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Characteristics of multimedia systems

Multimedia systems
multimedia systems information
systems that include combinations of
the following media, including:
text and numbers
images and/or animations

use multimedia systems in an

interactive way and to identify how
they control the presentation of
identify multimedia software
appropriate to manipulating particular
types of data

What is a multimedia system?

Multimedia systems are media based interactive information systems, which
combine different media types to provide interaction.

Media refers to the data used in multimedia systems, such as numbers, graphics,
audio and video.
Interactivity means having a certain engagement or control over what is
An interactive multimedia product will allow the user to influence/determine the
progress of the information displayed
Navigation refers to a users ability to go towards a certain part of the system,
such as a web page

Media types used in multimedia systems have significant demands on hardware and
software to deliver image, audio and in particular video content. Distribution of
multimedia systems then becomes an issue but this can be overcome through
processing techniques and the availability of fast connection to the web. Most
multimedia systems are accessed and displayed via a browser.

Content refers to the actual media the system has

Distribution refers to the method that will be used to make the multimedia
system accessible
Characteristics of media types



Characteristics of media types

ASCII (binary code)

Decimal number system
Sample rate and sample size (or bit resolution)
Duration (time)



Channels can be mono or stereo

Can be either bitmap (pixels depicting shading and detail) or
vector (generally used for flat colour, does not pixelate)
Bit depth is the number of bits per pixel for an image
Resolution (horizontal and vertical) determines number of pixels
Cel animation (or cell-based animation)
Path-based animation
Frame rate (frames per second)
Resolution (horizontal and vertical)
Bit depth
Duration (length of time is generally in seconds)
Hyperlinks are text, images, audio and video that are linked and
can be selected to move to another node of data
Mainly used to link to documents inside a browser-based
Makes file access more convenient, controlling what is being
Software for manipulating media types



Acid Xpress



Adobe Adobe Flash Dreamweav
Final Cut Pro Pivot Stick Microsoft

Differences between print and multimedia

the differences between print and
multimedia, including:
different modes of display
interactivity and involvement of
participants in multimedia
ease of distribution
authority of document

compare and contrast printed and

multimedia versions with similar


No need for technology
Physical storage is required

Easy to edit and update
Less storage is required
More up-to-date access to data

Hardware requirements
the demands placed on hardware by
multimedia systems, including:
primary and secondary storage
requirements as a result of:
- bit depth and the
representation of colour data
- sampling rates for audio data
processing as a result of:
- video data and frame rates
- image processing, including
morphing and distorting
- animation processing,
including tweening
display devices as a result of:
- pixels and resolution

summarise current information

technology requirements for
multimedia systems
distinguish between different
approaches to animation including
path-based and cell-based through
practical investigations

Demands placed on hardware

To efficiently display large file sizes, hardware processing will need to be fast and
storage capabilities need to be large and fast to manage the files. Hardware should
suit the requirements of the file types such as display devices converting and
managing the data to be displayed as audio or video. These file types tend to be fairly
specific (.jpeg and .wav) and will often combine them producing a larger file size.
A multimedia system usually requires high quality images so a high bit depth is
needed. The higher the bit depth, the more colours that can be represented but this
will affect the size of the image as more colour information has to be stored for each
pixel in the image. This means that more storage is required for the images in the
multimedia system which results in greater demands on the hardware such as RAM,
disk capacity, graphics adaptor and CPU for processing and manipulating the images.

Involves displaying the movement of objects onto a fixed

background in a particular sequence or path
Uses tweening to fill in the animation frames along the path
Often used as embedded animations in web pages due to smaller
file sizes
Involves drawing and displaying individual frames or cells
The cells are played to create the illusion of movement
Will require a powerful computer
Generally used for motion pictures where file size is not an issue
Smooth change between two different images
Transforms shape, size, dimension and colour of one image into
those of another
Animation software generates the intermediate frames for key


Animator only required to draw the key frames of movement
Graphics Interchange Format
Bitmap image format supporting up to 8 bits per pixel for each
Also supports animation

