A directory of resources inthe field of technical communication.


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Accessible Podcasting: College Students on the Margins in the New Media Classroom   (peer-reviewed)

Students with disabilities are in danger of being either excluded from the new media revolution or accommodated as after-thoughts of pedagogies that fail to anticipate their needs. Too often, our excitement about new media, even when that excitement is tempered by sober reflection, leaves intact a set of normative assumptions about students’ bodies, minds, and abilities. These assumptions operate behind the scenes. They are activated readily and unconsciously as beliefs about how well or poorly students move, see, hear, think, learn, know, act, and use specific technologies. Normative or so-called “ableist” assumptions about our students – e.g. that they hear, see, and move well enough or in certain anticipated ways to engage directly with course learning tools — threaten to undermine our commitments to accessibility and inclusivity.

Zdenek, Sean. Accessible Rhetoric (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Accessibility>Education


Adding High-Impact Filters to Your Titles

Words go so well with video. They can give an emotional punch to a scene or simply announce what is going to happen next. I love using romantic quotes, Bible passages, and other forms of text in my work. The best part is that you can be just as creative with how those words are presented as you are in picking out the text in the first place.

McManus, Joe. Event DV (2008). Articles>Multimedia>Image Editing>Video


Adding the Human Element in Screencasts

Screen video alone is not enough. You need to humanize your content by getting in front of the camera and engaging your audience. And no, I’m not talking about long-winded monologues either. Several 5-7 second talking-head elements can go a long way toward winning over and maintaining the interest of your audience.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Screencasting


Adobe Captivate 4: Backup, Backup, Backup

As simple as the concept of backing up your work might be, I am constantly surprised when I hear from even veteran Captivate developers that a project has become corrupt (the project, which was fine yesterday, won't open today). The fix? If the project won't open, there's a good chance that the only thing anyone can do is copy a backup project to the local disk and then open the backup. Oh, you don't have a backup? Ouch!

Siegel, Kevin A. Blogs.com (2009). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Adobe Captivate


Animated Expressions: Expressive Style in 3D Computer Graphic Narrative Animation   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

The development of 3D animation systems has been driven primarily by a hyper-realist ethos, and 3D computer graphic (CG) features have broadly complied with this agenda. As a counterpoint to this trend, some researchers, technologists and animation artists have explored the possibility of creating more expressive narrative output from 3D animation environments. This article explores 3D animation aesthetics, technology and culture in this context.

Power, Pat. Animation (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Human Computer Interaction>Video


Apocalypse? Not Now: Three Myths of New Media

The Internet explosion has spawned quite a few popular myths, and some Eye readers may not know what to believe. I'd like to offer my dismantling of what may be the top three misperceptions.

Raymond, Eric S. Editorial Eye, The (1996). Articles>Cyberculture>Multimedia


Apple Didn't Kill Flash, HTML5 Did

For most end-users, the debate over Flash is largely a debate about web video. Yes, Flash is used in other ways — for web-based games and ever-decreasingly in website design — but thanks in large part to YouTube, Flash is most commonly associated with web video. Web video is overwhelmingly encoded in H.264. Not only is the H.264 codec the default encoding setting for practically every video service online, it is also by and large the default codec for raw video from digital video cameras.

Warren, Christina. Mashable (2010). Articles>Web Design>Multimedia>HTML5


Architectural Considerations in Digital Asset Management

What is the proper foundation for an enterprise-scale Digital Asset Management (DAM) system? How much of that system should be part of an organizations shared infrastructure and how much should be tailor-made to a specific application? There is no single answer to these questions, but changes in the technology industry are forcing everyonevendors and customers aliketo change their assumptions about how DAM systems will be built. This paper explains how the content-management infrastructure is changing, why that matters to DAM, and what benefits can be derived from leveraging a content infrastructure for DAM. Examples from an enterprise implementation at the University of Michigan illustrate the types of architectural issues and requirements that affect platform choices when selecting a digital asset management system.

Walter, Mark. Gilbane Report (2004). Articles>Content Management>Multimedia


Are AVCHD Camcorders the Next HD Lie?

