CSE3325: Introduction to Multimedia

In the previous lecture:

There was no previous lecture (semester has just begun - remember?)

In this lecture:

What is a medium?

  • A medium is a substance (air/water) through which something (light/sound) is conveyed

  • med-, middle, that which stands between

    What do these terms mean: medial; medieval; mediocre; mediate? What about some other examples?

Poetry and sculpture are media through which people may interact...

by communicating ideas
or encouraging thought,
inducing emotions ...by conveying a message!

Never lose sight of the concept of a


(and your production will shine)

What is a message?

A message is the concept/emotion/need/information (or anything else) which it is the intention of the sender to pass to the receiver.

A response triggered in a receiver is the only sign that a message has been received.


The response of a receiver depends on:

Example: if you were to give $20 (stimulus) to:

So you see, the stimulus was the same in each case, but the message and response were different.
Can you think when giving $20 to your friend would result in a different response to that above?

Back to multimedia then...

What are some messages?

Can you interpret smoke signals or Morse code?
Do you speak French or Italian?

Can you receive a message sent in these ways?

Some viewers...

People, being people, will respond to some stimulii in very similar ways.
Just ask Shakespeare... his plays retain their relevance across (many) cultures and times

However, background details may vary between people resulting in different perceived messages.
Ask any Shakespearean scholar... opinions on Shakespeare's plays vary widely

Can you think of some further examples?

Traditional media for conveying messages

  • typography, typesetting

  • prose, poetry

  • photography, cinematography
  • drawing, sculpture, painting

  • dance, mime, theatre

  • music, speech

A theatre production with slides projected as a backdrop, music played through a sound system and singing, dancing actors is a multi-media production! (Multimedia is not a new concept)

Interactive multimedia ...allows user-response to alter the way the presentation proceeds.

The desktop computer is currently a popular vehicle for interactive multimedia presentation.
It is not the be-all and end-all of multimedia.

Digital media for conveying messages


Techniques of digital multimedia development are directly applicable to:

  • Automatic Teller Machine interfaces

  • Works of art

  • Computer games

  • Flight simulators
  • Information kiosks

  • World Wide Web sites

  • Tabaret machines

  • VCR front panel design etc.

Techniques learned for traditional media...

  • storytelling

  • photography

  • cinematography

  • graphic design
  • painting

  • architecture

  • music

  • and others

...may be modified to be of relevance to digital multimedia production


Which traditional techniques are least relevant to digital multimedia?

*Hint: Consider the lack of tactile interaction with computer-based multimedia.
(With modern hardware, such barriers will eventually be broken)

Strong points of digital multimedia presentation.

Weak points of digital multimedia presentation

Compare the following...

Common flaws in desktop computer-based multimedia/web productions.

1. Lack of emotional triggering

Have you ever seen a truly...

...exciting, awesome, fascinating, beautiful, poignant, ironic, sorrowful, joyful, lovely, hateful, angry, bitter, harsh, stark, warm, peaceful, empty, lonely, chilly, stifling or terrifying...

...computer based, desktop multimedia piece?

Most works seem to stop at being 'engaging'. Try to find a computer-screen based multimedia piece that claims to make a user feel. Then see if you can't easily find a non-computer-screen based piece that conveys or induces the same emotion with substantially more success! (Eg. I bet you have less trouble finding a film which induces any/all of the above emotional responses!)


2. Ineffective presentation of information

Have you ever been to a web site looking for information and felt...

...confused, frustrated, lost, bewildered, disappointed, annoyed, puzzled, overcome, impatient, sick in the stomach?

The effective presentation of information online is often considered to be of secondary importance to the attractiveness of the site and how many fancy bells and whistles can be added: an error which causes the user to suffer.

Why these difficulties with computer-based interactive multimedia?

Lack of audio / visual / tactile impact (see above).

Lack of a well-established language.

Lack of understanding concerning the technology's use / misuse.

When should multimedia be employed?

Munch did not need to add sound to his most famous painting, "The Scream" (1893) - even the title is redundant


"I was out walking with two friends - the sun began to set - suddenly the sky turned blood-red - I paused, feeling exhausted, and leaned on a fence - there was blood and tongues of fire above the blue-black fjord and the city - my friends walked on, and there I still stood, trembling with fear - and I sensed an endless scream passing through Nature." (Munch, diary 1892)


Whenever an idea cannot be conveyed more effectively with a single medium (and in no other instance) ought multimedia be used!

....and that is what the remainder of this course is all about!

This lecture's key point(s):

CSE3325 courseware | CSE3325 lecture notes

©Copyright Alan Dorin 2005