Everyone talks about multimedia these days. What is multimedia? In simple words, multi means many so multimedia would mean more than one kind of media. Computers have invaded energy sphere and have become an integral part of our life today. The field of media is no exception. Multimedia is the outcome of sophisticated blending of various audio and visual communication networks into our desk that produce amazing results.
Multimedia software combines two or more media for presentation or analysis. It is the result of a co-coordinated work of video, audio and graphics. The old personal computers were Monomedia, as they displayed only one medium. Monomedia computers did not produce sound when they displayed the text on screen. A platform for multimedia emerged with his gradual development in new technology that extended the power and scope of personal computers.
What specific functions foes multimedia computers perform? A multimedia computer can recreate the sound of musical instruments and can play back recorded sounds and can show pictures and movies on the monitor. It can also access information stored on a computer disc.
Recorded sounds, movies, pictures and texts have been around for years but multimedia computers can interlink these and produce a combined effect of all these media. It can show animated images and create graphic designs.
Computer based learning is another gift of multimedia. Learning becomes easier and quicker when the text is supplemented with audio visual aids, and it is for this reason that it has become an effective mod e of education for children as well as adults. The text on the screen is supported by audio instructions and visual aids, which adds to the grasping ability and memory retention by the students.
All multimedia programmes include six common elements- texts, pictures, movies, animation, sound and increased control. Basing on the nature of interaction wit ht he user, multimedia is divided into two types- non interactive and interactive.
In non-interactive programme, we receive information presented to us, which are prepared in advance and processed by the computer with little or no intervention by the user. The images, sound and animation etc. are projected form the desktop directly onto a large screen, using a computer projection system or on the computer screen.
Interactive multimedia is meant for individual use in which the user is in direct communication with the computer, receiving immediate responses to the input data. This type of multimedia usage is very common today.
Multimedia requires storage of high quality images graphics, texts, animations, sounds, music and video for which high capacity storage medium is required. The use of floppy disks is of no help though they are convenient to distribute. For this reason, multimedia information is usually stored in CD-ROM (Compact disc- Read Only Memory). A CD-ROM can contain up to 700 megabytes of data. For example, the entire Encyclopedia Britannica can be stored in just one CD-ROM.