SVCD: Clear Up My Confusion : LUSENET : Video CD : One Thread

I'm just now starting to get into the whole VCD and SVCD thing (at least until DVD-R's come down in price a but. :-) and I have a bit of confusion that I'm hoping someone can clear up here.

I've tested out MPEG-1 video, and as-far-as full-screen quality is concerned, the video borders on horrid. MPEG-1 video that looks good is the equivalent of VHS video that looks bad, which is why I'm glad the SVCD standard is more akin to DVD, utilizing MPEG-2. However, I've tested TMPG, and it at least says that it doesn't support MPEG-2 encoding (which is odd because it has the option to.) Do cheap (i.e. free) MPEG-2 encoders exist for the Winblows platform?

Also, For me, Menus are a must, and motion video menus are definitely a bonus. I know that programs like Easy CD Creator, Cequadrat VideoPack 4 can generate menus for regular VCD, but the only programs I know of that will do menus and motion video menus for SVCD are Phillips' SVCD Authoring and Enreach I-Author, and both of those programs are ungodly expensive. Do any inexpensive programs offer fairly sophisticated menu creation for SVCD?

Also- are there any DVD players that currently support the SVCD standard?

-- Mr. Boy (, December 19, 2000


SVCD and DVD-R is already heare and possible

-- Ross McL (, December 19, 2000.

I am a real defender of VCD. To all who don't know it! DVD was modeled after a vcd/svcd. DVD's were not here first. Also, VCD's do look as good as a good vhs. Those of you who don't use a clean source or s-video wouldn't know this. Garbage in garbage out. Good in good out. Does mpeg 2 look better? Normally always yes. But, again the source must be good either way. I have seen some factory dvd's that look like shit. That is because their source wasn't that great. As far as tmpgenc: To include mpeg 2 support in his current version he would have had to pay several dollars for every copy of his freeware program downloaded in lisc. fees. Thus to keep it FREE he could only use mpeg 1. Look for the older versions for mpeg 2 support.

-- Nick D. (, December 20, 2000.

Well, in my personal opinion, Good VHS is an oxy moron. And I know Garbage-in-Garbage-Out. I took a clip from on of my short films, shot and edited entriely thru DV and native Firewire devices- thus, NOT garbage-looking- and encoded it to MPEG-1 using TMPG using its regular VCD preset, and it looked like 2nd-generation VHS. Even if it looked like 1st-Generation VHS, that would be unacceptable because VHS-quality is NOT quality video. Maybe I've just been spoiled by the high-quality images achieved from DV and Betacam. But, in my opinion, if I can't achieve video quality on VCD or SVCD that's at LEAST as good as S-VHS or 3/4" U-Matic SP, or preferably the quality of Betacam or better, then VCD and SVCD is simply not worth the effort.

-- Mr. Boy (, December 20, 2000.

I don't know if you have done this or not, but when you take a good (GOOD) quality VCD (ie, one that is encoded from a digital source, or is at least on 1st gen VHS, such as a NEW tape that has been recorded ZERO times before) anyway, if you take that and put it through a TV, not hdtv, but a normal tv, then you should be as satisfied as the original copy. this wont make the encoding look better than the original, but it should be just as good (maybe SLIGHTLY degraded), and, since you put it on VCD, there is no degredation that is seen with magnetic media.

Yes, go ahead and flame me if you want, but IMHO, VCD (MPG-1) can be just as good, and in some cases BETTER than the original (better in that there wont be degredation over time)

just my 2cents

-- pat (, December 20, 2000.

I have been involved in this hobby for over a year now I originally bought the Dazzle DVC encoder and promptly returned because the quality was horrible. I bought a Broadway Pro card instead. It is a hardware assisted encoder for those not familiar with it. I was much happier with the results but I have to admit it was definitelt not as good as the original source tape, even if it was a professionally made VHS tape. I tried everything, different cables, you name it. Any video with a lot of scene changes and motion will result in artifacts. Yhe area around peoples face often look as if I am looking through vapor. One person suggested using SVideo but how many people happen to have VHS tapes lying around that were recoded in that format, probably none.

-- Al McCraw (, December 20, 2000.

