What is Multimedia? What are the components of Multimedia?

Multimedia is an advanced technology that facilitates integration of text, data, image, graphics, audio, video animation in digital form. It provides new ways to enhance the delivery of informa­tion and its impact on the user.

Multimedia is information dis­played in picture/sound form and it does not include plain text exclusively. Thus, it includes pictures (graphics), sound (audio) and movies (video), which are captured and digitized by input devices to get the information ready for manipulation by the computer.

Multimedia is a combination of text, graphics, audio and video. Multimedia is a new trend in the field of computer science because it combines different media in one computer application, it is called multimedia. This enables the computer to be used as an entertainment and educational tool besides just a business tool.

Computer stores multimedia information in a variety of stan­dard formats. We can display or play multimedia information on output devices. For example: to play a sound file, we need speakers or headphones.

In some cases, the computer needs spe­cial hardware to connect to the output devices. For example, to connect a speaker to a PC, we need a sound card (which comes with most new computers).


Let us imagine a lion hunting its prey. A picture of a lion with a prey in its paws will reflect the mood a lot better than a hundred words. A 30-second sound clip of the same lion killing its prey will have a better impact than many pictures.

Again, a 10-second full motion video of the lion chasing its prey before will give much better perception than many minutes of pure sound of the spectacle.

However, when you put together all the above ele­ments in one, it is a good example of multimedia. Thus, multime­dia is a combination of various media like texts, audio, graphics, animation and video (See the above Picture).

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Components of Multimedia

1. Text

Text is one of the important part of multimedia. The design and content of multimedia text are however different from other types of texts, such as Newspaper text and book text.

The extent to which texts are used in multimedia project mainly depends upon the subject or content it deals with.

Since computers can display avariety of fonts, colors and their combinations, the ultimate result appears far better than the printed text.

2. Graphics

Computer graphics deal with the generation, representation, manipulation and display of pictures with the help of a computer. Graphics is an important component of multimedia by which we can illustrate information in picture form.

For example, to educate small children with the help of multimedia, we can make an illustration more descriptive with the help of pictures.

In a multi­media application meant for educating small children, displaying the photograph of a horse along with its text description, makes the illustration much more effective.

Pictures, photographic images and other artwork are called graphics.

Graphic Types

There are two types of computer graphics. These are:

  • Line drawing
  • Images

Line Drawing: These are drawings and illustrations in the form of 2D (two dimension) and 3D (three dimension) pictures using mathematical representation of simple objects like lines, circles, arcs, etc. Simple object types are used to create complex objects.

For example, the picture of a chair can be drawn using lines and arcs.

The area of computer graphics that deals with this type of pic­tures is known as generative graphics. This type of graphics is extensively used in creating illustrative diagrams.

Another very important application of generative graphics is CAD (Computer Aided Design) and CAM (Computer Aided Manufacturing).

Now a days, CAD packages are extensively used in designing models for aircrafts, ships and building structures. The greatest advantages of using CAD and CAM packages for such applica­tions is that design changes can be quickly modified.

Images: These are graphics and photographs composed of a collection of pixels, which are arranged in two-dimensional matrix. The area of computer graphics that deals with this type of pictures is called cognitive graphics.

Cognitive graphics along with image processing techniques is extensively used in applications that deal with recognition and classification of pictures.

For example, a database containing images of people’s fingerprints is commonly used in criminal investigation and identification.

3. Animation

Animation is one of the most dynamic forms of multimedia. Unlike graphics, animations can provide dynamic movements to the objects.

For example, to show a bird flying in the air, all that graphics can provide is a digital photograph of the same. However, with animations, we can actually see the bird flying on the PC screen.

An Animation is created by recording a series of still images of drawings, objects, people, etc., in various positions of incremental movement. The animation when played does not appear as static images but it combines to produce the illusion of unbroken motion.

Animation consist of a series of drawings or photographs on paper that are viewed with a mechanical device or by flipping through a hand-held sequence of images. For example, a pad of paper con­taining drawings of a boy raising his hands, can be used to create an animated drawing

4. Audio

Computer audio deals with developing, recording and playback of audio with the help of a computer. Audio is another very impor­tant component of multimedia because in many cases sound can be useful for better understanding the information.

In some cases, sound may be the only means to convey the desired information. For example, the sound created by a dog can be easily recognized.

