Lets face it, eveyone's heard of a VCD. Quite frankly, they're yesterday's news and although the quality's "watchable", the chore of switching to a new disk after only 60 mins of video is unbearable. Well, okay, maybe I'm exagerating, but you get the picture. But what if some genius came up with a way of squezing two hours of VHS quality video on a single ordinary bog-standard CD-R. Yep, for around about 15p, you can have 120mins of glorious, uninterupted video footage. Too good to be true? Nope, and it's proved so much of a good idea that you're spoilt for choice in the method of encoding. VCD fans have never had it so good.
So for those unlucky people without a DVD burner, you can squeeze 2 hours of VCD quality video on a single CD. Enough of my hard-sell, all you want to know is how to get your 2 hour masterpiece on a standard CD. Well, I've so far found three different methods: KVCD, MVCD and XVCD, and they're all based around "tweaks" on the standard VCD format with varying degrees of compatability with stand-alone DVD players (for those not in "the loop", a standalone referes to a standard DVD player you'll find in the majority of households).
But enough of my hard-sell, all you people want to know is how to queeze two hours of video on a plain old CD-R. Well the first pretender to the VCDs throne is the XVCD. According to those i the know, the X in XVCD stands for eXtended, so what's eXtended about an XVCD and why wasn't it called an EVCD? Well, the extended bit related to the ability to change the bitrate of a VCD to a mximum of 3.5mbit/s. That's roughly half the bitrate of a normal DVD and pretty impressive. But this format was actually designed for increased quality, therefore reducing the video capicty of a CD - a 2 hour video would need 4 discs at the maximum bitrate! Moreoever, compatibility is actually worse. You can tweak the bitrate to extend the length of your VCD above the 74mins limit - to do this visit Digital Digest - but from a personal point of view, there's not much value to this hack of the VCD standard.
So the XVCD failed in my promise to deliver two hours of good quality video on a VCD. Can the MVCD be the next generation VCD? It's not looking promising as the first few pages in google search display websites in foriegn languages. Personally, I've never created a MVCD and the reasons now are clear - there's little or no support written in English. I'm told the format can produce a 2 hour single disc VCD, but without any solid documentation, this user can't comment on either the quality or the validity of a MoleVCD (and don't ask why it's called a MoleVCD!)
So it's two hacked formats down and one left to go. Can the KVCD finally give me two hours of video. To cut straight to the chase (something the Matrix Revolutions should have done), yes. And it does it well. A quite directly from the official site:
All very technical, I know. But all you need to know is that it works. I've created a few KVCDs from various source formats and haven't been dissapointed. Morever, the documentation is spot on, the templates exhaustive and compatability with standalones the same as VCDs."KVCD is a modification to the standard MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 GOP structure and Quantization Matrix. It enables you to create over 120 minutes of near DVD quality video, depending on your material, on a single 80 minute CD-R/CD-RW."
But don't take my word for it... get yourself over to www.kvcd.org and download some templates. The guys there have created some templates for tmpgenc (the best encoder par excellence), but seem to dislike the tmpgenc audio encoder. I don't have any qualms with using the internal audio encoder, so I switch to a system format to encode both audio and video.
So there is life in the VCD yet - 2 hours video on a standard CD that's burned at upto 52X! I wouldn't say it negates the need for a DVD burner, but I certainly tend to use a KVCD where I would have used a VCD in the past. And I'll use a KVCD where my source quality isn't perfect such as VHS captures where a DVD simply wouldn't be justified.
This guide had been reproduced at www.marcpeters.co.uk and is Copyright 2003 Marc Peters