What is Multimedia?

Multimedia has many different meanings to many different people. Definitely it is more than just colourful pictures on the Internet or on a CD - ROM. Multimedia are all computerbased, interactive online -, offline -, media - and communicationproducts, which contain at least three forms of representation e.g. texts, pictures or sounds. It’s the combination of several media - whether they depend on time like animations, simulations, videosequences or sounds, or not depend on time like texts, pictures or graphics. And this combination tries to make information understandable to us.

The parts of Multimedia
There are seven elements - text, graphics, photographs, sound, animation, video and interactivity - that can be included in a multimedia presentation. A TRUE multimedia presentation combines all of these elements.

TEXT - Traditionally text has been used to convey [=vermitteln] messages. Text is an excellent way for delivering information, but can often be too slow at getting the message across. If you only have 3 seconds to grab someone's attention, text is not going to get the job done.

GRAPHICS - Graphics can convey messages instantly. For instance, compare a printed table of sales figures with a graphic of those same figures - you can see the trends immediately in the graphic. A picture can be worth a thousand words if you use it properly to convey your message.

PHOTOGRAPHS - For instance, you can write pages to describe your product, but nothing can describe your product like a full colour photograph. Full - colour photographs can also be used as backgrounds for text and graphics.

SOUND - Sound is the best way to attract attention. Both simple sound effects and more complex sounds like voice - overs [=Filmkommentar] make a presentation more enjoyable for the viewer. Sound must be recorded and formatted so the computer can understand and use it in presentations.
Two common types of audio format are Waveform (WAV) and Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI). WAV files store actual sounds as music CDs and tapes do. WAV files can be large and may require compression (like mp3). MIDI files are much smaller than WAV files, but the quality of the sound reproduction is not nearly as good.

ANIMATION - Animation doesn't necessarily have to involve 3D graphics to be effective in a multimedia presentation. Also simple animations add enjoyment to the presentation and attract more the attention of the viewer, definitely they are more effective than static pictures. Animations are particularly useful to simulate real - world situations, such as the flight of a jet airplane.

VIDEO - In the past video has been defined as multimedia. Video makes use of all of the elements of multimedia - but at high costs. Video files can be quite large, so they are usually reduced in size using compression. Common video compression formats are Audio Video Interleave (AVI), Quicktime, and Motion Picture Experts Group (MPEG or MPEG2).

INTERACTIVITY - Interactivity allows the viewer to navigate through a presentation in their own way and at their own pace [=Tempo]. The user can jump from topic to topic and skip areas of little interest. Online catalogues are an ideal example of useful interactivity. Especially touchscreens make the interactivity perfect.

The integration of all parts is only possible on the Internet right now.

Multimedia elements require a framework that encourages the user to learn and interact with the information. Interactive elements include pop - up menus, small windows that appear on the computer screen with a list of commands or multimedia elements for the user to choose. Scroll bars, usually located on the side of the computer screen, enable the user to move to another portion of a large document or picture.

The integration of the elements of a multimedia presentation is enhanced [=verbessern] by hyperlinks. Hyperlinks creatively connect the different elements of a multimedia presentation using coloured or underlined text or icons which enable users to switch between media elements and topics. Multimedia can enhance [=verbessern] the presentation in ways that are similar to the associations made by the human mind. Connectivity provided by hyperlinks transforms multimedia from static presentations with pictures and sound into an endlessly varying and informative interactive experience. Linking information together with hyperlinks is done by special computer programs or computer languages like Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML).

Area of Multimedia Applications
Multimedia applications are computer programs, which are stored on CD - ROM or on the World Wide Web (WWW), which is the media - rich component of the Internet. Common multimedia applications include video games, learning software, and reference materials, such as electronic encyclopaedia.

