MULTIMEDIA — ITS FEATURES AND FUTURE
By Anis Zuberi
Jul 10 - 16, 2000
The term "Multimedia" is widely used buzzwords in recent years. Its first incarnations were born more of marketing hype than of technology. In the nineties, however the true promise of multimedia gradually crystallized itself into the hi-Tec applications. It is unquestionably the hottest area of the computing industry both in capability and technology advances.
Today's computers and multimedia tools are truly redefining the nature of computing, communication, education and entertainment. These serve as most effective tools to instill "effectiveness" in the "communication" and as a catalyst to develop "creativity". Multimedia provides the potential for mastering both these capabilities and applies them with tremendous advantage whatever be the field of the user namely: commerce, trade, industry marketing, sales promotion, advertising, show biz, presentation, education or even entertainment.
Wherever there is human interaction, a communication takes place. There are a number of medium of communication. Mutes communicate using sign-lingo. Even non-humans like pets try to communicate with humans, albeit in a crude way. They communicate among themselves through familiar sound effects for different situations warning of danger, engaging the enemy, giving a call for the family to be together, migrating to greener pastures or forming pairs and flocks.
There is always an object behind every communication. Its result the object in mind being a certain reaction, behaviour or decision by the recipient (target audience) of the communication depends on how effectively it is made.
Multimedia tools come in handy for making the communication come alive by integrating the text with graphics, audio, video, and interactive computing. As a matter of fact "Multimedia is not about technology, but about effective communication".
In the computer field, the most significant event is the marriage of television's communicative powers with the information storage and access abilities of the computer. The best way to understand this genre as a whole is to look at it from a variety of perspectives and criteria including media, people, applications and orientation.
In the mid-1980s the low-cost desktop computers began to find their way into business offices in our country. These were largely used for business tasks such as databases, spreadsheets, word-processing and accounting. Later on the computer became the controller for traditional analog media devices such as printers, slide projectors, video editors and music synthesizers. As technology advanced, many of these devices became digital in other words 'dedicated computers' in nature. The evolution process transformed graphic and prints industries as well as the video and audio industry.
Given the proper software, input and output devices, the computer on our desks became capable of handling many of the tasks previously handled by 'dedicated' media tools. Medium to high-resolution graphics became easy to employ and many users embraced internal sound. Overlaying graphics on an external video signal became inexpensive. Software tools for integrating and compressing these media components evolved. Navigating and interactivity peaked the multimedia features.
As the most demanding medium video began finding its way directly into the computers, the final barriers to complete media integration began to crumble. Further enabled by compression software (which considerably reduce the storage area on computer files) the reduction in components size and mass storage and handling capabilities of today's hard drives and CD-ROMs, multimedia today is a practical tool.
BENEFITS OF MULTIMEDIA
The primary benefit of multimedia is the combination of several traditional media. Text offers clarity and self-pacing. The spoken word is backed by illustration. Graphics provide visualization and communication style. Music adds mood and melody. Video captures the real-life events. Computers serve as storehouse of vast and easily accessible information. Various graphics software is employed to create high-resolution color and light effects. 2-D and 3-D animation etc.
The digital nature of multimedia benefits a great deal. Digital information suffers no generation loss when transmitted or replicated. Back-up copies of media are simple to create. Manipulation and editing can be performed without altering the original. Powerful manipulation once requiring expensive hardware can be performed with software alone on digital content.
RANDON ACCESS AND INTERACTIVITY
A considerable amount of valuable creative time can be saved by instantaneously locating a required point or position in any programme length or file content only if the segments are properly indexed and linked. This feature of random access is the single most important benefit of digital media.
Likewise interactivity random access in the hands of the user, presenter or viewer is a highly valuable tool. interactivity in a presentation for example provides the ability to instantly review points in response to audience questions. In training it repeats and coaches in areas of difficulty during testing. In productions such as electronic catalogs, interactivity allows the user to directly access the exact info desired.
While technology is not a substitute for talent, the greatest myth surrounding Multimedia is that the average individual will create multimedia production single-handedly. It may be true of basic presentations but the more ambitious projects typically require the skills of more than one individual. That means a demand for multimedia specialists and career options.
The ultimate method of explaining 'multimedia' is by its applications. The major categories for multimedia are 1. Business, 2. Communication, 3. Education, 4. Entertainment and 5. Government agencies particularly defence services. Each of these has sub- categories of applications.
Presentations are currently the single largest application for multimedia in business. The business-houses, companies and manufacturers always have a message to communicate whether it is to customers, distributors, trading partners, shareholders, staff members or through media to the public at large. The rapid pace of today's business world lays higher demands on communication power. Powerful presentation software in the form of multimedia is being made available by the multimedia industry. The professionals and business managers are also creating modified or adapted versions to suit their presentation needs.
The computer-controlled presentations have rendered slide shows or transparency projected presentations outdated. The reasons being mainly, the impact and inspiration that multimedia projector presentation creates plus malleability and cost savings. Presentation software facilitates reshaping a presentation for a different group of audience. A simple change of master template can alter the overall background, font, color effects or animated figures and images to suit the taste of different audiences, keeping in view gender, age or ethnic background, while retaining the same message.
Multimedia makes trade-show Exhibits much more attractive than the normal audio or video productions. Computer-based productions are more flexible than video. Interactivity creates audience interest.
To attract attention of the visiting public, kiosk which are basically inter-active multimedia computers, have been successfully used at trade shows, departmental stores or seasonal markets. Kiosks present an attrator beep and invites a bystander to ask more information. The inquirer is given navigation options matching the areas of his interest.
There is no rule that multimedia would always be interactive. The result can be delivered on videotape. Digital video editing and multimedia production packages can make video production more cost-effective, and relatively easy edits and modifications before creating video for the masses.
The technologies associated with multimedia bring new power to business computing. CD-ROM, graphics audio and video all have powerful uses when integrated with traditional business reporting and information update systems.
Multimedia databases can be used to keep track of business commodities. In multinationals and large business or industry set-ups, employee data bases may be used for better human resource management, annuity funding and health coverage plans. Similarly employee credentials could be matched with tasks and new openings internally.
Service and technical support, purchasing and indenting functions can greatly benefit from the viewing feature of the exact materials and objects contained in the multimedia information storage system.
Doctors can locate and view x-rays, ultrasound and scanned pictures and unusual medical procedures instantly in both normal and emergency situations.
Government agencies can search, compare and transmit photos, fingerprints countrywide.
In the US some real-estate agents employ multiple listing service (MLS) to match the properties with buyers 'or leases' needs.
The travel bookings by the Airlines can be lot more expeditious through multimedia to help passengers visualize destinations, time and boarding and lodging plans.
In general any commodity with a vast number of options and searchable criteria is a candidate for multimedia data base organization.
It is a plain fact of today's life that practical usage of computers in the economic, social and personal affairs of any ambitious person young and aged alike is going to be extensive and ever-increasing. No career paths could be drawn ignoring information highway. Internet provides access to the latest developments and research in almost every segment of human knowledge and its applications in daily life. E-commerce and now E-shopping is changing the business patterns. Training and education is assuming new dimensions. Entertainment has evolved into edutainment. Web designing is creating a lot of interest among our young people.
ARENA offers extensive multimedia education. And a wide range of courses is available leading to various career options. Arena brochure gives detailed information. If any points need further explanation, please feel free to discuss these with the Student Counselors. For the best possible selection of training courses, please visit Arena Campus at Schnook Circle, Shaheen Centre, Clifton.
We assure you that you are going to benefit from these coursesmore than from any others available. You would be the pioneer in multimedia and would earn a world recognised certificate with a potential of lucrative employment.