  • May 26, 2010 at 6:46 pm

    I think my speakers started going haywire the minute so many copies were shown! Then again my speakers have always go haywire whenever I started watching a Blip video!

  • Miles Tormani

    May 26, 2010 at 7:06 pm

    You picked the perfect video clip for this experiment. Funny as hell, even when it’s nearly unwatchable.

    Also, I agree on the punch sound coming in so clearly every time being awesome.

  • IDaCashman

    May 26, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Man that was funny.

    Punch you hard to now!

  • J.J. McSandfarm

    May 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    This reminds me of watching the local religious channel. I guess I understand why it looks like that now. lol

    And just like the religious channel, this actually has a lot of potential for being frightening. I think an eleventh generation VHS clip could be used effectively to create some kind of post-apocalypse news program. You could have an anchor talking about the end of the world and it’s all crappy quality, and then he throws it to the reporter in the field and zombies or some virus or WHATEVER is killing people and the audio and video is all messed up. I think that would be terrifying.

  • Johnny Deformed

    May 26, 2010 at 7:29 pm

    I was so used to seeing the same clip over and over that my mind started making out the actual image. In short, even though the quality got worse, It didn’t for me.

  • Karate Kid Icarus

    May 26, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    You can tell the head on the vcr was heating up just like the tape because of the constant abuse without a rest, and very slowly stretching the tape out on the constant recording. Good little project though. It sort of puts into perspective what a hot vcr head can eventually do to a tape constantly.

  • May 26, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    Hahahah, reminds me of Steve Reich’s “Come Out”, but on VHS. You’re avant-garde, man!

  • May 26, 2010 at 7:54 pm

    the audio seems to get better at first.

  • AiRhEaD

    May 26, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    How many times can you watch a VHS tape before it becomes unwatchable?

  • Taiga

    May 26, 2010 at 8:35 pm

    so thats what happened to some of my tapes in the past when i did things like that rofl

  • BlueGemini

    May 26, 2010 at 8:38 pm

    I guess its really natural that any copied video that’s copied again and again and again slowly decreases the quality…

    While watching the videos getting crapier and crapier, I starting to get creep out by the audio (><)

  • ponyboy556

    May 26, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    and thats why i use disk based media…

  • ZankonProuductions

    May 26, 2010 at 9:10 pm

    I wanna do that effect for my memory sequence in my insane movie it gets more deteriorated each time u try to remember

  • WillWill

    May 26, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    FUCK! …

    So annoying… I can’t believe I just watched that.

  • TheDers

    May 26, 2010 at 10:16 pm

    Well a counter would have been nice.

  • kdwerne

    May 26, 2010 at 10:30 pm

    Seems like they used this same trick to scramble the Playboy channel back in the 90s

  • rashktah

    May 26, 2010 at 10:53 pm

    Somehow I find this disturbingly more scary the longer I watch it. Freaks me out in a weird way. ^.^

  • Vidaluko

    May 26, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Is the same for CDs and DVDs, those that you burn in your home, in a few years, they are not gonn work, even games and movies that you buy in a store, those have a longer life span, but they are gonna stop working in some years, even sealed games

  • horth

    May 26, 2010 at 11:07 pm

    I’m going to have nightmares for weeks

  • JayRam

    May 26, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    Guess this means we’re all gonna die in 7 days, right?
    “Before you die you see……some guy knock this shit outta an innocent bystander”


  • ObSoLeTe

    May 26, 2010 at 11:47 pm

    lol its a question that has plagued man since the dawn of time…….. well since the dawn on VHS anyway

  • Bak

    May 27, 2010 at 12:08 am

    And to make the music for soap opera in the 80’s

    i miss those blur porn movies πŸ™ lol

  • Laurent LaSalle

    May 27, 2010 at 12:20 am

    SO… How many times?

  • christburner

    May 27, 2010 at 12:23 am

    looks neat with a crescendo sound track (explosions in the sky). the music gets bigger and bigger and the quality gets shittier and shittier πŸ™‚ i like

  • May 27, 2010 at 12:43 am

    …so basically it just slowly turns into Suicide Mouse?

