VCD/SVCD/X(S)VCD And You

Let’s talk video. If you own a DVD player then odds are you don’t know everything it can do. For example, you probably know that your DVD player can play DVDs and maybe you know it can play audio CDs as well. But did you know that you can burn regular CDs in a computer that will play video on most DVD players? That you can take your home movies or TV shows that you download from the Internet and burn them onto a disc and watch them. That’s because over in Asia the VCD became popular years ago. A VCD is a regular CD with MPEG-1 video stored on it. Because the data rate for MPEG-1 is exactly the same as for CD audio (i.e. 150K per second) you can fit exactly the same amount of video on a disc that you can fit audio. That’s about 80 minutes on the large blank discs they typically sell now. That’s plenty for an episode of a TV show or for home movies or a slideshow of family pictures complete with narration and music.
In order to burn VCDs you need software capable of doing it. The Roxio Easy CD Creator 5 that comes bundled with most new CD writers will do a VCD but it’s not exactly the most stable software and its not capable of burning an SVCD (which has higher resolution video and which mostly just newer DVD players can play). So instead I prefer VCDEasy. It is, as the name suggests, easy to use and it seems to handle MPEG from a variety of sources with fewer problems. More information about VCD/SVCD and even better quality formats like XVCD and XSVCD can be obtained from VCDHelp.com. They also have long lists of DVD players with information about which ones can play a VCD or other formats (and you can use them as a quick check to see what your current DVD player can play).
Many Usenet news groups like alt.binaries.multimedia carry VCDs and most of it isn’t pathetic garbage like somebody sitting in a dark theater with a video camera pointed at Harry Potter to make a bad copy. Instead it’s last nights episode of The X-Files that you missed or it’s a couple of old Simpson’s Halloween specials a week before the new one comes on. I use it all the time when I miss a show that I had intended to watch but missed somehow.

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