Chapter 1 Introduction to Multimedia Technology OBJECTIVES At the end of this chapter, you should be able to: 1. give a brief definition and history of multimedia 2. list four features or functions of multimedia that have made this technology very popular and 3. name the five main components of multimedia and its functions. INTRODUCTIONWelcome to Chapter 1. I hope you are excited to begin this subject - Introductionto Multimedia Technology. Multimedia is a dynamic and interesting field tostudy. Lately, the rapid development of multimedia technology has played animportant role in the fields of education, film, advertising, fashion and manyothers.In chapter 1, you will be introduced briefly to the history and the generalknowledge of multimedia technology. You will also learn about the variousfeatures and functions of multimedia that have caused it to gain popularity. Atthe end of this chapter, we will also discuss the main components and types ofmultimedia. Therefore, I hope you are ready to begin your lesson. HappyLearning.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 5 1.1 DEFINITION OF MULTIMEDIAWhat is the meaning of multimedia? Generally, multimedia means the use ofvarious types of media to create a presentation or an application which can beused for the purpose of broadcasting, entertainment, education and many others.By using these various types of media, a presentation of information that usesmultimedia technology will be livelier, more dynamic and able to attract theattention of many users. Multimedia is also said to be a positive and effectivemedium of communication because text, audio, video and animation of variouscolours and patterns can be displayed simultaneously on the screen. THINK What do you understand by „multimedia‰?The word „multimedia‰ can be split into „multi‰ and „media‰. „Multi‰ meansmany; whereas „media‰ means, the tools used as the medium of communication,such as newspapers, radio and television. In brief, „multimedia‰ can be definedas many media. In other words, multimedia is the simultaneous use of data frommultiple sources of elements of media.In view of the fact that multimedia is fast gaining popularity, many parties havecome forward with their own definitions of multimedia, according to theirrespective interests, expertise, research and view points. The following are a fewdefinitions of multimedia;According to Tay VaughnÊs definition (2001, pg 4): „Multimedia is any combination of text, graphics, sound, animation and video delivered to you by computer or other electronic or digitally manipulated means.‰Whereas HofstetterÊs definition (2001) pg 2: „Multimedia is the use of computers to present and integrate text, audio and video with hyperlinks and devices which enable the users to navigate, interact, create and communicate.‰According to ShumanÊs definition (1998) pg 5: „Multimedia refers to a computer based interactive communication process that incorporates text, graphics, audio, video, and animation.‰
6 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTWhile Halimah Badioze ZamanÊs definition (1996) states that: „Multimedia is acknowledged as a seamless integration of various types of media: text, numerics, graphics, images, video, animation and sound in a digital environment besides its interactive ability to enable users to obtain information in a non-linear way.‰As there are so many different definitions of multimedia, it could confuse you.The most important thing that you need to remember is that a good definition ofmultimedia should contain the following features: Multimedia is any combination of texts, graphics, animation, audio and video which is a result of computer based technology or other electronic media. Multimedia becomes interactive when the end-user is able to control the elements of media that are required, and subsequently obtains the required information in a non-linear way. 1.2 HISTORY AND CONCEPTS OF MULTIMEDIABefore you proceed further regarding multimedia, let us briefly take a look at theinteresting history of multimedia. Do you know why computers become obsoleteso quickly? It is because each year in a life of a human can be seen as at leastseven years in the life cycle of a computer and often more. They simply growolder sooner.In the context of „computer age‰, the history of multimedia dates back to the year1972, when the first video game, ATARI was launched. The response it receivedwas beyond the expectations of its users.Computers with multimedia features were introduced in the 1990Ês. Before that,there was no technology capable of providing informative multimedia at anaffordable cost. In its early days, multimedia technology was not very wellreceived by the masses especially among sceptical members of the academia.Multimedia technology was considered to be an invention gimmick of thecomputer industry. Nowadays, the view towards the importance of multimediais very different. For the past decade, this technology has been studied andexplored and now, multimedia is one of the main components of convergenttechnology. The following table shows the development stages of computertechnology.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 7 Table 1.1: The Development Stages of Computer Technology Year Development 1975 The first personal computer was marketed. It had a low processing power and was used mainly for accounting and inventory. 1980 The storage capacity of the hard-disk was increased. Computers could display simple graphics and were used for statistics and forecasting. 