Colleges and universities that once only offered programs in "Media Production" now often offer two programs, a "Media Production" and a "Digital Media Production" degree. The difference between the two is defined by the media used. Media production tends to cover traditional forms of media that have existed for many years, while digital media production focuses on new forms of media experiencing rapid growth along with technology.
In general, digital media production is the study of media creation and display through online media. Any professionally designed type of media published over the Internet counts as digital media. This includes audio and video steaming in online contexts, but it also covers other types of new media that are hybrids of the two and are only available online.
Interactive media or rich media is a general term for types of digital media that combine video, audio and usually user participation. A website that includes interactive displays that change as the user passes a mouse pointer over them and incorporates sound effects to enhance the experience is a common type of rich media. Interactive training sessions and quizzes are both common rich media applications for businesses.
Animation is also a common tool of digital media production. Rather than using video that has already been recorded, animation designers build shapes and interactive media projects from the ground up. These projects often incorporate real video and images, but the designer creates animations for the objects and allows in-depth control by the user. Online games and interactive tutorials or marketing ads all use digital animation. Adobe's Flash program and format is one of the most popular forms used in online animation.
Since many online data streaming rates exist, those working in digital media production must always be aware of how much bandwidth their projects will take when a user accesses a website or media clip. Too much bandwidth, and the user will not be able to experience the media form, or it will move too slowly in some circumstances to allow for proper viewing. Users may also become bored waiting for applications to download and move on.
Digital media production clients tend to be business marketing departments. Most digital media production works with marketing techniques to reach customers online. Other companies may use digital media production to create an online resource for their employees. News agencies and other organizations also use many types of digital media production on their websites.