Digital video, sound, MIDI, photography
Multimedia is a term that is used to describe the audio and video capabilities of a computer. In its purest form, multimedia simply means more than one media. So, if you have a program or Web site that uses pictures with sound, you have multiple media, or multimedia. If your computer has a CD-ROM drive, a sound card, and speakers, you have a multimedia computer.
Multimedia programs include games, presentation graphics, training programs, and just about every other application on the market since so many programs are using videos in their Help files to show you how to operate the program. While it is pretty obvious that multimedia can be a lot of fun, how do you make money with multimedia?
Many companies like to use multimedia sales presentations, yet have little time to prepare them. If you become proficient with a presentation graphics program like PowerPoint, which is actually rather easy to master, you could make money by preparing presentations for realtors, corporate sales and marketing professionals, trainers, and anyone else who needs to use multimedia presentations. You could also learn how to prepare multimedia World Wide Web sites and offer your services as a Web site developer. There is currently a big demand for this type of service.
Some people have specialized in creating CD-ROM's for newlyweds by taking their wedding videos and combining them with their favorite love songs. The moneymaking opportunities are only limited by your imagination, as are the new products to support multimedia.
Many of the new multimedia products use the universal serial bus (USB) which allows you to chain together several multimedia devices. More about USB is available from the USB Implementers Forum, on the World Wide Web at http://www.usb.org .
If you do not currently have a USB port on your computer, you can puchase an add-on card for your system that will give you multiple USB ports.
If you are a beginner to computers, be aware that the Windows operating system has excellent multimedia features. A few of them are listed below:
CD Player - is a program that lets you play your audio CD's while you work on your computer. It also gives you control over which tracks you will hear each time you play a particular CD. You can play your CD tracks in any order you choose or play your favorite track over and over.
Media Player - is an entertainment center with a small control panel you can use for audio and video files or audio CD's. In addition to playing your files and CD's, Media Player provides the capability to grab a part of a file and insert it into a document. With this capability to insert only a specific part of a video or audio file, you can really get creative when you create your multimedia documents and presentations.
Sound Recorder - is a good tool to use to record your own sounds for immediate playback or for placing into documents or presentations. Of course, you will need a microphone connected to your computer to do this.
Volume Control - If you have Volume Control loaded on your system, it is always in easy reach by double clicking on the speaker icon on the task bar. The Volume Control dialog box lets you control the individual volume and balance levels for Wave, MIDI, CD, and Line-In files. [If you ever have a problem hearing sound from a CD, program, file, or Web site, the Volume Control is the first place to look to see if the volume has been turned all the way down.]
MIDI - (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) is a system for recording and playing music from (or to) a musical instrument connected to a computer. MIDI recording is rather unique in the fact that it does not actually save the sound. Rather, it saves information about the sound and the duration of each note. When the MIDI file is played back, this musical information is translated into instructions to play the music through a MIDI-capable sound card or a connected musical instrument. For example, you can have your musical keyboard connected to your computer via a MIDI-capable sound card and, with the appropriate software, play a song on your musical keyboard and see the notes appear on your computer monitor. When you are through with your song, you can use your mouse to correct any mistakes you made while playing by moving the notes to where they belong on the musical notation shown on the monitor. You can then have the computer play back the file on your MIDI-capable musical instrument (i.e., keyboard or organ). There are a variety of MIDI programs available that let you do everything, from scanning sheet music to mixing multiple tracks, to creating your own one-person symphony.
To discover these and other Windows features, simply click on the Start button, Help, and Index. Then type in the feature you wish to discover.
With all the Internet features and superb multimedia capabilities built into Windows, you may want to learn more about multimedia on the Internet. The best way to do this is to visit a few sites that help you understand multimedia.
You may want to visit a few Web sites that use multimedia. We've listed some good ones below:
http://www.sportsradio.com - a collection of sports radio from across the USA, schedules of live events, archive files of great sports' moments and much more.
http://www.chrome-concepts.com/purp - offers tips on HTML design, graphics, PhotoShop tricks, images, clip art and Web image sets.
http://www.dailybriefing.com - a custom news service with video and audio clips.
http://www.radio-directory.com - a Web site to help you find radio stations with a presence on the Internet.
With a little bit of research, and an adventurous spirit, it won't take you long to feel right at home in the world of multimedia. Before you know it, you will be using multimedia for both fun and profit.
You may want to try RealPlayer, which comes complete with presets of radio stations throughout the United States so you can listen to your favorite music in real time, live from stations thousands of miles away from you. There are also preset channels for news from the network television stations, music videos, stock market updates, and much more. While we were writing this article, we watched a clip from the movie titled The Haunting, listened to radio stations throughout the United States, and watched a film clip from ABC news. Behind the scenes, the media files used by the presentation depends on the speed of your Internet connection. The files are optimized to ensure you enjoy the presentation regardless of your connection speed.
With traditional multimedia files, such as MPEG video or AIFF audio, the playback device has to wait for the entire file to download before playback can begin. Streaming technology, on the other hand, lets multimedia servers send content in a continuous stream that can be decoded and played back shortly after being received. While it may take several minutes to download an MPEG video clip, a streamed video clip can begin to play within seconds. This capability is what makes streamed presentations enjoyable--even on a 28.8 modem.
To enable this streaming, a protocol was developed called the RealTime Streaming Protocol (RTSP), which supports VCR-like functionality, such as play, fast-forward, pause, and stop. RTSP is used in RealServer. Microsoft also has a streaming format called Active Streaming Format or ASF, which sends all the multimedia objects in a single file, packet by packet. This requires developers to pack everything they need into a single file. RTSP, in contrast, uses the Web's standard URLs to reference the actual media objects, allowing developers to link to needed files across the Web at runtime.
If all of this sounds fascinating to you, surf on over to the RealNetworks Web site http://www.real.com/products/index.html and download your own free version of RealPlayer. Be warned, it can become addicting and you could spend many hours having fun.
Till next month . . .
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