Multimedia programs by Matt Ottewill

Multimedia authoring involves using a wide range of programs, each with a specific purpose. These programs (or applications as they are sometimes called) separate into 2 categories ...

  1. Authoring programs
  2. Media / asset / content creation programs

Authoring programs specify how the media content (text, images, video etc) will appear, and allows the user to create links, navigation structures, end-user interactivity and other controls.

If a shop was a piece of multimedia then the building, doors, shelves etc would be created by an authoring program and the things on sale would be created by media creation programs.

1 Authoring programs

There are several types of authoring program. The 3 primary types are ...

  1. Web site design programs
  2. Multimedia authoring programs
  3. DVD video/ROM authoring programs

Web design

These programs allow you to make multi-page projects and to link and embed media/content into them. Examples are ...

  • Dreamweaver (web site design)
  • Flash

Multimedia authoring

Multimedia authoring programs belongs to a special group of applications, programs used to create programs. Such programs are often called development tools or development platforms. These are programs for the non-programmer and allow creative designers to get involved in program making. Examples include ...

  • Macromedia Director (Windows/Mac) pre-eminent authoring program for the Mac and PC. Read more here
  • Macromedia Flash (Windows/Mac) for interactive web site development. Read more here
  • Revolution. relatively new but looking good.
  • HyperCard (Mac) the first authoring application for the Mac.
  • SuperCard (Windows/Mac) essentially a more powerful cross-platform version of HyperCard.
  • Visual Basic (Windows) often used for the development of multimedia front-end interfaces for PC databases.

All of the above can be used for making CDROM's, enhanced music CDs, games, kiosks, presentations, all kinds of simple programs (there are many examples on this site), teaching tools etc.

Of course most programs, including those above, are created by professional programmers using a computer language such as Pascal of C++ designed to harness the raw processing power of a given computer platform.

Authoring programs such as Macromedia Director and Flash, are designed to allow non-programmers to create software in a more intuitive and less technical manner. People who create multimedia are called multimedia developers.

An authoring program co-ordinates and orchestrates the appearance of audio visual media content on the screen and provides tools to allow a developer to create animations, and program, or script, interactivity. Macromedia's Director is well named because it allows a developer to determine, or direct, the action.

2 Media / asset / content creation programs


Examples of professional software ...

  • Photoshop (pixel based images)
  • Illustrator (vector based images)
  • Image Ready (image optimisation for the web)
  • Fireworks (image optimisation for the web)


Examples of professional / semi-pro software ...

  • Premiere (video editing)
  • Final Cut Express / Pro (video editing)
  • Sony Vegas (video editing)
  • Cleaner (compression and optimisation)

Audio & music production

Examples of professional software ...

  • Sound Forge
  • Peak
  • Cubase
  • Logic
  • Pro Tools

Interactive animation

Examples of professional software ...

  • Director / Shockwave. As well as creating complete programs, Director can create small interactive media files (Shockwave files) which can be linked to web pages.
  • Flash. As well as creating complete website's, Flash can create small interactive media files (.swf) which can be linked to web pages.


Examples of professional software ...

  • 3D Studio Max
  • Lightwave
  • Maya

3 DVD video/ROM authoring programs

Because DVD's can include extra features such as, interactive menus, production notes, slide shows, trailers, interviews and ... mix DVD Video for your TV and DVDROM (games, web links etc) for your computer on a single disc, DVD authoring programs can be thought of as simple but effective multimedia programs.

A hybrid DVD Video and DVDROM disc can be created with Director and a DVD authoring program such as ...

  • Encore (PC)
  • DVD Studio Pro (Mac)