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CHAPTER - 3
MULTIMEDIA TECHNOLOGY: AN INTRODUCTION
The objective of this chapter is to present a detailed account of multimedia
technology. The chapter commences with multimedia technology, its definitions,
genesis, components etc. It provides an overview of multimedia production, and its
application in various fields including libraries and information centers.
Computer technology has revolutionized the production of information
in the second half of the twentieth century. The traditional personal computers
have been text or data oriented until 1980s but after eighties a graphical
environment started. During1990‟s the power of information processing and
handling different media increased enormously and personal computers got
evolved as multimedia machines and the era of multimedia technology
emerged (Ramaiah, 1998). It has been said by computer technology research
reports 1993, that people retain only 20 percent of what they see and 30 percent
of what they hear. But they remember 50 percent of what they see and hear
Multimedia technologies enable the users to integrate and manipulate
data from diverse sources such as video, images, graphics, animation, audio
and text on a single hardware platform. Now multimedia has become the latest
cultural phenomena in the information sector. The rapid ascent of multimedia
technology over the last decade has brought about fundamental changes to
computing, entertainment and education.
The exponential growth of multimedia technologies and applications has
presented the computerized society with opportunities and challenges that in
many cases are unprecedented. It is becoming more and more popular because
of the effectiveness of its applications in all aspects of human life. Multimedia
applications have progressed to the point of sparking a fundamental paradigm
shift in the very concept of information transfer and presentation.
3.1 Multimedia: Definition
The term multimedia constituents of two words, „multi‟ and „medium‟.
Multi refers to many i.e. at least two. Media is the plural of medium. Medium
refers to storage, transmission, communication, representation, presentation,
input interaction and perception, meaning that it can refer to different level of
abstraction. It also refers to a basic information type like text, graphics, images,
audio, animation, video etc. Therefore multimedia is as an integration of many
types of media (i.e. text, graphics, images, audio, animation, video etc) on a
single medium in the same information unit.
The Columbia Encyclopaedia has defined multimedia as “in personal
computing, software and applications that combines text, high quality sound,
two and three dimensional graphics, animation, images, and full motion video.”
According to Vaughan “multimedia is any combination of text, sound,
animation and video delivered by computer or other electronic or digitally
manipulated means. It is a woven combination of digitally manipulated text,
photographs, graphic art, sound, animation, and video elements.” (Vaughan,
Newton defines multimedia as “the combination of different types of
media in the communication of information between two users and their
computers. The format in which the information for communication exists
differs, but it usually includes voice communication, sound processing and
image processing. Multimedia means that convergence of the technologies
from the different industries into a communication medium that presents the
synthesis of interactive computers, highly fidelity video and sound. Multimedia
is thus the combination of standard data processing with text, graphics,
animation, sound and video” (Newton, 1998).
Dahmer defines the term as “something that combines the capabilities
of technologies that used to be separate - it can combine things like text,
graphics, sounds and still or motion pictures in a smooth way to present
information. Print, telecommunications, video, broadcasting and computers
have merged and the result is what we now call multimedia” (Dahmer, 1993).
The simultaneous use of two or more different forms of media (text,
graphics, animation, sound and video) for effective information communication
is referred as multimedia. Graphics and sound, digital or analog video,
animations, hypermedia, interactivity, computer games, virtual reality,
electronic books, CD-ROM, HDTV, telecommunications and many others have
all been terms associated with the definition of multimedia at one time or
another (Stubley, 1994). Multimedia is a technology engaging a variety of
media including text, audio, video, graphics and animation either separately or
in combination, using computers to communicate ideas or to disseminate
3.2 Genesis of Multimedia
The genesis of multimedia can be traced back from some notable
inventions. The invention of printing press in 1450 by Gutenberg brought a
revolution in the growth of recorded knowledge. Radio transmission was
invented by G. Marconi in 1885, and he detected radio waves beamed across
the Atlantic in 1901, which is now a major medium for audio broadcasting.
In the area of still pictures, the evolution of microfilm was in 1839 and
negative film in 1841. Photography came into existence in 1851. Moving
pictures i.e. cinematographic film was invented in 1870. Sound recording discs
came into existence in 1877 and magnetic tape-recorder in 1898. Sound tape
was used first time in the year 1899. In 1908, video tape and Television were
invented. Electronic camera was invented in 1934 (Taylor, 1982).