Expertise required in the development of multimedia applications

the variety of fields of expertise
required in the development of
multimedia applications, including:
content providers
system designers and project
those skilled in the collection and
editing of each of the media types
those skilled in design and layout
those with technical skills to
support the use of the information
technology being used

describe the roles and skills of the

people who design multimedia systems

Areas of expertise
Multimedia products are usually designed and developed by a group of people with a
large variety of specialised skills and expertise. Small scale multimedia systems
can be developed by a single person who would take up a variety of roles while large,
complex systems will need many specialists.
Areas of expertise include:

Content provider
Web developer
Project manager
Video production personnel
System designer
Audio production personnel
Technical personnel
Content provider

Content providers are people or organisation that provide ready-to-use content

such as stock images, audio, video, animations and text content
They provide the material for the multimedia product, liaising with the owner of
the content and managing the terms of use and/or royalties for the use of the
Content providers can also be hired by multimedia developers to work with
writers to develop content for a specific project

Generally they are skilled in their field without necessarily having any technical
skills in the software or hardware areas
System designer

The system designer plans and organises the hardware and software required
for the presentation
They may act as the project manager or provide technical support

Project manager

Project manager is one of the roles taken on by the multimedia systems designer
The project manager oversees the preparation of specifications, design and
determining the best development approach
They organise the scheduling of various components of the multimedia product,
provide overall supervision of the components and ensures that all the
components are delivered on time
Project managers must possess strong organisation, team building and time
management skills
It would also be advantageous, particularly for the multimedia systems designer,
to have a deep knowledge of hardware, software and communication
technologies required to effectively operate and troubleshoot the multimedia
system and creativity in developing an intuitive system for both novice and
advanced users

The two main roles of a writer is to write textual content and develop storylines
for the video, animation and other content of the project
Video and audio production personnel

Personnel for a video production involve a single person or an entire production

crew depending on the product, working on a script realised in the final product
Audio production revolves around the recording and editing of audio to be used in
the video production, synchronising the audio with video content
Audio content may include music, voice and or special effects
Technical personnel

Technical personnel are trained to resolve hardware and software issues with
the implementation, distribution and ongoing running of the multimedia system
They work directly with other people in the project and may also support decision
making in regards to the systems hardware requirements
Their role involves technical administration rather technical work, they work to
maintain hardware specifications and do system documentation occasionally
Technical skills relate to multimedia development, collection and editing of the
media types, design and layout to support information technology used and to
troubleshoot multimedia issues (codecs)

Web developers

Web developers need an understanding of how graphics are generated for the
web to work with a graphic designer and create an effective user interface (UI)
They also need to have an understanding of what affects a multimedia system, in
terms of connectivity, to streamline content and help prevent data lag

Examples of multimedia systems

Major areas of multimedia use
the major areas of multimedia use,
education and training
leisure and entertainment
information provision, such as
information kiosk
virtual reality and simulations
such as flight simulator
combined areas such as
educational games

identify participants,
data/information and information
technology for one example of a
multimedia system from each of the
major areas
describe the relationships between
participants, data/information and
information technology for one
example of a multimedia system from
each of the major areas
discuss environmental factors that
will influence the design of a
multimedia system for a given context,
and recommend ways of addressing
critically evaluate the effectiveness
of a multimedia package within the
context for which it has been designed

There are several major areas where multimedia systems can be categorised into:

Education and training

Leisure and entertainment
Information provision
Virtual reality and simulations
Combined areas such as education games

Multimedia systems are often categorised into more than one area due to their
complexity and content. The significant features of a system accessed over the web
are mainly related to control and navigation.

