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Digital Media Applications
(Audio, Photography & video)

Technical Report
Compiled by Meg Garven MM2 Digital Media Components (Event 1)

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The last forty years has seen a massive change in audio and visual media. The emergence of digital media has overtaken many forms of analogue media in terms of both immediacy and quality; from conventional audio, photography and video (including television broadcasting). More forms of media are accessible to the general public than ever before, out of just the hands of professionals to the enthusiasts. It is vital as a design company that we embrace new technology not only for survival in a cut throat world but to emerge as an innovative force for the future.



1. Audio..................................................................................5 1.1 Commonly used software and hardware ......................5 1.2 Characteristics of file types and compression techniques...........................6 1.3 Applications and Examples............................................7 1.4. Delivery Options...........................................................10 1.5. Future Trends................................................................11 2.1 Commonly used software and hardware ....................11 2.2. Characteristics of file types and compression techniques........................15 2.3. Applications and examples..........................................16 2.4 Future Trends................................................................17 3.1 Commonly used software and hardware ....................17 3.2. Characteristics of file types and compression techniques........................18 3.3 Applications and examples...........................................19 3.4 Future Trends................................................................19 4.0. Benefits (ROI)...............................................................19 5.0 References.....................................................................19


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Figure 1 The Eiger Labs MPMan F10 Figure 2 An MP3 CD player (Philips Expanium) Figure 3 Apple iPod, the best-selling hard drive- based player Figure 4 TASCAM's new X-48 is the world's first standalone 48-track Hybrid Hard Disk Workstation Figure 5 AKAI MPC-2500 digital audio workstation sampler Figure 6 Zoom MRS-802BCD Hard disk recorder Figure 7- Audacity - Audio editing software Figure 8- AVS Audio Tools Figure 9 - Audio Editor Plus (screen) Figure 10 - Canon PowerShot A95 with Compact Flash card loaded Figure 11 - Canon EOS 30D (SLR) Figure 12 - A Hasselblad 503CW with a digital camera back Figure 13 - Samsung debuts five mega pixel camera phone with 3X optical zoom, ISO controls Figure 14 - Sony unveils Qualia - Ultra compact digital camera Figure 15 - Corel's Paint shop Pro software Figure 16 - Mac Digital Photography software Figure 17 - Adobe Photoshop CS2 software Figure 18 - SONY DSR-570WSP Professional camera Figure 19 - Panasonic NV-GX7 DV camera Figure 20 - Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000 16 9 8

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Digital Media Applications
1. Audio
1.1 Commonly used software and hardware A digital audio player (DAP) is a device that stores, organizes and plays audio files. DAPs often play many additional file formats. Some formats are proprietary, such as Windows Media Audio (WMA), and to a degree, Advanced Audio Coding (AAC) and MP3. Other formats are completely patent-free or otherwise open, such as Ogg Vorbis, FLAC, Speex (all part of the Ogg open multimedia project), and Module file formats. There are three main types of digital audio players:
 Flash-based Players - These are solid state devices that hold digital audio files

on internal or external media, such as memory cards.
 Hard Drive-based Players or Digital Jukeboxes - Devices that read digital audio

files from a hard drive.
 MP3 CD Players - Devices that can play audio files from a CD-ROM in addition

audio CDs1

Figure 2 The Eiger Labs MPMan F10 1

Figure 2 An MP3 CD player (Philips Expanium)


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Figure 3 Apple iPod, the best-selling hard drive- based player


Characteristics of file types and compression techniques

1.2.1. Free and Open File Formats • wav - standard audio file format used mainly in Windows PCs. Commonly used for storing uncompressed (PCM), CD-quality sound files, which means that they can be large in size - around 10MB per minute of music. • ogg - a free, open source container format supporting a variety of codecs.the most popular of which is the audio codec Vorbis. • flac - a lossless compression codec. You can think of lossless compression as like zip but for audio. If you compress a PCM file to flac and then restore it again it will be a perfect copy of the original. (All the other codecs discussed here are lossy which means a small part of the quality is lost). The cost of this losslessness is that the compression ratio is not good. • aiff - the standard audio file format used by Apple. It is like a wav file for the Mac. • raw - a raw file can contain audio in any codec but is usually used with PCM audio data. It is rarely used except for technical tests. • au - the standard audio file format used by Sun, Unix and Java. The audio in au files can be PCM or compressed with the μ-law, a-μlaw or G729 codecs. 1.2.2 Open File Formats

• mp3 - the MPEG Layer-3 format is the most popular format for downloading and storing music. By eliminating portions of the audio file that are essentially inaudible, mp3 files are compressed to roughly one-tenth the size of an equivalent PCM file while maintaining good audio quality. • gsm - designed for telephony use in Europe, gsm is a very practical format for telephone quality voice. It makes a good compromise between file size and quality. Note that wav files can also be encoded with the gsm codec.


