Multimedia developers generate and manipulate graphic images, animations, sound, text and video into consolidated and seamless multimedia programs.
Multimedia development is a relatively new and dynamic growth industry that has developed out of a blending of creative production, the arts and the increasingly innovative technical presentation techniques provided by a range of IT platforms.
Multimedia applications include computer-based, interactive training, data presentation and information kiosks, CD-ROMs, entertainment and educational products and multimedia presentations.
Multimedia developers consult with clients to determine what is required, then investigate, analyse and recommend appropriate platforms and software to achieve the clients’ objectives. They prepare flow diagrams and storyboards to outline the product concept and treatment. They prepare code (computer programs) to produce the multimedia product and prepare, in digital format, two- and three-dimensional graphic images and animations. This may involve video and sound production and editing, scanning photographs and images, retouching and manipulating images.
They may be required to prepare instructional design and screen design concepts and consult with related graphics, production and engineering experts.
Specialisation is common in the industry, although multimedia developers often perform a combination of the following roles:
Animators: design, draw, lay-out and produce animation sequences incorporated in multimedia products. Traditionally, animators have worked in film and television, but multimedia provides a new and challenging extension for creative animators. Animators may be involved in activities such as the production of storyboards and stop-motion animation (flat plane, modelling), as well as drawing cartoon and other characters in a succession of related movements to create an illusion of movement. Some further specialisation is possible, for example as a 3D graphics animator.
Author-based programmers: apply appropriate multimedia authoring technologies to conceptualise, design, assemble and integrate a variety of images, text, animation, and/or sound before selecting and applying the desired program structure to produce a multimedia end-product. This may involve writing scripts, using namespaces and packages and writing extensions. The term ‘authoring a multimedia sequence’ is sometimes used to describe these processes.
Computer-based graphics designers: use computing technology and specialist software packages to manage the production, interface and integration of various graphics and other media into the multimedia package design. This includes the design of art and copy layouts for CD-ROM and multimedia products. It is possible to further specialise and focus on specific industry sectors such as advertising, corporate design, Internet applications or exhibition design.
Digital video-sound editors: are involved in the computer-based editing of video-sound for multimedia products. Working under instruction from directors, editors make editorial decisions with regard to the mood, pace and climax of sound effects. This involves working closely with other professional staff to analyse, evaluate and select sound effects for integration with images and other mediums.
Instructional designers design and develop content and curriculum products, learning support resources and delivery / assessment methodologies. Instructional designers increasingly use the flexibility offered by multimedia applications to target specific learning objectives and audiences. The incorporation of multimedia technologies in instructional design work can provide a combination of interactivity, the management features of computer-based training, and use of the benefits of realistic audio and video.
Multimedia programmers examine systems and applications programming issues involving the conversion between platforms and the initial writing of code for incorporation of text, graphics, video, animation, digital / analogue photographs, audio and 2/3D modelling. Further specialisation is also possible, for example, video systems development programming and PC-lead programming.
Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, North-West University, University of Johannesburg, University of Limpopo, University of Pretoria, University of Stellenbosch, Vaal University of Technology, Vega School of Brand Communications