Evolution of microcomputers in 1945 had made revolution in the field
of computer technology. Optical storage system was evolved in 1985, and it is
notable in this regard (Vaughan, 2008). Television was the new media for
twentieth century, it brought the video and has changed the world of mass
Origin of multimedia is frequently connected with the emergence of
Memex. Memex is a mechanical device designed by Bush in 1945 for storing,
organizing and retrieving information in the form of text and graphics (Bush,
1945). Doug Englebert, in 1962, designed a system called NLS (oN Line
System) which had interactive multi-user editing and branching of different
files and texts having searching facility (Engelbart, 1993).
In 1965, Theodor Nelson had designed a system named as hypertext in
1965, which was based on the concept of Memex (Nelson, 1965). Hypertext
means a non sequential reading and writing, allowing authors to link
information, create paths through a corpus of related material, annotate existing
text, create notes and points readers to either bibliographical data or the body of
the referenced text. It is text in electronic form that take advantage of the
interactive capabilities (Conklin, 1987). When text is stored in a computer, the
computer‟s powerful processing capabilities can be applied to make the text
more accessible and meaningful. The text can then be called hypertext, because
the words, sections and thoughts are linked. The user can navigate through text
in a nonlinear way, quickly and intuitively.
Hypertext systems are currently used for electronic publishing and
reference works, technical documentation, educational courseware, interactive
kiosks, electronic catalogues, interactive fiction, text and image databases.
Another development in this field is hypermedia. A multimedia program
developed in a hypertext environment is hypermedia. It is simply the extension
of hypertext that incorporates other media elements in addition to text. With
hypermedia systems, author can create linked corps of materials that include
text, static and animated graphics, video, sound, music etc. (Yankelovich,
Haan, Meyrowit & Drucker, 1988). The basic difference between hypermedia
and multimedia is in the organization and the linkages of the information
fragments. The information fragments in the multimedia are organized linearly
whereas in hypermedia, these are organized non-linearly with links to each
other (Ramaiah, 1992).
Theodor Nelson started another project named as XANDU in 1960s, a
global literary system aimed as instantaneous repository and delivery system
for the published works like text, graphics, audio, video etc., so that any user
may rapidly get any frame or whole work (Nelson, 1980; Gregory, 1983). In
late 1970s, Van Dam designed a File Retrieving and Editing SyStem (FRESS)
by incorporating the best ideas of Engelbart‟s NLS (oN Line System) and
Hypertext Editing System (Van Dam, 1971). This was followed by another
system INTERMEDIA, designed by Meyrowitz at Brown University for
conducting research on use of hypertext in teaching (Yankelovich et al., 1988).
At the start of 1990s multimedia was meant as combination of text with
document images (Andleigh & Thakrar, 2003).
Multimedia technology got revolutionized with the introduction of
Internet. In 1991, Tim Berner Lee developed a global hypertext project known
as World Wide Web designed to allow people to work together by combining
their knowledge in a web of hypertext documents. He is the primary inventor of
the World Wide Web and HTML, the system of text links and multimedia
capabilities that made the Internet accessible to mass audiences (Berner-Lee,
In twenty-first century multimedia is used on internet for various
multimedia applications. Now most of the websites on internet have
multimedia capabilities. Multimedia blogs, audio and video archives, podcasts,
multimedia galleries, webcasts, multimedia in social networking websites etc
are today‟s common applications of multimedia on internet.
3.3 Components of Multimedia
There are five components of multimedia i.e. text, sound, images,
animation and video. These are explained in detail as under (Vaughan, 2008).
Text or written language is the most common way of communicating
information. It is one of the basic components of multimedia. It was originally
defined by printed media such as books and newspapers that used various
typefaces to display the alphabet, numbers, and special characters. Although
multimedia products include pictures, audio and video, text may be the most
common data type found in multimedia applications. Besides this, text also
provides opportunities to extend the traditional power of text by linking it to
other media, thus making it an interactive medium.
(i) Static Text
In static text, the words are laid out to fit in well with the graphical
surroundings. The words are built into the graphics just like the graphics and
explanation given in the pages of the book, the information is well laid out and
easy to read. The learners are able to look at the pictures and read the textual
information, as they are available on the similar screen (Kindersley, 1996).
A hypertext system consists of nodes. It contains the text and links
between the nodes, which define the paths the user can follow to access the text
in non-sequential ways. The links represent associations of meaning and can be
thought of as cross-references. This structure is created by the author of the
system, although in more sophisticated hypertext systems the user is able to
define their own paths. The hypertext provides the user with the flexibility and
choice to navigate through the material.Text should be used to convey
imperative information and should be positioned at appropriate place in a
multimedia product. Well-formatted sentences and paragraphs are vital factors,
spacing and punctuation also affects the readability of the text. Fonts and styles
should be used to improve the communication of the message more
Images are an important component of multimedia. These are generated
by the computer in two ways, as bitmap or raster images and as vector images.
