Copyright Michael Karbo, Denmark, Europe.

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    Sound and video have quietly and calmly crept into computers in recent years. In the beginning the word multimedia was used, a word which has gradually slipped into the background during the last few years, but this is, in fact, the subject of this booklet because we are going to look at digital sound and video in all of their forms – including DVD.

    We are going to deal with subjects like:

  • Sound cards and sampling. Sound formats like audio CDs, mp3 and MiniDiscs. Music with MIDI.

  • Working with video, both from analog and digital sources. Including video grabbing (capturing, for example, VHS videos in computers).

  • Codecs for sound and video. Software for sound and video editing. Storage of video, etc. in VCD format.

  • The possibilities of DVD.

    So many subjects might seem confusing but it is my intention to show that there is a connection between them. You have to (unfortunately) understand the techniques – whether they have something to do with hardware, software or media formats – to get the best out of working with multimedia in computers.

    The booklet’s structure

    In the booklet’s first part, I give a general description of the phenomenon sound and not least sound recording and sound reproduction. Its purpose is to show how digital sound works.

    In part two, we are going to concentrate on computer sound systems with sound cards, mp3 files, different types of software, etc. Much of this is attached to the popular sound card from Creative.

    The third part is about video recording and finally sound and image are put together in the DVD format, which is described in the booklet’s fourth part. At the end of the booklet, you can find some good advice about setting up Windows and the computer’s hardware plus a little glossary of word explanations.

    There is an advantage in reading this booklet in continuation of my two previous publications, ”Digital Camera - from A to Z” and ”Photo editing from A to Z”. Together, the three booklets are a trilogy, which thoroughly throws light on working with sound and images in computers, including an examination of good software, which is free of charge.

    Copying – legal or illegal

    If you write about digital sound and video, then you cannot avoid getting into the subject of copying. All types of data are suitable for (that is to say made for) copying again and again; which can be done completely without loss.

    Copying without loss, where the copy is 100% identical with the original, is a completely fundamental principle in a computer world. And when we users suddenly gain access to digitalised copies of music and film on normal computers – then it is obviously tempting to make copies.

    There is just one problem when copying music and film, which is that it collides with the artists’ copyrights. When you buy an audio-CD or a DVD with a James Bond film, then you buy it for your own personal use. In some cases, you can make a copy  – you have after all paid for the right to use the artist’s work. Unfortunately legislation has been very unclear and varies a lot from country to country, and it still seems sporadically ill considered and unrealistic. But changes are being made all the time in this area, and it looks like, it will all end at a sensible level, showing both consideration for the reasonable demands and requirements of normal users and the legitimate rights of the artists.

    When I wrote the articles in this booklet, everything I did was legal. I can’t guarantee that it will be legal for you to make copies of your films and CDs in one or another way. You will have to check it up and take the responsibility yourself.


    A big thank you to the companies Creative, Terra­tec, Pinnacle and Boston for helping with the various hardware and software.

    Michael Karbo, April 2003

    Web edition September 2006

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