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Multimedia Software: Working with Audio and Video

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  • 0:06 Multimedia
  • 1:18 Media Players
  • 2:46 Audio Software
  • 3:53 Video Software
  • 6:29 File Formats
  • 7:46 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Paul Zandbergen

Paul has a PhD from the University of British Columbia and has taught Geographic Information Systems, statistics and computer programming for 15 years.

Audio and video have become increasingly important in today's computer systems. Learn about how media players play back multimedia files as well as audio and video editing software to create your own productions.

Multimedia

In the early days of computing, most of the information consisted of text and numbers. Since those early days, however, photos, audio and video have become a very important part of using computer systems. Almost every website you visit uses some form of audio-visuals. Many of the posts to social media use imagery. Services such as Netflix and YouTube now account for a substantial portion of the world's Internet traffic.

Multimedia refers to content that that uses a combination of different forms, as opposed to text-only content. Multimedia describes the combination of text, audio, images, animation, video, and other types of interactive content. This lesson will look in more detail at the use of audio and video.

There are two general categories of audio and video software: media players that only provide playback options and software that can be used to record and edit audio and video.

Media Players

A media player is a software application for playing back multimedia files, including audio and/or video. Most media players can play both audio only and video (with sound), although there are a small number of players that focus one type, known as audio players or video players.

Media players typically use icons, which have their origin in tape recorders and disk players. Typical control buttons include Play, Pause, Stop, Fast Forward, Rewind, and others. Now add in options to control volume, and you have a very intuitive interface that is easy to use.

Most operating systems have a default multimedia player built in. For example, Windows includes Windows Media Player and Mac OS includes QuickTime and iTunes. However, there are many other types of media players.

A recent trend is for media players to be integrated with services that provide content. For example, you can use the player to connect to online stores for music, movies and TV shows, or you can connect to streaming services. iTunes is one of the most popular of these types of media players, but numerous others have emerged as online media consumption has increased.

Audio Software

Software to record and edit audio is often referred to as a digital audio editor. High-end systems for professionals are also called digital audio workstations.

Audio can consist of only spoken text, such as the narration of this video, or include music and other sound effects. A digital audio editor typically contains functions for the following tasks:

  • Record audio from a variety of different input sources
  • Mix multiple tracks into one output track
  • Apply effects, such as noise reduction and equalization, to improve the quality
  • Edit sound clips by cutting out certain parts, switching the order of clips, etc.
  • Convert between a variety of different formats

Some of the most widely used audio software applications include Audacity by the Audacity Team, Audition by Adobe, Garage Band by Apple and ProTools by Avid - but there are many others.

Video Software

Video editing software consists of software for the post-production of video editing. The source material is collected by digital video cameras, and this is imported into the software for editing.

Most modern video editing software uses a technique known as non-linear editing (NLE). Before digital video, traditional editing tools for celluloid film consisted of cutting and pasting film segments in the linear sequence in which the materials were recorded. In a digital workflow, the raw video material can be imported and broken up into sections known as clips - these clips can be modified by trimming, splicing and cutting, and then arranged in a new sequence. Typically, a series of clips is laid out in a work area and then dragged into a timeline representing a draft of the final video. Once the editor is happy with the result, the series of clips is exported to a new video file.

Non-linear editing is also used in digital audio editors, but the term was originally applied to describe the digital workflows in film editing.

Video editing is fairly demanding on computer systems. Video takes up a lot of storage, and processing video files takes up a lot of processing power and memory. Video editing software used to be the domain of professionals on dedicated systems, but advances in computer hardware have made digital video editing much more accessible. Software specifically aimed at regular consumers now makes it relatively easy to produce professional looking videos.

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