Electronic Encyclopaedia
Multimedia has important applications for consumer products. Video scenes that are captured by camcorders can be combined with text, sound, and data and can be viewed on television sets in homes, schools, or offices. These multimedia presentations are becoming useful educational and communication tools. For example, there are available encyclopaedia that contain video programs depicting [=beschreiben] animal behaviours and other natural phenomena.
One advantage of the electronic medium is the huge storage capacity [=Speicherkapazit√§t] that it offers at very low cost. Freed from the expense of printing more pages and binding more volumes, electronic encyclopaedia are able to offer many more articles than their print versions. The most obvious advantage of electronic encyclopaedia is in their "multimedia" capabilities, with animated graphics, recorded sound, and video recordings supplementing [=erg√§nzen] the text, photographs, and line drawings inherited [=√ľbernommen] from the print medium.
Well - known electronic encyclopaedia are from Bertelsmann or Microsoft or the Britannica.
Other reference materials are travel guides or catalogues.
Learning by multimedia is very effective and it’s getting more popular (internet). Often the user can decide on his own what he wants to learn and how quickly he wants to go on. Also there is often the possibility of doing tests.
Multimedia has an enormous impact [=Auswirkung] on education. For example, medical schools use multimedia - simulated operations that enable prospective surgeons [=zuk√ľnftige Chirurgen] to perform operations on a computer - generated "virtual" patient. Or automobile mechanics can watch videos that demonstrate how to repair new models.
Multimedia is also used in commercial applications. Multimedia games allow players to race Indy cars or battle each other from the cockpits of giant robots. For many companies games are the most important part of multimedia (like Sega).
Also architects and designers use multimedia presentations to give clients tours of houses that are not even built yet. This way misplannings can be prevented easily.
And mail - order businesses provide multimedia catalogues that allow buyers to browse virtual showrooms.

Changing the role of computers

A trend of the 1990s in the computer industry was toward multimedia formats, as the market for conventional [=herkömmlich] types of computer - those that have computation and data processing as their major functions - has begun to become saturated [=gesättigt].
Multimedia computers are systems that can process graphics, sound, video, and animation in addition to traditional data processing.
Videocassette recorders, televisions, telephones, and audiocassette players have also undergone a change in technology - from analog to digital formats. For example, television images can be processed by computer programs once they have been converted to digital signals, while those in conventional analog signals cannot. In other words, digital video images can be zoomed up or down, reshaped, or rearranged by the appropriate software.

Multimedia computer systems can also be incorporated [=integriert] into computer networks, enhancing [=verbessern] the effectiveness of communication.


Infrastructure's readiness to make multimedia services available:
(based on the number of telephone lines, TV sets, and PCs per 100 people)

Phone lines


Bertelsmann is the world's third - largest media company behind Disney and Time Warner, but Europe's no 1, with significant interests in all areas of media including book, magazine and newspaper publishing, music, television, film and radio. The group is also AOL and Lycos's joint venture partner in Europe, making it one of Europe's dominant online companies. Other subsidiary businesses include leading magazine publisher Gruner + Jahr and BMG Entertainment Group. The company also owns 75 percent of Pixelpark, Germany's largest multimedia design firm, and is branching out into Internet telephony. It boosts [=verstärken] its presence on the Internet via a partnership with America's biggest retailer, Barnes & Noble. With revenues of some $13 billion worldwide, Bertelsmann hopes to further extend its interests in book, magazine, and newspaper publishing and distribution, as well as in music and entertainment, radio, television and video, across interactive markets.
Recently Bertelsmann sold the share of the European joint - venture AOL Europe, nevertheless the turnovers rose up to 14,5 billion DM since then, especially in the multimedia - part.
Recently Bertelsmann expanded into the Middle East for the first time. Together with SIDI, the Saudi Information Development Industries, BMG Entertainment founded the BMG Middle East E.C. Now Bertelsmann is represented in 54 countries even.

Future of Multimedia

Hard - and software for multimedia applications is getting better, prices for private customers are falling, too, and new ways of compression will get developed soon.
Television is an important part of the future. Nowadays there are already Pay - TV, Video - On - Demand (VOD) and Interactive TV (ITV). Pay - TV are coded TV - programs - you have to pay for a chip - card or a smart - card, which allows you to watch that programs. With VOD the user can choose a film out of a digital video - tape library and can stop it at any time he or she likes to. And with ITV the user is involved into the action - he or she is connected to the channel.
In the future a "super - PC" with a better picture und bigger memory capacity will contain both TV and telephone.
And, finally, with the invention of Universal Mobile Telecommunications System (UMTS) instead of the standard mobilephonenet GSM in the year 2002 multimedia will also affect mobile phones. (It could drive out [=verdrängen] the Wireless Application Protocol (WAP) even.)
One problem will be the so - called "interpassive" people, who fear the new media and the interactivity, which will be the main part in media.

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