1987 Computers were capable of displaying colours, more sophisticated graphics, animation and sound. They were used in word processing and desktop publishing. 1995 Computers at this stage were capable of integrating digital Present video, audio, animation and text in a digital environment. As a result, it increases the emphasis on communication and sharing of information through networks such as the Internet. THE CONCEPTMore than half a century ago, Vannevar Bush, director of the ÂOffice ofScientific Research and DevelopmentÊ and an advisor to the US president,Roosevelt, described a hypothetical machine that would allow users to browsethrough a media rich environment making associative links between varioustypes of information. He envisaged a device called ÂmemexÊ in which an: ÂIndividual stores his books, records and communications and which is mechanized so that it may be consulted with exceeding speed and flexibility. It is an enlarged intimate supplement to his memory.Ê (Bush, 1945)This simple and yet interesting and innovative proposition forms thefundamental theoretical background upon which present-day interactivemultimedia systems are based. The question that immediately comes to mindis why has it taken more than half a century for BushÊs idea to be realised? Inorder to find a satisfactory answer to our question the reader must note thatfifty years ago the computer technology was in its infancy. Therefore itfollows that the history of the development of Interactive Multimedia Systemsis directly and closely linked to the history of the development of the personalcomputers.
8 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT(Reference: Designing Interactive Multimedia Systems, Mohammad Dastbaz,2002: pg3) REFERENCES To know more about history of multimedia, refer to Chapter 1 of the book, „Multimedia: Concepts and Practice‰ by Stephen McGloughlin, 2001).The caption below is about how multimedia technology is used during theOlympic Games in Atlanta, United States. Olympic Fly-OverThe Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games told its convincing story aboutthe cityÊs commitment to the Centennial Olympic Games through creative use ofsight, sound, and animation. The International Olympic Organizing Committee(IOC) was able to visit each venue for the games, even though some had not yetbeen constructed, via a multimedia system the first ever used in an Olympicbid. This system, which ran on an ordinary desktop microcomputer, offeredviewers the opportunity to fly over the city, seeing virtually every building, road,and tree from a vantage point several thousand feet in the air. Rotating thetrackball pointing device to the right turned the viewerÊs line of sight to the right;rotating it further permitted the viewer to see the sights just passed.This presentation of Atlanta from the air began with a crew filming the city froman aircraft. Segments of the video footage were edited to include many differentviews of the cityÊs downtown and midtown areas, as well as its villages andlandmarks. Multimedia technology supplied the venues that had not beenconstructed. After capturing architectsÊ drawings and models in computerstorage and animating them, the creators of AtlantaÊs Olympic presentationsuperimposed these images on the areas of the city where they would beconstructed. The cityÊs Olympic appearance was real and altogether visible on aviewer controlled fly-over.This visual fly-over was only the beginning of the Atlanta CommitteeÊsmultimedia campaign. The technology gave viewers the capability to zoom in ona specific sporting venue to check out the exterior of the site and the surroundingareas. A click of the button put the viewer inside the venue, in a position to scan
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 9the stadium and zoom in on a particular seat or visit a certain concession. Tocomplete the illusion, the roar of the crowd and the waving of national flagsaccompanied the running, jumping, diving, and swinging of the athletes allenjoyed on a desktop computer.The Atlanta Committee gambled that drawing heavily on multimedia technologyto communicate the cityÊs commitment and capability to the world and to theInternational Olympic Committee would pay off. And it did. This innovativepresentation was highly instrumental in the IOCÊs decision to award theCentennial Games to Atlanta.Multimedia also played a special part in running the Centennial Olympic Games.Point-of-service systems around the city dispensed tickets, provided narratedmaps of the area, and showed highlights of events with complete audio andvisual information captured during the games. A network interconnecting allmultimedia kiosks more than 2,000 were stationed around the Olympic festivalarea ensured that each service point would provide the most up-to-date andcomplete information ever assembled for attendees at the Games.Such reliable and innovative communication for the athletes, the media, and thehost cityÊs many visitors made the Centennial Olympics memorable. Of course,the GamesÊ real thrill was supplied by the athletes who assembled in Atlanta.(Reference: A. Senn, 1998: 339 340). 1.3 FEATURES OF MULTIMEDIAMultimedia technology is vastly used in many fields, especially in the designingand development of web sites. Many web sites today are equipped with elementsof animation, graphics, sound effects, special video effects and interestingmusic. Figure 1.1 shown below, depicts the various features or functions ofmultimedia that have made it popular.
