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Module 6

CHARACTERISTICS OF A MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM
A Multimedia system has four basic characteristics:
•
•
•
•

Multimedia systems must be computer controlled.
Multimedia systems are integrated.
The information they handle must be represented digitally.
The interface to the final presentation of media is usually interactive.

Challenges for Multimedia Systems
Supporting multimedia applications over a computer network renders the
application distributed.
Multimedia systems may have to render a variety of media at the same instant -a distinction from normal applications. There is a temporal relationship between
many forms of media (e.g. Video and Audio. There 2 are forms of problems here
•
•

Sequencing within the media -- playing frames in correct order/time
frame in video
Synchronisation -- inter-media scheduling (e.g. Video and Audio). Lip
synchronisation is clearly important for humans to watch playback of
video and audio and even animation and audio. Ever tried watching an
out of (lip) sync film for a long time?

The key issues multimedia systems need to deal with here are:
•
•
•

How to represent and store temporal information.
How to strictly maintain the temporal relationships on play back/retrieval
What process are involved in the above.

Data has to represented digitally so many initial source of data needs to be
digitise -- translated from analog source to digital representation. The will involve
scanning (graphics, still images), sampling (audio/video) although digital
cameras now exist for direct scene to digital capture of images and video.
The data is large several Mb easily for audio and video -- therefore storage,
transfer (bandwidth) and processing overheads are high. Data compression
techniques very common.

Desirable Features for a Multimedia System
Given the above challenges the following feature is desirable (if not a
prerequisite) for a Multimedia System:
Very High Processing Power -- needed to deal with large data processing and
real time delivery of media. Special hardware commonplace.
Multimedia Capable File System -- needed to deliver real-time media -- e.g.
Video/Audio Streaming. Special Hardware/Software needed e.g RAID
technology.
Data Representations/File Formats that support multimedia -- Data
representations/file formats should be easy to handle yet allow for
compression/decompression in real-time.
Efficient and High I/O -- input and output to the file subsystem needs to be
efficient and fast. Needs to allow for real-time recording as well as playback of
data. e.g. Direct to Disk recording systems.
Special Operating System -- to allow access to file system and process data
efficiently and quickly. Needs to support direct transfers to disk, real-time
scheduling, fast interrupt processing, I/O streaming etc.
Storage and Memory -- large storage units (of the order of 50 -100 Gb or more)
and large memory (50 -100 Mb or more). Large Caches also required and
frequently of Level 2 and 3 hierarchy for efficient management.
Network Support -- Client-server systems common as distributed systems
common.
Software Tools -- user friendly tools needed to handle media, design and
develop applications, deliver media.
Applications
Examples of Multimedia Applications include:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•

World Wide Web
Hypermedia courseware
Video conferencing
Video-on-demand
Interactive TV
Groupware
Home shopping
•
•
•
•

Games
Virtual reality
Digital video editing and production systems
Multimedia Database systems

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Module 6

  • 1. Module 6 CHARACTERISTICS OF A MULTIMEDIA SYSTEM A Multimedia system has four basic characteristics: • • • • Multimedia systems must be computer controlled. Multimedia systems are integrated. The information they handle must be represented digitally. The interface to the final presentation of media is usually interactive. Challenges for Multimedia Systems Supporting multimedia applications over a computer network renders the application distributed. Multimedia systems may have to render a variety of media at the same instant -a distinction from normal applications. There is a temporal relationship between many forms of media (e.g. Video and Audio. There 2 are forms of problems here • • Sequencing within the media -- playing frames in correct order/time frame in video Synchronisation -- inter-media scheduling (e.g. Video and Audio). Lip synchronisation is clearly important for humans to watch playback of video and audio and even animation and audio. Ever tried watching an out of (lip) sync film for a long time? The key issues multimedia systems need to deal with here are: • • • How to represent and store temporal information. How to strictly maintain the temporal relationships on play back/retrieval What process are involved in the above. Data has to represented digitally so many initial source of data needs to be digitise -- translated from analog source to digital representation. The will involve scanning (graphics, still images), sampling (audio/video) although digital cameras now exist for direct scene to digital capture of images and video. The data is large several Mb easily for audio and video -- therefore storage, transfer (bandwidth) and processing overheads are high. Data compression techniques very common. Desirable Features for a Multimedia System
  • 2. Given the above challenges the following feature is desirable (if not a prerequisite) for a Multimedia System: Very High Processing Power -- needed to deal with large data processing and real time delivery of media. Special hardware commonplace. Multimedia Capable File System -- needed to deliver real-time media -- e.g. Video/Audio Streaming. Special Hardware/Software needed e.g RAID technology. Data Representations/File Formats that support multimedia -- Data representations/file formats should be easy to handle yet allow for compression/decompression in real-time. Efficient and High I/O -- input and output to the file subsystem needs to be efficient and fast. Needs to allow for real-time recording as well as playback of data. e.g. Direct to Disk recording systems. Special Operating System -- to allow access to file system and process data efficiently and quickly. Needs to support direct transfers to disk, real-time scheduling, fast interrupt processing, I/O streaming etc. Storage and Memory -- large storage units (of the order of 50 -100 Gb or more) and large memory (50 -100 Mb or more). Large Caches also required and frequently of Level 2 and 3 hierarchy for efficient management. Network Support -- Client-server systems common as distributed systems common. Software Tools -- user friendly tools needed to handle media, design and develop applications, deliver media. Applications Examples of Multimedia Applications include: • • • • • • • World Wide Web Hypermedia courseware Video conferencing Video-on-demand Interactive TV Groupware Home shopping
  • 3. • • • • Games Virtual reality Digital video editing and production systems Multimedia Database systems