Users can access multimedia system via touch screen technology, meaning
input methods for navigation will have to suit this technology
The display resolution of multimedia may be need to be adjusted to suit different
display devices


Leisure and

Multimedia systems should enhance education and training

inside homes, schools, university and industry
Learning management systems (LMS) may be used by schools,
university and industry to manage access to learning resources
Online games can enable users to simulate an activity, allowing
practice in a safe environment and the use of a various media
Examples include flight simulators and typing tutors
Mainly game-based systems such as RPG and MMORPG
Computer games provide a high level of interactivity for the
user as the responses of the user determine the game being

Some multimedia systems focus entirely on displaying media
such as YouTube, podcasting, online radio and other streaming


reality and

Media types that facilitate the delivery of information

They provide users with an easy way to display information; the
user controls when, how and what information will be displayed
Examples include information kiosks, brochures and
encyclopaedias (interactive)
Virtual reality (VR) is the use of computer modelling and
simulation to enable a person to interact with an artificial
Interactive system focusses on simulating aspects of the real
Creates a realistic imitation of the real world environment such
as virtual tours
A simulation is the use of a model

Advances in technology
advances in technology which are
influencing multimedia development
increased storage capacity
allowing multimedia products to
be stored at high resolutions
improved bandwidth allowing
transmission of higher quality
improved resolution of capturing
increases in processing power of
improved resolution of displays
new codecs for handling
compression of media while
improving quality

interpret developments that have led

to multimedia on the World Wide Web
discuss multimedia systems that
address new technological
compare and contrast multimedia

New or emerging technologies that can be used to enhance the multimedia system
can include the use of:

smart tablets
developing apps
improvements in Wi-Fi and 3G networks
using virtual reality
voice to text translator

These emerging technologies provide flexibility through:

using a variety of hardware devices to access information on the go

use of different technologies to improve communication from anywhere in the
3D virtual worlds: virtual reality training systems
voice recognition: voice to text conversion
gesture-based activity
text to sound conversion
handwriting recognition

closed captioned video

Displaying in multimedia systems

Hardware for creating and displaying multimedia
hardware for creating and displaying
multimedia, including:
screens including CRT displays,
LCD displays, plasma displays and
touch screens
digital projection devices
speakers, sound systems
CD, DVD and video tape players
head-up displays and head-sets

describe how relevant hardware

devices display multimedia and use a
variety of devices
implement features in software that
support the displaying of multimedia
and explain their use
use available hardware and software
to display multimedia and interact with


A system bus receives data to be displayed through a connection such as VGA,

Displaying accesses a video card and memory rather than the processing of a
Video cards convert data and information into a displayable form suitable for
LCD displays are currently the dominant technology, plasma displays are not as
popular while CRT displays are obsolete
Touch screens are LCD based technology
Capacitive touch screens are touchscreen panels using the human body as an
input device, software (often sensor based) will often adjust input actions such as
gestures, these screens are stable and often used in mobile phones
Resistive touch screens are touch-sensitive computer displays composed of
two sheets that when pressed register a precise input, used in car navigation
Digital projection devices

Projectors currently are mainly digitally based: LCOS, DMD or GLV based
Liquid crystal on silicon involves a reflective liquid crystal layer on top of a
silicon backplane of a lens projects images
A digital micro-mirror device has a light source project onto thousands of
microscopic mirrors in a rectangular array corresponding to pixels to be displayed
(smaller mirrors make for a sharper image)
A grating light valve involves dynamically adjustable diffraction grating for
each pixel, refracting (of red, green and blue lasers) a reversed image through a
light multiplexer onto a mirror, producing final image which doesnt require the
conversion of data from source and has a high refresh rate
This is usually classified as a transmissive LCD projector, it is suitable for both
low end applications (at home) and high end applications (in movie theatres)
Transmissive refers to the fact that light projects through an information source
rather than bouncing off it, the information to be projected is obtained first hand
by the graphics card and projector itself

Speakers and sound systems

Speakers are devices used to produce sounds; audio signals from a computer
are translated into analogue sound waves for transmission through the speakers
A sound card is similar to an ADC converter; it modulates input sound wave into
digital sound wave and demodulates digital sound wave into sound wave
Head-up displays and head-sets

Head-up displays (HUDs) are devices worn on the head to display information
The display is super imposed on a transparent screen, allowing the user to also
have a view of the real world in front of them
It facilitates the users view, removing the users need to refocus on what is
ahead by removing the need to look around, such as looking at gauges
A head-set can display any input being gathered, though most head sets are
audio based
These can be also used in virtual reality simulation