  • murphy2112

    May 27, 2010 at 1:45 am

    My friend’s dad has some old Judas Priest concert footage on VHS about the same quality as the middle of this video.

    Sweet experiment, James. Something I’ve always wondered too.

  • May 27, 2010 at 1:53 am

    I used to tape star trek episodes and was able to fit 11 episodes on an 8 hour tape. After a lot of viewings the picture was crap.

  • nerdy nerd

    May 27, 2010 at 2:17 am


  • May 27, 2010 at 2:28 am

    So how many times did you copy the tapes?

    By the way, just as Vidaluko says, CDs and DVDs will stop working after some years. My dad bought some Bob Marley and Accept CDs back in the 80’s and we had to buy a completely new CD player in order to play them. They wouldn’t work in the car, computer, DVD player, nowhere!

  • Grotesk

    May 27, 2010 at 2:47 am

    actually they did tests on dvds they would work longer than our lifetimes buried in our backyards as long as no one scratches them.

  • Darth House

    May 27, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Somehow this starts to remind one of a weird trip..

  • Darth House

    May 27, 2010 at 3:22 am

    I also wonder if they did this to make the Dharma initiative videos look old.. lol.. I always thought it was a nice VHS effect, and wondered if it was actually them deteriorating it on a VHS or if there’s some effect they applied.. if so it worked well.

  • May 27, 2010 at 3:28 am

    Funny, the same thing happens to me after I watch Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory too many times…but that’s only if I take my special vitamin.

  • May 27, 2010 at 3:35 am

    Here’s a thought:

    What if you re-edited the Mr. Bucket review, but every so often you placed segment from this into it?

    It wouldn’t make a lick of sense, but DAMN would it be creepy!!!

  • Doctor Cheesius

    May 27, 2010 at 4:24 am

    That’s pretty entertaining. I wonder how long before someone does some techno remix of “Punch you now… SMACK… punch you hard, too…” over and over using this footage, because it kind of started sounding like that after awhile.

  • bbhaver

    May 27, 2010 at 5:58 am

    Am I going to die in seven days?

  • May 27, 2010 at 8:14 am

    Woooah … That was psychadelic. I’m in a trance!

    Come to think of, what a shitty format VHS is anyway.

  • ccampb22

    May 27, 2010 at 8:19 am

    Even though this is an experiment, this is a great example of contemporary video art. The repetition and gradual distortion of video would be something I find at a contemporary art exhibit.

  • bergAgreb

    May 27, 2010 at 8:20 am

    I like the part where the quality gets worse

  • May 27, 2010 at 10:42 am

    I counted 62 until crash, and it’s all black.
    I think I was at 46 when it was impossible to watch it correctly, and see everything and sound is off-synch/out too much.

  • KoeseMan

    May 27, 2010 at 11:27 am

    At around 1:15 – 1:20 I was thinking REEEEEEMIIIIXXX

  • moonwhaler

    May 27, 2010 at 12:28 pm

    Funny thing. We’re currently in the process of making new things old… like copying (old horror movies, and b-c productions) from DVD to VHS – just for the sake of old times and some bottles of delicious beer. πŸ˜‰

  • Caspis-Sinclair

    May 27, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I have an OLD copy of E.T. that was recorded from TV. I’m surprised that it still even plays.

    The interesting thing is that the degradation of the tape makes it now look like the movie was filmed with an old, poor quality camcorder.

    It kind of makes the movie look/sound creepy…

  • Mr_Nabby

    May 27, 2010 at 12:36 pm

    I have wondered what would happen if I copied the same clip over and over, thanks for showing the result!

  • The_HangMen

    May 27, 2010 at 1:39 pm

    I kept thinking some dead chick would show up

  • May 27, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    For some reason, the ending part where everything degenerates into a chaotic mess reminds me greatly of the ending of the Giygas fight at the end of Earthbound.

  • Rico

    May 27, 2010 at 3:18 pm


    I was just playing some good old Silent Hill 2 and now after this video I’m seriously crept out! >.<

  • Sickboxx

    May 27, 2010 at 3:58 pm

    With an erotic scene, this would be more fun

  • jeffreyrolek

    May 27, 2010 at 4:14 pm

    This would make a great ringtone!!!!!!!

