Complete Guide to Digital Cameras


How to start a multimedia project
Jan 28, 2000

Q: I am trying to write a multimedia module for my local university, and really don't know where to start although I have knowledge of multimedia. Where do I start?

A: That's a huge question! If you're really starting from scratch then there's lots to think about: you need to think about interface design and content design. Then you need to assemble and edit your content, and you may need to format and create special content. Finally you have to assemble it into some viewable format using some kind of authoring tool.

To break this down a bit more:

1. Interface design: This is designing how people interact with the content. How do they search and navigate within the content? Are there menus and indexes? I recommend looking at as many similar projects as you can to get ideas. Note that interface design is often limited by the tools you are using to create the module (i.e. Macromedia Director has different limitations to HTML.)

2. Content design: Where is the content and what format is it in? What is the best way to present it? Just because you have 40 pages of text doesn't mean that's the best way to present it to the audience that's viewing the material. Again, look at existing examples.

3. Assemble and edit content: Once you have the interface and content, you have to create the graphics for the interface, edit the text, maybe even create illustrations, animations or video to go with it. This may require a range of tools and skills.

4. Program/assemble module: This requires some knowledge of an authoring tool (such as Director) or HTML programming. I'd think about starting using HTML. While there's lots of limitations in what you can do with HTML and a browser, you can get a surprising amount done. Also, the WYSIWYG editors such as FrontPage make it much easier. You may not be able to create as polished a project as you could with Director, but the learning curve is much shorter.


Q: For a college assessment course I have been asked to create an information system for a local art gallery to be installed in their entrance hall. The system should allow the visitor to search for a particular piece of work describe the works history, and give visual and verbal instructions on how the work can be located, (by touching the screen.)

Can you help me! or direct me to a source of help? I know how to get the information for sound, animation, video, etc. but don't know how to put it together


A: As luck would have it, I'm working on a Museum exhibition piece right at the moment. It sounds very like your project!

You're request is kind of nonspecific; what exactly are you looking for help in? It sounds like you're trying to decide what software to use to build the production. I'm using Macromedia Director because it's the program I'm most familiar with; but there are other multimedia authoring tools you could probably use; what do you have experience with?

Interestingly, the project I'm working on has to also go up on the web. We originally thought of just creating a browser based presentation and running that in the kiosk, but Director let's you create a much more sophisticated production (though this does mean we have to duplicate some effort by writing a script to export the presentation from Director to the web.)

If you're looking for design help, then I recommend you go out and look at examples (and then copy the ideas you like best!) You'll need to think about navigation; how will people find things? Touch screens don't make text entry much fun; we're using an index with major categories and then screens of icons for a lot of the stuff, as well as an interactive Map.

You'll probably also want to create an attract-loop; a presentation that runs after several minutes of inactivity that attracts the passerby to come over and play.

There's lots to think about, and each project will have subtle differences, but try and find some examples of existing projects and learn from those before you start designing your project.


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