Software for creating and displaying multimedia

software for creating and displaying
multimedia, including:
presentation software
software for video processing
authoring software
animation software
web browsers and HTML editors

summarise the techniques for

collecting, storing and displaying
different forms of media and
implement these in practical work
create samples of the different media
types suitable for use in a multimedia

All software has some common features making them effective at multimedia
planning, design and deployment. Software also has specific features that can cater
for a certain type of multimedia system that can make them more functional or useful
to achieve an intended purpose. Those common features include:



Combining different types of media

Bringing files from other applications into another
Different software may be able to run the same files
Work-flow is about moving seamlessly between applications, how
software can be tightly integrated in-between different processes
For example, Photoshop is used to edit an image while
Dreamweaver is used to display this images in a web page
Work-flow can also be used to automate common tasks such as
renaming multiple files with a prefix, moving multiple files from
different locations or generating a folder where project resources
will go
Applications should be able to handle a variety of different file
File handling can involve application-specific files such as
converting graphics into symbols only relevant to Flash
File conversion involves creating a file and being able to save it as
a different format or bring it into a different application


File optimisation involves creating the best possible file so that it

can be displayed effectively

Types of software for creating and displaying multimedia


for video



and HTML

Creates a professional presentation consisting of a series of

Improves the communication of information
Includes Keynote and Microsoft PowerPoint
Creates and edits video and involves adding text, audio and
images to a video clip
Allows for effects and combining segments of different videos
A frame grabber captures and digitises images from a video
Includes Adobe Premiere and iMovie
Provides a tool set for the design, creation and editing of
multimedia or individual elements of multimedia
Used to combine text, graphics, animation, audio and video into
a multimedia product and allows the user to create interactivity
Allows the user to export the work into suitable file types or to
package the work into an easy to use format
Includes Adobe Authorware and Adobe Director
Takes individual images and creates the illusion of movement
Can be 2D or 3D
Warping and morphing software is used to create special effects
Includes Adobe Flash Professional, Autodesk Maya and Google
Sketch Up
An HTML editor is used to create or edit webpages using HTML
(hypertext mark-up language) code
HTML is a set of special instructions (called tags) that indicate
how parts of a document will be displayed
Webpages can be viewed using a web browser and can display
multimedia elements including text, hypertext, images,
animation, video and audio
Includes Adobe Dreamweaver and Microsoft Expression Web

Other information processes in multimedia systems

the integration of text and/or
number, audio, image and/or
compression and decompression
of audio, video and images
hypermedia the linking of
different media to one another

describe the process of analog to

digital conversion
plan a multimedia presentation using
a storyboard
diagrammatically represent an
existing multimedia presentation with
a storyboard

Hardware processing
Devices used for multimedia systems require ample processing and storage
capabilities in terms of random access memory (RAM) and temporary storage. In a
video file, each frame will need to be temporarily stored when played.
For the CPU to work efficiently, the ratio of file size to RAM size (recommended at 1:4)
should reserve temporary storage for the devices own processes and background
programs. When RAM is filled, temporary data is allowed to be stored on a hard disk
though data transfer will become significantly slower. A device needs an adequate
amount of RAM to work multimedia content without significant lag.
Requirements for a computer to view a website are:

high-resolution screen to display slideshows, videos

printer to print content data
sound card and speakers to listen to mp3 or audio in videos
mouse, track pad and touch screen to interact with the website
processor speed to manage content processing
sufficient RAM to store downloaded images (slides, videos)
internet access hardware (modem) to provide a wide bandwidth, to allow the fast
transfer of images
Integration of data

Multimedia software is used to integrate text, number, audio and video data. It allows
the user to bring together the separate media types. Multimedia software will
accept different media types in a variety of formats and allows the user to create
Compression and decompression
Compression reduces the number of bits required to represent information. It allows
the user to store more data and makes data transfer faster. Compressed data must be
decompressed to extract the original information.
CODEC (coder-decoder) is used to encode and decode (or compress and decompress)
various types of data. It is typically used for sound and video files. CODECs convert
analogue video signals into compressed video files, such as MPEG, or analogue sound
signals into digitised sound, such as RealAudio. CODECs are also used with streaming
(live video or audio).

