Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Multimedia And MIDI

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WHAT IS MULTIMEDIA?


The term multimedia refers broadly to information in different formats text, still images, sound, music, video and animation. According to some definitions, multimedia describes an integrated presentation, which combines at least three of those elements in a single integrated delivery system. Sometimes the term desktop multimedia is used to focus multimedia to computer-based applications.


Another much used term is hypermedia. The term hypermedia refers to the information structure of the content. If the texts, pictures and sounds are linked to each other by associative links the application may be called hypermedia. Note Many multimedia applications are hypermedia in nature, but all hypermedia is not necessarily multimedia, and a multimedia application is not necessarily hypermedia application.


Multimedia is not a pedagogical idea or something that does wonders from nothing. Multimedia is just a way to deliver the message. If there is no message, all you can do with multimedia is a nice package for nothing.


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If you want to evaluate or investigate multimedia applications in a more professional way for your future action, a good way to start is to step into the shoes of a multimedia producer or programmer and look at multimedia from their point of view.


In general, by using multimedia in your applications you can produce applications that are


• Efficient -you can replace information you read with information you can see and hear, such as a video clip.


• Direct -you can deliver information using the best medium, such as a language-teaching application that plays a native speaker’s voice to demonstrate pronunciation.


• Interactive - It is easier to construct genuine and multilevel user interaction with pictures and sounds than with plain text only.


WHY MULTIMEDIA ON A PC APPLICATION?


The content of multimedia applications is based on different types of media. Proper use of different media types is a key to the smoothness, usability and true interaction of multimedia application. Choosing the right media type has a great effect on the message and its reception.


Text


Text often shapes the content of a multimedia title. On the other hand, large amounts of text data can be a sign of a converted book, not a true multimedia design.


Technically speaking a text medium is easy to handle and store. Common file formats for text data are .TXT, .RTF and . DOC.


As a rule texts should be brief and a font should be easy to read on the computer screen.


Graphics


Graphics shape the design of a multimedia title, adding visual appeal and expressing concepts that text alone cannot easily communicate.


Graphics is a more complex medium than text. You have to deal with a number of colors and screen resolutions. You can scan graphics from the printed materials or create them on a computer and then save them in the appropriate file format.


Graphics files tend to be quite large. A single color picture for the computer screen can easily fill up several HD diskettes. However, applications from the entertainment side of the business have established high quality graphics and photo realistic images as basic elements of all multimedia applications.


Common file formats for graphics are .BMP, .TIF, .GIF and .JPG.


Sound


Sound can refer to speech, sound effects, or music. You can use spoken words to complement written text, music and sound effects to create a mood, add emphasis or signal interactivity.


Technically, dealing with sound is comparable to dealing with graphics. With recorded (digitized) sound you have to deal with sound quality and storage capacity. Music can mean recorded songs, or the computer can imitate instruments and produce synthesized (MIDI) music. MIDI music occupies little storage space, but the actual sound output varies depending on the sound card.


Common file formats for digitized sound are .wav, .au and .snd. The MIDI music file type is . mid.


Video


Digitized video offers a level of authenticity similar to television or movies - with some performance limitations. With video you can show tasks and events that words and graphics are inadequate to explain.


Producing high quality video clips is a hard and time-consuming job. The current PC performance for video playback is limited, and the maximum video size for a decent quality is smaller than a post card.


If a multimedia application includes video clips, you must have a clear idea of the performance of the typical users PC. Usually you must compromise between the video screen size, video resolution, number of colors used and length of the clip.


Special hardware - a video capture board - is needed for digitizing video from the VCR to the hard disk. Playing small ready-made video clips, no special hardware beyond a 486 level PC is needed.


Common digital video file formats are. .AVI, .MOV, .MPG


Animation


Animation is active graphics to illustrate your point. With it you can clarify things or make effects. Digitized video has replaced animation to a certain content, but in many cases animations are easier to produce and lighter for the PC’s performance.


Technically speaking, animation can mean either external video like media files, or they can be closely integrated (programmed) into the application itself.


Common pure digital animation file formats include .FLC and .FLI Digital video file formats are also used for animation content.


WHAT HARDWARE IS NEEDED FOR A MULTIMEDIA APPLICATION?


A multimedia PC consists of six basic components a PC, a CD-ROM drive, an audio board, typically Windows (5) operating system, a set of speakers or headphones for audio output and a microphone for recording sound (digitizing).


