VCD stands for Video CD. Video CD is a standard developed in early 1990s that allows regular CD to contain 74 minutes of video and audio. Both, video and audio, are encoded in MPEG-1 format and stored on the CD in specific format. Video CDs can be played in most of the stand-alone DVD players, in all stand-alone VCD players and in all computers that have CD-ROM drives. This is the VCD's strong point against DivX format which is based on MPEG-4 audio/video encoding technology.
Video CD resolution is in PAL format 352 x 288 pixels with 25 fps. In NTSC format it is 352 x 240 pixels with 29.97 fps (except in NTSC film format, where the frame-rate is 23.976 fps. Audio is encoded with bitrate of 224 kbps in MPEG-1 Layer2 (mp2) format (in both PAL and NTSC versions). Video is encoded with 1150 kbps bitrate.
SVCD stands for Super Video CD (called also SuperVCD). It is a new CD standard (actually it is currently undergoing official standardization process) developed in 1998 by Chinese consumer electronics manufacturers (Sony, Philips, Matsushita and JVC).
SVCD is a successor for extremely popular video format called Video CD which was based on MPEG-1 video encoding. SVCD itself contains MPEG-2 video stream and MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio stream (MPEG-1 stereo audio layer II, MPEG-2 stereo audio layer II or MPEG-2 Multi-Channel 5.1 surround audio). Its video bitrate is normally higher than Video CD's clear difference to Video CD is the fact that SVCD doesn't specify a certain bitrate for video. Unspecified video bitrate also causes a situation where one SVCD disc can contain various amount of video -- normally one SVCD disc contains 35-40 minutes of video, but by reducing the bitrate, one CD can hold up to 74 minutes of video (which is the same amount what VCD disc contains).
As an addition, SVCD can also contain multiple audio streams (just like a DVD-Video), subtitles, still images, multi-level hierarchical menus, chapters (for indexing), hyperlinks and playlists.Just like VCDs (and audio CDs), SVCDs require a specific way how they are burned on the CD just sticking all the required files into CD structure doesn't make disc a SVCD compatible. Most of the new CD burning applications support SVCD already, so authoring your own SVCDs should be relatively easy.
SVCD's resolution is 2 times higher than VCD's, in PAL the resolution is 480x576 and in NTSC it is 480x480. Frame-rates are 25fps and 29.97fps, just like in any other video format. SVCD's quality is somewhere between VideoCD and DVD-Video. Most of the DVD players can play SVCD discs which makes is perfect format for backing up your DVD movies and a very good alternative for DivX format.
Presentation of SVCD titles on most players is marred by an unfortunate violation of sampling theory almost built into the specification. The two-thirds choice of resolution is rarely consistently implemented end to end, through the full player electronics.
Because a DVD player might include provisions for various VCD, SVCD, and DVD horizontal resolutions (352, 480, or 720) and only one analog low pass filter is provided, 2 out of the 3 formats will suffer aliasing when presented on the screen. Usually, the best resolution - DVD 720 - dictates filter design, with SVCD display suffering from "fold-over". While displays should follow correct theory, the objectionable aliasing artifacts that result are usually buried in noise from other sources, such as camera, quantization, and MPEG artifacts.
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