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Exam Guide

  • The final exam will be on Tuesday, May 7, 6:30 pm, B1750 and will cover Chapters 1 - 8, animation, numbering systems and the ethics discussion.
  • The test will consist of a series of multiple choice questions.
  • The test will be administered at the beginning of class. NO MAKE-UPS WILL BE GIVEN EXCEPT FOR MEDICAL EMERGENCIES.
  • You may have four sheets of handwritten notes to use on the exam. You may also have a calculator or smartphone.
  • Information on the points in the study guide below were given in class lectures. Most of this information can also be found in either the class textbook or the lecture slides, which are posted to D2L. However, please don't hesitate to contact me if you're still confused about something.

Chapters 1 - 3

  • Know that affordances of a new medium become apparent only over time. When a new medium is first introduced, it tries to copy older media. Be prepared to cite an example of this phenomenon.
  • Know that computer usage exploded once computers moved from a command-line interface to a GUI (graphical user interface)
  • Know how many
    • bits are in a byte
    • bytes are in a kilobyte (KB)
    • kilobytes are in a megabyte (MB)
    • megabytes are in a gigabyte (GB)
    • gigabytes are in a terabyte (TB)
  • Know the difference between discrete and continuous and that computers only understand the former. Know that we use sampling to turn continuous data into discrete data that a computer can understand.
  • Know the difference between a decimal (base 10) and binary (base 2) counting system. (You will not have to convert between systems or be able to count in binary for this test.)
  • Know the definition of
    • sample rate
    • quantization levels
  • Know that there is a trade-off between time, space and precision (media quality) when determining your sampling rate and quantization levels.
  • Know the definitions of and difference between bitmaps and vector images, including
    • what makes bitmap files increase in size vs. what makes vector images increase in size
    • what an RGB value is
  • Know that computers store all digital media as arrays of numbers
  • Know how many bits it takes to store the RGB value for 1 pixel
  • Know what image layers are in image manipulation programs like GIMP and Inkscape. Why are layers useful?
  • Know what aliasing is and why anti-aliasing is necessary in converting vector graphics to bitmaps
  • Know what it means to translate, scale, rotate and reflect an image
  • Straight lines in vector graphics can be specified using only starting and ending coordinates
  • Rectangles, squares can also be defined with two coordinates
  • Circles and ellipses can be defined with two (or fewer) coordinates and a radius
  • Know the difference between a closed and open polyline
  • Know what a Bezier curve is and why such curves are useful
  • Know what upsamping and downsampling mean
  • Know what Interpolation and Convolution mean
  • Know that for any compression technique, there is always the possibility that the compressed file is larger than the original file.
    • Know the difference between lossy and lossless compression and be prepared to identify examples of each
    • Know that JPEG is a lossy compression format for images that works by discarding a lot of the high-frequency stuff that the human eye doesn't see very well. Compression artifacts are most apparent at sharp edges between colors.
  • Know the difference between color on the printed page and color on the screen (absorbed vs. emitted light)
  • Know the difference between an additive and a subtractive color process.
  • Be prepared to identify what a colored object looks like under colored light. Ex. What color is a red ball in a blue-lit room?
  • Given an RGB value, be prepared to identify what color it is. Ex. What color is (255, 0, 0)?
  • Know what bit depth is and why it's important
    • What's an advantage of having higher bit depth?
    • What's an advantage of having lower bit depth?
  • Know what a color palette for an image is, how it's calculated and why it's useful.
  • Know what dithering is and why it's useful
  • Know how the CMYK and HSV models work
  • Know what it means to divide an image up into color channels and why this is useful
  • Know what it means to apply cropping, healing, sharpness and brightness/contrast to an image
  • Know the difference between the four types of scanners: flatbed, sheet-fed, handheld, drum

