MODULE 1: Lessons 1 to 5

>Learning Outcome 1:

On completion, you should be able to identify the electronic components of digital media

>Module 1 Exercise.

room.jpgYour company, Curious Design Consultants ( has commissioned its Design Department to prepare a technical background report to provide information that will assist the company to expand its print based products and services to include other media that include audio, photography and video. Your manager has asked you to prepare (i) the report and (ii) a summary of its key points for presentation to the company's Board. In addition the Manager would like you to develop (iii) a timeline illustrating the historical development of digital media.

Exercise Assessment

(i) Report evaluation guidelines:
Wide range of information sources and materials used 20%
Ability to sort, organize and present information 30%
Use of images, diagrams etc. to support text 10%
Presentation of information in technical report format 30%
Innovative report design 10%
(ii) First Person Presentation guidelines:
Clear presentation of key points. 50%
Innovative design 50%
(iii) Timeline evaluation guidelines:
Number of events (min. 4 per media) 25%
Quality of content 25%
Organisation of content 25%
Innovative use of graphics, etc. 25%

>1. Technical Background Reports.

This type of report provides information on a technical topic but in such a way that is adapted for a particular audience that has specific needs for that information. It selects information about the topic suited to a specific group of readers who had specific needs and uses for the information. The technical background report does not have a common set of contents. Because it focuses on a specific technical topic for specific audiences who have specific needs or uses for the information, it grabs at whatever type of contents it needs to get the job done. The essential components of a technical report are:
  • Title page
  • Table of contents
  • List of figures
  • Abstract
  • Body of the report
  • Appendices
  • Information sources
Visit this site for information on formatting technical reports:
Visit this site to review a technical report on DVD Technology and Applications.

>2. Key Points Presentation

example of a "personalised" PowerPoint presentation

>3. Timelines

A timeline is a graphical representation of key events for a subject within a particular historical period, often consisting of illustrative visual material accompanied by written commentary and arranged chronologically. The purpose of the timeline is to be able to compare and contrast important events in the illustrated period.
The following example of a timeline for a "History of Surfing" was developed using the XTimeline web service at


Digital Audio

Read, listen or download this overview of digital audio.

Audio Exercise:

1. Develop the Digital Audio section of your technical report using the following topic headings:
  • Commonly used software and hardware (input and output).
  • Characteristics of file types and compression techniques.
  • Applications and examples.
  • Delivery options.
  • Future trends
2. Using the XTimeline web service commence the creation of your timeline by illustrating the milestones in the development of digital audio.
3. Prepare a PowerPoint presentation summarising your report's key points and upload the presentation to and embed in your wikispace. The presentation must be written in the first person using photos of yourself as the presenter.
Here is an example of a first person PowerPoint presentation.

Exercise References
How Analog and Digital Recording Works
Input and output article
Audio article.includes sampling mp3 etc


Digital Photography

(Following notes from Wikipedia)
A digital image is a representation of a two-dimensional image as a finite set of digital values, called picture elements or pixels. The digital image contains a fixed number of rows and columns of pixels. Pixels are the smallest individual element in an image, holding quantized values that represent the brightness of a given colour at any specific point.
Typically, the pixels are stored in computer memory as a raster image or raster map, a two-dimensional array of small integers. These values are often transmitted or stored in a compressed form.
Digital images can be created by a variety of input devices and techniques, such as digital cameras, scanners..

Image compression

is the application of Data compression on digital images. In effect, the objective is to reduce redundancy of the image data in order to be able to store or transmit data in an efficient form.Image compression can be lossy or lossless. Lossless compression is sometimes preferred for artificial images such as technical drawings, icons or comics. This is because lossy compression methods, especially when used at low bit rates, introduce compression artifacts. Lossless compression methods may also be preferred for high value content, such as medical imagery or image scans made for archival purposes. Lossy methods are especially suitable for natural images such as photos in applications where minor (sometimes imperceptible) loss of fidelity is acceptable to achieve a substantial reduction in bit rate.

Common Image Types

GIF is used extensively on the web. Supports animated images. Supports only 255 colors per frame, so requires lossy quantization for full-color photos (dithering); using multiple frames can improve color precision. Uses lossless LZW compression, which used to make GIF sometimes undesirable due to LZW patent (now expired) issues.
JPEG is used extensively for photos and other continuous tone images on the web. Uses lossy compression by trying to equalize eight by eight pixel blocks; the quality can vary greatly depending on the compression settings.
PNG is an image format with lossless compression, offering bit depths from 1 to 48. It was mainly designed to replace the use of GIF on the web. Free of the patent, which expired in 2003, associated with GIF

Photography Exercise

1. Develop the Digital Photography section of your technical report using the following topic headings:
  • Commonly used software and hardware (input and processing).
  • Characteristics of file types and compression techniques.
  • Applications and examples.
  • Future trends
2. Include the milestones in the development of digital photography in your report's timeline.

Exercise References
Excellent article on digital camera processes
A guide to digital imaging
Photography timeline (only to 1990) and history of photography


Digital Video

Digital video is a type of video recording system that works by using a digital, rather than analog, representation of the video signal. This generic term is not to be confused with the name DV, which is a specific type of digital video targeted at the consumer market. Digital video is most often recorded on tape, then distributed on optical discs, usually DVDs. There are exceptions, such as camcorders that record directly to DVDs, Digital8 camcorders which encode digital video on conventional analog tapes, and other high-end camcorders which record digital video on hard disks or flash memory.


Digital video was first introduced in 1983 with the Sony D-1 format, which recorded an uncompressed standard definition component video signal in digital form instead of the high-band analog forms that had been commonplace until then. Due to the expense, D-1 was used primarily by large television networks. It would eventually be replaced by cheaper systems using compressed data, most notably Sony's Digital Betacam, still heavily used as a field recording format by professional television producers.
Consumer digital video first appeared in the form of QuickTime, Apple Computer's architecture for time-based and streaming data formats, which appeared in crude form around 1990. Initial consumer-level content creation tools were crude, requiring an analog video source to be digitized to a computer-readable format. While low-quality at first, consumer digital video increased rapidly in quality, first with the introduction of playback standards such as MPEG-1 and MPEG-2 (adopted for use in television transmission and DVD media), and then the introduction of the DV tape format allowing recording direct to digital data and simplifying the editing process, allowing non-linear editing systems to be deployed wholly on desktop computers.

Video Exercise

1. Develop the Digital Video section of your technical report using the following topic headings:
  • Commonly used software and hardware (input and processing).
  • Characteristics of file types and compression techniques.
  • Applications and examples.
  • Future trends
2. Include the milestones in the development of digital video in your report's timeline.

Exercise References
Basic Principles of Digital Video
Digital video
DVD article


Report finalisation + Timeline creation + Presentation development

Timeline Creation

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Timeline example


Presentation of report's findings