Multimedia, broadly speaking, refers to any combination of two or more media of text, visuals, sound, touch or smell with some level interactivity. In the late 1980's and early 1990's authorware programs like SuperCard (used to be called HyperCard) and Director were designed to facilitate the production of "Multimedia" Productions primarily intended for distribution on CD-ROMs. These programs allowed visuals, text, digital video and audio to be imported into the program and manipulated fairly easily through a visual interface. These applications also included upper level scripting languages of SuperTalk (for SuperCard) and Lingo (for Director). Rather than creating, for example, interactive databases of cooking recipes or interfaces to visual poetry, some authors also used these programs as "authorware", as shortcuts to designing software applications instead of developing in languages such as C or C++. (Another common use of these applications is to create 2-D animations which will not be the focus of this course.)

In the late 1990's, the Internet became an ever more prevalent form of information distribution, overshadowing CD-ROMs, and multimedia was incorporated into distributed, networked environments. Macromedia's Director added a number of "Network Lingo" terms and allows Director Movies to be saved as "Shockwave" movies that are played through web browsers. Macromedia also added a "multi-user server" capability to Director that allows developers to create chat spaces and networked games.

Different applications use different metaphors to faciliate an easily understandable authoring environment. Supercard uses the metaphor of multiple stacks of playing cards. Director, the application you will be learning in this course, uses a theater metaphor. The basic multimedia elements of sounds, visuals, text and scripts are stored as individual "Cast Members" who hang out "backstage" in the "Cast Window". To activate cast members they must be placed in the "Score Window", similar to a music score which controls timing. Once they are placed in the score they turn into "sprites" and the actual "movie" can be viewed in the "Stage" window. The Score Window is divided into numbered frames which increase sequentially over time from left to right. The Score window also shows multiple layers of "sprites" called channels. Above the sprite Channels in the Score are a few channels allocated to specific tasks. The script channel is where scripts that control looping are placed. Also above the sprite channels are two sound channels, a tempo channel and a transitions channel.

Your most important resource for working in Director and learning to write Lingo scripts (Lingo is Director's scripting language) is the onboard help that can be accessed from "Help" on the top menu in Director. Director's Help is very extensive and includes tutorials that you will be completing for this course. Director's Help also contains a dictionary of lingo terms and lingo code examples that can be copied and pasted directly into your scripts and adjusted to suit your needs.