(i) Raster or Bitmap Images
The most common and comprehensive form of storage for images on a
computer is a raster or bitmap image. Bitmap is a simple matrix of the tiny dots
called pixel that forms a raster or bitmap image (Vaughan, 2008). Each pixel
consists of two or more colours. The colour depth is determined by how much
data, in bits is used to determine the number of colours e.g. one bit is two
colours, four bits means sixteen colours, eight bits indicates 256 colours, 16
bits yields 65,536 colours and so on. Depending on the hardware capabilities,
each point can display from two to millions of colours. Comprehensive image
means that an image looks as much as possible like the real word or original
product. This means that the proportion, size, colour, and texture must be as
accurate as possible. Bitmap formats are Windows Bitmap (BMP), Device
Independent Bitmap (DIB), and Windows Run Length Encoded (RLE)
(ii) Vector Images
Vector images base on drawing elements or objects such as lines,
rectangles, circles and so forth to create an image. The advantage of vector
image is the relatively small amount of data required to represent the image and
therefore, it does not requires a lot of memory to store. The image consists of a
set of commands that are drawn when needed. A bitmap image requires the
number of pixels to produce appropriate height, width and colour depth, the
vector image is based on a relatively limited number of drawing commands.
The falls drop of vector images is the limited level of detail that can be
presented in an image (Hillman, 1998). Mostly used vector format is Windows
metfile in windows operating system.
Compression techniques are used to reduce the file size of images that is
useful for storing large number of images and speeding transmission for
networked application. Compression formats used for this purpose are GIF,
TIFF and JPEG.
Animation consists of still images displayed so quickly that they give
the impression of continuous movement. The screen object is a vector image in
animation. The movement of that image along paths is calculated using
numerical transformations applied to their defining coordinates. To give the
impression of smoothness the frame rate has to be at least 16 frames per
second, and for natural looking motion it should be at least 25 frames per
second. Animations may be two or three dimensional. In two dimensional
animation the visual changes that bring an image alive occur on the flat X and
Y axis of the screen, while in three dimensional animation it occurs along the
entire three axis X, Y and Z showing the image from all the angles. Such
animations are typically rendered frame by high-end three dimensional
animation softwares. Animation tools are very powerful and effective. There
are two basic types of animations, path animation and frame animation.
(i) Path Animation
Path animations involve moving an object on a screen that has a
constant background e.g. a cartoon character may move across the screen
regardless any change in the background or the character.
(ii) Frame Animation
In frame animations, several objects are allowed to move simultaneously
and the objects or the background can also change.
The moving objects are one of the most appropriate tools to enhance
understanding, as they allow the learner to see the demonstration of changes,
processes and procedures (Earnshaw & Vince, 1995). Animation uses very
little memory in comparison to digital video as it consists of drawing and
moving instructions. Animation is very useful for such multimedia applications
where moving visuals are required, but where digital video may be unsuitable,
unnecessary, or too expensive in terms of disc space or memory.
Sound is probably the most sensuous element of multimedia. It is
meaningful speech in any language, from a whisper to a scream. It can provide
the listening pleasure of music, the startling accent of special effects, or the
ambience of a mood setting background. It can promote an artist, add interest
to a text site by humanizing the author, or to teach pronouncing words in
another language. Sound pressure level (volume) is measured in decibels,
which is actually the ratio between a chosen reference point on a logarithmic
scale and the level that is actually experienced.
(i) Musical Instrument Digital Identifier (MIDI)
Musical Instrument Digital Identifier (MIDI) is a communication
standard developed in the early 1980s for electronic musical instruments and
computers. It is the short hand representation of music stored in numeric form.
MIDI is the quickest, easiest and most flexible tool for composing original
score in a multimedia project. To make MIDI scores sequencer, software and
sound synthesizer is needed. A MIDI keyboard is also useful for simplifying
the creation of musical scores. Its quality depends upon the quality of musical
instruments and the capabilities of sound system. It is device dependent
(ii) Digital Audio
Digitised sound is sampled sound. The every nth fraction of a second, a
sample of sound is taken and stored as digital information in bits and bytes.