Mr Boy

You are entitled to have high taste for the best video ... but you are wrong in spreading misinformation e.g. "the best of VCD is only equivalent to the worst of VHS".

People who has poor opinion of VCD, I think, is watching it on the PC display at full screen and/or not able to author and master a good quality VCD.

I suggest these people watch a good Taiwanese commercially produced VCD e.g. "The Titanic" on a real VCD machine player to a real TV set. It is as good as any Laser Disc system. Home made VCD and watching on PC full screen do not do justice to VCD. All the bad things that appear in home made VCDs are caused by low standard low cost hardwares and softwares.

AS for VHS, there is no comparison to VCD. After several generation of copying and playing, the VHS will deteriorate till it will almost be unwatchable. However, VCDs will remain almost as good as the original copy.

In Asia, VCD has already largely superceded VHS and still growing in popularity. SVCD is better ... but not taking off, probably because people there, are quite satisfied with the thousands of commercially produced VCD titles available on their market.

-- t_o_ (, December 20, 2000.

I apologize if it sounded as though I was insulting the VCD format. I was referring to my own recent and uninformed experience with attempting to create a VCD title, which resulted in a very low-grade, less-than-VHS-quality signal. I didn't mean to sound like I was trying to discredit the VCD and SVCD formats, I merely want to learn how to create VCDs and SVCDs and have them look as close to the quality of the source as possible.

-- Mr. Boy (, December 21, 2000.

Here's my two cents. Been burning VCD's for a few years now. Have several hundred in my library. Played back on my stand alone DVD player they ARE as good as VHS. Of course my large screen TV is properly adjusted with correct black levels and convergence etc. I have a few short samples of both VCD and SVCD on my "work in progress" new web site. These were cut clips from the actual VCDs I've made. Encoding was done "real time" direct to 352x240 Mpeg-1 (VCD) or 480x480 Mpeg-2 for SVCD, with an ATI AIW 128 video capture card. This was direct off an "analog" not digital cable TV feed. Contrary to popular believe, DV source (while better than most others) is not THE best as source material for encoding. The best is uncompressed broadcast/studio quality AVI analog video.

When a properly encoded VCD is played back by a "good" set top DVD player to a properly adjusted TV, the result is quite good. I "blew away" the boys at Tweeter's (large video/audio electronics store)when they played my "Farscape" VCDs with a fancy home theater decoder (line doubler etc) to a "ten" foot screen.

VCD will always look best when viewed in the TV environment. As good as my samples are on the web page, you have to take into consideration that I have others even better. Those samples were all done with "real time" encoding. Not as good as when you first capture to uncompressed AVI and then encode with an encoder that has gobs of more time to examine every macro block of each of the source frames. I don't normally use that technique because it generally takes hours to do the encoding. Versus "real time" or no additional encoding .. I can live with the almost unperceived difference.

The problem is that most people have not seen what a decent VCD can look like.

-- Rich (, December 21, 2000.

I suspect that most people in this hobby are either trying to record old home videos and/or television shows from VHS to Video CD. Because they are not recorded in Svideo format they are using a VCR and composite cables to do the capturing. I have made numerous video cds using this method and at times they are dazzling but when I record a tape of something with a lot of motion the result can be very annoying. From my experience I believe that this is the best that can be expected without using a higher bit rate. I believe that this is because of the limitations put on the mpeg-1 video cd format. I think it's limited to something like 115200 kbits per second. As long as video does not require more kbits to do the job the resulting video is excellent. If you have video that requires more then the encoder has to estimate to keep within the limits. This results in a less than desirable video. For example: I recorded a basketball game that my kid played in that was recorded on a VHS camcorder. The players appeared as though they were being watched through vapors. By using a tripod the result probably would have been much better. The less background changes the better the end product. An AVI file is a coolection of approximately 30 separate video frames per second. An MPEG file(to make things simple) basically records the first frame and instead of recording the next 29 only records what changes in the next 29 files. It is also limited to a certain amount of kbits to do this. If you are holding a camcorder a trying to film something, which let's face it, that is what most of us are trying to do, then your entire video in constantly changing which requires a lot more kbits than is allowed by the video cd format. This is the reason that I believe a lot of people are not happy with their results. It just isn't possible to convert all those old homemade videos to VCD and get the same quality of the original source tape. I don't think that MPEG-2 files have the same limitations as the mpeg-1 and this is the basic difference and is the reason that mpeg-2 looks so much better. My encoder card also encodes to standard DVD compliant mpeg-2 files but I have noticed that when I use that setting that the resulting mpg file is way larger than if I use mpeg-1. It some cases it's not that much smaller than the original avi file. I am in no way an expert in this hobby but by reading and monitoring this site and experimenting over the past year or so this is what I have learned. I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as some of the other posters here such as Ross whom I have learned a great deal from. Keep up the great work guys...and girls.

