CD Video (Not Video CD) – when Videodiscs went gold

CD Video (Not Video CD) – when Videodiscs went gold


Do you remember CD Video? Not to be
confused with a Video CD which is a format that came out in the 1990s. No CD
Video came out in 1988 and is on distinctive gold colored discs. Now to
explain what this format is I’ve got a promotional video for it from 1988 which
I’m going to play you in a moment. I should say though I’ve shortened this
down a little bit there’s a full version of it available at the link in the video
description text box and it has terrible quality sound. I’ll explain why
that’s the case in a moment but first let’s have a look at it. Hello
cuddly Ken here now you’re probably standing there wondering what this is aren’t you?
Well let me tell you, it’s the new CD Video machine from Philips, yes pictures
have at last arrived in the world of digital sound. This is it a CD machine that also
plays pictures. All you need is a telly and a hi-fi to get great pictures and CD
sound in your home and you already know how fabulous these are. Gone are the days
of naff and fuzzy records, this machine plays these CDs the same as any other CD
player. But now CDs come in gold too. What’s the difference you may ask, well
get one of these and all of a sudden this happens. CD video is CD with
pictures these gold five inch discs play a video like this one but also have 20
minutes of sound only, and as if all that wasn’t exciting enough there are two new
discs. This 8 inch disc plays 45 minutes of full video and this 12 inch disc
plays for 2 hours so anything’s possible on CD Video, music, TV programs, cartoons
and movies. On 8 inch there are video compilations from the world’s top
artists from Cameo to Curiosity and Dire Straits to Deep Purple in fact all of
this is available before Christmas. CD Video. Now you can see the music Right so it just so happens I’ve got an
example of all three sizes of CD Video here and we’ll have a look at these and
as I go through them I’ll explain why the sound quality on that last clip was
so poor. So this one is the same size as a standard compact disc, on this
particular one I’ve got three digital audio tracks and one video which is a
video of one of those tracks. So the idea is you pick this up in a store and you
get the music and you get the video to go with it. Now you can see a noticeable
join on here between the CD section in the middle and the video section towards
the outer edge. So if we put that into a compact disc player it will read the CD
section first because of course CDs read from the inside to the outside, so it
reads it as a three track CD and if you press play just plays track one, the same as
any normal compact disc. But if I put the same disc in a device capable of playing
CD Videos it skips past those three digital audio tracks, go straight to
track four and play that as a video. Now if we move across to the 8-inch disc
we can see that this one just contains videos there are no isolated audio
tracks although the audio that goes along with these tracks is digital as
well. Let’s have a look inside at the disc and we’ll see on the sleeve there’s
a bit of information about the CD Video system. It says CD Video represents the latest development in the compact disc system,
uniting the extraordinary sound of the compact disc with the highest possible
video quality, the CD Video disc’s remarkable performances is the result of laser
optical scanning used for both the audio and the video information stored on the
disc. Now whilst there’s something very attractive about
the gold color of these discs it isn’t something that’s necessary for them to
perform their function, I think it’s really just there to distinguish them
from previous discs especially when it comes to that smaller one so you don’t
mix it up with a standard compact disc. But let’s pop this one in the machine
now and have a quick look at it. Now moving on to the largest size discs
this 12-inch one it’s a little bit unusual they decided to put these
contents on this size of disc because they only take up 41 minutes which would
have fitted on that 8 inch disc but perhaps they wanted everything all on
one side of the disc so there wasn’t a break in the middle and as you can see
when we have a look at this disc everything is recorded on the other side.
You should also notice that towards the edge of the disc there’s a darker area
it’s kind of cloudy, it looks dirty, well it isn’t dirt it’s something that’s
known as disc rot and that’s when the layers of a disc start to separate the