10 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 1.1: Features of Multimedia1.3.1 InteractivityEach multimedia application involves interactivity with end-users. Interactivitycan be simple, such as a student choosing a right or wrong answer in a computer-based test; or complex, like a user flying a jet fighter in a simulated computerwarfare. In fact, when you visit a web site and press a button or an icon on it,you have done a brief interactivity.This feature has made multimedia more popular than other components of mediasuch as television. Users can take part actively in the multimedia applications andnot passively as in the conventional components of media. This is because theusers have total control over the applications.For example, a foreign student who is learning Bahasa Malaysia can determinethe phase that he wishes to review, and he can revise it as many times as hewishes. Besides that, the student can also choose the types of instructions such aslistening to intonations of words, reading words displayed on-screen, watchingan animation and doing exercises on oral skills.1.3.2 NavigationNavigation is one of the important features in the development of multimediaapplication. Navigation is closely linked to interactivity. With navigation, a useris able to use the interactive multimedia applications more effectively. If you haveheard someone say, „this interface is excellent,‰ it probably means that theapplication is easy to navigate.These easy to use navigation features of an interface not only make it easy tonavigate but also provide guidance to the users about the situation or position oftheir web pages more effectively. The correct use of the navigation tools willenable the users to control the sequence of concepts that they wish to present.The uses of navigation tools such as hyperlinks, buttons (refer to Figure 1.2),
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 11icons and pull-down menus will enable the user to explore and navigate fromone web page to another. Figure 1.2: Example of the use of buttons as navigation tools1.3.3 HyperlinkFilms and books are linear forms of multimedia applications. It has a beginningstage, an intermediate stage and an ending. For example, when you read thismodule „Introduction to Multimedia Technology‰, starting from Chapter 1 asshown in Figure 1.3, you are reading the module in a linear way. Figure 1.3: Linear readingEven though the linear method is normally used, it is not necessarily the best wayof learning. When we process information, our brains usually „jump‰ from oneidea to another. This is because we need to store information in the context thatwe are able to understand. We can also „jump‰ to another topic or chapter if wealready have prior knowledge about the information contained in that topic, asillustrated by Figure 1.4. Thus, it is totally reasonable that computer applicationsallow users to „jump‰ from one section to another. For example, after you haveread the introduction topic in this module, you can „jump‰ to the topic on audioby clicking on its word with the hyperlink feature.
12 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENT Figure 1.4: Non-Linear reading1.3.4 Easy to Understand, Easy to UseThe main objective of most multimedia applications is regarding its ease ofunderstanding and ease of use. For example, you may not comprehend certaininstructions if you only refer to the given text, but when the instructions are aidedwith pictures, animation or video clips, it is more easily understood.Features of multimedia explained earlier such as interactivity, hyperlink andnavigation, contribute towards making multimedia applications easy to use andeasy to understand. In fact, one of the main reasons why multimediaapplications are favoured by many is because of its ease of use. For example, youonly need to click on the „play‰ button to play a song or video, or „drag anddrop‰ interesting video chapters to view them. You can do all these even if youdo not have any knowledge in computer programming. In addition, users whodo not know how to use multimedia applications can always refer to the „Help‰section which contains information on its usage.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 13 Figure 1.5: An example of a multimedia presentation Exercise 1.1 What is hypertext and why is it used in the interactive multimedia presentation? 1.4 TYPES OF MEDIABased on the definitions of multimedia which were discussed earlier in thischapter, it was found that, apart from interactive communication process, thereare five elements or main media in a complete multimedia system. Can you stillremember the five elements? They are text, graphics, animation, audio andvideo. Each media has its own role in the formation of an attractive and effectiveinformation presentation. These media also interact among each other in a digitalenvironment.