The quality of this digital recording depends upon how often the samples are
taken (sampling rate) and how many numbers are used to represent the value of
each sample (bit depth, sample size, resolution). The more often the sample is
taken and the more data is stored about that sample, the finer the resolution and
quality of the captured sound when it is played back (Vaughan, 2008). The
quality of digital audio also relies on the quality of the original audio source,
capture devices, supporting software and the capability of playback
The main benefit of audio is that it provides a channel that is separate
from that of the display (Nielson, 1995). Sound plays a major role in
multimedia applications, but there is a very fine balance between getting it
right and overdoing it (Philips, 1997). Multimedia products benefit from digital
audio as informational content such as a speech or voice-over and as special
effects to indicate that a program is executing various actions such as jumping
to new screens. The three sampling frequencies used in multimedia are CD-
quality 44.1 kHz, 22.05 kHz and 11.025 kHz. Digital audio plays a key role in
Video is defined as the display of recorded real events on a television
type screen. The embedding of video in multimedia applications is a powerful
way to convey information. It can incorporate a personal element, which other
media lack. The personality of the presenter can be displayed in a video
(Philips, 1997). The video may be categorised in two types, analog video and
(i) Analog Video
Analog video is the video data that is stored in any non-computer media
like videotape, laserdisc, film etc. It is further divided in two types, composite
and component analogue video.
Composite Analog Video has all the video components including
brightness, colour, and synchronization, combined into one signal. Due to the
composition or combining of the video components, the quality of the
composite video is resulted as colour bleeding, low clarity and high
generational loss (Hillman, 1998). Generational loss means the loss of quality
when the master is copied to edit or for other purpose. This recording format
was used for customer analog video recording tape formats (such as Betamax
and VHS) and was never adequate for most multimedia presentations
(Vaughan, 2008).Composite video is also susceptible to quality loss from one
generation to other.
Component analog video is considered more advanced than composite
video. It takes different components of video such as colour, brightness and
synchronization and breaks them into separate signals (Hillman, 1998). S-VHS
and Hi-8 are examples of this type of analog video in which colour and
brightness, information are stored on two separate tracks. In early 1980s, Sony
has launched a new portable, professional video format „Betacam‟ in which
signals are stored on three separate tracks (Vaughan, 2008).
There are certain analogue broadcast video standards commonly used
round the globe. These are National Television Standard Committee (NTSC),
Phase Alternate Line (PAL), Sequential Colour with Memory (SECAM) and
HDTV. In the United States, Canada, Japan NTSC standard is used, while in
United Kingdom, China, South Africa PAL is used. SECAM is used in France.
A new standard has been developed known as High Definition Television
(HDTV) which bears better image and colour quality in comparison to other
(ii) Digital Video
It is the most engaging of multimedia venues, and it is a powerful tool
for bringing computer users closer to the real world (Vaughan, 2008). Digital
video is storage intensive. A high quality colour still image on a computer
screen requires one megabyte or more of storage memory. To provide the
appearance of motion, picture should be replaced by at least thirty times per
second and the storage memory required is at least thirty megabyte for one
second of video. The more times the picture is replaced, the better is the quality
Video requires high bandwidth to deliver data in networked
environment. This overwhelming technological bottleneck is overcome using
digital video compression schemes. There are video compression standards as
MPEG, JPEG, Cinepak and Sorenson. In addition to compressing video data,
streaming technologies such as Adobe Flash, Microsoft Windows Media,
QuickTime and Real Player are being implemented to provide reasonable
quality low bandwidth video on the web. QuickTime and Real Video are the
most commonly used for wide spread distribution.
Digital video formats can be divided into two categories, composite
video and component video. Composite digital recording formats encode the
information in binary (0‟s and 1‟s) digital code. It retains some of weakness of
analogue composite video like colour and image resolution and the generation
loss when copies are made.
Component digital is the uncompressed format having very high image
quality. It is highly expensive. Some popular formats in this category are
„Digital Bitacam‟ and D-5 developed in 1994 and DVCAM developed in 1996.
There are certain standards for digital display of video i.e. Advanced
Television System Committee (ATSC), Digital Video Broadcasting (DVB),
and Integrated Services Digital Broadcasting (ISBD). ATSC is the digital
television standard for the United States, Canada and South Korea, DVB is
used commonly in Europe and ISBD is used in Japan to allow the radio and
television stations to convert into digital format (Molina & Villamil, 1998).
