The use of networks has grown enormously over the last few years, and no doubt most people reading this will have access to a networked machine, probably connected to a local network using thin or thick ethernet, and possibly with a connection to the Internet.
Multimedia e-mail and video conferencing obviously require a network connection. Other multimedia applications such as computer-based learning can also make good use of a network. The large file sizes usually associated with multimedia make delivery over a network look attractive, saving local disk space, and improving updatability. But the large file sizes also mean that a multimedia application may cause excessive network loading and so run too slowly, particularly if a number of people are using it at once.
Multimedia is a very general term, and different types of multimedia applications will have different requirements if they are to run well over a network. Some of the problems associated with delivery of computer based learning packages are examined in the Support Initiative for Multimedia Applications (SIMA) report 'Requirements for a server for Computer Based Learning Material'. This report from Patrick McAndrew at the Institute for Computer-Based Learning at Heriot-Watt University looks particularly at the possibility of using the World Wide Web to deliver material.
Most data is delivered over the network in bursts, but most video formats require a steady continuous stream of data, and so have additional problems when on a network. There are a number of SIMA projects looking into delivering video, particularly video conferencing. The first of these 'The Do's and Don'ts of Video Conferencing in Higher Education' produced by a group at the HUSAT Research Institute at Loughborough University is now available. This report provides advice to both new and existing users of video conferencing, from setting up a service to factors that affect video quality. It also provides a survey of currently available products and equipment currently in use in campuses around the country.
The SIMA reports are available on-line on the AGOCG web server at http://www.agocg.ac.uk:8080/agocg/ under Current Projects, SIMA Support Officer, On-line documents. Further reports will be added as they become available.
Paper and CD-ROM (where appropriate) versions of the reports are also available by subscribing to the SIMA project output. Subscription costs 50 pounds for UK Higher Education. For more details please contact myself or Anne Mumford A.M.Mumford@lut.ac.uk
Introduction to Multimedia Seminar
The notes from the seminar run at Manchester University in December are now available on the AGOCG web server. These notes provide an introduction to the components of multimedia and the technology behind it. They also provide a list of on-line resources and some useful contacts.
AGOCG Multimedia Support Officer
Computer Graphics Unit
University of Manchester
Manchester M13 9PL
Tel: +44 161 275 6095