14 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTYou need to have a better understanding of these media if you wish to develop amultimedia system or a multimedia presentation. The following are briefexplanations regarding the five main media in multimedia. We will study eachmedia in greater detail in the next four chapters. Figure 1.6: Types of media1.4.1 TextText is an important media in multimedia. It directly informs the user about theinformation that it wishes to convey. It cannot be neglected no matter howadvanced multimedia technology is. When you surf any web site on the Internet,you will notice that almost all of them contain text media.Text plays an important role in the communication of multimedia applications.The uses of text in multimedia applications tend to differ depending on its fieldsand objectives such as for education, entertainment or commerce. For example; Microsoft Encarta which is aimed at providing knowledge to the masses is made up of interfaces that are text intensive. Electronic commercial advertisements on the Internet favour graphics when compared to the use of text, which is fairly minimal.You can compare the contents of text in Microsoft Encarta and electronicadvertisements through Figure 1.7 below.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 15 Figure 1.7: a) Microsoft Encarta, (b) An Electronic Advertisement on the Internet Source: (b) http://www.cinema.com.myText is widely used in the world of mass communication specifically as a mediumfor the print media such as newspapers, magazines, books, journals andadvertisements. Text is also the basic element for all multimedia applications.Without text, information that needs to be conveyed may be lost when youinterpret other media elements such as graphics, sound and video. In view of thefact that there are various cultural norms that are followed, text is the safest wayto convey messages.Currently, there are many software applications in the market for writing andediting text such as Microsoft Word, FrontPage, WordPad and others. Besidesthat, we can also create text using special effects such as Shadow or Emboss usingMacromedia Freehand, Fireworks, ResEdit and Cascading Style Sheet. Exercise 1.2 Texts can be used for conveying information but it also has some limitations. In your opinion, what are the limitations of using text in web sites?1.4.2 GraphicsPictures as visuals are more effective compared to the sole use of text. Graphicsplay an important role in multimedia presentations and is one of the popularelements used in the development of a multimedia application.In actual fact, we are used to being exposed to images and graphics throughtelevision programmes, web sites, newspapers and also advertising billboards
16 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTlocated alongside roads. In other words, we use images and graphics to obtaininformation, explanations and entertainment.In general, graphics can be categorised into two main groups that is bitmap andvector. It is important for you to understand both types of graphics because itinfluences the quality, the size of the file and the time needed to display thegraphics on the computer screen. Bitmap Graphics Graphics or bitmap images are also known as image raster. Bitmap images are produced by dots arranged in specific ways in matrix form. These dots are known as pixels. These pixel images are known as bitmap images. Figure 1.8 shows an example of a graphic bitmap. Vector Graphics Vector graphics refer to any image produced by the use of specific software and computer technology. Vector graphics are made up of lines that follow the mathematical equations called vector. Figure 1.9 shows an example of a vector graphic. Figure 1.8: Enlarged Bitmap Graphic Figure 1.9: Enlarged Vector GraphicLots of graphics software are available in the market. Among the most popularand most widely used are Adobe Photoshop, Corel Draw, Painter 3D andMacromedia Freehand. Each graphics software has its own function and use. You can surf any websites on the Internet and are bound to come across various types of graphics and images in the websites. Take note of the Open University website (OUM) (http://www.oum.edu.my) such as the one shown in Figure 1.10. In your opinion, how are graphic elements used in this web page.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 17 Figure 1.10: OUM website Source : http://www.oum.edu.my Adobe Systems Inc is one of the leaders in the development of powerful graphic programmes. To learn more, visit its website at http://www.adobe.com.1.4.3 AnimationAnimation plays an important role in various fields such as films,advertisements, commerce, medicine and education. A presentation will belivelier with the presence of animation. Besides that, a complex concept can bepresented more briefly and easily.From a multimedia aspect, animation is one of the elements that increase theattraction of a multimedia software or programme. In fact, animation inmultimedia began to receive more widespread attention from the massesespecially after animated movies like Mulan and Toy Soldier.In brief, animation refers to the process of adding movements to static imagesthrough various methods. Animated movements can be measured in frame persecond (fps). The higher the fps, the smoother the transition between frames.