sandwich of layers and of course that then creates problems for the laser to
read the disc. Let’s just put this in the Machine and see how that’s affected
the video playback performance. Rock and Roll is a way of life that’s erm you
can’t think of it as just a music form if you live it you live it. You wake up in the morning you’re brushing your teeth with it.
you go to bed with it next to your pillow at night. So that explains why that
first clip that I played you was suffering from such poor quality sound
because the disc was suffering from disc rot. It seems like the digital
soundtrack is the first thing to go. The video while suffering from drop-outs
doesn’t seem to suffer quite as badly. But looking at this disc compared to the
INXS disc, this one looks like it’s the worst of the lot so let’s put this one
in the machine and see how it fares. Yes on this one the digital audio
soundtrack has completely gone, so no matter how loud Levar Burton shouts
into that megaphone no-one is going to be able to hear him.
Right now let’s go back and have a look at CD video in a bit more detail. Where it
came from, why it came out and why it disappeared so
quickly. So you’ll notice this promotional disc is from 1988, that was
the launch of the product in the UK and you’ll have also noticed earlier on I
was playing back these CD Video discs in a Laserdisc player so what’s the
connection? Well Philips along with MCA launched
Laserdisc in 1978. Laserdisc was an analog format, it confuses some people
when they see it being on a disc and being silver they think it’s like a
compact disc, but no everything on it was analog it was analog video, analog stereo
audio, albeit read by a laser. Now of course that disc then led to the
development of the compact disc in the 1980s. Now compact disc is of course
digital, so once they’ve figured out how to make digital audio on a silver disc
read by a laser they then fold that technology back into
Laserdisc again and the first Laserdisc player that could play a digital audio
track alongside the (analog) video was launched in 1984 in Japan that was the Pioneer
CLD 9000, and despite its not inconsiderable price it was an immediate
sales success for Pioneer. In Japan just after launch it was selling 10,000
units per month. Meanwhile over in Europe Philips weren’t having any success at
all they’d launched Laserdisc there in 1978 and had the European market to
themselves but they really weren’t able to sell any machines. They just
couldn’t get anyone interested in the format. Now I say anyone of course they had sold some but the sales were pitiful. In this
article from 1987 Philips estimated that there were only between 12,000 and 15,000
Laservision players, as they called them, in Europe. That’s 15,000 sold in almost
10 years of the format being on the market in all of Europe and over in
Japan they were selling 10,000 of one model per month back in 1984. But Philips
had hatched a plan, with Laserdisc now capable of playing a digital audio
soundtrack why not just start all over again? Drop the Laservision name that
hardly anyone was aware of, rebrand the whole thing CD Video and then you could
piggyback on the success of compact disc which had taken the market by storm. And that’s exactly what they announced we’re going to do at lavish launch
parties for this new format in March 1987 and after they’d launched their
initial range of home devices they planned on releasing portables with
built-in screens so people could watch CD Videos on the go. However a year later,
March 1988, the product still wasn’t out. Phillips had encountered a number
of problems. They’d had to switch the production of the players from Belgium
to Japan and also they were having difficulties getting the players to read
the discs properly because of the difference in weights between the
different sizes of discs. Compact disc runs at a different speed as well to a
Laserdisc, so the whole thing was more complicated than they anticipated. and it must have been more than a bit embarrassing for Philips who announced
the format to find that Pioneer had been able to develop their player that was
capable of playing all three sizes of discs without any problems, although it
did this by having two different motors in the machine which made it quite
expensive. Philips wanted to keep their machine down below £499.
But Philips eventually managed to overcome their technical difficulties and they
launched the CD Video product onto the UK market on the 3rd of October 1988. Now
as well as the Combi players which were capable of playing all three sizes of
