!What's VCD! ?

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What's the VCD?

What's up with DVD?

Is VCD the substitute of DVD or is DVD the substitute of VCD?

Which is the standard?

Wich I could buy?

-- Luis Manuel Trujillo Lomeli (trujillo@data.net.mx), August 24, 1999


Response to กWhat's VCD! ?

You know you could read the FAQ section first.

Here is the whole explanation(condensed for easy reading):

Video CD/VCD is MPEG1 and came first. Designed by Philips and Sony to hold 74 minutes of Video and Audio and the compression scheme created by the Moving Pictures Expert Group(MPEG). The idea was to make movies on a CD so that age and handling would not damage or affect playback. Sound was also cleaned up since it is digital. Video CD is designed for regular TVs so 16x9 enhancement is not available (definition below). Dolby Surround is currently the sound standard used on most VCDs. Three formats exist. Read on for a breakdown of them.

DVD/Digital Verstile Disc/Digital Video Disc is MPEG2 and came second. Designed by Toshiba, Philips, Sony, Columbia Tri-Star, and Warner Bros with an improved compression scheme by MPEG. The idea is to make a disc that can hold up to eight hours. DVD also benefits by having layers on a disc. DVD's various sizes also means that a movie can be presented in both Pan and Scan and Widescreen or two versions of a movie can be included. DVD is the futre so 16x9 enhancement can be added. DVD also is more durable than CDs. Dolby Digital 5.1/AC3 is the sound standard on most DVDs. Right now DTS is being added to the sound factor. Keep reading for an explanation.

Video CD can only hold up to 74 minutes of audio and video(2 discs or more are usually required. Quality of movie is either better than VHS or near LaserDisc, depends on player.

Double Video CD can hold up to 90 minutes with a lower bit rate(2 discs or more are still usually required). Validity is hard on these some say they do not exist others own them. Thus far no proof yet aside from my copy of the Mummy. So far the low bit rate prevents many DVD/VCD players and PCs from viewing them.

Super Video CD uses MPEG2 and can only hold up to 30 minutes(3 or more discs are usually required). Can not be played back on a DVD player or VCD player...needs an SVCD player. Quality is LaserDisc.

DVD-5 can hold a little over two hours of audio and video on a Single Side and Single Layer disc. Many bargain bin titles use this. Compatibility is guaranted as 100 percent of all players, old and new, can view these. Quality can be be LaserDisc, VHS, or better than LaserDisc.

DVD-10 can hold about four and a half hours of audio and video on a Dual Sided and Single Layer disc, otherwise known as a flipper. Warner Bros. prefers this as the movie will still look good and more special features can be added. Compatibility is guaranteed as no layer changes are necessary. Quality is the same as DVD-5.

DVD-9 can hold about four hours of audio and video on a Single Sided and Dual Layer disc. Other movie studios use this more so than DVD-5 or DVD-10. More convienent than a flipper but compatibility is comprimised with this. Some players can not handle a layer change correctly. Another benefit is that a movie alone(no bonus feaures and one aspect ratio) with a high bit rate on DVD-9 looks absolutely gorgous. Quality is the same as DVD-5 or if just a movie alone with few extras...damn better than LaserDisc almost like a 35mm projected film.

DVD-18 can hold about eight hours of audio and vidoe on a Dual Sided and Dual Layer disc, also a flipper. DVD-18 is not yet available and will be tested in October or November with the release of Artisan Entertainment's The Stand: Special Edition. Titanic may be re- released as DVD-18 with extra footage but not yet confirmed. Thus far Paramount and Twentieth Century Fox are waiting for market results before adding Braveheart and Star Wars to DVD's title list. Quality is the same as DVD-5 but as it is not yet available we will have to see.

16x9 is the new aspect ratio of HDTV screens. Regular TV is 4x3. Many Video CDs are made for 4x3 televisions with pan and scan versions. 90% of DVDs out there have a widescreen version enhanced for HDTV. That means with 16x9 enhancement selected on your DVD player, your HDTV screen will display the film correctly. That is a 1_85:1(16x9) aspect ratio(HDTV) will fill the whole HDTV screen while 2_35:1 will have way smaller black bars on the top and bottom. Movies in the 1_33:1(4x3) aspect ratio(regular tv) will display black bars on the left and right side on an HDTV screen.

Dolby Surround is the standard on VCDs and VHS tapes also known as Dolby 2.0. Four channel or five with a center channel speaker creates the surround sound. The front two speakers handle sound moving from left to right or sound coming from the left or right. The two rear speakers handle sound effects coming from behind. A fifth speaker known as the center can be added and handles most of the dialogue. Cheap way to get home theater. If no output is available it downgrades to Dolby Stereo

Dolby Digital is the standard on DVDs. Five channels and a subwoofer are needed. Hence the 5.1 and was also known as AC-3. It works almost like five channel Dolby Surround but the subwoofer(.1) handles bass effects and other sound effects(For a cool demonstraion of 5.1 get Lehtal Weapon 4 DVD and listen very carefully at the final fight sequence. The Subwoofer handles the sound of Rigg's heartbeat). Best for home theater. If no DD 5.1 output is available it downgrades to the next sound standard until it reaches a suitable one.

DTS is totally digital and works in the same way as DD 5.1. Unlike DD 5.1 is is uncompressed sound and is very clean like an analog tape. Very cool sound and a must if you want a true home theater. If no output is available it downgrades to Dolby Surround only(this Dolby Surround will not downgrade to Stereo).

Dolby Stereo is used when none of the above is available(you need a decoder for each of the above and usually a DD 5.1 decoder will also handle Dolby 2.0 and many DTS decoders can handle all of the above). It is just simple stereo sound but can be enhanced with ProLogic to create a virtual surround.

None of these is a substitute of the other. DVD is its own format and VCD is its own format. It is a personal choice. They are not standards, THEY ARE FORMATS. A standard is the MPEG1 compression scheme or the MPEG2 compression scheme or the sound on movies. Video CDs standard authoring format is in a white binder known as the Whitebook. DVD standards will be final with the release of DVD-18.

Buy which ever makes you happy. Me I have both. A DVD/VCD combination player.

-- The Lone Ranger (rutger_s@hotmail.com), August 24, 1999.

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