-- Al McCraw (, December 21, 2000.

I am definitly no expert, but I am very familiar with the technologies involved in digital video compression, and have used DVD for the last two years using several different setups. I am familiar with the "vapors" and other artifacts associated with digital compression, and the most noticable to me are the quickly changing scenes that aren't necessarily just because someone used a camcorder. Even on some DVD's using MPEG2, during quick scene transitions, such as high-speed car chases and flashes of explosions, pixelation occurs and sometimes frames dropped. There just is NO way around a maximum data rate. If you are able to "tailor" your source footage, then the results probably are exceptional, but I hope Hollywood doesn't start trying to film movies just so they look good on the least common denominator of the VCD!

-- Clint (, December 26, 2000.

To quote what Clint said: "Vapors and other artifacts associated with quickly changing scenes aren't the domain of VCD. Even on some DVD's using MPEG2, during quick scene transitions, such as high-speed car chases and flashes of explosions, pixelation occurs and sometimes frames dropped. If you are able to 'tailor' your source footage, then the results probably are exceptional".

I think the commercial producers of VCD movies do not use the same hardware, softwares and the same procudures as what most of the home VCD makers do. They are the professionals. Their movies always contain fast motion scenes and explosions, but I have never noticed any vapors, pixelation, blockiness, drop frames etc been said as nastily inherent with the VCD format. However, those one dollar street stalls bought VCDs in Asia do sometimes come with these nasties.

-- t_o_ (, December 26, 2000.

Let me add my 2 cents. I bought a Broadway board and an expensive fast PC and get very good results constructing VCDs. It will never be better than the original source, but I recently tested it on a commercial tape and the r4esults were surprisingly good. Little pixelation. Anyone need help, contact me and I will do my best to explain the processes I use. By the way, I use CDRW discs to record onto and Adaptec software but can;t get menus to work on screen...but I have preserved my family videos!

-- gary zenker (, December 26, 2000.

I have basically the same setup as you Gary. I bought my Broadway card and then built a computer arond it. I have had great success with menus using Adaptec's software and there are a couple of detailed descritions on this forum that you can probably find by doing a search. It's been a while since I actually have uses any so I'n not going to try and give any details here. It's a little tricky at first but it will all make sense once you get into it.

-- Al McCraw (, December 26, 2000.

To get back to the original topic: There are no freeware programs that I know of that will do SVCD mastering with menus, etc. (This is the part where a compliant MPEG-2 is turned into a svcd disc image with menus etc.) There are free mpeg-2 encoders, some of which do a very good job of encoding. Tsunami mpeg encoder or tmpegenc fully supported mpeg-2 until version 12a and has output to rival the more expensive off-line encoders at the best quality settings. In the newest version, 12e, the mpeg-2 support lasts for only 1 month (wink, nod.) Other freeware encoders are BBMPEG and rempeg2, dvd2mpeg and mpg2mpg. If you want to go commercial Cinecraft Encoder SP is fast and produces excellent results. To master the disc your cheapest option is Nero. The current version does not make 100% compliant svcds (something to do with seek / timing issues where you cant ff / rew on some players.) but it work on most. The upcoming version will supposedly make menus too. As a bonus nero will burn the disc too. Nero is not freeware. Many dvd players play svcds. THe best among name brand players are pioneers, specifically the 333 and 434 (among others.) People also have good luck with Apex and Afreey players. See for a list of compatible players.

Finally, my $0.02 on the vcd / svcd issue : there are many things vcds are good for. They fit more video on a cd, they are easier to make (and make compliant,) there is more software available to master them and there are more vcd players out there. Svcd just plain looks better though, when you get down to it. Comparing either to VHS is just, like, analogue, man ;)

-- Keitaro (, April 09, 2001.