  • Jime

    May 27, 2010 at 5:52 pm

    I especially like the audio degeneration, and it could come in useful. It reminds me of the recording Madeline Stowe makes in 12 Monkeys–the one that gets all fucked up in the future.

  • bugsycline

    May 27, 2010 at 6:27 pm

    Only james would have the balls to do this test.
    or is it just the lack of brain cells?

    Either way I’ve been a fan for years and Just now signed up to leave a comment.

    Great Work,

    You have the only youtube channel that I like more than mine.

  • speccyboy

    May 27, 2010 at 6:36 pm

    I counted how many times the footage was copied: 64 times.

    By the 5th time, the tape was starting to show “ghosting” effects (outlines of people in a creepy afterglow). By the 20th or so time, it had lost virtually all colour, and by the 40th or so time, it was borderline unwatchable, and this is coming from a writer, not a filmmaker. πŸ™‚

    My first comment πŸ™‚

  • May 27, 2010 at 7:22 pm

    seven days?

  • May 27, 2010 at 8:12 pm

    So does this mean in theory you can only copy a VHS 4 times without any noticable defects? Just interesting to know

  • twinbee

    May 27, 2010 at 10:02 pm

    So did you copy over the same “piece of tape” each time by rewinding and writing to the tape at the same point, or did you allow the tapes to roll forward each time after your original copy? I think writing over the same part of the tapes over and over again would be much, much worse.

  • Amber S.w.D

    May 27, 2010 at 10:34 pm

    Wow James this reminds me of 4 things.

    1. the vhs copy block on disney vhs tapes.
    2. that is 13th and spruce in philly by my college dorms.
    3. peter rose’s experimental film.
    4. one project i did where i import and write to tape, import repeat to degrade audio

  • BouncekDeLemos

    May 27, 2010 at 11:38 pm

    That’s actually pretty interesting! What speed did you record this in? SP, SLP… LP? Can the recording speed effect the picture’s loss?

  • Mattematask

    May 27, 2010 at 11:42 pm

    Near the ending it somehow started to remind me off the “Suicide Mouse – Unseen Freaky Footage” on youtube, really creepy…

  • May 28, 2010 at 12:15 am

    I’m gonna die in seven days, aren’t I?

  • May 28, 2010 at 12:21 am

    I think I just had like three seizures.

  • May 28, 2010 at 2:20 am


  • Chad

    May 28, 2010 at 3:38 am

    Halfway through it reminded me of the dream sequence in John Carpenter’s “Prince of Darkness”, very underrated movie!

    And yes, we’re all dead in seven days (well, only me- I just saw it tonight, some of you have only five days left… Enjoy them while you can!)

  • TTEchidna

    May 28, 2010 at 4:45 am

    I did this once with a png file that I kept saving and resaving as a jpg.

  • likalaruku

    May 28, 2010 at 5:23 am

    How many punches doe it take to get to the center of a video pop? The world may never know.

  • Skab

    May 28, 2010 at 8:35 am

    I watched Silence of the Lambs on one of those tapes we used and re-used for recording TV films. The visual artefacts and dodgy sound actually made the experience that much more creepy!

  • Barry the Nomad

    May 28, 2010 at 8:43 am

    HA! I JUST walked past that street this morning! Nobody punched me, thankfully.

    Cool experiment, I always wondered what this would look like.

  • May 28, 2010 at 8:53 am

    Wow! This gets very bad in the end. The video is hilarious. Especially when it repeats the punch over and over. ( :

  • Warbuff6644

    May 28, 2010 at 9:39 am

    So back in the day with the scrambled porn channels, I guess it wasn’t the bad reception. Just a bunch of movies that had been bootlegged beyond recognition.

    I think I want that punch as an animated .gif

  • danny_hengel

    May 28, 2010 at 9:40 am

    This seriously makes me feel like I’m on acid. the subtle loss of clarity and how it loops towards the end….. ah mah gawd. but yeah- I remember having to record on VHS to watch skateboarding vids my friends had… we had issues like this. or like just a little section would be mucked up. I like this . I think James should throw stuff up that he experimented with while on his journey to current movie stardom.