Speech, music and other types of sounds are called audio. Audio element is used to enhance the usual multimedia environment.

5. Video

Computer video deals with the recording and display of sequence of images. Each individual image in sequence is called a frame.

For a jerk-free full motion video, 25 to 30 frames have to be dis­played per second. It is an important component of multimedia because it is very useful for illustrating concepts that involve movement.

6. A) Multimedia Applications in Education

Multimedia has an enormous impact on education. Many schools in our country today use different types of computer-based teaching software based on multimedia.

In the near future hand­held machines for the study of various subjects will emerge. It is yet to be seen how effective and acceptable these machines will be as it will change the method of teaching and primary rules of schools and teachers.

However, this technology will enable stu­dents to learn at their own pace. In the present system, it is neces­sary for students to cope up with the class. This situation will change.

The quality of education can also be standardized and it will no more be the function of quality teaching which varies from one school to another.

Similarly, students in engineering colleges use interactive mul­timedia presentations to learn the basics of electronics, imple­ment, test and manipulate the circuit they design on a computer.

Training/classroom multimedia, popularly known as the CBT (Computer Based Training/Tutorials), uses multimedia technology to teach academic curriculum.

B) Multimedia Application in Entertainment

Entertainment and media industry are benefitted by multimedia technology. Images, animation and sound are widely used for making animation movies.

A computer is widely used by musi­cians to record, edit and mix sounds. Entertainment CDs, games, comics and stories for children are used for the purpose of education and training.

Video and entertainment films are created using computers and stored on CD-ROM (Compact Disk Read Only Memory). These are mass produced and sold at a fair price. Music can also be stored on CDs and played using multimedia software pack­ages, such as Media Player (Microsoft), Winamp etc.

Video editing, mixing, 3D animation and morphing are some of the techniques widely used for creating video films for various purposes.

C) Multimedia Application in Marketing

Multimedia can be used for sales and marketing in the following fields:

  • Information Directory
  • Reservations
  • Buyer’s Guide
  • Product/Sales promotions
  • Advertising
  • Interactive Catalogs
  • Merchandising – Point of purchase

In the area of advertising, multimedia will bring major changes. It will allow free-lance agencies to produce inexpensive rough cuts and prepare clips, thereby significantly reducing the dominance of the larger advertisement agencies.

Video conferencing is another application of multimedia which is gaining great potential. Imagine that you are using a computer and you wish to communicate with a colleague. Video conferenc­ing allows you to see your colleague right on your computer screen and vice versa, allowing you to talk face to face.

Business applications for multimedia include presentations, training, marketing, advertising, product demos catalogs, instant messaging and networked communications.

7. Names of Common Multimedia File Formats

File Format, in computer science, is the structure of a file that defines the way it is stored on the hard disk and laid out on the screen or in print.

The format can be fairly simple and common (files stored as plain ASCII text) or it can be quite complex and may include various types of control instructions and codes used by programs and by printers and other devices.

Examples include RTF (Rich Text Format), DCA (Document Content Architecture), PICT, DIF (Data Interchange Format), DXF (Drawing Exchange Format) TIFF (Tag Image File Format), and EPSF (Encapsulated PostScript Format).

As with audio, in the early days of the Web, adding movie/vi­deo to a Web page meant using one of the currently available movie/video formats (such as QuickTime or AVI (Audio Video Interleave)) and linking it to a page for download.

The evolution of streaming media has changed that, and now adding movie/video content like movie trailers, news broadcast, even live programming to a Website is much more practical and widespread.

While downloading files from the Web, you will many differ­ent types of file formats. You can identify a file type by looking at its extension, typically expressed as a dot followed by 2 to 4 letters (.xxx).

You will need this to know whether it will work on your computer, and whether you will need a particular type of software to decompress, play, or view it. Some of the movie/vi­deo file formats are as follows:

  • . avi: The standard movie/video format for Windows.
  • .mpg/mpeg: A standard movie format for saving movies on the Internet, using the MPEG (Motion Picture Expert Group) compression scheme.
  • .mov: The common format for QuickTime movies, the Macintosh native movie platform.

AVI File Format

Audio Video Interleave (AVI) format is the standard Windows format for audio/video data. This format exports a movie as a Windows video, but discards any interactivity. Because AVI is a bitmap-based format, movies that contain long or high-resolution animations can quickly become very large in a file size.

