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Essay/Term paper: Computer multimedia

Essay, term paper, research paper:  Information Technology

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Computer Multimedia

Sam Quesinberry

Computers have come a long way very fast since there start in the 1940's. In
the beginning they were mainly used for keeping financial records by banks and
insurance companies, and for mathematical computations by engineers and the U.S.

However, exciting new applications have developed rapidly in the last few years.
Two of these areas is Computer Graphics and sound.

Computer graphics is the ability of the computer to display, store and transmit
visual information in the form of pictures. Currently there are two main uses
for this new ability. One is in the creation of Movies and the other in
Computer Games. Computer visual information is also increasingly being used in
other computer applications, such as photographic storage, and the Internet.

Computers can also store, transmit and play back sound.

When a picture or a sound is stored on a computer it said to be digitized.
There are two main ways of digitizing a picture. One is by vector graphics.
Here the information in the picture is stored as mathematical equations.
Engineering drawing applications such as CAD (computer assisted device) use
this method. The other method is by bit mapped graphics. Here the computer
actually keeps track of every point in the picture and its description. Paint
programs use this technique. Drawing programs are usually vector mapped
programs and paint programs are usually bit mapped.

Computer sound is handled in two different ways. The sound can be described
digitally and stored as an image (wave format) of the actual sound or it can be
translated in to what is called midi format. This is chiefly for music. In a
piano, for instance, the information for what key to hit, for how long ad at
what intensity is stored and retrieved. This is kind of like the way and old
player piano worked.

Computer graphic applications in the beginning were developed on large computes.
The computer hardware and software were developed by individuals and groups
working independently.

These projects were very expensive and carried on by large companies and
investment groups. Applications which only a few years ago would have cost
millions of dollars, can now be run on a desk top computer with programs costing
under $100.

It is the purpose of this paper to research and examine several areas of
computer multimedia by using a typical application programs in that related area.

These areas are:

Paint Programs - Photo Finish -Zsoft

3d Rendering Programs - 3d f/x - Asymetrix

Animation Programs - Video Artist - Reveal

Morphing Programs - Video Artist - Reveal

Sound Recording Programs - MCS music rack - Logitech

Midi Recording Programs - Midisoft recording Session - Logitech

Multimedia Programs - Interactive - HSC software

Paint Programs

One of the fist paint programs was super paint. It was created by
Carnegie Mellon Shoupe at Palo Alto Research Center. To demonstrate a paint
program Photofinish by Zsoft will be used to import and modify a photograph.
Photofinish is an inexpensive paint program costing under $50.

First a photograph is scanned into the paint program using a scanner.

The photograph is cleaned up and a title is added.

3 D Rendering Programs

3d rendering programs are programs used in the movies to create the special
effects, such as those used in the movie Star Wars. The 3d rendering program
was created over a period of time. They kept getting more advanced. Lucas
Films is one of the first company's to develop 3d rendering programs for
computers. The effects were one of the reasons that Lucas Film Productions
became so popular. Here is an example of what a 3d rendering program can do.
The name of the program that I'm using is 3d f/x by Asymetrix.

Animation Programs

One of the first company's to create animation software was Autodesk.
The Disney studios were also one of the first company to develop animation
software. A couple of years ago the Disney computer animation department only
had two animators, but now there are 14. Computer animation has greatly reduced
the human effort of making cartoons. A full length Disney film used to require
over 600 animators. Now it can be done with approximately 125. The first full
length computer animated movie, The Toy Story, came out around 6 months ago.
Now the program that I am using to explore animation is Reveal's Computer's
Artist. I captured an old cartoon from a 16 mm film made in 1913 and used
computer artist to edit and digitize it to floppy disk. The cartoon can now be
viewed under Windows using Multimedia player

Morphing Programs

Tom Brigham, a programmer and animator at NYIT, astounded the audience at
the 1982 SIGGRAPH conference. Tom Brigham had created a video sequence showing
a woman distort and transform herself into the shape of a lynx. Thus was born a
new technique called "Morphing". It was destined to become a required tool for
anyone producing computer graphics or special effects in the film or television
industry. The morphing program that I am using to demonstrate the technique is
"Reveal's Morph Editor". The following segment is a clip of my dad being morphed
into my sister

Sound Recording Programs

Wave Files - Computer programs can be used to record and digitize actual
sound. These applications were developed at the same time as the graphics
applications. The sound is converted from some analog source such as radio,
tape player, and live microphone and is stored to one of the computers mass
storage devices such as hard disk or floppy disk. Software editors can then be
used to edit the wave file. Special effects can be added such as noise
reduction and reverb. The wave editor that I'm using to explore the computers
ability to handle sound is from Logitech. I recorded a segment from an old 78
rpm record and used the editor to clean up the sound. It was tremendous
improvement over the original recording. The following is a view of the editor
window with the sound file loaded.

Midi Recording Programs

Midi Files - There is another method by which computers can record sound
that is nothing like traditional sound recording. An actual musical instrument
can be hooked to the computer and the computer records the actual notes struck,
duration, intensity ,etc. This is an extremely efficient way to record music
known as midi. The files created by this process are a fraction of the size of
files created by waveform recording. This method may also be used even if there
is no midi instrument. The notes can be entered or scanned into the computer
from regular piece of sheet music. The computer is then able to translate these
entries into the required midi file. The program I used to examine this
technique is the Microsoft Midisoft recording studio. A piece of sheet music was
actually entered into the computer one note at a time. If a synthesizer is used
to play the file. The piece can be turned into a orchestral arrangement. This
is a screen shot of the music loaded into the program.

Multimedia Presentation Programs

Finally, this is the class of programs which can be used to tie all the
products of the foregoing programs together. Multimedia interactive programs
allow the user to combine graphics, animation, sound, and interactive programs
together into a presentation. These presentations can be slide shows of still
images accompanied by music or sequences of animation. They can allow the user
to be passive and merely watch or permit the user to interact by answering
questions or specifying when the next event is to begin. The Internet itself
can be thought of as an interactive application , but for this purposes of this
paper I am only looking at a computer in a stand alone configuration. There are
many programs which allow one to tie all multimedia elements together, but the
one I have is Interactive by HSC software. The following are a few of the 100
slides we used to create a slide show of our trip to Olympic National Park. The
show was linked to music on a CD ROM - the Music of Olympia. Once the slide show
ran on the computer it was transferred to video tape by using a vga to
television converter.


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