  • May 28, 2010 at 9:47 am

    The site’s new look looks like sheeeeit.

  • May 28, 2010 at 10:27 am

    great work
    I did something like this at college, with a camera pointed at a TV screen.
    But you’ve got to love that bootleg look.
    I am sitting in a room.

  • RetroRepair

    May 28, 2010 at 11:29 am

    Shouldn have used Scotch..

    “Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away. Re-record, not fade away.” etc..

  • b_w_johan

    May 28, 2010 at 12:04 pm

    So … how many times was it ? or was it actually up to us to count/guess ?

    Even though Israel Da Mota Mendes says it kinda rude, i have to agree, the old skin for this website was better, or is it just my browser again πŸ˜‰

    Anyway’s it was a fun clip and it showed very nicely how i remembered the copy’s i’ve seen way before the DVD era πŸ˜‰

  • Azdrerios Entertainment

    May 28, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Heh, gotta love how in the end the video looks like just another day at Silent Hill.


    May 28, 2010 at 4:05 pm

    Really interesting video. The quality goes a lot faster than I thought and the way it skips and repeats frames eventually is pretty bad.

    Can I suggest putting an epilepsy warning on this video, though? I’m not epileptic, but like danny_hegel said, it feels like you’re on acid and it flashes a lot especially on full screen.

  • MisterE

    May 28, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    I might be stating the obvious, but those artifacts that start appearing later on are probably caused directly by the VCRs used themselves, rather than degradation of image by re-dubbing. So you’d probably get very different results depending on VCRs used. I mean, I would just expect the image to get less and less defined, rather than having all those different blocky shapes and colors come from nowhere. Probably something to do with processing of the image by the machine.

  • johnuk

    May 28, 2010 at 4:43 pm

    Mike Oldfield did this when he was recording the theme tune for the Exorcist. He didn’t have a multitrack, so he kept rewinding the tape and recording again to add another instrument. Eventually, he wore all the oxide off the tape and had to start again.

    Looks like the colours are all going out of synch and the noise is pretty predictable given the type of electronics inside. It reminds me 100% of an 80’s porno from a home camera that guys have been swapping on VHS for decades.

    And YAY! I finally have an account, after years of watching James’ videos over and over and over and over…..

  • May 28, 2010 at 5:01 pm


  • Night_Hawk

    May 28, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    Very interesting to see

  • SplashWoman

    May 28, 2010 at 7:55 pm

    MisterE, it actually appears as though James was using good tapes and quality VCRs for this exercise. This isn’t the only video that’s attempted to explore VHS generation loss, and others have shown horrible degradation within ten generations. An example can be found here: http://www.poetv.com/video.php?vid=74498&big=2x

    By the way, if anyone cares, I counted at least 62 generations that were exhibited in this video.

  • Redd the Sock

    May 28, 2010 at 10:19 pm

    Reminds me of the old anime fansub tape trading days. I’ve seen a few tapes about that bad.

  • Tofuninja5489

    May 28, 2010 at 11:02 pm

    So is it getting worse due to the kind of copying effect like how if you copy a paper in a copier it gets more and more loss of detail or is it because the video itself is breaking down due to the numerous copying sessions?

  • punisher83

    May 28, 2010 at 11:35 pm

    ahhhhaaahhh, I have a splitting headache now. I had a few VHS tapes that had been recorded over so many times that the “auto-tracking” just gave up on them.

  • frostare

    May 29, 2010 at 12:33 am

    ItΒ΄s 02:32 A.M. …

    And I found this funny!!

  • May 29, 2010 at 3:19 am

    Wow how many times did you copy it for it to get that bad?!

  • Kassandravie

    May 29, 2010 at 10:58 am

    I couldn’t stop laughing at this video xDDDD

  • MarceloLuis

    May 29, 2010 at 4:12 pm

    Oh fuck man!
    I didnt noticed that.
    Remember my first Batman Returns BETA copy.
    My father copied it so many times, until it cant be played.
    Really fuck!