Hypermedia involves the linking of information in different types of media. Each
document is independent, and information is retrieved using hypertext.

organising presentations using
different storyboard layouts, including:
a combination of these

design and create a multimedia

combine different media types in
authoring software
design and create a multimedia
World Wide Web site that includes text
and numbers, hypertext, images, audio
and video

A storyboard is a multimedia design tool, it is a series of frames each representing a

different action or screen image, showing the navigation between frames. Storyboards
which emphasise navigation are called navigation structures:




presentation of content
Tier-based structure
with the smallest tier
first until becomes
complex going down
the tiers
Navigation is not
prescribed or
everything is linked by
everything else
Made up of parts from
the other navigation

Storyboards that focus on layout provide detail about the content of each screen
rather than navigation.

Storing and retrieving

storing and retrieving:
the different file formats used to
store different types of data
- JPEG, GIF, PNG, and BMP for
- MPG, QuickTime, AVI and
WMV for video and
- MP3, Wav, WMA, and MID for
- SWF for animations
compression and decompression

identify standard file formats for

various data types
recommend an appropriate file type
for a specific purpose

Characteristics of common file formats

Characteristics of commonly used file formats (such as .mp3, .mp4, .wmv, .swf, .flv)

can be displayed as downloadable video content or viewed as streaming video

high compression rates that allow for quick download
quality can be reasonably good
commonly read and accepted by a large range of web browsers
codecs are available and easily deployable
these files are often stored on different servers separate from web pages
.mp3 and .jpeg files have small storage space requirements and can be loaded
quickly by a driver

Vector graphics


Audio files

PICT (picture) stores bit-mapped or vector graphics, PICT

files are encoded in QuickDraw commands
EPS (Encapsulated Postscript) stores vector graphics,
commonly used for files that will be output in high-resolution
JPEG (Joint Photographic Experts Group) stores bit-mapped
graphics, it uses lossy compression, so some data is lost
during the process of compression, JPEG images can use the
full spectrum of 16.7 million colours
GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) stores bit-mapped
graphics, GIF files can be compressed to reduce size without
the loss of quality (lossless compression), compresses
graphics files using 8-bit colour (256 colours)
MP3 (MPEG Audio Layer 3) compresses a file by removing
the high and low frequencies out of human hearing range
AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) stores 8-bit digitised
sound files

Calculating file sizes for images, video and audio

Image file kb =

Horizontal vertical bit depth

8 1024 bits

Video file kb =(Frame rate timeseconds)

Audio file kb =

Horizontal vertical bit depth

8 1024 bits

Sample rate( Hz) sample time(seconds) number of channels

8 1024 bits

Compression and decompression

Compression reduces the size of a file for storage purposes as it decreases the
amount of space required to store it, allowing the user to store more data and making
data transfer faster. However, there is the disadvantage of reducing the quality of the
Overall file size can be reduced by either lossy or lossless means:

Lossy compression removes a number of data bytes from the file, the resulting
file is smaller in size but the quality is reduced and cannot be restored. This is
often used for audio and video files
Lossless compression retains most of the image data, replacing repeated data,
there is some data lost but it is not as severe as lossy compression. This is
mainly used for text (such as word processing), spreadsheet and database files

text and numbers in digital format
audio, video and images in analog
methods for digitising analog data

describe the compression of audio,

image and video data and information
decide when data compression is
required and choose an appropriate
technique to compress data and later
retrieve it
capture and digitise analog data such
as audio or video

Methods for collecting

The data used for multimedia system development is usually collected first hand
rather than from secondary sources as it may need to be converted or modified which
will reduce its quality. Text and numbers are typically inputted on a keyboard or
imported from another file. Text and numbers, audio, video and images are mainly
collected using the following devices:

Microphone/sound card (can be integrated into a video camera)
Digital still camera
Digital video camera
Analogue to digital conversion



