What is a VCD Converter?

Mary Elizabeth

VCD (Video Compact Disc) is an all-digital format for video CDs — an important development from the hybrid analog/digital format that preceded it — and a video CD holds 74 minutes of video that is VHS-quality. The VCD standard was the joint work of JVC, Matsushita, Philips, and Sony, was developed in 1993, and uses MPEG-1 compression. It is sometimes called the “White Book” standard, and CDs manufactured to this standard play on CD-ROM and DVD drives that are being manufactured in the twenty-first century. SVCD, or Super Video CD, was a follow up using the MPEG-2 standard and approaches DVD quality, but playing time was cut nearly in half. A VCD converter is a software application designed to change a file either from or to this format.

Jewel cases may be used to prevent scratching of a VCD.
Jewel cases may be used to prevent scratching of a VCD.

A VCD converter may be a stand-alone item. The type that converts files to VCD format may be combined with a VCD burner, which burns VCD discs. There are some standard file types that a VCD converter can usually convert to the VCD format. These include MPEG-1, MPEG-2, the QuickTime file type MOV, the Flash file types FLV and SWF, AVI (Audio Video Interleave), and WMV (Windows Media Viewer). Some VCD converters can also convert files to other formats, such as DVD or Super Video CD. Alternatively, it may convert in either direction between many of these file types.

Upon opening a VCD converter, one usually begins by adding the file one wishes to convert, or files if batch conversion is offered. There is often an "Add Files" button which will allow one to browse one’s computer and external disks to identify the location of the file to be converted. Alternatively, it may be possible to drag and drop files onto the converter window.

There may be a number of output choices. These can include not only the file type nut also the video and audio bitrates, the frame rate, the audio sample rate, the width and height of the video, and the audio channels. If the plan is to play the video on a television, care is needed. The converter should offer a choice of settings and the proper television broadcast standard for the locale in which the video will be played must be selected. There are three standards: NTSC (National Television System Committee) and PAL/SECAM (Phase Alternating Line / Sequential Couleur Avec Memoire). For North America and Japan, NTSC should be chosen. For Europe and elsewhere, choose PAL/SECAM.

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