  • Pruxa

    May 29, 2010 at 4:13 pm

    My god…at the end it sounds just like chestburster from the Alien series…

  • TemporarilyIdle

    May 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    Thankyou for doing nerdy awesome shit like this. I’ve always wondered this very same question, and now I have my answer =D.

  • chris9086

    May 29, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    The video won’t load for me….

  • TGRI

    May 29, 2010 at 6:23 pm

    I’ve always been too lazy to try this. It’s art, man! Thanks for uploading it!

  • May 29, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I once did an experiment like that with a musical clip from a “Saved by the Bell” episode. I forget the song’s name, but Zack’s singing group, The Five Aces, sang it at Bayside’s sock hop. I did the same thing that James did, copying back and forth onto two VHS tapes. The thing is, for me, the sound remained fine, but the video simply grew white. Not flickering or messed up. Just white, like it was getting bleached over time.

  • J-Smash

    May 30, 2010 at 12:59 am

    VHS was and always will be better than DVD!

  • May 30, 2010 at 4:32 am

    I’ve done that before lol but not to test it I just would record over the same tape every week till it got screwed

  • AquaticSolstice

    May 30, 2010 at 9:24 am

    After watching this, I’m sure VHS has satanic qualities. I went into a psychotic trance just a minute ago. If I didn’t pause it I’m sure I would have brutally punched everyone to death in my own home.

  • Andrew Johnson

    May 30, 2010 at 11:01 am

    i counted about 70 copies

  • Mr. Dogma

    May 30, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    Wow, I think I saw the well from The Ring(u) at the end of that.

  • bloodlockscc

    May 30, 2010 at 2:22 pm

    One of my Production classes talked about this awhile back. It was interesting to see the results you produced. Some of my old Doctor Who VHS are on the brink as we speak.

  • mystrdat

    May 30, 2010 at 6:04 pm

    An interesting thing to see, thanks for putting it up.

  • Joe

    May 30, 2010 at 6:22 pm

    WHATS the Answer???? i Couldn’t count how many times you recorded it

  • May 30, 2010 at 8:52 pm

    Sorry i write here.
    I have an old NES, don’t have anything for it, no controllers no videocable and no game.
    When i plug the AC adaptor, the power LED is blinking. Is that normal?

    Thank you.

  • Lanceorr

    May 31, 2010 at 12:30 am


  • pylum

    May 31, 2010 at 5:08 am

    That’s amazing! Deffinetely a work of art.

  • Clifton

    May 31, 2010 at 5:10 am

    I’m on mushrooms right now and that was fucking intense

  • mr34vspec

    May 31, 2010 at 5:16 am

    Holy shit, this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop watching this for a half hour.

    It just gets better as the tape degenerates and the duration of the clip gets shorter. The footage and the line is brilliant, perfect delivery. I nearly pissed myself. Thanks for the laughs, James.

  • BlackEyeVision

    May 31, 2010 at 6:44 am

    Yeahhh awesome! I always wanted to know that!
    and I’m not kidding ^^
    European VHS tapes last longer because of the lower framerate being 25fps…. the American framerate SUCKS! it’s like…. 29,97 fps? …

    mr34vspec May 31, 2010 at 5:16 am Commented:
    Holy shit, this is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I couldn’t stop watching this for a half hour.

    It just gets better as the tape degenerates and the duration of the clip gets shorter. The footage and the line is brilliant, perfect delivery. I nearly pissed myself. Thanks for the laughs, James.

    @mr34vspec I don’t think it got shorter he just edited it like this so you don’t need to watch the hole thing over and over again.

  • rubanek

    May 31, 2010 at 3:08 pm

    Great experiment; however, you didn’t post your results. I’m curious as to how many iterations it took to get so bad, what type of vhs tapes did you use, etc…

  • Callum

    May 31, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    I saw this test being done on a science programme on the BBC about 8 years ago. Dr Robert Winstone used the tape copying as an analogy for the human cells and why our bodies deteriorate as we age.

  • May 31, 2010 at 11:39 pm

    That reminded me of the end of earthbound

  • BigJgolf

    June 1, 2010 at 12:34 am


    if the power button is pressed in than yes that’s what it’s supposed to do

  • ShadowsofYesterday

    June 1, 2010 at 5:08 am

    You had a lot of time on your hands.

