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Home > Essays > Optical Storage

Tuesday, February 19, 2002
SuperVCD Format

1. Main features

(Source: Philips)  Super VCD (SVCD) standard is set by the China National Committee of Standards & Philips, Sony, Matsushita and JVC. It is based on MPEG-2 technology with variable bit rate (VBR) support. SVCD can deliver up to 2 times sharper video images than the previous VCD standard. SVCD specifies MPEG2 video at 576x480 resolution, almost four times the MPEG1 resolution specified in VCD.

    

Super VideoCD SpecificationsSVCD is backward compatible with VCD1.1, 2.0, and Interactive VCD 3.0 formats. Furthermore, while VCD requires text to be embedded in the video, SVCD uses a dedicated text data stream. This allows graphics and text such as multi-language subtitles for movies or karaoke text to be added at any time, while eliminating artifacts common with the compressed graphics and text streams of VCD.

Why should i care about it ?

There is a market need for a standardized full digital Compact Disc based video reproduction system. The standard has been specified to allow for cost optimized Super Video CD players. The Super Video-CD standard upgrades the current Video-CD format. It utilizes better Video and Audio Quality. It also standard includes extensions for surround sound multi-channel audio, provisions for PC playback, and is prepared for further future improvements. It is also based on variable bit rate (VBR) MPEG2 coding for more efficient use of the disc capacity. The playing time per disc can vary from 35 minutes to more than 70 minutes depending on the average bit rate used. The objective of the new standard is to ensure the best price/ performance combination possible with the latest state of the art technology available, and to offer more flexibility for publishers to use the best video/audio quality given its limited bandwidth and disc capacity.

In conclusion you can have:
- Flexibility to use the best Video and Audio quality given the limited disc capacity.
- Best price/performance combination.
- Utilizing low cost CD duplication technique.
- Make use of the installed gear of CD recorders.

Hey..How is Super VideoCD compared with DVD?

- Similar Audio and Video quality Same MPEG2 technology
- Super Video CD has lower cost Normal CD mastering and duplication
- Super Video CD authoring much easier Desktop PC systems with CD recorder
- Simplified Licensing
- Super Video CD has less playing time

Which are the Super VideoCD main features ?

- Resolution: 480x576 (PAL) / 480x480 (NTSC) (2/3 resolution of D1, better as regular TV)
- Video : MPEG2 VBR, average bitrate up to 2.6 mbps
- Still picture resolutions up to 704 x 576
- Graphic overlay in separate video plane
- 4 selectable subtitles for Movies or lyrics for Karaoke
- Audio : Variable audio bitrate, 32 kbs to 384 kbs allowing (5.1) MPEG2 Multi-channel
- Dual audio streams for multi-lingual sound
- Extended interactivity : Player control API, variables, conditional instructions

Where it now used (or will) ?

(western world)
- Movie applications. Only for prototyping, testing and low volume duplication.
- Non movie applications : Educational, point of purchase, site based advertising, cover mount, personal video, photos and soon video.

(Far-East)
- Movie distribution
- Karaoke
- Educational applications

What are the improvements over the VideoCD v2.0?

Variable bitrate (VBR)

MPEG-2 Video

Two Audio streams

Surround Sound Multi-channel Audio

Overlay Graphics

The variable bit rate ( VBR ) may vary up to double (2X) speed. For a 2 disc movie title of 110 minutes, the gain of the average bit rate of the MPEG video stream is typically 45%, which is used for the resolution improvement.

Much better picture quality is achieved by using MPEG-2 instead of MPEG-1 coding, and by interlaced double vertical resolution of 480 lines for NTSC and 576 lines for PAL.

One extra MPEG audio stream has been added for a second language. The Audio streams are selectable by the user, and VBR coding is used for a more efficient compression.

As backward compatible extension in included Movie surround sound MPEG-2 Multi-Channel (5+1 channels ) coding.

New Overlay Graphics for Movie sub-titling and Karaoke lyrics, with up to four selectable (language / lyrics) sub-channels, and Karaoke highlight color change support.

OK..now give me a roundup between SuperVCD vs. VCD

Item

Super Video CD

Video CD 2.0

Sector rate

variable up to 150 Hz
( 2X speed )

fixed to 75 Hz

CDDA tracks

not used

optional

Data retrieval
File locations

Fixed locations

Fixed locations

CDI sub-directory

not used

mandatory

Video
bit rate (mbps)
resolution NTSC (HxV)
resolution PAL (HxV)

Mpeg-2
variable to 2.6
480x480
480x576

Mpeg-1
1.15
352 x 240
352 x 288

Still Picture
resolution NTSC (HxV)
resolution PAL (HxV)

Mpeg-2
480 x 480,704 x 480
480 x 576, 704 x 576

Mpeg-1
352 x 240, 704 x 480
352 x 288, 704 x 576

Audio
bit rate
audio channels
surround sound

MPEG-1, layer II
from 32 to 384 kbps
up to 2 stereo or 4 mono
MPEG-2 (5+1) extension

MPEG-1, layer II
fixed to 224 kbps
1 stereo or 2 mono
stereo with Dolby pro-logic

Overlay Graphics and text
sub-channels
coding

overlay video plane
<= 4
4 color CLUT ( 2bit / pixel )

not used
N/A
N/A

Where i can play it?

The Super Video CD is based on the CD-ROM-XA format. This format allows the possibility to add PC playback applications on the same disc enabling the disc to be played on a PC. The "EXT" directory is mentioned to contain such application and setup files. The main root could contain even an autorun enabling files.

So in other words you can play it into :

- TV based systems
- DVD players (New DVD players will soon (Q3, 1999) have Super Video CD playback including CD-R capability)
- Super VideoCD players (can also play Mp3 CDs or serve as a WevTV bronswer)
- PC based systems.




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