THE ROLE OF MEDIA IN MULTIMEDIA WORKS.

There are two aspects to content in a multimedia work: - What information is selected for inclusion and How that information is conveyed.

The type and quantity of information selected for inclusion is obviously dependent on the topic, audience, purpose of the work.

Information presentation in a multimedia work should take advantage of the attributes of each media. The key question to ask in deciding how to present information is: Which media or combination of media will most effectively convey the message.

For example, to explain a process in a factory, a simple animation showing in moving graphics what happens during the process would be more effective than several large paragraphs of text. Similarly, to convey the devastation resulting from, say an earthquake, it is more effective to use images or even better video, will evoke a greater emotional response than simply reading the text.

Below is a summary of each media and considerations for its use in a multimedia work.

TEXT

·                     Text use should be minimal

·                     Used to reinforce/support other media e.g. captions, titles, short explanations for an illustration

·                     Used to provide explanations/additional information

·                     Used for 'hyperlinks' to link to other locations/resources in the product

·                     From a design perspective, the main goal is to present text in a way that makes it very readable.

·                     Readability can be enhanced through the use of
- chunking (breaking text into consice paragraphs that fully communicate a single idea)
- appropriate font attributes (sizes, colour,typefaces and font styles)
- using font attributes consistantly (so that the attributes present visual cues to the reader and convey information about the role of the text, such as a main heading,or the relationship of the text to other ideas on the screen)
- using serif fonts that lead the eye along the line
- layout - the arrangement of text on the screen e.g. in columns

·                     Text typefaces can be used to add to the look and feel of the product

·                     Be aware of font issues particularly in the web environment - will the end user have that font? Making text a graphic??? (use this with caution - is the overhead of increased download times worth it?)

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GRAPHICS

·                     Include illustrations, charts, maps, diagrams, icons and photographs

·                     Graphs and charts - can accurately convey information if well designed

·                     Diagrams - combine text, data and some sort of visual element. Useful for pointing out detail or meaning

·                     Maps used to designate location but can also be used for navigation

·                     Icons are special symbols that are used to identify places, things or attributes.  They must be carefully designed in order to cater for cross-cultural understanding

·                     Photographs – can evoke powerful emotional responses; captions can help users focus on details;

·                     Graphics used for impact, explanation and look and feel of the product

·                     Image compression: it is important to remember images can require a large amount of bandwidth to load. Bandwidth is the capacity of a system to transfer data. Image compression is the idea of reducing file size while still maintaining apparent quality thereby reducing bandwidth requirements. Image compression often uses the limits of human vision to reduce file size and still make the image look like it is of good quality.

Compression is a mathematical algorithm that either discards or manipulates data to reduce the file size.
Image compression may be lossy (data is deleted) or lossless(data is manipulated to reduce file size).

Some common image compression strategies include: pixel doubling and coarse quantisation.
Pixel doubling involves removing say every second column/row of pixels in an image and the size of the remaining pixels is doubled to ‘fill the gaps’
Coarse quantisation involves reducing the number of colours in an image. For example, in a photograph of a blue sky there are millions of shades of blue and our eye is only sensitive to a small number of these colours. Removing these shades achieves compression and reducing file size. The strategy is commonly called bit-depth reduction. For example reducing an image from thousands of colours to 256 colours.

·                     SOUND

·         diegetic sound

·         non diagetic sound.

Diegetic sound is sound coming from an object represented on the screen, e.g. a person talking on the screen or the sound from a car represented on the screen.

Non diegetic sound is sound coming from an object outside the screen, e.g. in a voice over the speaker normally is not represented on the screen. If we hear the sound from a car outside the screen we normally expect the car to come to the screen.

The difference between diegetic sound and non diegetic sound is of special interest related to interaction in multimedia production. Diegetic sound can be used to attract attention to a specific part of the screen and support the users interaction with the screen while non diegetic sound can be used to attract attention to an object not represented on the screen and thus support dynamics in the program.

ANIMATION

VIDEO