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This article is about the all-digital 'Video CD' format. For the earlier (and less successful) analog/digital hybrid, see CD Video.

Video CD or VCD, or Compact Disc digital video, is a standard digital format for storing video on a Compact Disc. View CDs, as VCDs are sometimes referred to, are playable in dedicated players, personal computers, and many DVD players.

The VCD standard was created in 1993 by Sony, Philips, Matsushita, and JVC and is referred to as the White Book standard.

Technical specifications

VCD display resolution is 352 × 240 pixels (NTSC) or 352 × 288 pixels (PAL), approximately one quarter of full TV resolution (720 × 480 and 720 × 576 respectively). VCD video is in MPEG-1 format, and the video bitrate is required to be 1150 kilobits per second. Audio is encoded as MPEG Layer 2 (MP2) at 224 kbit/s. Overall picture quality is intended to be comparable to VHS video, though visual compression artifacts may be noticeable in some cases. Poorly compressed video in VCD tends to be of lower quality than VHS video, but exhibiting blocky artifacts rather than analog noise.

Since the overall bit rate of VCD is approximately equal to the bit rate of an ordinary audio CD, the length of video that can be stored is similar to that of a CD: a standard 74-minute CD can hold about 74 minutes of VCD-format video.

Similar formats

Designed to squeeze the most out of a CD is the DVCD or Double VCD where an ordinary CD is overburned to include up to 100 minutes of video. This format is seen only in China and the DVCDs are playable on any DVD or CD player though some CD-ROM drives have problems with this CD.

A variant of the standard Video CD encoding known as KVCD is also supported by some (but not all) standalone DVD players.


While never gaining a foothold in the United States, Europe or Japan, commercial VCDs are very popular throughout Asia (except Japan) because of the low price of the players, their tolerance of high humidity (a notable problem for VCRs), and the lower-cost media. The negligible cost of the media gave rise to widespread unauthorised copying in these areas, which is probably the reason it was never widely supported by the entertainment industry in the United States. The advent of recordable CDs and inexpensive recorders has spurred a rapid growth of their acceptance in the US, since most DVD players can play them.

The VCD format allows home computer users to create home movies on CD. Almost all DVD players are capable of playing regular VCDs. However, not all DVD players can read the CD-R media, hence homemade VCDs produced by CD burners (versus those produced by pressing) may not be playable on some DVD players. Such incompatibility is a major problem that prevents consumers from distributing their home-made VCDs such as their Christmas or other holiday greetings to relatives.

Many commercial Video CDs of blockbuster Hollywood] and Asian movies and television series are not widely available in the Western countries; however, they are available in certain ethnic communities and several commercial web sites (although quality and authenticity may sometimes be questionable). These VCDs are often produced and sold in Asian countries such as Hong Kong, Mainland China, Thailand, Malaysia] and the Philippines. In many Asian countries, major Hollywood studios have licensed companies to officially produce and distribute the VCDs, such as ERA of Hong Kong or Sunny Video in Malaysia, HVN in both Malaysia and Singapore, as well as VIVA Video, Magnavision, and The Video to C in the Philippines. Legal Video CDs can often be found in established video stores and major book outlets in most Asian countries.

Due to relative small storage capacity, feature-length films sold on VCD are usually divided into two or three discs and television series may come in a box set package with multiple discs. In both cases, most films run at roughly 60 minutes per VCD, before viewers are prompted to change discs. In many Asian movies, subtitles are not removable on standard VCDs, unlike DVDs.

VCD is gradually being replaced by DVD, which offers most of the same advantages to Asian buyers as VCD, as well as a much better quality picture (higher resolution with less digital compression artifacts) and sound (often in Dolby Digital and/or DTS), due to its larger storage capacity.

VCD does however have a few points in its favor:

  • Like VHS and unlike DVD-Video, the VCD format has no region coding apart from the difference between NTSC and PAL TV systems, which means that discs can be played on any compatible machine worldwide.
  • Some titles available on VCD may not be available on DVD and/or VHS in the prospective buyer's region.
  • They are much cheaper than DVDs. The DVD of a film may cost anywhere from three to nine times as much as the VCD. On the other hand, VCDs do not come with the bonus features of DVDs, such as choice of language, deleted scenes, theatrical and television previews, interviews, outtakes, and production notes.
  • VCD is also a very popular format for karaoke in East Asia, where picture quality concern is not paramount.

These factors may ensure a steady market for VCDs for many years to come.

See also

This article is licensed under the Free Documentation License. It uses material from the article: Video CD on the WIKIPEDIA

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