Multimedia 3472 - Essay Example

The term media refers to the storage, transmission, interchange, presentation,

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representation and perception of different information types (data types) such

as text, graphics, voice, audio and video. The term multimedia is used to denote

the property of handling a variety of representation media in an integrated

manner. The phrase ‘representation media’ is used because it is believed the

most fundamental aspect of multimedia systems is the support for different

representation types. It is necessary for a multimedia system to support a

variety of representation media types. It is also important that the various

sources of media types are integrated into a single system framework. Multimedia

is more than multiple media. Multimedia adds interactivity to the combination of

text, graphics, images, audio and video. Creating your own media is more

interactive than is using existing content, and collaborating with others in the

creation of media is still more interactive. Multimedia systems use a number of

different media to communicate supplementary, additional or redundant

information. Often this may take the form of using multiple sensory channels,

but it may also take the form of different types of visual input – textual,

graphical, iconic, animation and video. Multimedia – the combination of text,

animated graphics, video, and sound–presents information in a way that is more

interesting and easier to grasp than text alone. It has been used for education

at all levels, job training, and games and by the entertainment industry. It is

becoming more readily available as the price of personal computers and their

accessories declines. Multimedia as a human-computer interface was made possible

some half-dozen years ago by the rise of affordable digital technology.

Previously, multimedia effects were produced by computer-controlled analogue

devices, like videocassette recorders, projectors, and tape recorders. Digital

technology’s exponential decline in price and increase in capacity has enabled

it to overtake analogue technology. The Internet is the breeding ground for

multimedia ideas and the delivery vehicle of multimedia objects to a huge

audience. While we have treated various output media in isolation, it is clear

that interesting issues emerge as they are combined in what is termed

multimedia. In this sense, any computer application that employs a video disk,

images from a CD-ROM, uses high quality sound, or uses high quality video images

on screen may be termed a multimedia application. Such interfaces are often

aesthetically appealing and, where high capacity storage devices such as CD-ROM

are used, can provide effective interactions for the user by acting as very

large databases or storehouses of information with dense but easy-to-use

cross-referencing and indexing. Multimedia is all things to all people. The name

can convey a highly specific meaning or less then nothing, depending on your

audience. In fact, multimedia is a singular mix of disparate technologies with

overlapping application in pursuit of a market and an identity. We can describe

it as the seamless integration of data, text, images and sound within a single

digital information environment. Multimedia finds its worth in the field of

presenting information in a manner that is intuitive and more natural then

traditional means. A multimedia user interface must provide a wide variety of

easily understood and usable media control tools. In addition, information views

need to be integrated with structural views, since the viewing of information

will often alternate moving through the structure by one means or another.

Interactive Multimedia (IMM) is about empowering the user to explore new realms

by a variety of pathways. It is an umbrella term for a range of videodisc,

compact disc and computer-based systems that allow the creation, integration and

manipulation of text, graphics, still and moving video images and sound. The

computer elements of an IMM system have the capacity to: · Store, manipulate

and present a range of information forms · Allow various forms of

computer-based information to be accessed in linear and non-linear ways. ·

Provide graphics overlay and print out screen material. · Enable learners to

work independently. · Provide feedback to the learner Interactive multimedia

provides a powerful means of enhancing learning and information provision. There

are however some cautions which need to be heeded if the full potential of IMM

is to be realised. These can be seen listed below: · Lack of world standards ·

Technical problems · Platforms · Building successful teams · Developmental

costs Interactivity means that the user receives appropriate and expected

feedback in response to actions taken. It is a two-way human-machine

communication involving an end-user and a computer-based instructional system.

Users actively direct the flow and direction of the instructional or information

programmes which, in turn, exchange information with the viewers, processing

their inputs in order to generate the appropriate response within the context of

the programme. The basic elements of human interface design are now well

established. The user, not the computer should initiate all actions. The user

accesses and manipulates the various elements of the product by clicking on

buttons, icons or metaphors with a mouse or other pointing device. Interface

design should be consistent where appropriate and differentiated where needed so

the user can rely on recognition rather than recall. The user should always be

given immediate auditory or visual feedback. User activities should be broken

into small steps where tasks are complex. The interface design should be

aesthetically pleasing, appropriate to the content and suited to the learner’s

culture and prior knowledge. For designers of multimedia the main design issues

are how to integrate the media and which media to use for presenting different

kinds of information. The development of metaphorical interfaces, direct

manipulation, graphical user interfaces (GUI’s) and recent advances in the field

of virtual reality allow users to control the system by manipulating objects

such as icons, windows, menus and scroll bars. In well designed Interfaces,

these objects are so selected and represented that users can intuitively deduce

their meaning and their function in the system from prior ‘everyday knowledge’

and experience. Hypertext is a system for presenting active text. The key

feature from the learner’s point of view is that the text has many nodes and

links, which allow them to determine their own routes through the material.

Hypertext has many applications, including use as a presentation medium for

information management and browsing, providing access to information that the

public needs (such as tourism information) and for various activities.