Scanners create a digital copy of a tangible source (such as hard copy

text) which can be saved as a graphic or processed by OCR (optical
character recognition) into editable text
Software allows user to choose certain characteristics for the output
product (such as a suitable file format or resolution) when collected,
most likely by a USB connection with the scanner
The software standard called TWAIN (Technology Without An
Interesting Name) allows the digital image to be used in a range of
different applications
Any audio input can be captured by a microphone and digitised using
a sound card
Data would recorded in an analogue format as a continuous wave
signal that would be digitised by sampling the audio signal at regular
intervals (sampling rate per second) and converting each sample to a
numerical value
This value would be converted to binary (discrete) data and saved as
Processing will be faster when the sound card is integrated in the



microphone and the higher its storage capability, the more data it can
manage, allowing for simultaneous processing of audio.
Video can be recorded using a digital video camera in analogue form
and digitised using a video capture card
The video capture card interprets each frame of the video as a bitmapped image and compresses the video clip by using a compression
algorithm that analyses the changes between frames
They encode the starting frame and sequence of differences between
the frames
These video files can be directly transferred to a computer in a
compressed digital format
Digital cameras are input devices that capture images in an analogue
form which is broken into many samples or pixels (depending on
resolution) and each pixel is represented in binary, allowing the image
to be stored in digital form
A proper camera takes a raw file (a lossless format)
Digital photos are limited by the amount of memory in the camera
(including RAM), the quality of the lens, the sensors controlling light
and exposure and the output device
Photographs can also be digitised using a scanner, similarly

Issues related to multimedia systems

Issues raised by multimedia systems
copyright: the acknowledgment of
source data and the ease with which
digital data can be modified
appropriate use of the Internet and
the widespread application of new
the merging of radio, television,
communications and the Internet with
the increase and improvements in
the integrity of the original source
data in educational and other
multimedia systems
current and emerging trends in
multimedia systems, such as:
virtual worlds



evaluate and acknowledge all source

material in practical work
use Internet based multimedia
presentations in a responsible way
predict and debate new technological
developments based on advancements
in multimedia systems
cross-reference material supplied in
multimedia presentations to support its

Copyright is the right to use, copy or control the work of authors

and artists; it is against the law to break copyright
Copyright is important as content on multimedia systems are
mainly original material that needs protection
Content (video and graphics), layouts and anything featured in a
system which is original and/or endemic can be copyrighted
Copyright becomes active when content is in a tangible form such
as when the ideas are documented
It expires 50 70 years after the death of the copyright owner
A patent is a legally binding copyrighted restriction on original
work, when payment to maintain the patent is continued
Work should have a disclaimer to prevent piracy and work being
copied or stolen for financial work
A developer can ensure that a website observes copyright law by:
Using original material
Seeking permission from creators of non-original material and
paying any fees required
Acknowledgment of sources
Providing links to other websites that have copyright material
rather than putting a copy of copyright material on their
Seeking permission to add copyright material to their
multimedia system.
Privacy is the ability of an individual to control personal data
Some multimedia systems may require sensitive information to be
allowed access such as payment details
This sensitive information should be protected by the systems that
has been entrusted onto it.

l issues



The owners of the multimedia system should provide a secure

environment for users to provide their sensitive information
The content that users access should be threat-free
A large-scale multimedia system needs to be constantly maintained
with back-ups, patches and updates
Outsourced content needs to be free of any threat
The content of a multimedia system should be ethically and morally
produced and ethnically and morally sound
Data integrity describes the reliability of the data, involving the
accuracy and relevance of the data
Accessibility issues can relate to people located in remote/rural
areas, people in other countries, those who have no access to
transport and students with disabilities who may have difficulties
with travel or with vision.
Multimedia displays can be adapted to suit the special needs of
users with disabilities (such as the sight-impaired) in a number of
Larger visual displays
Personalised Accessibility settings such as larger fonts,
variation of colours and brightness, voice control and voice
Braille displays
Gesture control
Emphasis on audio capabilities of the multimedia interface
The provision of audio, sound voice or gesture controls