    Weird thing though, is that I used to copy over all my VHS tapes every week recording new episodes of my favorite shows, and they never degraded like this. However, all my old tapes from the 80s that had only ever been copied over once gradually got worse and worse over the years, until they had that rainbowy look and the audio was so heavily distorted as to be barely comprehensible. Every year when we would break out the old Christmas specials and try to watch them, they just got worse and worse.

    Also, a funny thing is that during the Grinch who Stole Christmas, Hulk Hogan randomly cut in ripping his shirt open and screaming.

  • June 1, 2010 at 11:47 am

    100 thanks!

  • Jourei

    June 1, 2010 at 12:11 pm

    So, if you accidentally record something embarrassing, simply copy it a couple of times and done. πŸ˜€

  • Stylix

    June 1, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    I did something like this once with lossy compression image file formats. I also did one of resizing an image down 25% and back up 25% over and over again to see how badly that would effect it.

    We all know the eventual outcome will be something undefinable but its always interesting to watch the transition. Sometimes it helps give you an idea of just how our machines store info rather it be something digital or analog.

  • June 2, 2010 at 12:55 am

    Woooow, even after 3 or 4 times there’s a definite quality drop.
    No wonder DVDs were invented.

  • Epiphanie

    June 2, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Did someone count? How many times was it xD?

  • AssaultShaker

    June 2, 2010 at 3:12 pm

    Wow…VHS really sucked. (if you were copying stuff, at least)

    Someone needs to count lol.

  • dannydesktop

    June 2, 2010 at 6:32 pm

    you know whats bullshit? no new AVGN, it’s been over a month! my clicking refresh finger is tired πŸ™

  • ninjaker

    June 2, 2010 at 7:08 pm

    @dannydesktop action 52 was the video for may it was just up early by a communication error

  • dannydesktop

    June 2, 2010 at 7:27 pm

    @ninjaker he still took off almost 2 months to put it out instead of 1 like he said πŸ™ , this new schedule bites i enjoyed when there were more avgn vids but i am still a fan tho but at least keep it consistent!

    i wonder what the new projects are that is taking up all his time, Plan 9?

  • TehChipz

    June 2, 2010 at 7:41 pm

    That’s understandable that it would deteriorate that badly between 2 tapes but that doesn’t show how much it would deteriorate after being copied onto a blank tape as if you were giving it to a friend or just making a spare copy. That shows that you shouldn’t use the same tapes for a lot of recordings.

  • RedRing

    June 2, 2010 at 8:46 pm

    You probably should have just asked Mr. Owl.

  • TheJuicedOrange

    June 2, 2010 at 9:13 pm

    66 times πŸ˜€

  • Firestorm_Films

    June 2, 2010 at 9:43 pm

    The VHS quality gets pretty crazy after a few copies. I wonder if there is a way to get the same look using filters in Final Cut or Adobe Premiere. Then again, using an editing program might take away some of the fun.

    Cool video.

  • conundrumbombs

    June 2, 2010 at 9:51 pm

    The way in which James posts this video is on par with all of the shitty games he reviews.

    “Have you ever wondered how many times a VHS tape can be copied before the quality gets so bad, you can’t even tell what it is anymore? WELL, FUCK YOU! WE’RE NOT GOING TO TELL YOU!”

    I watched the video for the sole purpose of obtaining the answer. Epic fail.

  • June 3, 2010 at 12:44 am


  • TRexAvenger

    June 3, 2010 at 3:23 am

    I loved watching this.. You probably cheated by putting the tapes on SP rather than EP. Also, once I heard that you used two tapes I thought of the notion that when you’re recording over something already recorded, you get a low quality re-recording don’t you?