Video can be used in many applications. Motion pictures enhance
comprehension only if they match the explanation. For example, if we want to
show the dance steps used in different cultures, video is easier and more
effective than to use any graphics or animation (Thibodeau, 1997).
3.4 Production of Multimedia Resources
Multimedia resources are based on the ability of the computer to
capture, process, and present text, pictures, audio and video. Selection of
proper hardware, software and file format for developing multimedia product is
based on the budget and type of content in the product and delivery
requirements. Following is a description of infrastructure requirement for
producing multimedia resources.
22.214.171.124 Hardware Requirement
The special hardware requirement can be described in four categories i.
e. Input devices, Output devices, Storage devices and Communication devices.
(i) Input Devices
Input devices usually used for the production of multimedia resources
are as follows.
A keyboard is the most common method of interaction with a computer.
The most common keyboard for PCs is the 101 style, although many styles are
available with more or fewer special keys, LEDs, and other features.
A mouse is the standard tool for interacting with a graphic user
interface. The buttons on the mouse provide additional user input, such as
pointing and double-clicking to open a document, or the click and drag
operation, or to move to and select an item on a pull down menu, to access
context sensitive help.
(c) Touch screen
Touch screens are monitors that usually have a textured coating across
the glass face. This coating is sensitive to pressure and registers the location of
the user‟s finger when it touches the screen initiative to pressure and registers
the location of the user‟s finger when it touches the screen. Touch screens are
excellent for applications in a kiosk, at a trade show or in a museum delivery
Scanner is the most useful equipment used in a multimedia project. It
may be flat bed, hand held and drum scanners. The most commonly used
scanner for multimedia application is colour flatbed scanners that provide
resolute of 600 dots per inch (dpi) or better.
(e) Optical Character Recognition Device
After scanning, a document can be converted into a word processing
document on the computer without retyping or rekeying, with the help of OCR
system. OCR system uses a combination of hardware and software to recognise
characters. Some examples of OCRs are omni page from Scansoft, Recore
from Maxsoft-Ocron. The OCR terminal can be of use to a multimedia
developer because it recognizes not only printed characters but also
handwriting. This facility may be beneficial at a kiosk or in general education
environment where user friendliness is a goal, because there are growing
demand for a more personal and less technical interface to data and
(f) Voice Recognition System
Voice Recognition systems can be used for the hands-free interaction
with the computer. These behavioural biometric systems usually provide a
unidirectional cardioid, noise cancelling microphone that automatically filters
out background noise and learn to recognize voice prints. These systems can
trigger common menu events such as save, open, quite, print and other
commands that are more specific to the application.
(g) Digital Camera and Video Camera
Digital cameras capture the still image or video of a given number of
pixels (resolution) and the images are stored in the camera‟s memory to be
uploaded later to a computer. The resolution of digital camera is determined by
megapixel rating. Video camera is a camera capable of recording live motion
video with audio for later display. Data may be uploaded from the camera‟s
memory using a USB cable connected to the computer.
(ii) Output Devices
Following is a brief description of output devices used in a multimedia
The monitors for a multimedia application must be high-end, large
screen graphics monitor and liquid crystal display. Serious multimedia
developers often attach more than one monitor to their computer, using add-on
graphics boards. This is because many authoring systems allow working with
several open windows at a time. So one monitor may be dedicated to view the
work the developer is designing, and editing tasks can be performed in
windows on other monitors that do not block the view of the work.
(b) Audio devices
All the computers are equipped with an internal speaker and a dedicated
sound chip, and they do are capable of audio without additional hardware. To
abate advantages of inbuilt stereo sound external speakers are required. Altec
Lansing‟s three piece amplified speaker system is designed for multimedia
(c) Video devices
Video display devices, often called graphics adapters, enable the
computer to present information on monitors capable of displaying up to 16
million colours. Television pictures can be displayed on the computer by
installing a video digitizing board.
Projector is required to show the presentation to large number of
viewers. Cathode ray tube projectors, liquid crystal display, digital high
processing projectors, and liquid crystal on silicon projectors may be used for
the multimedia applications.\
With the advent of reasonably priced colour printers, a hard copy output
has entered the multimedia scene. Many printers are available in the market i.e.
laser printer, solid-ink printer, dye-sublimation printer, liquid inkjet printer and
printers based on toner technology. Laser printers are the best in terms of
(iii) Storage Devices
Multimedia data requires very high storage capacity. The storage
devices used are given as follows.
The Random Access Memory should be very good for graphics, audio
and video production and writing multimedia products. Graphics memory also
called VRAM (Video random access memory) for high resolution colour
display may be used.
