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multimedia

Multimedia is more than one concurrent presentation medium (for example, on CD-ROM or a Web site). Although still images are a different medium than text, multimedia is typically used to mean the combination of text, sound, and/or motion video. Some people might say that the addition of animated images (for example, animated GIF on the Web) produces multimedia, but it has typically meant one of the following:

  • Text and sound
  • Text, sound, and still or animated graphic images
  • Text, sound, and video images
  • Video and sound
  • Multiple display areas, images, or presentations presented concurrently
  • In live situations, the use of a speaker or actors and "props" together with sound, images, and motion video

Multimedia can arguably be distinguished from traditional motion pictures or movies both by the scale of the production (multimedia is usually smaller and less expensive) and by the possibility of audience interactivity or involvement (in which case, it is usually called interactive multimedia). Interactive elements can include: voice command, mouse manipulation, text entry, touch screen, video capture of the user, or live participation (in live presentations).

Multimedia tends to imply sophistication (and relatively more expense) in both production and presentation than simple text-and-images. Multimedia presentations are possible in many contexts, including the Web, CD-ROMs, and live theater. A rule-of-thumb for the minimum development cost of a packaged multimedia production with video for commercial presentation (as at trade shows) is: $1,000 a minute of presentation time. Since any Web site can be viewed as a multimedia presentation, however, any tool that helps develop a site in multimedia form can be classed as multimedia software and the cost can be less than for standard video productions.

For multimedia Web sites, popular multimedia (sound or sound and motion video or animation) players include: MPEG, Quicktime, and Shockwave.

This was last updated in April 2005

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