vcd- PAL or NTSC?? : LUSENET : Video CD : One Thread

Well, my question is just very general, so I hope someone can help me out.

I always though VCDs were standard (therefore be able to be played worldwide in any DVD player). I'm here in the U.S.A., but I've got some burned ones from friends Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia that play just fine on my DVD player. If this is so, then how come my Nero 5.5 program always askes which format (either PAL or NTCS) I want to burn my VCDs in? Does this mean that if I burn vcds for overseas (where DVD palyers may be in PAL), I'll have to do in in PAL? Or does it not matter?


-- mai (, October 31, 2003


Good question. Most DVD players really don't care. It's a little known secret, but most DVD players will actually play PAL and NTSC VCDs and DVDs. The only reason most people don't know this is that DVD region coding prevents them from playing DVDs from other regions that use a different TV format and VCD is a fringe format in more developed parts of the world. However, there are DVD players that will not play both formats and will only play the TV format for the region the player was sold in. Unfortunately, you can't simply check PAL VCD under Nero and correctly burn a PAL VCD. has an explanation of VCD format and NTSC and PAL VCD require different video resolutions and frame rates. Since you live in America, you should always check NTSC unless you happen to know that what you're burning was recorded in PAL. Very few PAL DVD players will refuse to play a NTSC VCD because NTSC TV signals can easily be encoded to PAL output. It's tricky to convert PAL to NTSC though, so if you see a DVD player that only plays one video format, most likely its NTSC. If you have NTSC video, you must convert the frame rate and resolution to PAL standards before burning it as a PAL VCD and vice versa for burning PAL video as NTSC VCD. Such conversions are VERY difficult and usually require the use of expensive commercial encoding programs. Bottom line - it's usually OK to burn something as NTSC format because it's been estimated that 90-95% of the world's DVD players will play it. You might interested to know that Brazil, which is a PAL country, makes most of its musical DVDs in NTSC format since the vast majority of DVD players in the world can play NTSC DVDs. They also put no region coding on their DVDs so they can be sold anywhere. You might also be interested to know that most Asian VCDs are actually in PAL format, so that means that your DVD player will play PAL VCD even though you live in the USA.

-- Root (root@yahoo.moc), October 31, 2003.

That's a very complicate answer. Let's try mine (simpler OI hope). NTSC VCD is 352 x 240, 30 frames/sec PAL VCD is 352 x 288, 25 frames/sec The DVD (or VCD) player definitely can reads either format since both look like data to the player.

It's the DVD player (or VCD player) and the TV set that are keys here. They must be both same format (NTSC or PAL). NTSC DVD player cannot play to a PAL TV set !!!

While you can play PAL VCD on your NTSC equipment, the timing may be off due to different frames per sec. NTSC expects 30 (well 29.97) frames per seconds.

-- ktnwin (, November 06, 2003.

If you have a video cd that is in the PAL format, is there a way the PC can read it? A box you have to check in windows media player, etc???

-- bruce smith (, November 15, 2003.

For Bruce, you will need some sort of DVD player/decoder software or a DVD capable drive. If you can't play NTSC DVD's then you are lacking one of these items. You need one, not both. Big names for DVD player/decoder software are PowerDVD, WinDVD, and VaroDVD. WinDVD has a downloadable trial. If you try it, let me know if it works please!

-- handygal (, December 08, 2003.

Anybody who has a DVD player & TV is going to have them match up formats, so anybody in the US is going to have an NTSC DVD Player & NTSC TV (as thats all you can buy in the US). Likewise, in a PAL country, the people will haev PAL DVD Players & PAL TVs. So, they match up.

Being in an NTSC country, I know this much happens with PAL VCDs played in NTSC DVD players connected to NTSC TVs. The DVD player, generally (there are some players which do not play VCD at all, so we can't say all as those ones would mess it up), will read the video, 352x288 @ 25fps, and output it to the 29.97fps TV. What happens to the amount of video displayed depends on the player itself.

I have an Apex AD-1500, and a KLH KD-1220. The Apex, which does what it should (and can also output in PAL, so you can connect it to a PAL TV, afaik [not having one, I can't actually test it]), will take that 352x288 and squeeze it vertically so it looks normal and fills the screen. An NTSC VCD has 352x240 resolution, so there are an extra 48px of vertical resolution on the PAL disc. What happens is if you look at a raw frame in PAL, it is taller than the NTSC version of it, but they both display correctly in their respective native TVs. So, even though the raw frame of a PAL copy and a raw frame of NTSC copy won't look the same (PAL will be taller and skinnier and circles become tall ovals), they both playback correctly when you use a PAL DVD + TV for the PAL, and an NTSC DVD+TV for the NTSC. What the NTSC DVD should do for the PAL VCD is squeeze it, so that it esentially is displaying it as if it were 352x240. This is what my Apex does.

The KLH, however, it will not squeeze it. It just crops off the 48 px (24px from top, 24px from bottom). This is not good. Since, as I've said, the PAL is a different raw aspect, it translats directly onto the screen. This is bad! People will appear taller than they should!

But, in regards to the actual question about the selection in Nero. What that selection does, to the best of my knowledge, is actually tells Nero what to be looking for. So, if you set it to NTSC, it should expect that the files it checks (the MPGs), will be 352x240, 29.97fps [23.967fps also is acceptable], with 44.1khz 16-bit 224kbps layer 2 audio and a stream setting (header) that reads "VCD." If *any* one is missing, it will warn you, but generally lets you continue, it may re-encode it before burning, however. When PAL is chosen, it expects 352x288, 25fps, with 44.1khz 16-bit 224kbps layer 2 audio and a stream setting (header) that reads "VCD."

The header is important! When the MPG file is made, from TMPGEnc, for example, you have a choice to create MPEG-1 (VCD), MPEG-1 (System). If you choose system, and the output is 800mb, it will *not* fit on the disc. However, if you had chosen (VCD), and the output is still 800mb, it will fit, because VCD can hold 800mb of MPG per 80min CD-R (740MB for 74min CD-R, 900mb for 90min CD-R, and ~1000MB for 99min CD-R). It is easy to change the header, however (luckily :), so if it warns you that the stream setting is incorrect or something similar, then you needs to use TMPGEnc and go file > mpeg tools > and then you want to multiplex using that old MPG as audio & video source, with a new stream setting of VCD MPEG-1, and teh output should have another file name.

Wow, long, eh? Hopefully not confusing. Basically, PAL VCD + NTSC DVD Player + NTSC TV is either goign to work okay, or be stretched too high vertically. The option in Nero is effectivley meaningless, as most players will do PAL & NTSC, its just that the region coding on the disc makes it so that only 1 of them is used for DVDs *ONLY*. VCDs (and SVCDs for that matter) have no region code, so there is no problems like that. If you have a region free PAL DVD and use it on a Region 1 NTSC DVD player, it should work. The output might be too tall, making people tall & skinny, but it should atleast play. The way it is displayed is up to the DVD player, and some work like they should (like my Apex AD-1500), and some don't (like my KLH KD-1220, both cheap players, and the KLH I think is actually a rebranded Apex of a different model (the remotes are virtually identical, except they are incompatible)).

-- Frederick 'Fuckin' Von Hansen (, January 01, 2004.

I have a vcd that plays a couple of beats behind like it's trying to catch up to the rest of the concert; I believe I finally found out why. The vcd is in PAL format and I have NTSC equipment!! I have a Pioneer DV-354 which plays all my other vcd's OK except for this one. I'll check out Nero 5.5.

-- Felix (, January 05, 2004.

Moderation questions? read the FAQ