MULTIMEDIA ELEMENTS

Contents:
1. Animation
2. Video
3. Audio
resource.JPG Resources (Rated by our Editors)


1. ANIMATION

The concept of animation is a key component of multimedia. Many e-Learning courses and learning programs have utilised animation to convey information and optimise learner engagement. Animation by defintion, is the “optical illusion of motion created by the consecutive display of images of static elements” (Wikipedia). Animation can enhance learning in an e-learning environment by allowing for greater participant enjoyment in their learning experiences. This will ultimately result in an increased willingness to participate in the learning, therefore contributing to greater learner participation. An example of this can be seen in the case of Cold Rock. From this article, it is clear that after careful review how animation is programmed, what look and feel will be used to fit with the design approach of the whole product and what dimensions on the screen are needed that a greater understanding of animation will occur.

Animation has advanced dramatically since the original format of hand written and black and white graphics, which emerged in the early 1990s. This can be described as 2 dimensional and an example of this early animation can be viewed here. It is interesting to compare this to the Cold Rock case above and other more recent animations training programs that have been developed over the past 18 months, which utilise sophisticated software such as Flash. In today’s “technology era”, animation in all forms including training games, are 3 dimensional and a variety of colours are invariably used. Furthermore, animations are now mainly computer-generated rather than hand drawn. It can been seen in different examples of training games, eg Adrworkshops negotiation game, that animation is still cartoon based but aims to be realistic in its portrayal of people and real-life situations. It is important to realise that although animation may be an effective multimedia medium it does require vast amounts of planning and preparation before a finished product is produced. When multimedia games are being developed, there needs to be an outline or storyboard of what will be included before the game can be finished. The storyboard allows for greater clarification of what the animation will include and how it will work together as a series of images. This can be completed using computers or simply through hand drawing.

[[#animation|flash]]It is necessary to understand that animation requires the use of programs in order to function as a multimedia product. Animation can be programmed using a variety of software products including Flash, Director, C++, Visual Basic, GIF, all of which allow animation to be “viewed on a computer or over the Internet” (Wikipedia). Flash is software that provides an authoring environment in which interactive websites can be created (Adobe). From the late 1990s, Flash has been popularly utilised to add animation and interactivity to web pages (Wikipedia) subsequently in creating animation for e-Learning programs. Flash is a software program that is commonly utilised to create animations, design web-page elements and to enhance websites through adding video components (Wikipedia).

GIF (Graphics Interchange Format) is another software product that can be utilised to program animation. GIF’s can be described as ‘compressed files’ and have been widely accepted due to their ability to “reduce the amount of time it takes to transfer images over a network connection” (Wikipedia). GIF’s are said to support colour and various resolutions (Webopedia), which is an obvious necessity for effective animations. More specifically, GIFs are a format for displaying ‘bitmap images’ on the World Wide Web, and it appears that this program is advantageous for animation as it allows files to have 256 colours (What is GIF?).

“Visual Basic” was created as a programming language and environment (Techiwarehouse). It was one of the first products to provide an environment of graphical programming (Webopedia), and is thus very useful to the design and implementation of animation in an e-learning context.

C++, another form of animation programming software appears to be quite advanced compared to other programs previously mentioned. C++ is described as a ‘high-level programming language’ and according to Webopedia is one of the most “popular programming language for graphical applications”. From this information it can be inferred that C++ is a highly advanced programming device and therefore would be used for animations that involve detailed attributes.

Finally, the animation program “Director” has been described as a 2-Dimentional multimedia animation program that enables users to create and import sounds and images and develop their movement over a period of time. It is said to have “been around for a long time". From this information it is within reason to infer that “Director” was one of the early programs used for animation, and most likely to have been prevalent when this form of multimedia was first initiated in the early 1990s.

Animation is a key component of multimedia and after reviewing how this format orginated and how it can be programmed, a greater understanding is gained.

Related links:
Example of animated training games
(http://www.sfhgroup.com/negotiation_game.asp)

Article that discusses the future of animations and gives examples of numerous animated training games
(http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_13/b3977062.htm)

Back to top

2. VIDEO

Videos, like animation, are a key component of multimedia and result in greater interest and enjoyment for learners when incorporated in e-Learning courses. Although the definition of a video is quite well known in today’s society, it is still important to review how literature describes this type of multimedia. Video is the “technology of capturing, recording, processing, transmitting and reconstructing moving pictures, electronic signals, or digital media, primarily for viewing on television or computer monitors” (Wikipedia).

As with animation, videos require programming, and this can be achieved through the use of a variety of software products including Premier, Quicktime and Movie Player. “Premier Adobe” is the programming software that assists in editing videos, including the enhancement of colour (Wikipedia). “Quicktime” has been described as ‘multimedia technology’ and is therefore utilised in the handling of all different types of multimedia, including videos (Wikipedia). Quicktime is a video and animation system and enables for the manipulation, enhancement and storage of video and animation (Developer Connection). According to Wikipedia, “Movie Player” is the term given to the software required to play Quicktime movies before it was renamed “Quicktime Player” (Wikipedia). From this information it can be inferred that “Movie Player” has become outdated as more advanced softwares have emerged. One of the latest video programs released is ‘Apple Final Cut Pro’ (Wikipedia) which came into use in March 2006. This recently developed software has enourmous capability for editing audio within videos, which ultimately serves the learning purpose of enhancing participants’ experiences of videos in all different contexts.

