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What is AVI?

AVI stands for Audio Video Interleave. This is a container video format that specifies certain structure how the audio and video streams should be stored within the file. AVI itself doesn't specify how it should be encoded (just like the streaming format ASF), so the audio/video can be stored in very various ways. Most commonly used video codecs that use AVI structure are M-JPEG and DivX. AVI contains code called FourCC which tells what codec it is encoded with.

What is MPEG?

MPEG stands for 'Moving Pictures Experts Groups'. It is a group working under the directives of the International Standards Organization (ISO) and the International Electro-Technical Commission (IEC). MPEG is a committee of experts from the audio, video and computer industries developing an evolving series of standards for compression of moving images.

MPEG-1 defines a framework for encoding moving video and audio, significantly reducing the amount of storage with minimal perceived difference (difference that humans can detect) in quality. MPEG-1 video compression method tries to use previous frame's information in order to reduce the amount of information the current frame requires. In addition, the audio encoding uses something called psychoacoustics - compression removes the high and low frequencies a normal human ear cannot hear.

MPEG-2 is not a successor to MPEG-1, but an addition instead - both of these formats have their own purposes. MPEG-1 is a relatively low-resolution format currently used in VCD and the World Wide Web for short animated files. The MPEG-2 is a much higher resolution format developed for digital television and used in DVD.

What is a VCD?

VCD stands for Video CD. A Video CD is a high-density optical storage medium. It can store data typically up to 650Megs. Video and audio are encoded using MPEG-1 format. Most of the stand-alone DVD players and VCD players can play VCD.

VCD is still the most compatible format for video distribution. Anybody with a DVD player, VCD player or computers with CD-ROM drive (standard configuration) is able to play VCD. The video quality is better than most other formats and is sufficient for average home viewing. A VCD recording medium is very cheap and most widely available. Due to small sizes, VCD videos are also well suited for distribution.

What is a DVD?

DVD stands for Digital Video Disc. A standard VCD records video data in MPEG-1 format. On the other hand, a standard DVD records video data in MPEG-2 format. A DVD player or a computer equipped with a DVD drive is required to play DVDs. Almost all DVD players also play VCDs.

A DVD is a very high-density optical storage medium. It is able to hold significantly more data as compared to VCDs. A typical 2-hour movie requires two VCDs. The same movie requires only one DVD. Moreover, the recorded movie itself has twice as better quality and resolution as compared to VCDs. This is because a DVD movie records video data in the MPEG-2 format.

DVDs are fast gaining popularity with its high-quality videos and high-storage capability. However, DVD recording medium, DVD players and DVD drives are still relatively expensive.

What is a SVCD?

SVCD stands for Super Video CD. SVCD is a successor to Video CD. SVCD contains MPEG-2 video stream and MPEG-1 or MPEG-2 audio stream recorded on a normal VCD recording medium. Most of the DVD players can play SVCD discs.

An SVCD video quality is much better than VCDs and virtually the same as DVDs. Since SVCD is still restricted to 650Megs of data, the amount of discs required for a standard 2-hour movie is more than double as compared to VCDs

What Makes Up Video?

Video is made up of an electro-magnetic signal that that can travel through electronic devices like cables, antennas, satellite dishes and TVs. Sent from its source, video has a certain amount of information in it that makes up the video picture. However, when that signal travels through a sending device it can also pick up additional information from other electro-magnetic sources. This is what is called interference or static (for those of you who use bunny-ear antennas on your TV, you know what I mean). What makes the difference between Analog and DV video is the way the video signal is interpreted on the sending and receiving ends of all that electro-magnetic communication.

Overview of Digital Video Formats

Digital video formats are always a trade-off between size and quality. Maximum quality is only achieved by sampling at a high rate and not compressing the data. Doing this with broadcast-quality video requires about 20 MB/sec of digital data (or 1.2 GB/min). For most purposes this is an impractical amount of data, so various compression schemes are used to reduce the amount of data without noticeably reducing quality.

Video Formats: What should I use?

Many of us have heard of DVDs before -- but what are mini DVD, VCD, or SVCD? The reason that you may want to consider these other formats is because the costs of DVD burning and the space required over PC.

These alternative formats provide a good economical solution for distributing your movies on CD-R/RW discs that can be played on computers and many home stand-alone DVD players. Video Convert Master provides a solution to cut down the stored space, and a method of burning 2 or more different videos into one disc.

For a complete guide on the advantages, required settings and playback options of each format, please refer to the tables below.

The PAL Picture Standard

MPEG video is a standard for broadcasting and viewing on Digital TV. These standards, called as the picture standards, differ from country to country.

PAL (Phase Alternating Line) is a TV standard introduced in the early 1960s in Europe. PAL is used in most of the western European countries (except France, where SECAM is used instead), Australia, some countries of Africa, some countries of South America and in some Asian countries.

The NTSC Picture Standard

NTSC (National Television System Committee) is a Color TV standard developed in the U.S. in 1953. United States, Canada, Japan, most of the American continent countries and various Asian countries follow NTSC standards. Rest of the world uses either some variety of PAL or SECAM standards.