A   S t r e a m i n g   M e d i a   P r i m e r :  
adaptive streaming: See MBR.
AVI:  Defi ned by Microsoft,  AVI  stands for Audio 
analog:  The principal feature of analog representa 
Video Interleave. AVI is the standard fi le format for dig 
tions is that they are continuous. For example, clocks 
ital video on the Microsoft  Windows  platform.  AVI 
with hands are analog the hands move continuously 
is not a streaming format; ASF (Advanced Streaming 
around the clock face.  As the minute hand goes around, 
Format) is the Windows Media streaming format.
it not only touches the numbers 1 through 12, but also 
bandwidth:  The data carrying capacity of a network. 
the infi nite number of points in between. Similarly, our 
Bandwidth is the maximum amount of data that can 
experience of the world, perceived in sight and sound, 
travel a communications path in a given time, usually 
is analog. We perceive infi nitely smooth gradations of 
measured in kilobits per second (Kbps). If you think 
light and shadow; infi nitely smooth modulations of 
of the communications path as a pipe, then bandwidth 
sound. Traditional (non digital) video is analog.
represents the width of the pipe, which determines how 
animated GIF:  GIF is a bitmap fi le format often used 
much data can fl ow through it at once. Connections 
on the Web. GIF (which may be correctly pronounced 
of 56 Kbps or lower (typical dial up connection rates) 
as either  giff   with a hard  g  or  jiff  ) stands for 
are considered low bandwidth, aka narrowband. High 
Graphic Interchange Format. Because it applies data 
bandwidth, aka broadband connections are higher than 
compression, GIF is often used for photographic imag 
56 Kbps (e.g., ISDN, DSL, cable modem, T 1).
es. An animated GIF combines several images into a 
bit: The smallest unit of data used by computer 
single GIF fi le. Applications that support the animated 
systems. A bit (short for binary digit) has a value of 
GIF standard (GIF89A) cycle through the images, 
either 0 (nil) or 1. Bits are the  building blocks  of 
creating the impression of motion. The animated GIF 
binary data.
format does not provide as much control and fl exibility 
bit depth: See bitmap.
as other animation formats but, because it is supported 
by nearly every Web browser, has become very popular.
bitmap: Also known as raster, bitmap data comprises 
a set of binary values specifying the color of individual 
architecture: The structure of the software, or the 
pixels that make up an image. Bitmap data is character 
system of software components, responsible for the 
ized by resolution  and  bit depth. Resolution relates to 
creation, storage, and playback of multimedia content. 
the detail in an image, and is expressed in dots per inch 
An architecture may include such things such as encod 
(dpi) or pixels per inch (ppi). The higher the resolution 
ers, compression/decompression support, fi le formats, 
(i.e., the more dots used to describe the image), the 
server software, and browser plug ins. Different multi 
more detail possible. Bit depth defi nes the number of 
media architectures offer different features and options, 
colors the image can display. A high contrast (no grey 
and store data in different fi le  formats.  QuickTime, 
tones) black and white image is 1 bit, meaning it can be 
RealVideo, and Windows Media are examples of stream 
off or on, black or white. As bit depth increases, more 
ing media architectures.
colors become available:
artifact: Visible degradations of an image resulting 
from any of a variety of processes. In digital video, 
  Bit depth               Maximum colors
artifacts usually result from color compression, and 
1                                    2
are most noticeable around sharply contrasting color 
boundaries such as black next to white.
2                                    4
ASF:  Defi ned by Microsoft,  ASF  stands for Advanced 
4                                    16
Streaming Format. ASF is the fi le format in the Windows 
8                                    256
Media architecture.
16                                 32,768
ASP:  An application service provider (ASP) is a third 
party entity that manages and distributes software 
24/32                           16.7 million                              
based services and solutions to customers across a wide 
area network from a central data center.
For image detail and quality, bit depth is as important 
as resolution, since the bit depth determines the colors 
aspect ratio: The ratio of an image's width to its 
available in the palette. When fewer colors are available, 
height. For example, a standard video display has an 
areas that may have shown a subtle shift of tones and 
aspect ratio of 4:3.
hues are rendered instead as single blocks of solid color, 
asynchronous: Not coordinated in time; contrasted 
eliminating image detail. Bitmap data is indispensable 
with synchronous. In a typical synchronous protocol, 
for continuous tone images, such as scanned or digital 
namic Media
each successive transmission of data requires a response 
photographs, and for anti aliased images. However, 
to the previous transmission before a new one can be 
bitmap data is consistently larger than vector data. Each 
initiated. An asynchronous protocol allows transmis 
pixel in a bitmap image has to be defi ned. A relatively 
sions to occur independently of one another. In com 
small 150 pixel x 150 pixel graphic requires 22,500 
puter communications using asynchronous protocols, 
discrete bits of information plus the palette, or color 
each piece of data usually has a start bit at the begin 
lookup table (CLUT), that is usually included. For more 
obe D
ning and a stop bit at the end, so that the valid 
information see the online Adobe Technical Guides at 
data can be distinguished from random noise. Most 
communications between computers and devices are 
asynchronous; the public Internet is based on an asyn 
chronous system.

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