If you are going to make multimedia applications or separate multimedia components yourself, you will need a powerful processor, a great amount of hard disk space and a lot of RAM memory, but in principle the same hardware set up is OK. Digitizing (recording) video clips to the disk will require a special card in the PC.


17 introduced new multimedia versions of Pentium processors (MMX technology). MMX processors have built in features to speed up video, D and D graphics. The extra performance boost is available only if the application is made (compiled) for this new MMX technology.


Typically multimedia applications are so large that CD-ROM is the most efficient way to distribute the files needed. The CD recorder is almost standard equipment for a multimedia programmer’s PC.


Technical development in CD-ROMs is rapid and new generation disks and formats are just about to become available DVD stands for Digital Versatile Disc. It is a next generation Compact Disc format that provides increased storage capacity and performance, especially for video and multimedia applications.


A DVD is the same size as a Compact Disc but holds up to 5 times more data and is up to times faster. This increased capacity allows DVD to store high-quality video as well as higher-than-CD-quality audio. The most basic DVD will hold over 4.7 G Bytes. This is often equated to 1 minutes of high quality movie play-time. Full loaded a double-sided, double-layer DVD will hold eight hours of video (about 17 G Bytes data) and future versions of DVD based on blue lasers will hold even more. The way information is stored on the disc has also been improved, allowing e.g. several sound and subtitle tracks and automatic branching of video.


In reality, DVD is two separate things, just as CD audio and CD-ROM are different branches from the same root. DVD is (1) an audio/video storage medium and () a computer data storage medium.


You use a DVD player --like a VCR or CD player-- to play back video and audio from a DVD (sometimes called DVD-Video) or you use a DVD-ROM drive --like a CD-ROM drive-- to read data from a DVD-ROM. Note, that DVD itself does not provide any performance boost to PC for playing full screen, full-motion, full-quality video. The 17/18 generation of PCs that use Pentium Pros with high-performance graphics hardware should be OK as Cinemascope Computer.


Fortunately it seems that DVD-ROM drives are backward compatible. That means you can buy one knowing that you will be able at least to play the existing regular CD-ROM format. And it also means that current and under development CD-ROM applications have some extended lifetime left.


Most experts believe that DVD will succeed rapidly in the computer market as a high-density data storage medium, but that acceptance of DVD video will take much longer -especially, as affordable, erasable DVD wont be available for several years. Few people will rush to replace their 00 Ecu VCR with a 600 Ecu DVD player that cant record.


Hardware manufacturers and software developers have originated years ago an MPC Specifications to serve as a baseline for the basic multimedia capable PC. From these specs. You can clearly see the fast pace of technical development. New MPC specifications are forming, but new technologies like DVD described above, and merging them as a part of a specification, are more a political than just a technical issue.


MPC Specifications MPC1 MPC MPC


Year announced 11 1 15


CD-ROM Transfer rate 150 kB/s 00 kB/s 600 kB/s


CD-ROM Average Access Time 1000 ms 400 ms 50 ms


Video display Capability 640x480x16 640x480x6556 640x480x16M


Sound Card 8 bit at .05 kHz 16 bit at 44.1 kHz 16 bit at 44.1


CPU Type 86sx 16 MHz 486sx 5 MHz Pent 75 MHz


Memory Size MB 4 MB 8 MB


Hard Disk Size 0 MB 160 MB 540 MB


According to the latest (1/16) PC buyers guides, even the MPC level is in a lightweight class. One important element missing from existing MPC specifications is communications and related hardware. A modem/fax is currently an essential part of a multimedia PC and more generally, communications is also a part of new generation multimedia applications.


The suggested RAM and hard disk sizes are currently four times those suggested in the MPC. The capability of the graphics card to show millions of colors with a high resolution and the monitor’s screen size and refresh rates is a typical issues of buyers guides and recommendations lists.


It is good to notice that the pace of hardware development is so fast that no one has the latest technology and one cannot make applications for hardware that no one really has. On the other hand, it is no use to compromise very much for poor performance and old hardware when developing multimedia.


WHAT SOFTWARE IS NEEDED FOR PC MULTIMEDIA APPLICATIONS?


Using multimedia always means using multimedia software. The hardware itself does not do anything. In practice, this means that you must buy software and that costs money.


Multimedia applications need good operating system as their platform. Currently the operating system is typically Windows 5. It is important that the operating system provides smooth handling of sound, video, graphics and network communications. This helps programmers to make reliable and robust applications. Windows 5, for instance, has (and all future operating systems will have much more) basic multimedia features and applications included for free.


