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by Steven Jeavock - GUI Computing

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MediaBlitz is a standalone creator of multimedia presentations whose creations can be invoked from C, C++, Multimedia Toolbook, Visual C++ and Visual Basic. It comes across as a well thought out and comprehensive package for incorporating sound, animation, video and cd into mm applications.

Functionally, it is divided into four elements. The ClipMaker, ScorePlayer, ScoreMaker, and utilities. Image of ClipMaker snap linked to 12kb full page preview

ClipMaker lets you create libraries of clips from media files. A clip is a marked reference to a segment from a wave audio etc. Using it's control panel you can edit, play, join segments and works something like a film editors desk.

ScoreMaker allows you to add the elements of the mm creation via a control panel screen . The basis of it is a timeline where one can see the various media as tracks that will be played. Included are the CD, MIDI, WAVE, Video/Animation and frame/bitmap tracks. It's a very simple process to add these items and assign time segments (and for bitmaps, specify screen locations via drag/drop) to them via the edit score button. Image of ScoreMaker snap linked to 12 kb full page preview

It is useful to be able to incorporate mm clips previously created with the ClipMaker during the assembling process with ScoreMaker. A nice feature with the ScoreMaker is is the ability to do fancy titling with text. These are actually saved as .bmp files and allow you to specify amongst other things; fonts, sizes, colours, alignment, background and a whole lot of manipulations including dissolve and phase between successive images.

The final piece of MediaBlitz (besides utilities) is the ScorePlayer. What it does is assemble previously created "scores" into "shows" which become the final mm presentation. A good feature of the score player is its OLE server capability. Thus we can embed or link MediaBlitz shows into OLE client (or container as the current terminology has it) applications such as Word, Excel etc. The final score also has the ability to become a screen saver which is a cute but probably dubious facility.

The utilities are BitEdit, PalEdit and WaveEdit for editing bitmaps, palettes and sound files respectively. BitEdit works roughly like MS Paintbrush except supports 20 different file formats and has more manipulative functions. It will allow you to for instance cut a particular section of the bitmap and move it to a new location, rotate it n degrees and set the background transparent so it will blend perfectly in its new spot. PalEdit allows you to create standalone color palette and edit the palette associated with a bitmap or digital image. For example, you can modify specific colours in a palette, reduce the number of colours in a palette and merge colours from several palettes. You can also use PalEdit with BitEdit to display and edit the colour palette associated with a bitmap file. WaveEdit lets you; open wave audio files of various formats; save wave audio files on Microsoft Waveform format; display and play wave files and modify and record them. You can modify the waveform's amplitude and frequency and separately in the case of stereo.

The resultant shows created by MediaBlitz may be accessed programatically via Toolbook, C (various flavours) and Visual Basic. As far as the first two are concerned, the various functions available are invoked via DLL calls to the MediaBlitz API and indeed may also be referenced by VB in the same way. Thus a command to play a specific show could be invoked using the sm_path with the path/filename as parameter and sm_play to kick it off. As far as VB is concerned a custom control can be added to the toolbox which via its various properties, will call the appropriate API functions.

Therefore we can achieve the same thing as in above example by setting the .NAME property to the path/filename and the .COMMAND property to PLAY at design or run time.

MediaBlitz is an Asymetrix product retailing at $199. For up-to-date pricing information, refer to the downloadable catalogue in the Multimedia Introduction.

Written by: Robert Munoz
June 94

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