disc, Philips also released smaller players approximately the same size as a
standard compact disc player, which could only play the smallest size disc, the one
the same size as a 12 centimeter CD. I remember being slightly tempted by these
when I saw them in the stores because they didn’t cost an awful lot more than
buying a compact disc player, which was still quite expensive at the time. But I
remember what it was that put me off and it was the medium-size discs. The fact
that that machine wouldn’t be able to play them and there were quite a few
titles on those that I was interested in at the time. The large ones weren’t too
much of interest because they just too expensive, but if I bought a
machine that could only play the small ones then I would have felt like I was
missing out. So Philips in a way shot themselves in the foot by offering too
much choice. Now as well as all these music titles they did release a range of
movies on the CD Video format, on the largest size disc which of course made
them quite expensive but really these are just Laserdiscs colored gold and
with a digital audio soundtrack. Up until this point in the UK though all the
laserdisc players had only be able to play analog soundtrack so if you wanted
to play one of these back with the audio intact you’d have to play it on one of the new CD Video machines. Now the first time I
ever saw Laserdiscs for sale in a store wasn’t when they were called Laserdiscs
or even Laservision or Discovision or VLP as Philips called it in the early
days, no it was during the late nineteen eighties relaunch as CD Video it will
have been 1989 when I saw a display in my local HMV they got a whole area to
these and all the different sizes were lined up with a big marquee and
promotional literature being given out it was quite impressive.
To anyone walking in looking at it, it looked like the latest and greatest
thing. We’d gone from CD and we were now moving to CD Video. But I was aware that
Laserdisc had been around for many years before then because I followed the
technology news so I’d seen Laserdisc when it was launched in the late 1970s
on the BBC TV show Tomorrow’s World I was aware of Laserdisc being used inside arcade
games like Dragon’s Lair for example and in the BBC Domesday projects as the
storage format for the data to be read off by the BBC Master computers. So to
me when I saw these on the shelves I thought, well that’s just Laserdisc again.
But there’s no mention anywhere on the packaging of this having anything to do
with Laserdiscs or Laservision. But despite this attempt to relaunch the
product as new, it didn’t have any more success in the market than Laserdiscs
or Laservision had had before it. The CD Video name disappeared almost as quickly
as it had appeared. It’s quite easy to see why it wasn’t a success it doesn’t
take a genius. Most of the discs weren’t these larger ones
they were the smaller ones with pop music on with a few
tracks and a video or maybe just a few videos on there. Well the market for pop
music videos tends to be younger people and who doesn’t tend to have £499
to spend on a player? Well that’s younger people as well and
the discs weren’t cheap. So it’s obvious the whole thing was never going to be a
success it’s just too expensive for the market that it’s aimed at. Now in my
opinion the whole format of CD Video is a bit of a kludge. What I mean by that, is
that this is CD video, these standard 12cm CDs with video on them. The other things that came along with it and were rebranded CD video had already
existed in the market. Of course the larger size discs, well those are just
Laserdiscs or Laservision discs with a digital audio soundtrack. Players for
Digital Audio soundtrack Laserdiscs had existed since 1984 so that was nothing
new. You might think that the medium sized discs were something that had just
been introduced along with this format, but no again those had been out for a
number of years I’ve got a disc here Madonna’s Like A Virgin, this is from
1984, this is from Japan. In fact a bit of an interesting thing about this disc,
you’ll notice the Laserdisc turtle on this side, which means flip it over and
play the other side. Well the other side of course you can’t play that because
it’s actually just white plastic that’s a bit like doing a picture disc I
suppose but with Laserdisc, two layers sandwich together. It’s the other side
that plays because of course Laserdiscs play from the underneath But back to the
CD video and this really is the essence of the format, this standard 12