(b) Hard Disc
There should be relatively fast hard drive systems for processing
graphics, audio and video. Now fast, less expensive and large capacity HDD
are available in the market. 120GB Hard disc is recommended for multimedia
(c) Magnetic Tapes
It is a plastic ribbon which is usually ½ inch or ¼ inch wide, and 50 to
2400 feet long. Data are recorded on the tape in the form of tiny invisible
magnetised and non-magnetised spots on the coated surface of the tape. The
tape ribbon is itself stored in reels or in small cartridge or cassette. Four mm
digital audio tape is most widely used type of magnetic tape in multimedia
applications. It uses a tape ribbon of 4mm and 60 or 90 meters long enclosed in
(d) Magnetic Disc
Magnetic disc is a thin plate made of plastic usually coated on both sides
with a magnetisable recording material. The information written on it can be
erased or reused indefinitely. The information stored can be read many times,
without affecting its quality. Floppy disc and hard disc are examples of
magnetic disc. Most popular magnetic discs used in multimedia application are
Zip disc, Jaz disc, super disc etc.
(e) Optical Disc
Optical discs can store extremely large amount of data in a limited
space. An optical-disc storage system consists of a rotating disc, which is
coated with a thin metal or some other material that is highly reflective. Laser
beam technology is used for recording and reading data on the disc. These are
also called laserdiscs. It is found in the form of CD-R, CD-RW, and DVD. CD-
R is Compact Disc Recordable., CD- RW is Compact Disc Rewritable, and
DVD is Digital Video Disc. There are three types of DVD, DVD-RW, DVD-
Video and DVD-ROM. CDs and DVDs are the best for multimedia storage
because of its huge storage capacity.
(f) Pen Drive and External Hard Disc
The latest development in storage is the evolution of pen-drive and
(iv) Communication Devices
Multimedia data file size, especially for graphics, audio and video are
quite large. Therefore the key issue for multimedia communication is
bandwidth. Band width is the amount of information that can be transmitted
across a network of computers within a stipulated period of time. It is measured
in kilobits per second (kbps) or megabits per second (mbps). Communication
systems have created two classes of multimedia products, synchronous or real
time and asynchronous. Synchronous applications are able to transmit and
receive data in real time allowing the end user to view or hear data as it is being
captured or created. Asynchronous applications use a store and forward method
in which data is transmitted and stored for future. Primary communication
devices for multimedia are as under (Hillman, 1998).
Modem modulates and de-modulates analog signals. The modem speed
is the most important consideration in communicating multimedia files. These
files contain the graphics, audio and video and usually it is needed to move as
much data as possible in a short time. Today‟s standards dictate at least a 56
kbps modem. Compression saves significant transmission time and cost over
long distance. Fifty six kbps V.90 depends on hardware based compression
algorithm to crunch the data before sending it and decompressing it upon
arrival at the receiving end (Vaughan, 2008).
(b) Network Devices
For higher transmission speed by telephone Integrated Services Digital
Network (ISDN) is recommended for multimedia. ISDN lines offer a 128 kbps
data transfer rate. These are used for internet access, networking and audio and
video conferencing. Now a faster technology known as DSL technology using
a dedicated line has overtaken ISDN in popularity.
As there are so many variables in selecting hardware for a multimedia
platform, a group of companies formed an organization called the Multimedia
PC Marketing Council (MPC) in 1990 to set minimum standards for
multimedia hardware. MPC Level-1 published in 1990 dictated that a system is
considered as Level 1 system with configuration as 16 MHZ 386SX or
compatible microprocessor, 2 MB of RAM, 30 MB Hard disc, 3.5-inch high-
density Discette drive, single speed CD-ROM drive with a 150 KB per second
data transfer rate, 8-bit soundboard, VGA compatible display adapter, Colour
VGA compatible monitor, 101 key keyboard, two-button mouse, standard
serial and parallel ports, MIDI port, joystick port and support for either
Microsoft Windows version 3.0, with multimedia extensions, or for Windows
These standards were updated in 1993 with Level-2 specifications, and
again updated in 1995 as MPC-3. The MPC-3 standard delineates the
specifications for multimedia as 75 MHz Pentium Processor, 8 MB RAM, 540
MB Hard disc, 3.5-inch high-density Discette drive, Quad speed CD-ROM
drive with a 600 KB per-second data transfer rate, 16-bit, wave-table, MIDI
sound card, MPEG-1 hardware and software capable of 30 frames per second,
352 by 240 pixels, 15 bits per pixel (Vaughan, 2008). Current machines have
surpassed even this level, with storage space now measured in terabytes
standard on most PCs, RAM in gigabytes, and up to a 200 MHz processor
speed on the Pentium chip.
