From DVD to SVCD and Beyond: Know Your Video Formats
You’ve got a lot of video you need to convert, but you don’t understand all of the different formats out there. Fortunately, there are common formats that are widely used, and so you don’t have to learn 100s of different video standards. You only need to master about four.
VCD stands for “Video Compact Disc” and it’s a technology that predates Blu-ray and DVD. This video standard encodes both video and audio using MPEG-1. A CD-ROM can hold about 800 megabytes of data, and can play in almost any CD optical drive. It’s also inexpensive to buy CDs that can store this video format.
If you’re a home-user, and you’re looking for a low-cost way to encode and store video, this is an option that will please all but the serious audio and videophiles.
SVCD stands for Super Video CD, and it’s the next-generation Video CD. SVCD uses an MPEG-2 video stream and MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 for audio encoding. Most SVCDs can be played on a DVD player, but can be recorded on a standard recordable CD drive. While the video quality is much higher on an SVCD, the audio may not be.
If you record something using SVCD, you can get near-DVD quality. However, since the size of the disc is still a mere 800 megabytes, you’re limited as to what can fit on a disc. And, with higher quality comes larger file sizes. All this means that it may take more than double the space to store the same video.
DVD has become the new standard for video. It stands for Digital Versatile Disc. A DVD stores its audio and video in an MPEG-2 format. Because of this, it requires a special DVD player. The benefit of the DVD format is that it can hold a lot more information than a CD or VCD.
So, for example, a two-hour movie that would normally require 2 or more VCDs will easily fit on one DVD. This is an ideal format if you have large video files in excess of 2GBs. What you’ll need is a program like YTD Video Converter to help you convert the video. Just upload the video file into the YTD program and choose the “DVD” option from the menu.
Once it’s converted, you can burn the video to a writable DVD disc. You must have a writable DVD drive in order to burn the information to disc.
The MPEG format is the default compression format for digital TV. However, different countries use different broadcasting standards (sometimes referred to as “picture standards.” These standards differ from country to country.
PAL, or “Phase Alternating Line”, is the standard introduced in the early 1960s in Europe. It’s used in most of western European countries today, except France. It’s also used in Australia, some countries in Africa and South America, and also some Asian countries.
The NTSC picture standard is used in the U.S., and was developed in 1953. It’s also used in Canada, Most of the Western Hemisphere, Japan, and a few Asian countries. The major exception to these buth PAL and NTSC picture standards is France, which uses SECAM standards.
When you create a video, and then convert it to your desired format, you’ll usually be encoding it in MPEG format. Then, you’ll be burning the audio and video data to the appropriate disc format (i.e. CD or DVD).
MPEG movies start out as raw video footage. You then need DVD authoring software – something like Handbrake or YTD, for example. From there, you must upload the video into the conversion software and then convert it to MPEG-2 format.
If you’re starting with multiple files, it’s going to be a slow process unless your video converter allows for batch processing.
If you’re starting with a CD, and you need to burn video to it, then you need authoring software that can convert videos to MPEG-1 (or possibly MPEG-2 if you’re working with SVCD).
Expect to wait several hours for the conversion process to finish, especially if you’re adjusting the settings for the highest quality. It may be an overnight process.
Once finished, however, your DVD or CD should play in any standard drive. If you run into problems, it may be because you either ran out of disc space, there was an error in the conversion process, or your video cannot be converted to the file format you need.
Make sure you remember to respect intellectual property. And if you are wondering whether it is legal for your to record streaming video for your own personal uses consult a lawyer and read what YTD has to say about that on their webpage.
This article was written by Megan Holden, a whiz with computers and emerging technology. With an ever-growing passion for the capabilities of tech to enrich everyday lives, she enjoys blogging about the ins and outs of computer systems, file formats, and new devices.