centimeter CD sized one. The others just got caught up in the rebranding but
really those are Laserdiscs or LaserVision discs. This is a CD that can play
video and as we mentioned before we’ve got the CD section on the inside the
video section on the outside. But that video just like in the case of Laserdiscs is Composite Analog Video. In this case it’s PAL, it does have a digital
soundtrack accompanying it, but the video itself is analog. So this explains why
the (12cm) disc is split into two and in particular why the analog video has to
be on the outer section because that’s the only part
the disk that spins fast enough to be able to reproduce video. So the physical
limitations of the disk ended up creating the end product because you’ve
only got room for about six minutes worth of video, well it’s not much you
can put in there other than a pop music promo and then you’ve got that space in
the middle that you can’t really do much with other than perhaps stick some
digital audio in there. Let’s call it ‘CD Video’. Now this rather slapdash approach
to creating a new format annoyed the Japanese manufacturers, because up until
this point CD had been an agreed standard but the problem with the
Philips format was that you could only play the PAL discs in the PAL
territories and the NTSC discs in the NTSC territories. What was once a
worldwide format is now being segregated. They didn’t like that at all, but perhaps
it didn’t matter because technology moved pretty quickly in the eighties.
Just a year after the launch of CD Video in the UK in 1989 there’s this article
talking about the upcoming digital video formats. Philips apparently had been
working on CDI for five years by this point, so of course that predates CD
Video coming out, and they were only able to get it to play
crude video in a corner of the screen. However due to a breakthrough that
occurred in digital video compression in 1987 you were now able to get 72 minutes
worth of fullscreen moving video on a single compact disc.
So naturally Philips as well as other manufacturers around the world started
to concentrate their attentions on this new digital video. Which ultimately
resulted in the new format Video CD that Philips released in the early 1990s. Where you could hold a full movie on two compact discs, and that explains why Philips lost
interest in the CD Video format in the late 1980s, they were concentrating their
attentions on bringing out the new digital format just a few years later.
They’d tried to sell Laservision since the late 1970s without any success
this CD Video rebranding hadn’t really done anything to help it, and within just a
couple of years the CD Video name disappeared from the market. Now while
that might be the end of CD Video it certainly wasn’t the end of Laserdisc.
Laserdisc was the name that Pioneer had given to the format that Philips
called Laservision. As we saw earlier on they were doing fine over in Japan, they
weren’t doing too bad in the US and they’d been there since the very early
days as well, but they’d now become effectively the worldwide distributor
for Laserdisc players and they hit it at just the right point when the
collector’s market kicked in for widescreen special editions with
directors commentaries and of course one of the big things that appealed to the
collectors at the time was those digital soundtracks that had been added on in
the mid-1980s so you could argue that Philips had dropped out at exactly the
wrong point but I think it’s quite possible that CD Video would never have
been this success that Laserdisc was, albeit ever so briefly in the mid 1990s.
So there you go that was a look at CD Video A format that is often and not
unsurprisingly confused with Video CD. It doesn’t help that Philips launched both
of them and they reused the logo from CD Video on VCD, just swapping two of the
words around. Now VCD didn’t really have much success when it was launched in the
west in the early 1990s. You’re probably aware it’s a digital format, it uses MPEG
1 encoding and it splits a film usually across two CDs. But because it was cheap
to reproduce those CDs it did meet with a lot of success in the Asian market.
Right up until recently you could still buy new films on VCDs. So it had a run of
over 25 years. Now I’ve just looked online and I can’t see any brand new
releases on the format the most recent one came out in November 2017 so maybe
it’s dead or maybe it’s just having a rest and pining for the fjords. But anyway that’s it for the moment. As always, thanks for watching

