Multimedia: It’s Components and Applications

The word multimedia is derived from the terms, multi, and media. Multi means many. Media refers to any hardware or software used for communication. Multimedia is the field concerned with the computer-controlled integration of the text, graphics, drawings, still and moving images (Video), animations, audio, etc., where all kinds of information could be represented, stored, transmitted and processed digitally.

Components of Multimedia:

i) Text: It may be an easy content type to forget when considering the multimedia systems, but the text content is by far the most common media type in the computing applications. Multimedia systems use the combination of text and the other media to deliver functionality. Text in multimedia systems could express specific information, or it could act as reinforcement for the information contained in the other media items. This is the common practice in applications with the accessibility requirements. For example, when web pages include image elements, they could also include the short amount of text for the user’s browser to include as an alternative, in case the digital image item is not available. Multimedia

a) Hypermedia: Hypermedia, the term derived from hypertext, extends the notion of the hypertext link to include the links among any set of multimedia objects, including the sound, motion video, and virtual reality. It may also suggest a higher level of user/network interactivity than the interactivity already implicit in the hypertext. The World Wide Web (www) is a classic example of hypermedia.

ii) Images: Digital image files appear in many multimedia applications. Digital photographs could display the application content or may alternatively form part of the user interface. Interactive elements, such as buttons, often use custom images created by designers and developers involved in an application. Digital image files use a variety of formats and file extensions. Among the most common are JPEGs and PNGs. Both of these often appear on the websites, as the formats allow developers to minimize on file size while maximizing on picture quality. Graphic design software programs such as Photoshop and Painting are permits developers to create complex visual effects with digital images.

iii) Audio: Audio files and streams play an important role in some multimedia systems. Audio files appear as part of application content and also to aid interaction. When they appear within web applications and sites, audio files sometimes need to be deployed using the plug-in media players. Audio formats include MP3, WMA, Wave, MIDI, and RealAudio. When developers include audio within the website, they will commonly use a compressed format to minimize the download times. Web services could also stream audio so that users can begin playback before the entire file is downloaded.

iv) Video: Digital video appears in many multimedia applications, particularly on the web. As with audio, websites can stream digital video to be increased the speed and the availability of playback. Common digital video formats are including Flash, MPEG, AVI, WMV, and QuickTime. Most digital video requires the use of browser plug-ins to play within the web pages, but in many cases, the user’s browser would already have the required resources installed.

v) Animation: Animated components are common within both the web and desktop multimedia applications. Animations can also include interactive effects, allowing users to engage with the animation action using their mouse and the keyboard. The most common tool for creating animations on the web is Adobe Flash, which also facilitates desktop applications. Using Flash, developers can author FLV files, exporting them as SWF movies for the deployment to users. Flash also uses the Action Script code to achieve animated and interactive effects. vi) Virtual space and beyond Current multimedia systems present the user with a two-dimensional (2-D) graphical user interface. But the future systems can be manipulated three-dimensional information (3-D), associated with the virtual reality (VR) systems. The metaphor for computing would no longer be the desktop but would be virtual spaces filled with the avatars representing people and 3-D objects. The keyboard and the mouse are being replaced by input devices like pen interfaces on personal digital assistants (PDAs).

Multimedia Application:

Multimedia applications can be subdivided into different categories:

  1. Information Systems: The major purpose of such systems is to provide information for one or several users. The requested information is typically stored in the databases or media archives. Examples are electronic publishing, online galleries or weather information systems.
  2. Remote Representation: By means of a remote representation system a user can take part in or monitor events at a remote location. Important examples are the distance conferencing or lecturing virtual reality or remote robotic agents.
  3. Entertainment: This major application area of multimedia technology is strongly oriented towards the audio and video data. Example entertainment applications are digital television, video on demand, distributed games or interactive television.

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