Sunday, September 28, 2008

What is Multimedia?

In this tutorial you will learn about different multimedia formats and how to use them !

Multimedia refers to everything you can hear or see in the computer like text, graphics, music, videos, sounds, CDs, DVDs, animation, interactive games and more. Different browsers handle multimedia in different ways. Some browsers handle multimedia online by supporting a number of multimedia formats. To experience multimedia online, you'll need a computer with sound and video cards and special software programs called plug-ins. Plug-ins, also known as players, extends the ability of your web browser, turning your computer into a radio or TV. Plug-ins may be already installed with your web browser but when a web page requires a special plug-in, you will be prompted to download it from the Internet.

Multimedia elements like sounds and videos are stored in media files and come in many different formats while the file extension determines the media type. Though there are many formats in use, AAC, MP3 and WMA are the big three formats used by digital music services. Your personal computer probably play songs encoded in any of the formats, but most portable music players cannot. For instance, iPods play MP3 and AAC files, but not WMA files. Thus, your portable player may determine which service you can use.

Sound can be stored in many different formats.

1. The MIDI Format - cannot store songs, only tunes. MIDI files can be extremely small and a 23K size music file can play for nearly 5 minutes. MIDI files are supported by all the popular Internet browsers. Sounds stored in the MIDI format have the extension .mid or .midi.

2. The RealAudio Format-The RealAudio format which supports video and allows streaming of audio (on-line music, Internet radio) was developed by Real Media, with low bandwidths. Because of the low bandwidth priority, quality is often reduced.

3.The AIFF Format -The AIFF (Audio Interchange File Format) was developed by Apple, but unfortunately these files are not cross-platform and are not supported by all web browsers. Sounds stored in the AIFF format have the extension .aif or .aiff

4.The WAVE Format - is one of the most popular sound format on the Internet and developed by Microsoft . It is supported by all the popular browsers. Sounds stored in the WAVE format have the extension .wav.

5.The MP3 Format -MP3 files are actually MPEG files.MP3 is one of the most popular sound formats for music recording. It shrinks the size of audio data while preserving sound quality, so music files can be easily distributed over the Internet. Sounds stored in the MP3 format have the extension .mp3 or .mpga (for MPG Audio).

6. AAC (Advanced Audio Coding) has improved on MP3 by requiring less data to reproduce the same sound quality. Songs downloaded from Apple's iTunes Music Store are encoded in this format.

Videos too can be stored in many formats

1. The AVI Format -The AVI (Audio Video Interleave) format developed by Microsoft is supported by all computers running Windows and popular web browsers. It is not always possible to play on non-Windows computers. Videos stored in the AVI format have the extension .avi.

2. The Windows Media Format-The Windows Media format ,developed by Microsoft Windows Media is a common format on the Internet, but Windows Media movies cannot be played on non-Windows computer without an extra (free) component installed. Videos stored in the Windows Media format have the extension .wmv.

3. The MPEG Format-The MPEG (Moving Pictures Expert Group) format is the most popular format on the Internet. It is cross-platform, and supported by most web browsers. Videos stored in the MPEG format have the extension .mpg or .mpeg.

4. The QuickTime Format-The QuickTime format , by Apple is a common format on the internet, but QuickTime movies cannot be played on a windows computer without the plug-in installed. Install QuickTime, a plug-in for playing video clips on Macintosh and PC computers and watch movie trailers and other multimedia with this useful little program. Videos stored in QuickTime format have the extension .mov

5. The RealVideo Format- This format allows streaming of video (on-line video, Internet TV) with low bandwidths. Turn your computer into a radio or television with the RealPlayer. Once you install the RealPlayer, you can listen to the latest newscasts from National Public Radio, CNN, BBC and hundreds of other sites.This format has the extension .rm or .ram.

6. The Shockwave (Flash) Format-This format by Macromedia requires an extra component like Flash to play and to add pizzazz to a website. This component comes preinstalled with the latest versions Internet Explorer, Firefox and Safari. It turns your computer into an interactive animation machine.Shockwave format has the extension .swf

Some multimedia content, called streaming media, are embedded in a web page and begin to play when you access the page.

There are many more exciting ways to use multimedia options in the computer as well as on the Internet!!

Copyright © 2008 Laila Rajaratnam. All Rights Reserved

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