Let's take a quick glance at the key multimedia elements. Each of these elements will be shown in greater depth, but this should give you a feel for the most common elements used in multimedia applications.
Multimedia refers to the creation of a multi sensory experience to convey messages and ideas. To create this multisensory experience, different multimedia elements are used. The key elements used in most multimedia applications include text, graphics, animation, sound, and video. Add a participatory environment and you have interactive multimedia. Keep in mind that even the most awe-inspiring multimedia presentation incorporating all of these elements is wasted if it doesn't also include content and purpose. It takes just the right combination of elements to portray and illustrate a message effectively.
In the past, content was produced primarily via text. Though additional elements have been added, text remains vital to multimedia applications. This is because text is still an effective way to communicate. In multimedia, text is used as headlines, subtitles, and captions. In addition to supplying content, text is used to give directions and communicate information, text-based menus and buttons help guide users through the multimedia application, and electronic books, magazines, and reference materials still rely on text to inform and educate. RTENOTITLE
- Text doesn't have to be boring. Emphasis can be added by varying the font style, size, or color. Special effects and drop shadows that give the feeling of three dimensions can be added using tools like Microsoft WordArt. In fact, three dimensional, animated text can also be created using modeling and animation programs. There really are no limits because text can be treated like any other graphic element.
- Text can also serve as a link that allows the user to expand the existing text and learn more about a topic. Hypertext is text that allows you nonlinear access to information. In other words, hypertext links automatically transport you to related information without requiring you to get to that information by following a set path. These links are similar to a cross-reference. By clicking on a hot word or link, you have access to information on the topics you are most interested in exploring.
- Hypertext gives you immediate access to an entire macrocosm of related and connected information. Once you have used hypertext and had a wealth of information at your fingertips, reverting back to linear text can be quite dull. Therefore, in addition to standard text, hypertext also plays a significant role in multimedia applications.
Designing With Text
When designing with text, there are several key terms with which you should be familiar. First, you should be aware that there are different types of fonts. TrueType fonts are fairly consistent from computer screen to computer screen and from printer to printer. TrueType fonts come with the application software.
Print fonts are fonts that are specific to the printer or printers connected to the compute Because the type of printer connected to computers significantly differs, print fonts may not be available from one computer to another. Screen fonts depend on the monitor and may not appear the same from one computer to another.
Other terms you should be familiar with are serif and sans serif. Serif for have feet or tails. Sans serif fonts do not have feet Because our eyes have become accustomed to reading serif fonts and using the little feet to track, you should use serif fonts for larger bodies of texts. Sans serif fonts should be used for headings, titles, and callouts because they are more likely to draw attention. Because much of our text in multimedia applications is quite short, sans serif fonts are used quite extensively in multimedia applications.
The last two terms have to do with spacing. Kerning is the term used to identify the amount of space between characters. Leading is the amount of space between lines of text. Kerning and leading are dependent upon the font size the use of the text, and both are important in making text readable.
From a design perspective, when you use text in multimedia applications, keep the following guidelines in mind:
- Convert text to bitmapped graphics to ensure that the fonts you wish to appear in the project will look the same on the user's monitor
- Align headings and bodies of text at the left to make it easier for readers to follow.
- Use text colors that provide a strong contrast against the background.
- Use serif fonts for large bodies of text and sans serif fonts for titles, headings, and callouts.
- Keep blocks of text shorter than 60 characters.
Because most people are quite visual, graphics, 2D and 3D images, are crucial to multimedia development. In fact, multimedia applications are predominantly graphic. Because they play such a critical role, balancing graphics is essential. When designing a multimedia application, it is important not to get carried away with graphics. Adding just the right graphic and just the right number of graphics may help the user learn and retain more information in less time and with less effort. Adding inappropriate graphics or bombarding the user with too many graphics will most likely be counterproductive.
Graphics that fit most any need are quite easy to find. Commercially prepared drawings called clip art come packaged with many application programs. Clip art is also sold on disk and CD-ROM, or you can download it from the Internet. In addition, you can create your own graphics by using a draw or paint program.
Charts, another type of graphic, can convey a great deal of information in a very limited space. It might take pages of text to describe an idea that can be better illustrated through the use of a single pie chart or bar graph.
Photographs can also be used to enhance multimedia applications. Photographs can be digitized through a color scanner or taken directly with a digital camera. Collections of digital photographs called stock photography are also available on CD-ROM or can be downloaded from the Internet. Sometimes these photographs are free, but many times a fee is charged to use the photo or purchase the rights to the photo.
When a graphic or other multimedia object serves as a link to additional information about a topic, the link is called hypermedia.
Animation refers to graphic images that change or move. Animation can convey information, add visual interest, or draw attention to important information or links in a multimedia application. Animation is commonly used in advertising and marketing on the Web because the movement does grab the visitor's attention. By illustrating proper techniques or explaining complex procedures, animation can also serve as an excellent learning aid in computer-based training programs.