• dct - A variable codec format designed for dictation. It has dictation header information and can be encrypted (often required by medical confidentiality laws). • vox - the vox format most commonly uses the Dialogic ADPCM (Adaptive Differential Pulse Code Modulation) codec. Similar to other ADPCM formats, it compresses to 4-bits. Vox format files are similar to wave files except that the vox files contain no information about the file itself so the codec sample rate and number of channels must first be specified in order to play a vox file. • aac - the Advanced Audio Coding format is based on the MPEG2 and MPEG4 standards. aac files are usually ADTS or ADIF containers. • mp4/m4a - MPEG-4 audio most often AAC but sometimes MP2/MP3 Proprietary Formats


• wma - the popular Windows Media Audio format owned by Microsoft. Designed with Digital Rights Management (DRM) abilities for copy protection. • atrac (.wav) - the older style Sony ATRAC format. It always has a .wav file extension. To open these files simply install the ATRAC3 drivers. • ra - a Real Audio format designed for streaming audio over the Internet. The .ra format allows files to be stored in a self-contained fashion on a computer, with all of the audio data contained inside the file itself. • ram - a text file that contains a link to the Internet address where the Real Audio file is stored. The .ram file contains no audio data itself. • dss - Digital Speech Standard files are an Olympus proprietary format. It is a fairly old and poor codec. Prefer gsm or mp3 where the recorder allows. It allows additional data to be held in the file header. • msv - a Sony proprietary format for Memory Stick compressed voice files.

• dvf - a Sony proprietary format for compressed voice files; commonly used by Sony dictation recorders. • m4p - A proprietary version of AAC in MP4 with Digital Rights Management developed by Apple for use in music downloaded from their iTunes Music Store.2 1.3 Applications and Examples

1.3.1. Software There are different kinds of digital audio applications and can be divided into three main categories: a) Samplers, b) hard disk recorders and c) CD burners and MP3 encoders.


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A sampler is an electronic instrument that uses digital recordings to either reconstruct existing instruments or build new ones. The software sampler is he most affordable solution of all. 1.3.3. Stereo Hard Disk Recording Along with sequencing, files can be opened, edited and saved as well as convert sample rates, apply equalization and effects and normalize tracks. 1.3.4. Multi-Track Hard Disk Recording While programs like Bias Peak and Sound Studio place a stereo tape deck on your hard disk, other applications provide multiple tracks for overdubbing audio and mixing it later 1.3.5. CD Burners and MP3 Encoders Rippin’ and burnin’ CD burners and MP3 encoders are definitely closer to digital audio recorders than samplers. Given their prominence as of late though.3

Figure 4 TASCAM's new X-48 is the world's first standalone 48-track Hybrid Hard Disk Workstation



Figure 6 Zoom MRS-802BCD Hard disk recorder

1.3.6. • • • • • • •

Examples of Audio Software

Audacity iTunes QuickTime Pro Deck Performer Goldwave Multiquence 4

Figure 7- Audacity - Audio editing software

Figure 8- AVS Audio Tools


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Figure 9 - Audio Editor Plus (screen)


Delivery Options

Once analog audio is digitized, institutions have the option of delivering the audio files through the Web for listening or downloading, and/or they may want to provide delivery to on-site patrons. Institutions should consider the needs of their user groups before deciding upon delivery options. 1.4.1. On-site Delivery For public listening stations, think in terms of disposability: public units suffer much wear and tear. Generally, purchasing and maintaining a computer is more costly than using “personal” style CD or MP3 players available at discount stores for less than $100 per unit. A good unit will come with a power supply and headphones, and will also have a display capable of showing some of the basic text metadata embedded into the MP3 files. Headphones generally provide the most manageable way for patrons to listen to the audio without interrupting other users, and patrons will need access to a software panel to control the volume of the audio. Audio workstations should be outfitted with these basics: • Hardware: Each audio workstation requires a sound card, a CD-ROM drive, a network connection of some type— for audio accessed via a local network or the Internet— and headphones. • Software: Each workstation should have a software audio player, such as Windows Media Player, QuickTime, Winamp or RealPlayer etc., that is capable of playing a wide variety of audio formats, including CD audio, MP3 files, and streaming media. 1.4.2. Online Delivery It is important to note that the needs of users should drive the technology decisions, and not the other way around. While it is also important to consider the technology support that is available from institution, the needs of users should drive format decisions. There are presently two predominant ways of distributing audio via the Internet: streaming and downloading.