Chapters 4 - 5

  • Know the physical characteristics of sound, i.e. what is the relationship between sound, air vibrations and the human eardrum?
  • Know the definition of Hertz for frequency and for sampling rate.
  • Know the definition of a decibel and how many decibels louder the sound needs to be to double the relative sound intensity (loudness). (You can ignore any mention of electric voltages.)
  • Know how to read an amplitude vs. time sound graph (i.e. what you see in Audacity). You may be asked to match such a graph to its most likely sound.
  • Know the definition of
    • sample rate
    • quantization levels
    • Nyquist Rate
  • Be prepared to apply the Nyquist rate in different situations. For instance, if given a sound of frequency x, what sampling rate do you need to capture that frequency? Or, given a sound of frequency x and a sampling rate of y, is that sampling rate sufficient to capture that sound?
  • Know what the Nyquist rate is for CD-quality sound and why we use that rate.
  • Know what clipping is.
  • Know the difference between mono and stereo.
  • Know different ways to reduce an audio file size.
  • Know what a sound card is.
  • Know the difference between a unidirectional and omnidirectional microphone.
  • Know what MIDI sound is, how it's created and why it produces smaller file sizes than sampled audio.
  • Know the difference between multitrack and spectral view.
  • Know how the following sound effects work (you may be asked to identify one of these effects by sight on an Audacity sound graph):
  • Know what psychoacoustics is and how it's important in our understanding of sound
    • Know what characteristics a sound wave needs to have for a human to determine its point of origin
  • Know how lossy audio compression works.
  • Know the definitions of the following terms:
    • Podcast
    • RSS feed
    • Aggregator (also known as an RSS reader)
  • Given an audio file of a certain size and a network bandwidth, calculate how long it would take to download that file over that network.

Chapters 6 - 7

  • Know what Persistence of Vision is and why it makes film and video possible.
  • Know the difference between digital and analog video and the advantages of each
    • Digital - multiple channels in the same signal, easier to send high-definition pictures
    • Analog - doesn't immediately cut out when there's interference
  • Know that we use the NTSC analog video standard and ATSC digital video standard in North America
  • Know the difference between interlaced and progressive video and the advantages of each
  • Know what the combing effect is
  • Know what safe zones are
  • Know how the YUV color system works
  • Know what frame size and frame aspect ratio are and what the relationship is between them
  • Know why such players sometimes take awhile to start playing (i.e. what does "buffering" mean?)
  • Know the difference between spatial and temporal compression and the advantages of each
  • Know the difference between temporal compression differencing (MPEG-2 in your book) and temporal compression vectoring (MPEG-4 in your book) and that the latter is difficult for video because computers cannot recognize distinct objects in video frames (NOTE: You do NOT need to know anything about iFrames/pFrames/bFrames)
    • Given two different videos, decide which one is smaller when using temporal compression differencing
  • Know what a codec is and the difference between symmetric and asymmetric codecs
  • Know what macroblocking is
  • Know what telecine is
  • Know what screen tearing is
  • Know how YouTube deals with limited bandwidth
  • Know what a video capture card is and why you need one to capture video
  • Know what FireWire cables and ports are
  • Know that video can be recorded to miniDV tapes, DVDs, memory cards and hard drives
  • Know what nonlinear editing means (you don't have to distinguish between the four types of nonlinear edits described in the book)
  • Know what keying means, specifically with regards to Chroma Key
  • Be familiar with the following video transitions: straight cut, fade in, fade out, cross dissolve
  • Know the three stages of video production and what happens in each (ex. scriptwriting, filming, editing, etc.)

Numbering Systems

  • Given a base numbering system and a given number of digits, tell how many things you can count.
  • Know how to count from 0 to 7 in decimal and 0 to 255 in hexadecimal.

Chapter 8, Animation

  • Know what key frames, tweens and interpolation are in the context of animation
  • Know what structural hierarchy is and why it's useful.
  • Know what wireframes are and why they're important
  • Know the following types of animation and be prepared to identify examples
    • Rotoscoping
    • Cel animation
    • Cut-out animation
    • Claymation
    • 3D modeling
    • Motion capture
    • Virtual reality
    • Augmented reality
    • Machinima


  • Know the definitions of
    • Copyright
    • Public domain
    • Creative commons
    • Proprietary work
  • Know some of the challenges we face with modern file-sharing and copyright protection
  • Know what remix culture means and how it challenges traditional notions of copyright
  • Know what fair use means
  • Know why it's important to critically analyze the content creator of a digital (or any type of) media work

Additional Resources

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