When I first read about the AVCHD format with its use of MPEG4-AVC (H.264) video compression at a maximum of 24 mbps versus HDV which uses the older MPEG-2 format at 25 mbps, I was very excited about the new format. My enthusiasm dampened when I read the fine print that actual AVCHD implementation only uses 13 to 17 mbps MPEG4-AVC for compatibility with cheaper storage devices. Take a look at the screenshots below and it pains me to see how much detail is lost in the newer HD format.

Ou, George. ZDNet (2008). Articles>Multimedia>Video>Standards


Audio Recording of Workshops and Seminars

The AHDS made audio recordings of recent seminars with the aim of transcribing the recordings, and presented them to seminar chairs to facilitate their task of completing reports on each event. This case study looks at some of the issues that occurred as the AHDS recorded and transcribed the material from these seminars. While its findings are based on roundtable seminars, some of them may also be of use to those doing other types of audio recording - interviews, field notes etc.

AHDS (2006). Articles>Collaboration>Multimedia>Audio


Behringer Multitrack Audio Mixer

Introduces how to perform multimedia audio mixing and editing using a Behringer multitrack mixer.

Pratt, Andrew and Dave Long. Studio for New Media (2004). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Audio


Best Practices: Six AIR Features that May Annoy Your Users

I get to see and play with a lot of really cool AIR applications (even when they’re still being developed). Every now and then I come across an app that totally ignores any best practices or usability rules. AIR provides developers with a lot of features that could potentially annoy users if not used wisely. I thought it was a good idea to write this article. I’m not saying you shouldn’t use these features, I just want you to think about them before you add them to your application.

Jespers, Serge. Web Kitchen (2008). Articles>Web Design>Multimedia>Flash


Bring on Rich Media   (PDF)   (members only)

Technical communicators must adapt to the changing dynamics presented by the addition of rich media in the technical documentation space. Discover some suggestions for how to do so.

Ortega, Dan. Intercom (2008). Articles>Documentation>Multimedia>Flash


Building a Custom HTML5 Video Player with CSS3 and jQuery

The HTML5 VIDEO element is already supported by most modern browsers, and even IE has support announced for version 9. There are many advantages of having video embedded natively in the browser (covered in the article Introduction to HTML5 video by Bruce Lawson), so many developers are trying to use it as soon as possible. There are a couple of barriers to this that remain, most notably the problem of which codecs are supported in each browser, with a disagreement between Opera/Firefox and IE/Safari. That might not be a problem for much longer though, with Google recently releasing the VP8 codec, and the WebM project coming into existence. Opera, Firefox, Chrome and IE9 all have support in final builds, developer builds, or at least support announced for this format, and Flash will be able to play VP8. This means that we will soon be able to create a single version of the video that will play in the VIDEO element in most browsers, and the Flash Player in those that don't support WebM natively.

Colceriu, Cristian-Ionut. Opera (2010). Articles>Web Design>Multimedia>HTML5


Canon GL2 Digital Camcorder

Introduces developing multimedia using the 'prosumer' Canon GL2 digital camcorder.

Knox, Jessica and Maja Grgurovic. Studio for New Media (2006). Articles>Multimedia>Video


Captioning Tools

Before looking at tools, please look at the DMCP Captioning Key to get familiar with captioning standards.

Creswell, Bill. WordPress (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Accessibility>Software


Captions and Audio Descriptions for PC Multimedia

This article discusses the various types of captions, when to use captions, as well as the various types of audio descriptions.

Microsoft (2002). Articles>Multimedia>Documentation


Captions: Understand DVD Shows

A few years ago, while watching a movie and trying to hear dialogue that was drowned out by background noise - and was spoken by a character who was nearly incomprehensible even in a quiet room - I found that most DVD movies had subtitles available in several languages. Lurking among the offerings of Spanish, French and sometimes others, I found English.

Brown, Lonnie. Ledger, The (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Accessibility>DVD


Captivate Versus Camtasia Studio

I’ve been exploring Captivate lately because I wanted to translate some screencasts for a project I’m undertaking. It turns out, Captivate doesn’t work so well for screencasting. Slide-based eLearning, sure. But when you have a lengthy software simulation, it fails because you can’t edit the audio while watching the video play. Really? Yes. Really.