Streaming Audio is available in a number of proprietary formats, including Real media, Windows Media, QuickTime and others. To provide streaming media, an authoring package, available through one of the above vendors, is needed to prepare the audio for streaming. Downloading the complete audio files is the simplest way of making your audio files available over the Internet, perhaps as MP3 files. By making the files available as a download, access is needed to a basic Web server— either in-house or via an Internet service provider— but no other special server hardware or software requirements are necessary. 1.4.3. Pod casting Although downloading audio files over the Internet has been available for years, the explosion of portable MP3 players— particularly Apple’s iPod— that allow users to play files at their convenience, has created a demand for online distribution of audio files. A pod cast is simply an audio recording posted for download, and can be coupled with RSS (really simple syndication) to allow users to subscribe to desired Web content and automatically receive updates that are downloaded to portable music players.5 1.5. Future Trends

New digital audio services like satellite radio, online radio, HD radio, and pod casting with new subscription and data service business models are changing the way consumers listen to radio. All four digital audio markets will grow steadily — by 2010, 20.1 million households will listen to satellite radio and 12.3 million households will synchronize pod casts to their MP3 players. Broadcasters and music labels must learn to deal with this new, fragmented audience. The keys to success will be subscriptions, ad targeting, and monetizing the many ways that digital audio will be consumed.6

2. Photography
Digital photography, as opposed to film photography, uses electronic devices to record and capture the image as binary data. This facilitates storage and editing of the images on personal computers, and also the ability to show and delete unsuccessful images immediately on the camera or software itself. Digital cameras now outsell film cameras and include features that are not found in film cameras such as the ability to shoot video and record audio. Some other devices, such as mobile phones, include digital photography features.7 2.1 Commonly used software and hardware

2.1.1. Compact digital cameras


. . . . . . . . The compact is the biggest selling class in both digital and conventional . .

cameras. The benefits are easy to see, the cameras are relatively small and offer good quality images. The range is large from basic budget fixed lens cameras to high end cameras with zoom lens and larger mega pixels (better quality). They are characterized by great ease in operation and easy focusing; some models allow for limited motion picture capability. They tend to have significantly smaller zooms than DSLR cameras. They have an extended depth of field. This allows objects at a larger range of depths to be in focus, which accounts for much of their ease of use. It is also part of the reason professional photographers find their images flat or artificial-looking. They excel in landscape photography and casual use. They typically save pictures in only the JPEG file format. All but the cheapest models have a built-in flash. 2.1.2. Phone and PDA Cameras Original phones with camera facilities were pretty rudimentary in terms of quality and performance. However these have rapidly developed. They are primarily used for quick photos where great quality is not an issue. However you can instantly share these photographs by sending them instantaneously to family and friends. 2.1.3. Ultra Compact Cameras Using the camera electronics and lens from a mobile phone and putting them in a more conventional casing gives an ultra compact camera. The bulk of cameras of this type is the batteries. Battery technology has not caught up in terms of miniaturization. Benefit is they are so small they can be sold on key rings, the downside is you generally need to connect to a computer to view and download images.8 2.1.4. Digital single lens reflex cameras A digital single-lens reflex camera (digital SLR or DSLR) is a digital camera that operates on the same optical and mechanical principles as a modern electronic auto focus 35mm film single-lens reflex camera. The key difference is that the film is replaced with a CCD or CMOS image sensor plus accompanying electronics, thus creating images digitally in-camera, without the need to first chemically develop a latent image on film.9 These cameras tend to have the highest resolutions and offer the optimum in image quality. They also allow rapid shooting than most other camera with motor drive capability and most models allow lens interchange. They are mainly used by professionals and serious amateur photographers and tend to be expensive. There is a small niche in the market of SLR-style cameras that sit between the compact and the SLR. They generally feature an electronic viewfinder rather than an optical one and feature a fixed zoom lens. 10


2.1.5. Digital rangefinders A rangefinder is a focusing mechanism once widely used on film cameras, but much less common in digital cameras. The term rangefinder alone is often used to mean a rangefinder camera, that is, a camera equipped with a rangefinder. These type of cameras are very useful in travel photography, they are very quiet and discrete. The downside is that they do not use zoom lens but a range of fixed lens, not so convenient but ensures very good quality particularly in low light conditions. 2.1.6. Professional modular digital camera systems This category includes very high end professional equipment that that can be assembled from modular components (winders, grips, lenses, etc.) to suit particular purposes. Common makes include Hasselblad and Mamiya. They were developed for medium or large format film sizes, as these captured greater detail and could be enlarged more than 35mm. Typically these cameras are used in studios for commercial production; being bulky and awkward to carry they are rarely used in action or nature photography. They can often be converted into either film or digital use by changing out the back part of the unit, hence the use of terms such as a "digital back" or "film back." These cameras are very expensive (up to $40,000) and are typically not seen in the hands of consumers.11