Like clip art and stock photography, animated graphics are available for purchase on CD-ROM or they can be downloaded from the Internet. In addition, commercial software and shareware can be purchased or downloaded and used to create simple or complex animations.
By incorporating sound into a multimedia application, you require the user to make use of yet another sense. This enhances the experience and increases the likelihood of user understanding and enjoyment.
In multimedia applications, sound that has been digitized is called audio. Audio can be obtained by capturing sound into a personal computer using a microphone, CD-ROM, or other input device. It can also be played from a synthesizer, keyboard, or other musical instrument that is connected to the computer using a MIDI (musical instrument digital interface) port.
Video can do a great deal to enhance a presentation, illustrate a proper technique, or advertise a new product. Video files are photographic images played at speeds that make it appear as if the images are in full motion. Video files are incredibly large because a huge number of images are required to give the appearance of motion. Depending on the screen size of the video file, a single second of uncompressed video running at 30 frames per second may require more than 30 MB of storage space. In addition to storage, bandwidth, the amount of data a communication channel can carry, is also an obstacle to the delivery of video. Delivering video over the Internet is particularly challenging.
Despite these challenges, more and more multimedia applications, including multimedia applications disseminated via the Internet, include video. In order to be used effectively, however, video is often compressed, or reduced in size, for storage and transfer, and then decompressed for use. As computer resources continue to improve, the use of video in multimedia applications will also grow.
Interactive multimedia allows users to respond directly to and control media elements. Users of interactive multimedia become active participants in an application instead of passive recipients of information.
Linear media has a beginning and progresses through a set sequence of events until it reaches the end while non-linear media leaves the order of events to the discretion of the user.
Multimedia applications are all around us. Our society depends on information and multimedia is an effective and user-friendly way to present it.
Major Characteristics of Multimedia
Multimedia presentations may be viewed by person on stage, projected, transmitted, or played locally with a media player. A broadcast may be a live or recorded multimedia presentation. Broadcasts and recordings can be either analog or digital electronic media technology. Digital online multimedia may be downloaded or streamed. Streaming multimedia may be live or on-demand.
Multimedia games and simulations may be used in a physical environment with special effects, with multiple users in an online network, or locally with an offline computer, game system, or simulator.
A lasershow is a live multimedia performance.
Enhanced levels of interactivity are made possible by combining multiple forms of media content. Online multimedia is increasingly becoming object-oriented and data-driven, enabling applications with collaborative end-user innovation and personalization on multiple forms of content over time. Examples of these range from multiple forms of content on Web sites like photo galleries with both images (pictures) and title (text) user-updated, to simulations whose co-efficients, events, illustrations, animations or videos are modifiable, allowing the multimedia "experience" to be altered without reprogramming. In addition to seeing and hearing, Haptic technology enables virtual objects to be felt. Emerging technology involving illusions of taste and smell may also enhance the multimedia experience.
History of the term
The term "multimedia" was coined by Bob Goldstein to promote the July 1966 opening of his "LightWorks at L'Oursin" show at Southampton, Long Island. On August 10, 1966, Richard Albarino of Variety borrowed the terminology, reporting: “Brainchild of songscribe-comic Bob (‘Washington Square’) Goldstein, the ‘Lightworks’ is the latest multi-media music-cum-visuals to debut as discothèque fare.” Two years later, in 1968, the term “multimedia” was re-appropriated to describe the work of a political consultant, David Sawyer, the husband of Iris Sawyer—one of Goldstein’s producers at L’Oursin.
Multimedia (multi-image) setup for the 1988 Ford New Car Announcement Show, August 1987, Detroit, MI
In the intervening forty years, the word has taken on different meanings. In the late 1970s the term was used to describe presentations consisting of multi-projector slide shows timed to an audio track. However, by the 1990s 'multimedia' took on its current meaning.
In the 1993 first edition of McGraw-Hill’s Multimedia: Making It Work, Tay Vaughan declared “Multimedia is any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video that is delivered by computer. When you allow the user – the viewer of the project – to control what and when these elements are delivered, it is interactive multimedia. When you provide a structure of linked elements through which the user can navigate, interactive multimedia becomes hypermedia.”
The German language society, Gesellschaft für deutsche Sprache, decided to recognize the word's significance and ubiquitousness in the 1990s by awarding it the title of 'Word of the Year' in 1995. The institute summed up its rationale by stating "Multimedia has become a central word in the wonderful new media world"
In common usage, the term multimedia refers to an electronically delivered combination of media including video, still images, audio, text in such a way that can be accessed interactively. Much of the content on the web today falls within this definition as understood by millions. Some computers which were marketed in the 1990s were called "multimedia" computers because they incorporated a CD-ROM drive, which allowed for the delivery of several hundred megabytes of video, picture, and audio data.