Johnson, Tom H. I'd Rather Be Writing (2010). Articles>Multimedia>Software>Screencasting


Captivate: Change the Autotext for Captions

One small thing that’s annoyed me about Captivate ever since I started using it to create software demos is the default text. It starts off being a proper sentence, but doesn’t have closing punctuation (e.g. Select the [blah] menu). I’ve never bothered to investigate if I could change it--as I said, it’s a small annoyance.

CyberText Consulting (2009). Articles>Multimedia>Screen Captures>Adobe Captivate


Capturing Audio and Video in HTML5

It might not be apparent, but the rise of HTML5 has brought a surge of access to device hardware. Geolocation (GPS), the Orientation API (accelerometer), WebGL (GPU), and the Web Audio API (audio hardware) are perfect examples. These features are ridiculously powerful, exposing high level JavaScript APIs that sit on top of the system's underlying hardware capabilities. This tutorial introduces a new API, navigator.getUserMedia(), which allows web apps to access a user's camera and microphone.

Bidelman, Eric. HTML5 Rocks (2012). Articles>Web Design>Multimedia>HTML5


CD-ROM Publishing: Personal Coaching From Industry Experts   (PDF)

Are you considering publishing your documentation on CD-ROM? Sign up for a consultation with experts from leading CD-ROM firms. NOTE: This 'workshop' takes place in individual 15-minute one-on-one sessions. Please try to arrive early and sign up for your time slot; then you're on your own (visit the exhibits? call your office?) until your session time. This way, all participants receive the complete attention of a CD-ROM consultant. We'll work with drop-ins if any time slots remain unassigned.

Gale, John, Stephanie L. Rosenbaum and Pamela Sansbury. STC Proceedings (1994). Articles>Multimedia>CD ROM


Challenges of Multimedia Self-Presentation: Taking, and Mistaking, the Show on the Road   (peer-reviewed)   (members only)

One privilege enjoyed by new-media authors is the opportunity to realize representations of Self that are rich textual worlds in themselves and also to engage the wider world, with a voice, a smile, imagery, and sound. Still, closer investigation of multimedia composition practices reveals levels of complexity with which the verbal virtuoso is unconcerned. This article argues that while technology-afforded multimedia tools make it comparatively easy to author a vivid text, it is a multiplicatively more complicated matter to vividly realize and publicize an authorial intention. Based on analysis of the digital story creation process of a youth named 'Steven,' the authors attempt to demonstrate the operation of two forces upon which the successful multimodal realization of the author's intention may hinge: 'fixity' and 'fluidity.' The authors show how, within the process of digital self-representation, these forces can intersect to influence multimodal meaning making, and an author's life, in consequential ways.

Nelson, Mark Evan, Glynda A. Hull and Jeeva Roche-Smith. Written Communication (2008). Articles>Presentations>Education>Multimedia


Clarifying Abstract Concepts Through Multimedia: Principles for Technical Communicators   (PDF)

Multimedia can sometimes convey meaning in ways that text and graphics alone cannot. This paper offers two principles for understanding how multimedia can clarify abstract concepts. The first principle is that multimedia is excellent for conveying any kind of change, such as change in quantity, size, shape, or relationship. The second principle is that multimedia can help present complex concepts by providing information in both the visual and auditory modes simultaneously. These principles can guide technical communicators in evaluating whether multimedia is a cost-effective way to present their information.

Garb, Rachel and Claudia M. Hunter. STC Proceedings (1993). Articles>TC>Multimedia>Visual Rhetoric


Clearing Rights for Multimedia Works   (members only)

The ground-breaking aspects of undertaking to create a multimedia work are more than just technological; much as the technology is growing by leaps and bounds in response to the needs of creators and consumers, so also must the methods and techniques for transferring from owners to new creators the rights to utilize existing works. As this industry began to take on form and vision, much excited speculation and wonder quickly turned to disbelief, if not outright horror, as creators began to understand what a labyrinth 'clearing rights' would be.

Harper, Georgia K. University of Texas (2003). Articles>Intellectual Property>Copyright>Multimedia



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