Multimedia Theory

Intro to Multimedia

"Multi" stands for many/multiple/more then one. Pretty well everyone gets that! .....  "Media" For the purpose of this course; refers to a form of communication through the use of imagery, video, voice,  music, animation and text over a specified medium.

Most people are familiar with the word Media used  as a synonym for the press or news reporting agencies. It is very important to be clear on the meaning of terms in the context that we will be using them. So, for us, the media would be understood to be the sights and sounds that the press use to communicate their story to us.

In my opening statement I also included 2 other related terms that we need to be clear on, medium & communication:

Once we understand these terms in the proper context, we can begin to scientifically break down their elements to better understand not only how they work individually and how important they are to each other, but we can better appreciate how holistically they mould each and everyone of us and society as a whole as well.


If media refers to  a form of communication, have to ask ourselves; just what is communication??

Communication only occurs when a desired message is sent through some means, received by the desired target, and that information is understood.

All communication is but for one or more reasons. That is to say, we communicate to:

  • Educate
  • inform
  • persuade
  • control
  • entertain
We can use one device for different purposes. For example: a radio can be used to to entertain us with music, comedy, and even drama. A radio is a great source of news, weather and sports, in other words information....all the while it is peppered with persuading advertising.
Advertisements in magazines, on billboards, radio & television try to sell a product or service.. Or to send a message.... vote for me....Support us.
Television/Movie Industry is said to be for our pleasure / entertainment / educational / informational.
Publishing of novels, educational books and journals, etc, again for all of the above.
Art Galleries : Pleasure for the eye and mind , sometimes send a message.
News / Television / Radio : to keep us informed of the events around us.

Lets attempt to make sense of what we have covered so far:

  • Advertising is an example of one purpose of communication, that is to persuade us to buy things for the most part
  • Advertisers manipulate all forms of media to help sell you, whether it be through good music, dreamy pictures or bold text....what ever it takes to get your attention
  • They will use what ever medium they can to reach you. You may hear the same commercial on the radio, tv or on the net, or see it on a billboard, on the net, the paper, etc.
  • These same mediums use similar media types for other purposes such as entertainment and information


To breakdown the components in a practical situation; pretend you are to produce a snakes and ladder game. This is an example of communication for the purpose of entertainment. If you were to use paper as your medium, that is a traditional board game format. You would most likely limit your media to text and images. However, if your medium was computer based, then your media would easily incorporate, text, images, animation and or video, as well as sound.

We all know which medium would get the most attention today. It may be hard to believe, that at one time, a colourful new board game was seemingly just as exciting and appreciated as an interactive videogame version today. Perhaps what might be more surprising is how much older the people might be ,back then, playing this simple board game. Then, consider how likely that for kids to play "Snakes and Ladders" game today would be exposed to graphics where snakes eat you or where you slice them up into little pieces. Why?? How did that happen? What is driving the change? We are going to have to back up the bus here!

"Multimedia" - is the combined or simultaneous use of different media forms including images, video, sound, animation, and text in order to communicate.

Multimedia is somewhat a relatively new phenomenon when you look at communication history. This trend (combining different media together) is the result of the development of digitalization. Digitalization organizes information that we might see as text, images and so on, from individual units of binary data called bits, groups of bits called bytes that are processed by various computing devices. This binary data is processed in a language made up of combinations of "ones & zero's". It is hard to believe, but everything you see, hear and do on your computer device is the result of 1's and 0's.

Exercise:  Intro Answers

  1. 1.) Give 2 examples for each of the 5 purposes of communication.
  2. 2.) Using a practical everyday example where you have a communication task that you need to perform, identify the purpose of communication within that particular situation, and 2 mediums of which you might use to complete the task. Tie the media to each medium so that you can compare the two options.

  3. 3.)
      Now that you have an idea of what multimedia is, your assignment is to now research at least 3 different types of multimedia based careers. Describe their job description and what are the prerequisite. Also find out what what kind of money could be made in this field and where in Canada are the jobs.
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