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I think I need to learn about VCD

R. Collins Farquhar IV, before seeing my new video:
You don’t call art a “video” or a “movie” or a “tape.” You call art a film.

R. Collins Farquhar IV, after seeing my new vi… whatever:

Yes, that is definitely a video.

But other than that, my newest effort got a good reaction at its sneak preview. I needed to do a sound check on it in the church sanctuary, and at the last minute I figured I might as well invite a few of the people who were in it, just as a courtesy.

So I fixed the audio and ran off two masters. That chapter of my life is done now, other than figuring out how I’m going to distribute the thing. And I’ll tell you what, VCD is awfully tempting. I know it’s rarely used for anything legit and legal, but the medium is almost perfect for stuff like this. Its length is 21 minutes and change, well within the limits of a single disc. For a small run, duplication price of VHS tapes is prohibitive, whereas a spindle of CD-Rs yields a price of less than $.35 apiece for quality discs and a fast burner will crank out a disc in two minutes.

Drawbacks: VCD encodes at 320×240 resolution, whereas most of my source footage is 720×480 (miniDV) or 640×480 (digital camera), so we’ll lose quality. But VHS is also a 320×240 medium, and my miniDV footage wasn’t exactly shot in optimal conditions. And sometimes I zoomed in on video or still shots to an effective resolution of 320×240, so the places I did that will be less visible. SVCD is 480×480 resolution, but its compatibility is less universal.

And while it would be nice to give people something they can play in their VCR, most DVD players will play VCDs and so will any computer equipped with a CD-ROM drive and appropriate software (like, say, Windows Media Player or QuickTime). Considering my audience is teenagers from an upper-middle-class suburb, I think it’s safe to say they’ll be able to watch the flick, no problem.

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2 thoughts on “I think I need to learn about VCD”

  1. I know it’s rarely used for anything legit and legal,…

    Not true ๐Ÿ™‚ VCD and SVCD are very popular in Asia. I believe more prerecorded VCDs are sold there than videotapes (and yes, under license – not pirated ๐Ÿ˜‰ That’s not to say videos and movies aren’t pirated in parts of Asia, but I think the format has a bed rep because of the way it’s used here in the States…

    There’s a wealth of info on VCDs on the VCDHelp website.

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