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SVCD | Super Video CD


Compact Disc Super Video (SVCD)
Media Type Optical Disc
Encoding MPEG-2 video + audio
Capacity Up to 800 MB
Read mechanism 780 nm wavelength semiconductor laser
Standard White Book
Usage audio and video storage
Extended from Video CD

Super Video CD (Super Video Compact Disc or SVCD) is a digital format for storing video on standard compact discs. SVCD was intended as a successor to Video CD and an alternative to DVD-Video, and falls somewhere between both in terms of technical capability and picture quality. Although SVCDs proved more sophisticated than VCDs, the format ironically remains in the latter's shadow.


Technical specifications

SVCDs are authored (or "burned") using the CD-ROM mode 2/XA format, allowing roughly 800 megabytes of data to be stored on one 80 minute CD (versus 700 megabytes when using mode 1). One CD can hold up to 35 minutes of full quality SVCD-format video and audio.

  • Container
  • In an SVCD, the audio and video streams are multiplexed in aMPEG program stream (MPEG-PS) container.

  • Video
  • Video specifications
    Codec: MPEG-2
    Resolution: 2/3 D1; • NTSC: 480x480; • PAL/SECAM: 480x576
    Aspect Ratio: 4:3
    Framerate: NTSC: 29.97 frames per second; PAL/SECAM: 25 frames per second
    Bitrate: Up to 2.6 megabits per second
    Rate Control: Constant or variable bit rate

    Because of its 480x480 resolution, SVCD picture quality is more than double that of VCD. On the downside, this increase in picture resolution sacrifices video length capacity by over 50%. Because of this, titles released on SVCD has to come in twice the number of discs of their VCD equivalents.

  • Audio
  • Audio specifications
    Codec: MPEG-1 Audio Layer II
    Frequency: 44,100 hertz (44.1 kHz)
    Output: Monaural, dual channel, stereo, and multichannel support up to 5.1 output.
    Bitrate: from 32 to 384 kilobits per second, inclusive
    Rate Control: Constant or Variable bit rate

    As with most compact disc-based video formats, SVCD audio is incompatible with the DVD-Video standard due to the difference in frequency; DVDs require 48 kHz, whereas SVCDs use 44.1 kHz.

  • Additional features
  • The SVCD standard supports several other features, including interactive menus, hyperlinks, karaoke lyrichighlighting, four selectable overlay graphic subtitle streams, chapters, playlists, and DVD-quality still images/slide shows, along with audio, with a resolution of 704x480 (NTSC) or 704x576 (PAL/SECAM).

  • Playback issues
  • 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 "foldover". 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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