Buying into the all-digital system
- By Rich Kellett
- Nov 14, 2001
Because the expectation is rising that Web sites include video, photo and
sound files, it is important to look at the requirements for going "all
digital" in your work and Web environment.
In the past two Dot-Gov Thursday features, I detailed my experiences
in integrating images and sound for a video presentation. In this third
installment, I offer some buying recommendations for continued information
expansion on the Web.
With the proliferation of video cameras, digital cameras and digitally
created sound, Webmasters are increasingly integrating files created by
those devices. The most dramatic side effects are huge increases in file
size and the resulting need for more disk storage and processing speeds.
Large Microsoft Corp. PowerPoint files with graphics are only a jumping-off
point to the file size and processing requirements the all-digital environment
A good rule of thumb is that 1 minute of music equals 10M in WAV format.
Video is even larger. One video file I created that ran 15 seconds with
reduced frame size was more than 5M. One 45-minute music CD I created by
recording from my keyboard synthesizer requires 500M to store the WAV, MP3
and other production files.
I am finding that a 750M CD-ROM is to music as a 1.44M diskette is for
text. A 350 MHz PC is barely acceptable, and 500 MHz is only OK in this
For desktop hardware, I recommend getting a CD-ROM drive for off-line
storage of at least 750M. Also, your CD drive must support read/write capabilities.
For handling video, you will need to purchase even larger off-line storage,
such as 2G and 20G drives, and if you're doing volume production, a fast
processor such as 1 GHz will be needed.
For Web servers, there must be similar dramatic increases in disk storage,
backup capabilities and processor speed. I would recommend increasing disk
storage and processing speed by factors of 100 to 1,000 times greater than
what was purchased one to three years ago. Fortunately, the prices for both
keep coming down.
High-speed interfaces should be a key consideration in the configuration
of your next desktop PC and server purchases. USB has proven to be very
fast, but having just two USB ports on a desktop PC will not be adequate
for the future. I recommend at least four to accommodate the devices that
produce the digital files.
I was disappointed in the quality of sound produced by using a desktop
computer to record files. So I bought an additional "stereo-like" component
for recording digital audio onto a CD-RW. I then used the CD to create the
WAV and MP3 files on the desktop computer.
I found that a 4.1 megapixel camera takes photographs that can be shown
on auditorium-size screens, and the quality is very good. I am still working
on understanding my options regarding digital video.
Robust software is needed to combine the all-digital environment into
presentations. This software is expensive relative to other commonly available
office automation software. The software that came with the hardware components
provides a good starting point, but I soon found that I needed something
more sophisticated for integrating the various file types into a single,
For vendors: I recommend offering desktop PC packages that combine digital
video, digital photography and digital sound, including supporting application
software. I found it quite difficult to create this environment on my own,
but I worked through it. It would be much cleaner if prepackaged configurations
of desktop computers were available and graded to the level of quality needed,
such as personal viewing or auditorium viewing.
For readers: Click on the links below for a music file and image you
can freely use on government Web sites. (Musical arrangement and photograph
created by Rich Kellett.)
* "The Star Spangled Banner" (MP3 sound file)
* Vietnam Veterans Memorial statues (JPEG image)
Kellett is founder of the federal Web Business Council, co-chairman of the
federal WebMasters Forum and director of GSA's Emerging IT Policies Division.