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Figure 10 - Canon PowerShot A95 with Compact Flash card loaded

Figure 11 - Canon EOS 30D (SLR)

Figure 12 - A Hasselblad 503CW with a digital camera back

Figure 13 - Samsung debuts five mega pixel camera phone with 3X optical zoom, ISO controls


Figure 14 - Sony unveils Qualia - Ultra compact digital camera


Characteristics of file types and compression techniques

Exchangeable image file format (Exif) is a set of file formats specified for use in digital cameras. This specifies the use of TIFF for the highest quality format and JPEG as a space-saving but lower quality format. Many low-end cameras can deliver only JPEG files. Another format, particularly found on digital SLRs and other high-end digital cameras, is the RAW image format, which is not standardized. A large variety of data storage device formats are used in consumer digital cameras: * Secure Digital card (SD) * Compact Flash (CF-I and CF-II) * Memory Stick * Multi Media Card (MMC) * Smart Media * xD-Picture Card (xD) * MiniSD Card * microSD card * USB flash drive Most manufacturers of digital cameras do not provide drivers and software to allow their cameras to work with Linux or other free software. Still, many cameras use the standard USB storage protocol, and are thus easily usable. Other cameras are supported by the gPhoto project.12


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Applications and examples

There are endless applications for digital photography from the professional to amateur. The majority of professional news photographers now capture their images digitally, due to its speed. Advertising, commercial photography, wedding photography and photo artists also use digital to enable pictures to be manipulated either fixing the photographs e.g. getting rid of ‘Red Eye’ to adding colour, cropping the image, adding art effects, improving reality and photo montage using various software packages available, e.g. Adobe Photoshop.

Figure 15 - Corel's Paint shop Pro software

Figure 16 - Mac Digital Photography software

Figure 17 - Adobe Photoshop CS2 software



Future Trends

Lighting, optics, sensors, processing, storage, and display and software are all advancing. Here are a few examples. * 3D models can be created from collections of normal images. The resulting scene can be viewed from novel viewpoints, but creating the model is very compute-intensive. Microsoft's Photosynth is available with models of famous places.[9] * High Dynamic Range cameras and displays are commercially available. >120 decibel sensors are in development. You can create your own HDR images, with a non-HDR camera, by combining multiple exposures. * Motion blur can be dramatically removed by a flutter shutter (a flickering shutter which adds a signature to the blur, which post processing can recognize).[10] It is not yet commercially available. * An object's specular reflection can be captured using computer controlled lights and sensors. This is needed to create attractive images of oil paintings, for instance. It is not yet commercially available, but is starting to be used by museums.13

3. Digital Video
3.1 Commonly used software and hardware Video cameras are classified as devices whose main purpose is to record moving images.
 Professional video cameras such as those used in television and movie

production. These typically have multiple image sensors (one per color) to enhance resolution and color gamut. Professional video cameras usually do not have a built-in VCR or microphone.
 Camcorders used by amateurs. They generally include a microphone to record

sound, and feature a small liquid crystal display to watch the video during taping and playback.
 Webcams are digital cameras attached to computers, used for video

conferencing or other purposes. Webcams can capture full-motion video as well, and some models include microphones or zoom ability. In addition, many Live-Preview Digital cameras have a "movie" mode, in which images are continuously acquired at a frame rate sufficient for video.14


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Figure 18 - SONY DSR-570WSP Professional camera

Figure 19 - Panasonic NV-GX7 DV camera

Figure 20 - Logitech QuickCam Pro 4000


Characteristics of file types and compression techniques

Formats for video are AVI, DV, MPEG, MOV (often containing motion JPEG), WMV, and ASF (basically the same as WMV). Recent formats include MP4, which is based on the QuickTime format and uses newer compression algorithms to allow longer recording times in the same space. Other formats that are used in cameras but not for pictures are the Design Rule for Camera Format (DCF), an ISO specification for the camera's internal file structure and naming, Digital Print Order Format (DPOF), which dictates what order images are to be printed in and how many copies, and the


Exchangeable Image File Format (Exif), which uses metadata tags to document the camera settings and date and time for image files.15 3.3 Applications and examples


Future Trends


Benefits (ROI)



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