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Chapter 13. Multimedia > Characteristics of Multimedia System

13.3. Characteristics of Multimedia System

A multimedia system has four basic characteristics:

  • Computer is an intrinsic part of the multimedia system. As a result, multimedia has become interactive. In multimedia, computer allows the user to interact with the media and thus manipulate it by controlling what is to be communicated and when. Multimedia has resulted in the creation of many new possibilities—(1) the computational power of computer is utilized for multimedia applications, (2) the telecommunication network (Internet, WWW) along with the computer enables transmission and distribution of information, and, (3) the use of computer facilitates design and creation of a variety of new applications.

  • The different elements of multimedia are combined and integrated into a single multimedia system. Special software is required for the integration of different media element files.

  • The use of computer in multimedia requires all elements of multimedia to be in digital format. In a digital multimedia system, the media streams are digital and are produced, processed, stored, represented and transmitted using computers. The digital nature of multimedia requires special treatment of the multimedia elements. The hardware and software are needed to convert multimedia elements from analog to digital format and vice versa. There is a need to decide about the resolution versus quality of output required, during storing of data in the computer. Storing multimedia files on computer hard disk takes large amount of disk space, so compression technologies and file formats for storing the different media elements is required. Moreover, special programs are required to play the compressed files. Similarly, special software is required to edit the different media element files, and to combine and integrate the different elements of the multimedia into a single multimedia system.

  • Multimedia system is interactive. The user is active and can manipulate whatever is being communicated. Multimedia allows two-way communication. The user can use devices like keyboard, trackball or joystick to interact with the multimedia system. Interactive multimedia is non-linear. The user is able to follow the links and jump from one part of the document to the other. Hypermedia enables a user to gain or provide access to text, audio and video, and computer graphics using links in a non-linear way, using computers. World Wide Web (WWW) is an example of hypermedia application. The user is able to respond and control what to see or hear and when to do it.


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