126.96.36.199 Software Requirement
Multimedia softwares are authoring tools, which provide an important
framework for organizing and editing the elements of multimedia including
graphics, sound, animation and video. Tools for authoring and programming in
multimedia applications include Director, Aurhorware Professional,
CourseBuilder, Flash, Supercard, Hypercard, and Film Maker etc. A brief
description of some of the authoring softwares are as follows.
(i) Adobe Director
It is a software tool for multimedia authoring. The software is used to
create interactive games, interactive learning materials, applications, kiosks,
DVDs, CDs and the web.
(ii) CREATE Together
This is a multimedia environment that integrates creation, collaboration,
communication, problem solving, and publishing in one seamless tool. It can be
used to create animated games, randomly generated puzzles, interactive
simulations, searchable multimedia databases, hyperlinked presentations,
It is a multimedia authoring package which allows users to create their
multimedia projects, helping them organize and communicate information and
ideas using a wide variety of media. MediaBlender can be accessed from any
computer with internet access. Also the software can be hosted on any server
for better performance, and load a stand-alone application on computer for use
without an Internet connection in client-server mode.
(iv) MediaWorks 6.2
MediaWorks combines simple-to-use video, sound, animation and paint
editors with a powerful multimedia authoring program. It can easily create
amazingmovie-type productions that are difficult or not possible in other
consumer-level movie and slide show editors, and precisely-timed linear and
interactive presentations without the learning curve and expense of high-end
media editing and authoring tools.
PlayMo is an authoring tool that allows the creation of highly interactive
rich media content from a wide range of source files such as still images, video
clips, audio clips, 3D models, CAD models and more. PlayMo's intuitive
WYSIWYG editing functions make it easy to embed complex interactivity into
models to accurately recreate the functionality of real-world objects, requiring
(vi) Multimedia Builder
It is a multimedia authoring system that allows to create autorun CD
menus, multimedia applications on CD-ROM, demos, kiosks, Computer based
training, presentations, MP3 players etc.
188.8.131.52 File Formats for Multimedia
The following is an outline of current file formats used for the
production and delivery of multimedia.
(i) Text Formats
(a) RTF (Rich Text Format)
RTF is a proprietary document file format with published specification
developed by Microsoft Corporation in 1987 for Microsoft products and for
cross-platform document interchange.
(b) Plain text
Plain text files can be opened, read, and edited with most text editors.
Examples include Notepad (Windows), edit (DOS), ed, emacs, vi, vim, Gedit
or nano (Unix, Linux), SimpleText (Mac OS), or TextEdit (Mac OS X). Other
computer programs are also capable of reading and importing plain text. Plain
text is the original and ever popular method of conveying e-mail. HTML
formatted e-mail messages often include an automatically-generated plain text
copy as well, for compatibility reasons.
(ii) Image Formats
(a) TIFF (Tagged Image File Format)
This format is common in desktop publishing world, and almost all
software packages support it. Recent versions of TIFF allow for image
compression, and the format is handy for moving large files between
(b) BMP (Bitmap)
This format came into use with Windows 3.1. It is uncompressed and
can be quite large. For this reason, BMP is seldom used for the large or high-
(c) DIB (Device Independent Bitmap)
This format is similar to BMP, allows files to be displayed on a variety
(d) GIF (Graphics Interchange format)
GIF is acompressed image format developed by CompuServe, an online
information service. Most computer colour images and backgrounds are GIF
files. This compact file format is ideal for graphics that use only few colours,
and it was once the most popular format for online colour photos. The GIF
format uses an 8-bit Colour Look Up Table to identify its colour values. This
format is widely supported by several shareware viewers and converters.
(e) JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group)
This format was designed for maximum image compression. JPEG uses
loosy compression, which refers to a compression scheme that actually looses
some of the data needed to reconstruct the image. It works well on
photographs, naturalistic artwork, and similar material but does not work well
on lettering, simple cartoons, or live drawings. The rationale behind loosy
compression is that the human eye does not miss the lost information.
(f) TGA (Tagra)
This was the first popular format for high-resolution images. The name
comes from the original Targa board, the first true-colour video board. Most
video-capture boards support TGA, as do most high-end paint programs.
