ECE4146 - Multimedia technologies - 2019

6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL

Undergraduate - Unit

Refer to the specific census and withdrawal dates for the semester(s) in which this unit is offered.



Organisational Unit

Department of Electrical and Computer Systems Engineering

Chief examiner(s)

Professor Tom Drummond


Dr Gayathri Kongara

Unit guides



  • Second semester 2019 (On-campus)


ECE3141 or ECE2041Not offered in 2019


This unit provides an understanding of the nature and limits of processing of media (image, video, audio) for telecommunications, storage, interpretation and analysis. It includes compression of multimedia from basic information theoretic concepts through to advanced video (e.g. MPEG), image (JPEG, JPEG2000) and audio (CELP, MP3, AAC, Dolby Digital) coding. XML-based metadata systems are used to illustrate concepts of content characterisation and discovery. The ability of modern network protocols to support media streaming is related directly to service requirements such as error and delay tolerance. Where media is intended for human consumption, the characteristics of human perception of image and sound determine minimum quality requirements, but also reveal limitations that can be exploited when compressing media data. Machine interpretation and analysis of multimedia is also investigated. Case studies in media analysis (e.g. Shazam), delivery (video on demand) and consumption (digital cinema) are used to illustrate the technologies investigated.


On successful completion of this unit, students will be able to:

  1. Identify the limits of human visual and aural perception, and how they can be exploited for bit rate reduction.
  2. Describe the structure of modern multimedia compression systems, and how they exploit the characteristics of both the media itself and human consumers of the media.
  3. Explain how media can be characterised and described, including methods that allow similarities to be automatically identified (e.g. music matching services).
  4. Compute the end-to-end delay performance of modern Internet protocols supporting media streaming, and relate this to service requirements for on-demand and communicative multimedia services.
  5. Explain the methods of digital rights managements systems, including the role of encryption and key management, and the importance of such systems to enable high-value digital content retrieval services such as movies-on-demand.
  6. As part of a team, research and investigate an area of interest beyond lecture material, involving software simulations and analysis of results.


NOTE: From 1 July 2019, the duration of all exams is changing to combine reading and writing time. The new exam duration for this unit is 2 hours and 10 minutes.

Continuous assessment: 40%

Examination (2 hours): 60%

Students are required to achieve at least 45% in the total continuous assessment component and at least 45% in the final examination component and an overall mark of 50% to achieve a pass grade in the unit. Students failing to achieve this requirement will be given a maximum of 45% in the unit.

Workload requirements

3 hours lectures, 3 hours of laboratory classes, 1 hour practicals and 5 hours of private study per week.

See also Unit timetable information

This unit applies to the following area(s) of study