Introduction to SVCD (Super VideoCD)

What is SVCD?

Super Video CD is a standard dating from 1998 that builds on the VCD standard. It delivers video quality between that of VCD and DVD, using higher resolution video, variable bitrate encoding and using the more versatile MPEG-2 standard for audio and video compression.

Like VCDs, SVCDs can be played on many standard DVD players. It's easy to create your own using a PC and a CD-R or CD-RW drive. Just about any video can be transferred to an SVCD with ease.

Advantages of SVCD over VCD

MPEG-2 Video

MPEG-2 introduces several advantages over MPEG-1 through increased picture resolution, introduction of interlaced video and increased DC component resolution.

Variable bitrate (VBR)

By allowing variable bitrate audio and video streams, the encoder can maintain a more constant quality by reducing the number of bits allocated to low detail sections and increasing the number of bit allocated to high detail sections. Also bitrate can be increased to double that offered by VCD.

Multiple Audio streams

Up to two MPEG audio stream can use used, allowing a second language to be added.

Multi-channel Audio (Surround Sound)

Using MPEG-2 5.1 channel audio encoding allows digital surround sound to be added to movies. VCD only supports analogue Dolby ProLogic surround sound.

Graphics Overlay Plane

An colour overlay graphics plane has been added, allowing subtitling or Karaoke lyrics to be displayed. Up to 4 user selectable streams can be encoded on a disc.


XSVCD is an extension of the SVCD standard. It is not a standard in itself, and means an SVCD that does not conform to the SVCD specification, but is still playable on many SVCD and DVD players. This is possible since the hardware in many players is designed to play other formats as well, such as DVD. To do this it must support other display resolutions and bitrates. SXVCDs take advantage of the fact that players are designed to be "fault tolerant", that is play discs that do not strictly adhere to the standard in the best way that they can.

XSVCDs commonly use either lower resolution (e.g. 352x240 or 352x288) or higher resolution (e.g. 704x480, 704x576, 720x480, 720x576). Lower resolutions can be used where low bitrates are required to reduce blockiness. Higher resolutions can be used to improve slow moving images where high bitrates are used. These resolutions commonly play on MPEG decoders since they are required for other standards, such as DVD. Some players will also play higher bitrate XSVCDs. This depends on the drive mechanism, and is less common, particularly among older DVD players.

Technical Specifications of Super Video CD 1.0

Feature Description
Video Resolution 2/3 D1 (480x576 PAL, 480x480 NTSC)
Video Compression MPEG-2
Video Bitrate Variable bitrate, up to 2600 kbps [1]
Audio Compression MPEG-1 layer 2
Audio Bitrate Variable between 32 kbps to 384 kbps [1]
Surround Sound MPEG-2 5+1 (digital) or Dolby ProLogic (analogue)
Maximum audio streams 2 stereo or 4 mono
Other features Graphic overlay for OSD, 4 subtitle (or lyric) streams, extended interactivity with variables and conditional instructions
Still picture resolutions 480 x 480, 480 x 576, 704x480 or 704x576

Note [1] - The combined audio and video bitrates should not exceed 2756 kbps.

Digital Video
Glossary MPEG Bitrate

Video Editing

Introduction Plasma LCD Projection HDTV Antennas

Introduction Aerial Channels Coverage PVR Recording STB Guides TV


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