(g) PNG (Portable Network Graphics)
An extensible file format for the loss less, portable, well compressed
storage of raster images. PNG provides a patent free replacement for GIF and
can also replace many common uses of TIFF. PNG is designed to work well in
online viewing applications, such as the worldwide web, so it is fully
streamable with a progressive display option.
(iii) Digital Audio File Formats
(a) WAV (Waveform Audio File Format)
The most popular audio file format used mainly in windows for storing
uncompressed sound files. It can be converted to other file formats like MP3to
reduce the file size.
(b) MP3 (MPEG Layer-3 Format)
MPEG Layer-3 format is the most popular format downloading and
storing music. The MP3 files are compressed to roughly one-tenth the size of
an equivalent WAV file.
A free, open source container format that can be compared to MP3 files
in terms of quality.
It is a standard audio file format used by Sun, Unix and Java. The audio
in AU file format can be compressed.
(e) AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format)
A standard audio file format used by Apple which is like a WAV file for
(f) WMA (Windows Media Audio)
It is a popular windows media audio format owned by Microsoft and
designed with Digital Right Management (DRM) abilities for copy protection.
(g) RA (Real Audio Format)
Real Audio format is designed for streaming audio over the Internet.
The digital audio resources are usually stored as a computer file in
computer‟s hard drive or CD-Rom or DVD. There are multitudes of audio file
formats, but the most common formats are wave files (.WAV) and MPEG
Layer-3 files (.MP3), WMA and RA. Following are the commonly used digital
audio file formats (Rajashekharan & Nafala, 2009).
(iv) Digital Video File Formats
(a) AVI (Audio/Video Interleave)
AVI is the file format used by Video for Windows, one of three video
technologies used on personal computers. In AVI, picture and sound elements
are stored in alternate interleaved chunks in the file.
(b) MPEG (Moving Picture Experts Group)
MPEG is a group of people that meet under the International Standards
Organization (ISO) to generate standards for digital video and audio
compression. Established in 1988, the group has produced MPEG-1, the
standard on which Video CD and MP3 are based, MPEG-2, the standard on
which such products as Digital Television set top boxes and DVD are based,
MPEG-4, the standard for multimedia for the fixed and mobile web and
MPEG-7, the standard for description and search of audio and visual content.
Work on the new standard MPEG-21 "Multimedia Framework" has started in
June2000. Technically speaking MPEG is not a storage format but standards
for digital video and audio compression.
A video file format is a standard for encoding digital video, audio and
some auxiliary information into a file. In contrast to audio and image formats,
most video file formats allow a variety of codecs, both audio and video to be
used (Pathak, 2006).
3.4.2 Steps in Multimedia Production
Multimedia production requires a significant amount of time and careful
planning. Adequate planning assures that the project will proceed smoothly and
follow a reasonably designed schedule for completion and will certainly
communicate the information to the target audience. For the development of
complex multimedia projects, there are following phases (Vaughan, 2008)
(i) Conceptual Analysis and Planning
The process of making multimedia starts with a vision, high site or an
idea, which is the conceptual ignition point. Conceptual analysis involves
identifying a relevant theme, budget and checking the availability of content on
that particular theme. Other criterion like how amenable is the content to the
multimedia treatment and issues like copyright are also considered in
conceptual analysis. Based on the available budget the theme should be
finalized and a thorough planning should be made.
(ii) Project design
After finalizing the theme, specific goals, objectives and activities are to
be laid down for the multimedia project. Goals are general statements, while
objectives are specific statements of the anticipated project outcomes.
Activities are the actions done in order to implement an objective. Specific
people are responsible for their execution and there is a time frame and cost
binding their development. A very important element that should be defined at
this stage is the potential target audience of that proposed title, which will
determine how the content should be presented. Strengths and weakness of the
project should be stated and the ways should be identified to maximize and
minimize them respectively.
Depending on the planning and design, it is required to develop the
project. There are following steps in pre-production.
Money is not an infinite resource, therefore a detailed budget should be
estimated for each step of the production of multimedia title. Typical budgeting
heads are cost of personnel, advisors and consultants, equipments (hardware
etc.), software, audio/video production, royalties, legal expenses,
communication expenses, travel expenses, typing and publishing.
(v) Multimedia Production Team
The production of the fine quality high-end application requires a
specialized team and its best efforts. As developing a multimedia project is a
teamwork, this team consists of a number of members i.e. Production Manager,
Content Specialist, Script writer, Text Editor, Multimedia Architect, Computer