The Multimedia system development process involves a number of steps like traditional software system development and is known as the Multimedia System Development Life Cycle (MSDLC).
The steps are as follows:
Multimedia system development life cycle
- Defining the system
- System Design
- Tools selection
Defining the system to be developed
To develop a multimedia presentation or program, it is valuable to understand precisely who the user is. To compose a multimedia program the developer should consider the following:
- Level of understanding of the audience
- The expectation of the users
- The goal of presentation (training/entertainment)
- Allocated time
- Type of presentation required (text, graphics, sound, video, animation, or combination)
- Interactive/non-interactive presentation
- Impact of the presentation to the audience (instant or long-term).
Having all these details firmly in hand will help the multimedia developer to create a successful product.
The most common way to start a design is by composing an outline of the sequences and locks of information that will appear on the screen. This determines the amount of information-text, graphics, clickable objects which will be presented on each screen.
It is also the time to establish a navigation methodology for the user. The developer has to decide whether there will be a navigation bar with arrows leading from scene to scene, or there will be text or objects that the users should click to jump argon the entire program.
The storyboard can be used for a great deal of animation or many different scenes. Used by film directors for productions ranging from 30-second television commercials to feature-length motion pictures, the storyboard consists of sketches of the scenes and actions.
Mapping out a storyboard helps the author to recognize gaps in logic. Some multimedia authoring programs provide facilities for drawing and organizing the frames of a storyboard.
Multimedia product requires many types of software tools, for instance, creating text often requires a word processor; working with digital images requires graphics software; using video requires a video-capture program and editing software; sound often requires its own editing software.
All of this software is used to generate the content. When the content is ready, it needs to be assembled in a process called multimedia authoring.
This process requires still another type of software, which can understand different types of media, combine them, control the sequences in which they appear, and create navigational tools for the user interface.
The tools used for multimedia depends largely on the variety of media to be included. For a simple text-and-graphics slide show type of presentation, a presentation software program should be enough.
One could enliven the offering by adding preexisting graphics form the hundreds of commercially available CD-ROM collections of clip art, clip sound, and clip video. These clop collections store small fields in the proper file formats for use in a wide range of multimedia programs.
A user can use a sophisticated sound edition program, to splice together segments or add sound effects electronically, for example, echoes to the sounds. Users can do the same kind of electronic editing for video.
The most popular program for combining the elements of a multimedia presentation is Macromedia Director. In Director, the multimedia author assembles each element-text, graphics, sound, and video into separate “tracks”.
The program helps the author to synchronize all the elements. For instance, a crash sound effect is heard when the two animated objects collide. The director generates files that contain the entire multimedia presentation ready for distribution on disk or CD-ROM or to be played over an integrative television or through the internet.
After the creation of all the contents, it is required to put them all together. For a complex product created with the use of a sophisticated tool such as director, the multimedia authoring generally is performed by a skilled multimedia developer or programmer.
The multimedia product should be tested by the users. By going through this testing, the developer can locate flaws ahead of time and repaired them before unleashing the finished product. During the test, the developer should consider the following points:
- Is it a product to read (in case of descriptive text)?
- Is it user friendly?
- Is it interactive and easy to navigate?
The final audience and the developer very often have different points of view. The developer must learn to regard problems the user detects with the program as constructive criticism. The reason testing is so valuable is that it is too easy to lose sight of the audience once the heavy-duty authoring starts.
Applications of Multimedia Systems
The use of multimedia is common in many computer applications, because graphics, sounds, animations, and video can often do a more effective job of involving the user than text alone. Other applications are:
- Multimedia is a prerequisite of all kinds of games
- Computer-based training
- Dictionaries (Tells how to pronounce the difficult word)
- Encyclopedias (important sound and video clips)
- Business presentations
- Web applications
- Advertisements, etc.
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