  • June 4, 2010 at 8:18 pm

    reminds me of porno film’s I used to get in high school I must have been at least 8 th guy on the chain LOL

  • June 4, 2010 at 8:26 pm

    funny your all saying that VHS suck’s go watch bbc.co.uk/click watch last weeks show (31/05/2010 first aired) then you’ll get Idea of how much DVD’s suck, some of DVD’s only lasted a year in there test ‘s so if you got wedding pic’s or pic’s of your kid’s FOR GOD’S SAKE DON’T BACK UP ON DVD IT WON’T LAST

  • xdeathknightx

    June 5, 2010 at 6:11 am

    The first few times it made me miss vhs, and old 80ies movies. The odd false note in the music is just classic really. You just don’t get that on dvd

  • Sinz86IROCblk

    June 5, 2010 at 9:07 am

    Thanks James I nearly had a seizure and everything is flashing pink and green before my eyes. Nah but it actually is interesting to see the gradual drop in quality.

  • jessejace

    June 6, 2010 at 10:13 am

    At the end it’s a little creepy. Did you ever see Event Horizon?

  • Big-Money_Big-Prizes

    June 6, 2010 at 1:58 pm

    Classic! Pure Gold, as always.

    I so totally miss VHS, this was a major throw back.

  • nc65

    June 6, 2010 at 3:22 pm

    punch ya hard too

  • Hagbardr

    June 6, 2010 at 8:44 pm

    At then end of this video, this weird girl crawled out of my computer monitor.

  • beekeeper

    June 6, 2010 at 9:05 pm

    i think i was sucked into hell near the end.

  • June 7, 2010 at 7:22 pm


    VHS was so reliable πŸ˜€

  • June 8, 2010 at 5:22 am

    I love good old VHS. I don’t know about copying tapes. But we watched a porn tape a friend stole from his dad that we ended up with so many times that is unwatchable.

    When I found it back years later I decided to just snap it in half. πŸ˜€

  • xenxander

    June 8, 2010 at 4:39 pm

    Hey the log-in has changed. used to be you logged in and had to open another instance (tab) of cinemassacre because it would log you into a forum page that didn’t link directly back here.

    But now it does this flawlessly. Whatever has changed, James, I’m thanking you for it ^_^

    Now on to my normally scheduled comment:

    The most I ever re-recorded over a tape was 6. I had a shortage of tapes back in the early 90’s when I did most of my direct-from-HBO (or any other movie channel) records.

    Not quite as talented as you, James, but I did have it down to a science about how long it would take before recording, and so I would do test record runs to see if it would work, for about the first 10seconds of each tape. So all of my boot-legged recorded movies have the first 10 – 30 seconds really garbled…

    But I never did it this many times. I think I counted over 30 instances in this little clip.
    Although I will admit that over the years, our Betamax tapes looked a bit like instance 10 – 15 of your re-records, due primarily to their age. I know if you properly care for and preserve, tape can last a long time, but it just doesn’t last quite as long as CD tracks (and yes even those have an effective lifetime).

    Thanks for sharing, James.

  • jresowski

    June 9, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    This may be of interest to you

    What happens to a youtube video after re-uploading it 1000 times?


    Keep up the great work. This website has been one of the highlights of the internet.

  • June 9, 2010 at 5:02 pm

    I bet this video was murder to compress near the end. I’d love to see the kbps graphed from beginning to end if it were encoded VBR.

  • Vyncent

    June 10, 2010 at 10:22 am

    Man. That guy’s jaw must have hurt after being punched so many times

  • Squall85

    June 10, 2010 at 2:09 pm

    That’s some terrible experiment, like a real nightmare. Or like a Nine Inch Nails music video from the old times. What’s this footage about? How’s hitting who? How many times you copied it back and forth?

  • Strazdas

    June 13, 2010 at 4:26 pm

    thats 62 times. ohh, but the qulity really drops at 5th time already, and i got VHSes that stood 10 times and no hug quality loss yet.

  • June 13, 2010 at 4:48 pm

    Whenever I hear VHS’ed music (like the way it wavers after 30 seconds or so)…all I can think about is Troma Video.

  • jason24589

    June 13, 2010 at 7:34 pm

    Whoa! James! There is a girl on my computer monitor! A porn channel?

  • Resident Killer

    June 18, 2010 at 2:47 pm

    Try a DVD-RW next…If they exist, or Im just thinking cd’s…

  • June 20, 2010 at 7:01 am

    So how many times was that?