AVI is a good format for opening a Flash animation in a video-editing application.

An AVI file is a sound and motion picture file that requires a special player software that may be included with your Web browser, such as Internet Explorer version 5.0 and above. How­ever, some other browsers may require downloading of facilities for reading AVI files.

AVI is a raster-based video format that will transfer nicely into a video editing application.

MPEG File Format

MPEG is the acronym for Motion Picture Expert Group, a com­mittee that developed the MPEG standard. It is a set of specifica­tions for compressing and playing back full-motion videos, including movies and video clips.

MPEG rules cover both encoding-for storage on disk and decoding-for digital playback. Viewing an MPEG video on a microcomputer requires an MPEG decoder, which can be hardware, software, or a combination of the two.

There are several MPEG audio/video formats. These are:

  • MPEG1: This format is normally used in digital cameras. It is also the compression format used to create Video CDs. MP3 audio format is a part of the MPEG1 code.
  • MPEG2: MPEG2 video compression is used to deliver high-quality pictures in DVD movies and home-recorded DVD disks.
  • MPEG4: This newer, very flexible MPEG code is used for both streaming and downloading Web content, and is also the video format employed by a growing number of portable video recorders.

SWF File Format

Macromedia Flash (SWF) is a file format of the Macromedia Flash Player for creating and displaying interactive vector-based images and animated Web graphics. Macromedia Flash files are very compact and of high quality, making them ideal for Web use. The SWF file format was designed as a very efficient delivery format and not as a format for exchanging graphics between graphics editors. It was designed to meet the following goals:

  • On-screen Display: The format is primarily intended for on-screen display. Therefore, it supports anti-aliasing, fast rendering to a bitmap of any colour format, animation and interactive buttons.
  • Network Delivery: The files can be delivered over a net­work with limited bandwidth. The files are compressed to be small in size and support incremental rendering through
  • Simplicity: The format is so simple that the user has to depend upon only a very limited set of operating system
  • File Independence: Files can be displayed without any dependence on external resources such as fonts.
  • Scalability: Different computers have different monitor resolutions and bit depths. Files work well on limited hard­ware, while taking advantage of more expensive hardware when it is available.
  • Speed: The files are designed to be rendered very quickly with high-quality graphics.

Flash (SWF (Shock Wave Flash)) files cannot be imported into Core1DRAW. You can, however, link, embed, export, and publish Macromedia Flash files to the Web.

The SWF format for images on the Internet has several valuable advantages over other format types. Some of these include:

  • Since it has good compression, the Web pages can be loaded
  • It can also support embedded forms, script, user interface components and XML (Extensible Markup Language) feeds.
  • It allows vibrant animations and sounds in its presentation.

MOV File Format

The QuickTime (MOV) file format is used for video and anima­tion. QuickTime files run on all Macintosh computers and on Windows based computers that have a QuickTime driver installed.

It is a file format for storing and playing back movies with sound. QuickTime files usually appear with the . MOV extension in Windows.

MOV files are animation files that support 24-bit and 8-bit colour.

DAT File Format

DAT (Digital Audio Tape) file format is not a video file format but rather video data given an alternative extension. DAT files contain generic input or output, For instance, if you open a VCD(Video Compact Disk) and take as look at its contents, you will notice that there are several folders and not one single .mpg file.

The files have either a VCD or DAT extension. The actual video you burned are not the VUD files but the DAT files. With a VCD, the video files are converted into DAT files named sequentially in the format – AVSEQ01.DAT, AVSEQ02.DAT, AVSEQ03.DAT, etc.

You will find these DAT files in the folder called MITGAV on the CD. Thus, DAT files can be played from your hard drive, just like regular video files, except that you will have to choose Open With to associate the DAT file with Windows Media Player 7 and up.

8. Sound File Format

Sound is stored in one of the two basic formats. The first format stores sound in a form that resembles the original sound wave and is known as analog recording.

This format is called analog because the form of the sound wave, called the waveform, in the recording is analogous to the original waveform. In other words, the recorded waveform is a copy of the original waveform.

The second and newer format for storing sound is digital recording, which represents a sound wave as a series of digital signals.

9. Image or Graphic File Formats

There are many standards for image or graphic files. But they are all incompatible. Most of the multimedia programs can, however, load or save a wide variety of graphic formats. In this section, we will introduce you to some of the more popular image formats.