Hypermedia combines aspects of hypertext and a variety of multimedia used in

some combination. The branching structure of hypertext is used with multimedia

in order to produce a system in which learners can determine their own paths

through the medium. Hypertext is the process of linking concepts within text

documents through the use of ‘hotwords’. A hotword is an active word within a

document that the user can click on to navigate to another part of the project

or to initiate some form of interaction. However navigation by hypertext can be

confusing, it can be easy for a user to become ‘lost in hyperspace’. After a few

clicks users can be so far from the original topic that they become hopelessly

confused. Nearly all multimedia applications include text in some form. Text and

the written language remain the most common way of communicating information in

our society. The computer brings extra power to text, not only by allowing you

to manipulate its size and shape but also making it an interactive medium. The

ability to show moving images using digital video can greatly enhance IMM

projects. Just as video has a role in multimedia, sound also plays an important

part in a project. A few carefully placed sounds can greatly enhance a project,

but a continuous monologue can be highly distracting. With the text-to-speech

technology, the computer interprets text and converts it into phonetic sounds in

much the same way as a human would. Thus, the computer can read back any text

within any program with reasonable fidelity. This feature is very useful within

an IMM program because large amounts of text can be converted to audio without

large sound files. A particular use of this technology is to offer an

alternative for vision-impaired people. There are however, some disadvantages to

computer generated speech. The speech can sound robotic compared to human speech

and it lacks the variable information that can make human speakers appealing.

Unlike print or graphics, animation is a dynamic medium. We get a sense of

relative timing, position, direction and speed of action. We need no captions

because the message is conveyed by the motion and the scene. Simply put,

animation is the process of creating, usually graphically a series of frames and

then having them display rapidly to get a sense of movement. Video provides

high-speed information transfer and shows temporal relationships. Video is

produced by successive capture and storage of images as they change with time.

Two types of speech are available for use by multimedia developers: digitised

and synthesised. Digitised speech provides high quality natural speech while

synthesised speech may not sound as natural as human speech. Even with improved

techniques for generating speech, it is not incorporated into multimedia

programs as often as it could be. This may be due to a lack of understanding of

how high quality speech is produced. Multimedia interface designers have

typically used a navigation/map metaphor, a menu/hierarchy metaphor or a journal

(sequence) metaphor. An example of the first strategy is the Virtual Museum,

produced by Apple Computer. Here the user accesses the multimedia information by

navigating through the virtual museum, moving from room to room by selecting

directions of movement. Examples of the second strategy include on-line

encyclopaedias and electronic books where a table of contents is used to

organise the material. It is helpful to view multimedia applications as a

convergence of today’s content and titles, such as movies and books of today’s

computer application programs, such as word processors and of today’s network

services. As an example a multimedia book should have the following features.

Besides text, the book has other media that the author created, including not

only text, graphics and images but also audio and video to make the book’s

content clearer or more enjoyable. Programs should be built-in to help a user

navigate through the author’s media. Multimedia’s driving technologies, mainly

digital electronics and fiberoptic communications are making more and more

functions sufficiently economical for consumers to use. Example applications

include: Desktop Video Conferences with collaboration Multimedia

Store-and-Forward mail Consumer Edutainment, Infotainmnet, Sociotainment Digital

Libraries Video on demand Hybrid Applications IMM has many applications in

libraries. IMM can bring knowledge in its entire media formats into condensed,

accessible forms capable of being used for reference and educational

applications. On the whole, within the library sector IMM is currently regarded

with some ambivalence. Many library professionals look upon it as an interesting

technology, but one that will require significant investment and change if its

potential is to be fully realised. Possible barriers to the effective adoption

of IMM by librarians may be cited as financial constraints and a lack of

requisite resources resulting in a lack of opportunity to become familiar with

the new and emergent systems; ingrained traditional resistance to change; a

degree of uncertainty regarding the appropriateness of the technology to various

applications; an inability to grasp the significance of IMM and a lack of

experience, knowledge and skills in regard to IMM among library professionals.

Example applications include the Book House – a library system using hypertext

techniques to help users find books without the limitations of traditional

information retrieval. The user interface of the Book House is based on a

building like a real library with the user being able to enter rooms filled with

children’s books, adult books etc. The system supports four basic search

strategies, using icons and pictures to enable location of the books or topic

sought. Voice response and voice recognition technologies could be used in a

library situation, this could mean that merely speaking a unique book identifier

or name could trigger the system into automatically filling in the remainder of

the bibliographic or personal details relating to that item or person.

Increasingly, multimedia systems will be developed with the aim of allowing

non-textual information to be used directly, in a demonstrational manner. Even

when text is present other media provide different additional information. Also,

when dealing with multimedia, users are naturally disposed to interact in ways

other than those developed for text. A first step to giving the user the

impression that he/she is dealing directly with non-textual material allows

database search on the basis of identifying images that best suit the user’s

purposes. An initial query that turns up a large number of images can be refined

by allowing the user to point a few images out of the set that contain items of

interest. The system can then use the text descriptions attached to the chosen

images to form a new query and offer a further set of possibly more relevant

images. My conclusion is that design could benefit tremendously from open and

collaborative multimedia research – not from relatively closed multimedia

packages.