100 Comments

  1. In Japan, instead of CDVIDEO advocated by PHILIPS,
    Sony Music (at a time of CBS/SONY and EPIC/SONY) led it and was called VIDEO SINGLE DISC (VSD). It is divided properly into the LD part and the CD part, and a large number of titles have appeared.

    Wikipedia https://ja.wikipedia.org/wiki/ビデオシングルディスク

    Google Search & Picture Search https://www.google.com/search?q=ビデオシングルディスク

  2. Meet Swampletics, my Morytania locked Ultimate Ironman. After recently maxing my Ultimate Ironman I decided to up the ante to forge my own journey from scratch. No banking, no trading, but this time I can't leave Morytania. All leading up to eventually taking on one of Runescape's biggest challenges: the Theatre of Blood.

  3. 9Philips got wind of Matsushita(now Panasonic research efforts into DVD, maybe – gave – no further investment justifiable.

  4. Here is another weird format Movie CD of which I have one ( Pump up the volume )
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/MovieCD

  5. Ahh cool, i remember reading about the cdi format in tech magazines and brochures in the 90s, being completley blown away by it! So is vcd and cdi basically the same format?

  6. I used to own both systems being the Philips CD Video player and then later on a CD-I player with Digital Video Cartridge playing Video-CD. I would still be collecting Laserdisks trough the beginning of the 90s aswell. A lot of laserdisks are still being used in the fanres community as some of them have quite a good colour and contrast ratio so people tend to still use them as reference for the sometimes oversaturated colour and contrast palette of bluray disks. It is amazing how these formats still have their imprint. Now on my PHilips machine I used to own, I can say you are right about it having it's flaws. Mine had to be replaced numerous times and now I know why. In all, those big shiny disks still make me feel nostalgic either way. Thnx for sharing this.

  7. 3 takeaways:
    A) Kenny Everett got old. Yikes!!
    2) 2 sided !!
    III) If the CDV = rotted, I'm surprised you were able to get a picture out of it !!

  8. What's really sad is when the cd video disc format came out they advertised them as bulletproof well unfortunately that's just not the case once disc rot starts there's no reversing the process

  9. Is there a video Matt has done talking about the introduction and history of DVD and maybe the 1st DVD player? I haven't come across one.

  10. 2:10 World's top artists, from Cameo to Curiosity… wow.. those brits must have some strange notion of what is considered "top"

  11. Such as very confusing format…A disc format should come with single size of physical medium, not multiple ones!

    Speaking of Video CD, I'm still remember when I'm enjoyed movies in VCD format on JVC VCD player decades ago which have triple-tray mechanism to allow disc changing without going to swap the VCD manually.

  12. I sense a come back for Video CD since with H.265 with 96kbps stereo Opus, a 2 hour DVD level film is possible. Same with 720p video and 160Kbps Opus 5.1ch on a DVD DL.

  13. Techmoan, what would you say in your experience is the most durable and reliable medium to store content on? I've never heard of disc rot before this video and have always wondered if we were to compare vinyl, magnetic tape, CDs and an MMC card, which would last the longest with 100% of the content still being able to be retrieved? I'm specifically asking with data storage in mind. Thank you for providing us with great content!

  14. I remember the very mad customers we had when they found out that CDs would not play on DVD players, at first. It took the engineers almost a year to solve the reverse engineering problem, but they wouldn't let it happen a second time. When Blu Ray came out, they made sure that CDs & DVDs would also play.

  15. Man, disk rot sucks. I recently found my old Game Empires dos game disk and it had a patch spiderwebbing near the center. The childhood memories on that disk alone

  16. There's CD-video laser-discs DVD Blu-ray CD-audio but what's video-CD (from Japan) (VCD) what's the difference between that and CD-video … The only thing I can think of is that one is digital audio and analog video and the other is digital video and digital… Am I right on this

  17. First time I have seen a laserdisc was in the summer of 2002, just when we were getting dvd all over the place. That is just for show how much they sold in Europe…. Barely nothing.
    @Techmoan your videos are amazing! You have far better quality in terms of production (and content) than must shows on tv with what I can imagine, are far bigger budgets! Congratulations on that!

  18. Imagine how much data a 3 or 4 layer blu-ray disc could hold if it was as big as that largest CD Video disc! You could easily have a 4k movie on there UN-compressed with spectacular 7.1 sound (also uncompressed). This would be the pinnacle of a theatrical movie going experience.

  19. I love the way you make complicated things sound complicated but with a suphisticated voice! Greetings from Mexico!!!

  20. I’ve been watching your videos for the past three years or so. Keep up the good work 🙂 I love this guy he does great research and great work.

  21. Did Phillips get the rights from George carlin? This is horrible but oh my God I’m so glad I got to see it and that’s why I subscribe to your channel.

  22. Aww, Kenny. 🙁 My favourite Radio Gay. Requiescat, duckie.

    That said, he definitely dove into bigger hole than the one at 02:24.

  23. "Anything from Dire Straits to Deep Purple…" Oh, those were the times! What would they advertise the thing with today? "From Lady Gaga to Lil Pump?"

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