Messengers: DVD vs VCD

First created on 4th Jul 2003.
5th Aug 2003: use CSS.
16th May 2004: use CSS for most elements.
Visits Counter visits since 4th Jul 2003

This page compares a movie in two formats: DVD and VCD. I just happen to have both formats of Messengers lying around -- okay, I lied -- I just got the R2 DVD and I always had the VCD lying around, since I like the show so much. The VCD belongs to a friend and I haven't return it to him after three years!

Well, there have been comments on the Internet forums that people cannot tell the difference in video quality between VCD and DVD. Huh? This page is for them. Now, I must confess using Messengers may not be a good choice, because the DVD has just average video quality. (However, it does not have EE, which tend to be overused.)

If you don't know anything about VCD: VCD stands for Video CD. The video resolution is 352 x 240 for NTSC (352 x 288 for PAL), constant bitrate MPEG-1. Frame rate is always 29.97 fps (25 fps for PAL). Sound is always 2-channel 16-bit 44.1 kHz. Audio bitrate is fixed, but can be either 192 kbps or 224 kbps.

The file system is built on top of a standard music CD. That's why it is constrained to such low bitrates. A 1x music CD player reads data at 176 kB/s only (raw data; cooked data is 150 kB/s). Like a music CD, one standard 740 MB VCD can hold about 60 minutes of movie. Thus, most movies comes on two discs.

Category R2 DVD VCD
Bitrate ~6.78 Mbps 1.12 Mbps
Language tracks Japanese (Dolby Digital 2.0, 384 kbps) Japanese (224 kbps)
Subtitles English Hardcoded Chinese and English
Others Anamorphic; progressive; no EE; slightly soft Extremely soft; artifacts

For the VCD, I captured using both PowerDVD 4 and WinDVD Platinum. The reason is because previously I found that one of the players (an older version) decodes VCD very poorly. However, I can't remember which one!

It is interesting to note that the PowerDVD 4 images are 720 x 540 and the WinDVD Platinum images are 320 x 240. Neither gives 352 x 240. Both players do not single-step through the frames very smoothly -- maybe it is a limitation of the VCD format.

Time R2 DVD VCD (WinDVD) Time
0:00:12 Much more detailed. PowerDVD version 0:00:13
0:01:59 Strangely, I was unable to get the same frame in both PowerDVD and WinDVD. PowerDVD version 0:02:03
0:04:38 No block artifacts. PowerDVD version 0:04:43
0:57:31 Details again. PowerDVD version 0:57:39
1:50:21 Look at the hair. PowerDVD version disc 2, 0:52:39

The images under the WinDVD column are captured using WinDVD Platinum 4.5.11; no hardware acceleration; weave mode.

The other images are captured using PowerDVD 4.0; no hardware acceleration; weave mode; original video profile.

For the VCD images, the black borders are cropped off. The DVD images are resized in PS (using bicubic interpolation) from 720 x 480 to 854 x 480. This is to restore the proper aspect ratio. The original files are not available on this webpage. No sharpening is done. The images are converted from BMP to JPEG (quality 9) using Photoshop 6.0.