Nero 5.5 ... your dreams come. Makes menus for VCD and SVCD, and encodes as well. Plus heaps more. Video comes out briliant. VCD and SVCD are for real now, DVD-Video is just a pipe dream for the moment.

-- nero (, April 10, 2001.

There is a very good free MPEG encoder that will allow you to convert AVI's to MPEG1, MPEG2, VCD, SVCD, DVD. It works independantly or can be easily used as a plug in so you can encode larger movies direct from the Adobe Premiere timeline. Its called bbMPEG and can be downloaded from:

I've used it for encoding lots of films into VCD and, provided you grab at a good data rate you get excellent results.

Hope this helps.

Dave Partner.

-- David Partner (, April 12, 2001.

After reading this thread I am more confused than ever. I am about to buy some hardware and software as I want to put home video onto VCD. My video camera is a Hi8 type and does have SVHS output. I was originally considering Dazzles Digital Video Creator but that looks like it can only do MPEG1. I have now seen that the latest version supports MPEG2 but is more expensive and includes a seperate card to encode the MPEG2. Obviously I wand good quality (who wants otherwise) but I don't have a big budget. Would MPEG1 be good enough quality. Any advice for a beginner would be appreciated.

-- Martin (, November 09, 2001.

Here are my 3 cents ;-)

CAPTURE & EDIT -------------- I have a sony digital 8 camcorder. I use pinnacle studio DV software and the firewire card supplied with it (bestbuy $99.00) to capture home movies from my camcorder. The same software can be used to edit the movies and add transition effects, voice overs etc.

The good thing about pinnacle is that you can capture one entire tape in 150 MB in preview mode and do your editing. When you are ready to publish (to an AVI or MPEG or TAPE) it goes back to the original tape and recaptures only the relevent sections at full DV quality. Saves you a lot of disk space.

Finally I publish to an AVI.

NOTE : Even though, studio DV captures to an AVI file, it uses a proprietary DV compression which is not comprehensible to TMPGENC. So it is necessary to publish to an AVI file from with in STUDIO DV

Alternatively you may use virtualDub to convert the AVI produced by studio DV to a general purpose AVI file by using the resize filter (in bilinear mode) to resize from 720 X 480 to 320 X 240 and using HUFFYUV 2.1.1 compression (use defaults and predict median). HUFYUV compression codec can be downloaded from the web. Use google to search for it.

MPEG1 Encoding -------------- I tried MPEG1 encoding with TMPGENC but was never satisfied with it. In darker scenes or fast camera pans there were noticable pixelations and other artifacts. However, In well lit slow moving scenes the quality was quite decent. Make sure you select the deinterlace option with even-odd field (field adaptation) in the advanced TAB in tmpgenc.

MPEG1 quality obtained from a virtualDubbed AVI is slightly better.

MPEG2 encoding --------------

So anyway, i decided to move on to SVCD and MPEG2. I use TMPGENC to encode my AVI files to SVCD complaint MPEG streams. Just pick the standard SVCD template and set the rate control mode to CQ or CBR and make sure the max bitrate is 2520 if you want your SVCD to be playable on all DVD players. You are ofcourse free to experiment with the bitrate to see what suits your particular DVD player better.

STUDIO DV also has an option to publish to MPEG2 so you can publish the captured AVI directly to a SVCD compliant stream. I use TMPGENC because it allows me better control and also because prior to the latest patch of studio DV 7 software, the MPEG2 quality left a lot to be desired. But after the latest patch the quality of MPEG2 produced by studio DV almost matches that of TMPGENC. (Psst I have been told that you can get a crack of TMPGENC from the web ...look around)

Needless to say, with SVCD i am finally getting near DVD quality.

BURNING A SVCD -------------- One word - NERO. Not only does it burn flawless copies it also automatically create MENUS for you.

PLAYING THE SVCD ---------------- Check out this site to determine if your DVD player can play SVCDs.

It's a great site for all VCD/SVCD/DVD related questions.

Hope this is of help.

-- MrIndia (, September 26, 2002.

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