When reviewing the quality of a video, this is determined by the frames per second used. ‘Frame rate’ is the number of “still pictures per unit of time of video” and can range from six to eight frames on older model cameras to 120 or more frames on new cameras (Wikipedia). In its simplest form, that is, creating the ‘illusion of a moving object’, a video requires the frames to be a minimum ten frames per second (Wikipedia).

It is important when creating learning to decide whether the video is essential to the learning or whether the same learning can take place without the expense of creating a video. There are several issues that need to be considered such as the increased difficulty of developing training materials through this medium. There are however, benefits from using this type of medium such as the easy storage of knowledge (Ed Mayberry). The way the video is to be produced, for example the type of background to be used also needs to be considered, as it will affect the ability of the learners to engage in a positive or negative manner.

A further consideration when using video for learning purposes is the need to ensure that learners are provided with computer systems that can view the video the way it is meant to be viewed, for example, fast internet connection as well as compatible software.

Finally, as with animation, video requires the use of a storyboard to convey the look and feel of the video before it is produced.

Back to top

3. AUDIO

Audio, or sound, is a multimedia tool that is frequently used for the purpose of e-Learning courses and training. In general terms, sound can be described as the “vibrations that travel through air and can be heard by humans” (Wikipedia). Sound requires the use of different software to allow for the programming of this medium and when using sound in multimedia there are many options of technologies that can be utilised to edit the sound file including Real Audio, QuickTime and Flash. Real Audio is obviously used in the editing/programming of sound files, however it was specifically developed as a “streaming media format” which means that sound can be played even as it is being downloaded (Wikipedia). The “QuickTime” software (as mentioned previously) can also be utilised for not only video but sound as well because it is capable of ‘handling’ all different types multimedia formats (Wikipedia). Flash, as described in the animation section, is a “powerful animation and presentation tool” (Extending Flash), and although there appears to be a focus on animation, it is still effective in improving the overall look and feel of multimedia, that is, through the use of sound. When using these technologies it is always important to know what type of software the learners have on their computers, as this will determine whether they will be able hear the sound files or access the multimedia appropriately.

Further issues that require consideration include reviewing what quality the learners’ expect and determining the possibilities of the systems the learners will be utilising. When sound is used in e-Learning it is important to remember why the sound is included and whether it is necessary. Issues concerning the ‘accessibility (Christina Houck) of sound’ and the learners’ understanding of their computers’ software functionality also needs to be considered. This is particularly applicable in cases where the learners are hearing impaired and/or the learners don’t possess the computer literacy skills to use the systems on their computers.

Multimedia elements such as animation, video and audio are all important components that add interest and significant value to not only e-Learning courses but to everyday life. It is through an understanding of the essential aspects of these multimedia elements, for example, how they are programmed and viewed, that one can derive an appreciation of the importance of these components to the online learning experience.

Back to top

4. RESOURCES

Resources used for Multimedia Elements, and their ratings by our editors are shown below:

Featured Articles:
Our Editors rate this resource:
Animation Defintion. Wikipediabigspace.JPGbigspace.JPG
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Virtual Training. Business Week Online
5stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Animations. Randel Shofer
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 3stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Examples of Training Games. Adrworkshopsbigspace.JPGbigspace.JPGbigspace.JPGbigspace.JPG
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Flash Introduction. Adobe
4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Flash Definition. Wikipedia
3stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
GIF Definition. Wikipedia
3stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
GIF Definition.What Is a GIF
2stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 2stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Visual Basic Definition. Techi Warehouse
4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Visual Basic Definition. Webopedia
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
C + Definition. Webopedia
1star.JPGRated by Stephanie
Director Definition. What Is Director
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
On the Job Video Gaming. Business Week Onlinebigspace.JPG
4stars.JPGRated by Brett 4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Video Definition. Wikipedia
5stars.JPGRated by Brett 4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Adobe Premiere Pro Definition. Wikipedia
3stars.JPGRated by Brett
Qyicktime Definition. Wikipedia
4stars.JPGRated by Brett 3stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
QuickTime Definiton. Apple
3stars.JPGRated by Kate 3stars.JPGRated by Brett 3stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Media Player Definition. Wikipedia
1star.JPGRated by Kate 2stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Final Cut Pro Definition. Wikipedia
5stars.JPGRated by Brett 4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Adding Video to Online Learning Offerings. Ed Mayberrybigspace.JPG
5stars.JPGRated by Kate 4stars.JPGRated by Brett
Sound Definition. Wikipedia
3stars.JPGRated by Kate 3stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Real Audio Definition. Wikipedia
2stars.JPGRated by Kate 3stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Flash Information. Extending Flash
4stars.JPGRated by Stephanie 4stars.JPGRated by Rhiannon
Distance Learning. Christina Houck
5stars.JPGRated by Stephanie
Back to top