18 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTCurrently, the development of computer animation is becoming more rapid. Withcheaper computers and software, and more powerful computer systems,animation technology is becoming more sophisticated. Various methods are usedto produce computer animation, from the very simple animation to amazinglycomplex two and three dimensional animation.There are many animation software in the market that one can choose from toproduce various types of animation, be it two or three dimensional or even toproduce animation with special effects. Among them are MacromediaAuthorware, Macromedia Director and Macromedia Flash, Ray Dream 3D, 3DStudio Max, Lightwave 3D and many others. 1. You can visit any website on the Internet such as msn.com.my or catcha.com.my to view how animation is used. What is your opinion on these two websites? 2. Macromedia Inc. is one of the leaders in the development of multimedia software composition. To know more details, visit its website at http://www.macromedia.com Exercise 1.3 Name THREE types of graphic software, and THREE types of 3D animation software, that are available in the market.1.4.4 AudioAudio or sound is one of the most effective ways of attracting the attention ofusers. Audio plays an important role in the development of multimedia whichhas been quite static all these while. The entry of audio into multimedia is one ofthe most important features that have escalated the use of multimedia tomaximum level.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 19When you wish to include audio or sound in a multimedia system, there aresome important areas that require attention. Among them are the soundproductions, the storage, the sound manipulation and the display or presentationof sound. All these aspects require careful handling in order to ensure that thequality of audio in the multimedia system is of a high level.Do you know that sound used in multimedia is in digital form? Digital soundmay be recorded directly or maybe pre-recorded in an analog form and then beconverted to digital form.Sound used in multimedia applications must be in digital form.If there are specific software for text, graphics and animation, then there are alsovariety of software available in the market for audio recording or audioproduction such as the Sonic FoundryÊs Sound Forge and Macromedia SoundEditsoftware. Exercise 1.4 Give TWO uses of audio in multimedia.1.4.5 VideoWe often come across certain applications or multimedia program that includesvideo elements in its development. Video is an essential element because it cancarries meaning or information which needs to be conveyed within a short periodof time.Video has been in existence for more than 50 years. During its initial stage of use,it was only played on projectors in cinemas or televisions. Today, this scenariohas changed. Digital video can be viewed and displayed through the use ofmultimedia computers.Digital video became popular after multimedia technology was introduced anddeveloped. The element of video in multimedia has brought about tremendouschange in the method of information disseminations. Most videos are able topresent real-life situations and capable of attracting the attention and emotions ofusers.
20 UNIT 1 MULTIMEDIA AND ITS ENVIRONMENTVideo that is displayed through computers must be in digital form. Video capturecard is an additional card which is required for the production of digitalvideo. This card is usually required to be purchased separately and is notavailable in your computer. Video capture card changes analog video into digitalvideo and acts as an interface between the video source and the computer.Currently, Intel Indeo and Radius Cinepak are among the most popular brands ofvideo capture cards.Adobe Premiere, Video Fusion and Ulead Media Studio Pro are among the mostsophisticated and highest quality video software that are available in the market.These software are rather costly and require a long period of time to master themfully. However, what is certain is that, these software are capable of producinghigh quality digital video. Figure 1.11 shows an example of a video clip that isavailable on the Internet. Figure 1.11: A video Clip on the Internet Source : http://www.cnn.com YOUR IDEA Try to surf the website http://www.cnn.com/ and open the video clip to view. Is it different from television? State the differences.
CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION TO MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY 21 Exercise 1.5 1. You have studied the various definitions of multimedia. Choose ONE definition and state the reason WHY you have chosen the definition. 2. Explain briefly the differences between multimedia, hypermedia and hypertext. 3. Give FIVE media components that are important in multimedia and their functions. SUMMARYWe have reached the end of Chapter 1. It is hoped that you have obtained a clearpicture regarding multimedia. Before we proceed to the next chapter, do yourealise that multimedia technology has changed the way we think, work, learn,socialise and many others? Even though this technology has brought manybenefits into our everyday lives, we should be wary that this technology does nottake total control of human lives.