  • crono04

    June 21, 2010 at 9:36 pm

    Madness. MADNESS!!!!

    Can’t wait for someone to remix this into a song.

  • Jenifer

    June 27, 2010 at 11:18 pm

    wow that is soo something!! hahahaha u use ur free time in a very good way!! and how many times did it take?

  • Architekt

    July 1, 2010 at 6:50 am

    I found myself getting strangly fustrated and annoyed towards the end of the video, am man i think im losing it …like the time i watched and listened to Stewies annoying laugh on Family Guy, i felt like i should be in padded cell !!! Make it STOP….PUNCH YA HARD TOO, P..P..P..P..PUNCH..P..P..PUNCH YA HARD T..T..T..TOO !!!!!!!!!

  • maaaahkl

    July 20, 2011 at 2:31 pm

    I actually tried to count along but lost it at like 10…Man I must’ve been bored! LOL

  • SanValentΓ­n

    September 15, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    I find this very fucking creepy

  • SophieSchmidt

    September 21, 2011 at 7:19 am

    yeah that’s true

  • poshko

    September 21, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Cool! I’ve often wondered this myself.

  • theparasolact

    September 23, 2011 at 10:29 am

    That’s pretty amazing.

  • December 26, 2011 at 8:37 am

    Can actually do a gif for this? please.

  • coreyr34

    January 29, 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Brings me back to trying to watch the “bad” channels.

  • DeanWilks

    February 2, 2012 at 10:41 am

    This is how you make someone insane

  • March 6, 2012 at 3:34 pm

    Thanks for this!

  • SeanFrye

    March 15, 2012 at 2:37 pm

    Wow!Β  The VHS got really really messed up.
    Since I sadly never seen any Rocky movies yet, I actually thought this was from Rocky, but then I was like no, he wouldn’t just punch somebody for no reason.

  • TedTalevski

    March 19, 2012 at 6:38 am

    I counted 60 generations of recording but it was kind of hard with random parts of the video skipping around with the footage.

  • Zippofluid

    April 10, 2012 at 1:51 pm

    You can see a distorted image of some girl at 1:05.

  • mangraa

    April 18, 2012 at 3:21 pm

    I have to ask, however… Did he start with two NEW tapes, and NOT record over previously-used tape? Besides the master, the tapes should be new, and recorded back-to-back-to-back in order to make sure the degradation isn’t due to the magnetic tape being physically worn out, and is solely attributable to the artifacts of recording.

    Either way, it’s still interesting. About generation 6 is where I said “OK, it’s bad”…that was like 1/4 the way through. Now you see why oldschool bootlegs SUCK.

  • Stefanoragnopazzo

    August 24, 2012 at 5:41 am

    Wow, that was creepy as hell.
    And this was the last video for me missing to watch on this site.

    Good it’s 12:00 over here i will not have nightmares. Like when i watch monster madness. XD

  • madthedj

    March 9, 2013 at 1:16 am

    I may be off by 1 or 2, but I counted 64 copies made in total before the video ends, not including the original version at the start. Now, James says he went back and forth between two VHS tapes during the experiment. I wonder if the quality between generations would last longer if each new copy was on a brand new blank tape (rather than a tape recorded on repeatedly). Maybe someday someone else with too much time on his hands can try wasting 100 tapes on that experiment! πŸ™‚

  • September 9, 2013 at 4:01 pm

    This ends up getting creepy

  • July 9, 2014 at 11:16 am

    dam thats gets really shity teehee

  • March 29, 2015 at 1:00 pm

    I count between 52 and 64 copies/transfers before both the audio AND the video become completely garbled and impossible to identify (I’m amazed the audio lasted longer than the video did).

  • Don Skiver

    April 5, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Ahh… I like how the music has wow and flutter due to the uneven stretching of the tape medium as it is recorded… That’s what makes analog stuff so cool; the various imperfections is what makes it unique.


    June 8, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    that tape is dying.

  • Waldemar Sha

    March 19, 2017 at 12:50 pm

    If you copy a random VHS 666 times, Satan will apear on the screen and give you a recipe of cake…
    it’s tasty.

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