You can check the graphic format of an image by looking at the suffix (extension) of the file name.


TIFF (Tag Image File Format) is widely used for transferring bit-map images between application programs. TIFF images have .tiff or .tif extension.

It is used in desktop publishing, faxing, 3D applications and medical imaging applications. It is a file format designed by the Microsoft Corporation of USA.


BMP (BitMaP) format defines a display space and the colour for each pixel in the display space. A bitmap does not require information for each pixel on every row. It only needs to contain information when a colour changes along a row. Thus, an Image with solid colour will require a small bit map.

Because a bit map uses a fixed (or raster graphics) method of specifying an image, the image cannot be rescaled without creating a new definition.


JPEG (Joint Photographic hic Experts Group) format is one of the most common graphic file formats for Web Applications. The JPEG format was created by a group of photographic experts to store full-colour spectrum, continuous-tone images.

JPEG images are of much higher fidelity as well as in higher compressed form than images of GIF format. However, it takes a longer time to download graphic files that use JPEG format than those that use GIF format.

When you create a JPEG image or convert an image into JPEG, you are asked to specify the quality of the image you want. Since the higher quality requires larger memory space, one can make a compromise between image quality and file size.


GIF stands for Graphics Interchange Format. It is another format that is widely used for picture displayed on the World Wide Web. GIF files have .gif extension.

GIF image format was created by CompuServe to make it pos­sible for images to be viewed while online. GIF file format sup­ports only a maximum of 256 colours.

Thus, if colour depth is not important, one can opt for GIF files. If you want to maintain the quality and colour of the images, it is best to choose the JPEG format.


PICT format is widely used as an intermediary file format for transferring images between applications. It can include bit-mapped or vector-mapped images, and can use different com­pression schemes.

PICT format supports RGB (Red Gree Blue), grayscale, and Bitmap-mode images. It is specially effective for compressing images with large areas of solid colour.

When sav­ing an RGB image in PICT format, you can choose either a 16-bit or 32-bit pixel resolution. For a grayscale image, you can choose from 2, 4, or 8 bits per pixel.


PDF stands for Portable Document Format. This format is designed by Adobe. It is a file format that captures all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image.

This can then be viewed, navigated, printed or forwarded to someone else. To view and use these files, you need the Acrobat Reader software.

PDF files are useful for documents, such as magazine articles, product brochures, etc. in which you want to preserve the appearance of the document. This is because PDF files are read-only and cannot be modified easily by the viewer.


Also known as AutoCAD’s Device-Independent binary plotter image graphics. This is a vector format generated by the Auto-CAD corporation of USA. AutoCAD is a popular engineering drawing software package.


It is Adobe Illustrator’s metafile format. Metafiles are files that may contain either bit-mapped or vector graphics data.


DLG stands for Digital Line Graph. This is a vector format for stor­ing geographical data, such as mountain contours, etc.


The full form of JFIF is JPEG File Interchange Format. It is com­monly known as JPEG and with the file name suffix .JPG. The JPEG format was explained earlier.


PNG stands for Portable Network Graphics (pronounced as “ping”). It was created as a free-of-cost replacement for GIF. GIF cannot be included in commercial software without paying license fees to the owners.

PNG handles 1 to 48-bit images, and is a lossless, well-compressed format like GIF. However, it is still not very popular format.


PS is Adobe Systems’ Post Script format. Postscript is not an image format, but it is a page description language, originally conceived so that computers could send very accurate page descriptions to laser printers.

You can save black and white or even colour pictures as Postscript. However, postscript file size is very large and, therefore it is not a very efficient format. More­over, it retains the exact shape of the page when printed on a printer containing postscript driver.


EPS stands for Encapsulated Postscript file Format. This is a format which can be included in other documents – if your software sup­ports it. It is somewhat similar to the postscript format. It has limited number of English fonts designed by Adobe.


PSD is Adobe Photoshop’s native format. It stores all of its layers and selection and miscellaneous other image data in this format.


WMF stands for Windows Metafile Format. It is an intermediate vector format for Windows programs to be used when inter­changing data.

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An aspiring BCA student formed an obsession with Computer/IT education, Graphic Designing, Fitness, YouTube and Blogging, and Helping Beginners to learn these skills and implement them in their life.

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