Free technical help for digital creators - music, video, art, photography, graphic & web design

Multimedia programs by Matt Ottewill (March 2002)

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

Authoring applications 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 application and the things on sale would be created by media creation applications.

1 Authoring programs

There are several types of authoring program. These are the primary types ...

  1. Web site design programs
  2. Mobile apps development platforms
  3. Multimedia authoring programs (largley unused now)
  4. DVD video/ROM authoring programs (largley unused now)

Web design

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

  • Dreamweaver (web site design)
  • WordPress

Multimedia authoring

Multimedia authoring applications belongs to a special group of applications, applications used to create applications. Such applications are often called development tools or development platforms. These are applications for the non-programmer and allow creative designers to get involved in applications 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 apps (there are many examples on this site), teaching tools etc.

Of course most applications, 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 applications 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 applications 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 applications


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 applications

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 applications can be thought of as simple but effective multimedia applications.

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

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