Video Encoding - VCD and Super VCD

VCD stands for Video CD. A VCD has the capacity to hold up to 74/80 minutes (on 650MB/700MB CDs respectively) of full-motion video along with quality stereo sound. Videos are stored in MPEG-I streams. A VCD can be played on standalone VCD and almost all DVD Players. VCDs can also be played on computers with a DVD-ROM or CD-ROM drive and software based player. The quality of a VCD is about the same as VHS video tape.

SVCD stands for Super Video CD. A SVCD is like a VCD but the videos are stored in MPEG-2 variabel bitrate and in higher resolution. SVCD standard is set by the China National Committee of Standards. SVCD can deliver up to 2 times sharper video images than the previous VCD standard. SVCD is backward compatible with VCD1.1, 2.0, and Interactive VCD 3.0 formats. Furthermore, while VCD requires text to be embedded in the video, SVCD uses a dedicated text data stream. This allows graphics and text such as multi-language subtitles for movies or karaoke text to be added at any time, while eliminating artifacts common with the compressed graphics and text streams of VCD. A SVCD can contain from about 35 to 80 minutes video/CD (on 80 min CD). SVCD also supports up to 4 removable subtitles but not all standalone player supports SVCD subs.

SVCD is based on the CD-ROM-XA format. This format allows the possibility to add PC playback applications on the same disc enabling the disc to be played on a computer. The "EXT" directory is mentioned to contain such application and setup files. The main root could also contain autorun enabling files.

To create a VCD disc and allow the playback using a VCD player, the following specific formats of the video clip must be followed:

  • Video : MPEG-1
  • Video bit rate : 1.15Mbps
  • Resolution : 352 x 240 (NTSC), 352 x 288 (PAL)
  • Audio : MPEG-1 layer II
  • Audio bit rate : 224kbps
  • Audio channels : 1 stereo or 2 mono

Likewise, the video clip for creation of a SVCD must be:

  • Video : MPEG-2
  • Video bit rate : variable 2.6Mbps (up to 2.6Mbps)
  • Resolution : 480 x 480 (NTSC), 480 x 576 (PAL)
  • Audio : MPEG-1 layer II
  • Audio bit rate : from 32 to 384kbps
  • Audio channels : up to 2 stereo or 4 mono

The following table compares Super VCD to Video CD 2.0:

Super Video CD
Video CD 2.0
Sector rate variable up to 150 Hz (2X speed) fixed to 75 Hz
CDDA tracks not used optional

Data retrieval
file location

fixed locations fixed locations
CDI sub-directory not used mandatory
bit rate (mbps)
resolution NTSC (HxV)
resolution PAL (HxV)
variable up to 2.6
480 x 480
480 x 576
352 x 240
352 x 288
Still Picture
resolution NTSC (HxV)
resolution PAL (HxV)
480 x 480, 704 x 480
480 x 576, 704 x 576
352 x 240, 704 x 480
352 x 288, 704 x 576
bit rate
audio channels
surround sound
MPEG-1, layer II
from 32 to 384 kbps
up to 2 stereo or 4 mono
MPEG-2 (5+1) extension
MPEG-1, layer II
fixed to 224 kbps
1 stereo or 2 mono
stereo with Dolby pro-logic
Overlay Graphics and text
Overlay video plane
4 color CLUT (2bit/pixel)
not used

* reference source: Philips and others

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