Using ready made multimedia applications should not require any special software beyond a relatively new and correctly installed operating system. However, a compatibility label on a software package does not always mean that the application works smoothly enough, as it is usually a hardware performance issue.


Making multimedia applications or multimedia components, requires special software. Graphics programmes such as Photo Shop are specialized for processing and manipulating bitmaps, while Corel Draw is a programme for vector graphics. Cakewalk and Cool Edit are applications for making and manipulating music and sounds. Text as a media type is the easiest component, and usually a word processor is sufficient for creating text content. Text appearance and layout is a different topic, and typically this aspect is attended to in an authoring environment.


To construct a multimedia application with all the functionality, background ideas and the message, you will need either authoring software or a programming language.


An authoring package such as like Toolbook is an application for making applications. With authoring software you can get a good start to make your own application. But using a multimedia application is not simple. Learning the authoring tool itself takes time and developing a good application is a very time consuming job.


With a programming language, application development would be extremely slow without previous knowledge about programming. However, the combination of professional programming and the use of an authoring tool is a common way to produce multimedia applications.


The World Wide Web is also a multimedia environment, with its own special restrictions and possibilities. Making modern Web pages also requires multimedia producing skills and understanding of related technical issues.


Producing multimedia applications is multiskilled teamwork. When you look at applications from this point of view and are aware about things behind the scenes, it is easier to evaluate applications and become a member of a multimedia production team. However, it is always good to remember that you do not have to be a cow to know if milk has sour.


WHAT IS MIDI?


MIDI is a means for you to more easily make music, instead of buying tons (literally) of equipment that you need a warehouse to store, a doctorate to operate, and A&M Records Studio A to record.


The term MIDI stands for Musical Instrument Digital Interface. The term could more rightly be called Digital Interface for Musical Instruments, but perhaps the term DIMI would make the user sound somewhat less than intelligent. MIDI is simply a means of transferring data from one instrument to another, or from that instrument to a computer. What is this data? Whenever you play a key, make a program change, move a pedal, or move a slider, those actions produce computer data. This computer data is used because modern instruments are so complex that they need computers to be jammed inside them to take care of all the different actions going on.


DO ALL INSTRUMENTS HAVE THESE COMPUTERS?


No, they dont. Remember, MIDI is computer data, so right away you can assume that any instrument that isnt electronic, like a trumpet, wont be able to speak the MIDI language. A very few home organs have MIDI, but no acoustic pianos come with it. All of todays synthesizers, professional or otherwise, do have MIDI. The term todays means anything newer than about 18 or 18.


WHY DOES MIDI EXIST?


In the 170s, synthesizers were quickly becoming the instrument to play. As new keyboards came on the market, each was capable of fantastic new sounds. But, each one was a totally complete instrument in and of itself, with a keyboard and control panel. This wasnt a big deal until you started buying eight or ten of them to get all the cool sounds. Then what do you do with all those keyboards? Maybe in the studio there would be room, but live performance was another matter.


Lets say you could figure out a way to stack a whole mess of these monsters on stage. Each machine was capable of 16, , or 100 sounds, or whatever, so every time you wanted a new sound, a button needed to be pushed to get to it. So now its in between songs, and you need six new sounds on six of the ten keyboards. Wild gymnastics occur when trying to do this, and even more gymnastics occur when you try to play each of those sounds on keyboards that may be four feet away from each other.


So now we know one reason why MIDI exists. But there are others, too. Another big reason is that, pretty soon, as youre coming up with nifty new sounds for all these synthesizers, you run out of room to store them. No matter how many sounds your keyboard stores, it still stores a finite number. Once you fill every program slot, then what? MIDI offers a way of storing your sounds in a computer, or transferring those sounds to another keyboard just like the one you have. This is useful in situations where theres a keyboard waiting for you somewhere, like a studio, and all you need to take with you are your sounds.


Lets look at one more reason for having MIDI around. Once a player acquires enough talent to fit in a thimble, that player wants to record their performance, either for posterity or for trying to sell their talents. Thats easy enough to do if you play only piano, but many keyboard players want to imitate all the instruments in an entire band! Thats only possible if you have twenty hands, or if you have a device that will listen to your performance, and play it back precisely as you played it, along with ten of your other performances simultaneously. Its called a sequencer, and its discussed more in a little bit.





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