It must have been around 2003 that I asked my aunt to download me Finding Nemo, because I liked that film in cinema[^VCDNemoFootnote]. Nowadays, I can't remember the plot anymore, but I do remember my aunt passing me the film like a fine drug on two discs that seemed quite compact.
Compact Discs. Haha.
Back then, I didn't think a lot about it, but when I watched a Techmoan video about the Video CD some days ago, I understood that my aunt gave me exactly this thing.
Apparently, these discs were really popular in Asia where VHS tapes couldn't stand a chance to discs due to the high humidity of air in these regions, essentially rendering the tapes mouldy and disgusting. I mean, even more disgusting than VHS already is as a format. And, to my surprise, the Video CD is still fucking popular there. In 2017, you can still choose from a vast catalog of more than 23,000 discs to be imported, and even today's films continue to be released in this format!
Now you might think: yeh, I understand this but why are these things still made today? There is DVD and Blu-ray, right?
Technically, you're right. But as it happens to be, not every part of the world has the same high standard of living as the western part and this might be linked to people still having old players, small-sized CRT televisions and simply not enough money to buy modern technology. So, the VCD fills that spot of having access to new films in a dirt-cheap way.
According to what I've read, the majority of people dislike the Video CD because of its quality and they probably have every reason to do so. But remember that decoders are nowadays way more powerful than back in 1993 when the format was introduced and even when you split a regular movie on two 700MB discs, it had still looked like washed-out shit due to the ancient MPEG-1 codec. Also, it's no secret that MP2 stereo sound at 224kbit/s is not quite as brilliant as DTS-HD or some similar format that they use on today's Blu-ray discs.
But there is some thing that I have over other people, which is my minimalism fetish. Under minimalist aspects, the Video CD is more powerful than even the best Blu-ray can ever be.
1. The VCD is a widely adopted standard. Most computers and DVD players are able to play the format; you simply need a disc drive, there's no magic to it. That makes Video CDs extremely portable. 2. CDs are cheap as fuck to produce and buy. They're resilient too and won't be worn out after a few years like a VHS tape. 3. There is no space on them for ads and similar funny stuff. So you insert the disc, maybe get one copyright notice and then the fun begins. Compare this to Blu-ray where you can't even skip the trailers some time. 4. The cheap aesthetic is unbeatable. 5. No DRM protection! (Admittedly, no one would even want to rip a Video CD.)
So here you go. Four and a half pretty good reasons to like the VCD, and after all this circlejerking I'm sure I will import a Video CD some day, even if it's just for my shelf.
[^VCDNemoFootnote]: Fun fact: I always thought "Finding" was the fish's first name and "Nemo" his last one. Not kidding.