What is multimedia? by Matt Ottewill

The simplest example of multimedia might be a presentation which employs a range of audio visual material. So a teacher who uses an overhead projector and background music whilst he talks is using multimedia. The ultimate example of multimedia is an interactive game with programmed AI.

"Multimedia is any combination of text, graphic art, sound, animation, and video delivered to you by computer or other electronic means." Tay Vaughan

Today most multimedia uses some combination of ...

  • Text (copy writing)
  • Music
  • Narration
  • Sound effects
  • Images / graphics
  • Video
  • Virtual Reality (such as QuickTime VR)
  • 3D
  • Animation
  • Programmed interactivity (scripting)

Because many of these areas require specialist knowledge and skill, most multimedia projects are completed by teams of so called "multimedia developers" each with their own specialist authoring area.

Content (media)

Content is separate from the interface. It is the text, video, software downloads, information etc that you are looking to find at a website or in a CD or DVD ROM. At the end of the day "content is still king". I have 400 cable channels on my TV but quality programmes are still hard to find!

Interface

The interface is there to help you navigate and locate content. Some web sites have clever animated interfaces but very little actual content. This web site is the exact reverse!!

In games, the interface and content are closely linked. You could think of the menus as the interface and the missions as the content.

Interactive multimedia

Multimedia becomes interactive when the end-user is given control over what elements are delivered and when. They can then proceed through the elements in non-linear fashion.

The ultimate example of interactive multimedia are games. This is where the money is and this is where the "rocket scientists" are, the smartest computer geek's on the planet. But there are many examples of interactivity built into web sites and CD-ROMs in the form of clever interfaces and content.

Hypermedia

When the end user is given control over their path through the elements with a series of navigation links interactive multimedia becomes hypermedia.

Multimedia project

The on screen content, the message, and the software "vehicle" constitute a multimedia project.

What is multimedia used for?

Click here to read about some different types of uses and projects.