Video CD

A few years later, Philips decided to give CDs the ability to produce video, utilizing the same technology as its LaserDisc counterpart. This led to the creation of CD Video (CD-V) in 1987. However, the disc's small size significantly impeded the ability to store analog video; thus only 5 minutes of picture information could fit on the disc's surface (despite the fact that the audio was digital). Therefore, CD-V distribution was limited to featuring music videos, and it was soon discontinued by 1991.

By the early 1990s engineers were able to digitize and compress video signals, greatly improving storage efficiency. Because this new format could hold 74/80 minutes of audio and video on a 650/700MB disc, releasing movies on compact discs finally became a reality. Extra capacity was obtained by sacrificing the error correction (it was believed that minor errors in the datastream would go unnoticed by the viewer). This format was named Video CD or VCD.

Although many DVD video players support playback of VCDs, VCD video is only compatible with the DVD-Video standard if encoded at 29.97 frames per second or 25 frames per second.

As with most CD-based formats, VCD audio is incompatible with the DVD-Video standard due to a difference in sampling frequency; DVDs require 48 kHz, whereas VCDs use 44.1 kHz.

By compressing both the video and audio streams, a VCD is able to hold 74 minutes of picture and sound information, the same duration as a standard 74 minute audio CD. The MPEG-1 compression used records mostly the differences between successive video frames, rather than write out each frame individually. Similarly, the audio frequency range is limited to those sounds most clearly heard by the human ear.

PlayBack Control (PBC) added in VCD 2.0 requires a special 'Return' button

XVCD (eXtended Video CD) is the name generally given to any format that stores MPEG-1 video on a compact disc in CD-ROM XA Mode 2 Form 2, but does not strictly follow the VCD standard in terms of the encoding of the video or audio.

A normal VCD is encoded to MPEG-1 at a constant bit rate (CBR), so all scenes are required to use exactly the same data rate, regardless of complexity. However, video on an XVCD is typically encoded at a variable bit rate (VBR), so complex scenes can use a much higher data rate for a short time, while simpler scenes will use lower data rates. Some XVCDs use lower bitrates in order to fit longer videos onto the disc, while others use higher bitrates to improve quality. MPEG-2 may be used instead of MPEG-1.

Super Video CD is a format intended to be the successor of VCD, offering better quality of image and sound.

Video CDs do not come with closed captioning (on-screen text to aid viewers with hearing problems). When watching a film that exceeds 74 minutes (nearly 1¼ hours), which is the maximum video capacity of one disc, a viewer has to change the disc upon reaching halfway (unless the discs are played on a VCD changer that can hold multiple discs and play them automatically in succession), whereas a single VHS tape can hold 3½ hours of continuous video (though as of 2014, 10-hour VHS tapes are available).

Films released on VCD can come on as many as 3 discs, depending on the length of the film. Cases of VCDs are shaped like those of audio CDs. DVD and Blu-ray cases, however, favor height over width.

When playing a DVD, the viewer is brought to a main menu which gives them options (watch the feature film, view "deleted scenes", play some special applications, etc.). VCDs are usually straightforward, playing them often goes directly to the video with extras (mostly trailers and commercials) taking place before or after it, like on a VHS cassette.

Subtitles are found on many Asian VCDs but cannot be removed, unlike DVDs. The subtitles are embedded on the video during the encoding process ("hardsubbed"). It is not uncommon to find a VCD with subtitles for two languages.

Though the VCD technology can support it, most films carried on VCDs do not contain chapters, requiring the viewer to fast-forward to resume the program after playback has been stopped. This is mostly because VCD technology is able to start playback at a chapter point but there is nothing to signal the player that the chapter has changed during a program. This can be confusing for the user as the player will indicate that it is still playing chapter 1 when it has played through to chapter 2 or later. Pressing the Next button would cause playback from the beginning of chapter 2. However, preview material is sometimes stored in a separate chapter, followed by a single chapter for the film.

VCDs are often bilingual. Because they feature stereo audio, disc players have an option to play only the left or right audio channel. On some films, they feature English on the left audio channel and Cantonese on the right; more commonly Hong Kong VCDs will feature Mandarin on one channel and Cantonese on the other. This is similar to selecting a language track on a DVD, except it is limited to 2 languages, due to there being only two audio channels (left and right). The audio track effectively becomes monaural.

VCD's most noticeable disadvantage compared to DVD is image quality, due both to the more aggressive compression necessary to fit video into such a small capacity as well as the compression method used. Additionally, VCD movie surround sound capability is limited to Dolby Surround matrixed within the stereo tracks, while DVDs are capable of six channels of discrete surround sound via Dolby Digital AC-3.