GLOSSARY or the most used terms in 3D animation

Hi everybody,
People often asked me the meaning of this or that word…
The truth is that it's quite dificul to see clear with all that terminology and I've noticed that some animators get confused and mix some terms.
That's why I leave you here a lexicon of the most used words which I have separated into those categories for an easy searching:


PIPELINE : Structure through which passes a shot through the studio and production.
Animatic : Animatic or Leica, audiovisual piece which mix storyboard with the audio track synchronously.
Animation : Process used by one or more animators to give the feeling of movement to images or drawings or other inanimate objects.
Atrezzo : Any object place in the stage that is not used by a character or animated.
Feedback : Constructive criticism in order to improve the work.
Fixing : Post-animation process in which are fixed collisions, penetrations or other problems.
Hook up : Or raccord, refers to the relationship between the different shots of a film, so the illusion of sequence is never broken. Each shot must be related to the previous and serve as a basis for the next one.
Layout : Stage in which the position of the characters is decided, the staging and timing as well as the angle and position of the camera is planned, where the light comes from and how shadows are cast.
Leica : Synonymous of Animatica.
Point Cache : Modifier that creates a 3D model for each frame based position of the vertices. That avoids rig failures in render and brings a lighter file format to the following departments.
Postproduction : A post production stage wich includes editing, color correction, special effects…
Preproduction : Previous stage of production in which the material is prepared : Design, color script, animatic, storyboard.
Production : Stage in which the project is develop : animation, lighting, render…
Prop : Any objects that can be animated (and therefore rigged), used or not by the character.
Proxy : Low resolution model of an object, character or stage to increase the performance of a scene.
Set : Scene staged to create animation.
Shot : is the smallest fragment of a film; the time between 2 camera cuts.
Simulation : Post-animation stage in which the movement of the hair or fabric is simulated.
Storyboard : Set of illustrations displayed in sequence in order to serve as a guide to understand a story, pre visualize an animation or follow the structure of a film before it is create or film.

WORKFLOW : Methodologies and tools to make work more ergonomic and effective.
Casting : Stage in which you seek for all the information necessary to do what the director and production asked you for.
Gathering : Stage in which you do a work of imagination and exploration t create an entertaining shot.
Planning : Stage in which you plan your work in order to be clear and original.
Technical Layout : Stage in which you investigate all the technical problems and set the scene to be effective.
Staging : Stage in which the staging is done and checked the narrative and choreography.
Blocking : Stage at which all the major poses are created for the director so he'll have all the information of timing and poses you want to transmit.
Blocking Advance : Stage which you for seek energy and check that the physical properties works thanks o your rythm and spacing.
Splinning : Stage which you go in spline mode, work on the body dynamics and check that everything is fluid and readable for the director.
Polishing : Stage in which the shot is refined, arcs are checked and where you add more texture.
Shipping : Stage in which you check that you scene is clean, with its proper nomenclature for the following departments and ensure that everyone knows about it.
Exposure sheet : Exposure Sheet (or X-sheet, for short), is a table which containing a breakdown of the action, dialogue and sound, for each frame of the animation and guides the animator.
Phrasing : is the process of separating the actions of a shot in short sentences.
Thumbnails : Small sketches to plan animation.

SOFTWARE : set of programs, instructions and rules that allow you to run various tasks on a computer system.
Auto Tangent : Curve editor mode in which curves are smoothed and overshoots eliminated.
Constraint : Lock position and rotation of an object on another to link it. For example, a hand on a door.
Contact : Contact between an object or body part to another. Take care about the "landings" or when the contact is created and "takes off" moments in which the object leaves the contact.
FK : O Forward Kinematic, Technique used by the computer to calculate the position of the parts of a structure according to their joints.
Frame : Image in a succession of images.
Ghosting : Also known as "onion-skinning", is a display mode which displays a transparent series of images of an animated objects in the current frame. This allow you to easily visualize the movement of an object that can help you improve your timing and fluidity.
Gimbal Lock : Lock of the tridimensional rotation system by overlapping two rotation axes.
GUI : The Graphical User Interface, also known as GUI (its acronyme) is a computer program that acts as an user interface, using a set of images and graphic objects to represent the information and actions available on the interface. Its main use, is to provide a simple visual environment to allow communication with the operating system of the computer.
IK : Or Inverse Kinematic is the technique to determinate the movement of a chain of joints to maintain the final joint located in a specific position.
Interpolation : The way in which a computer calculates the path between 2 points. There may be different types of interpolations, like linear, spline, stepped.
Layer : Animation or visibility layer .
Linear Mode : Curve editor mode in which the interpolation between the key are linear.
Motion Path : see Path of action.
Offset : Offset of a movement.
Picker : See Sinoptic.
Pole vector : Position controler of the knees or elbows.
Pose to pose : Animation method in which the movements are broken down into a structured series key poses .
Preset : User preferences about a software.
Rig : Skeleton of a character or object with their drivers.
Rotoscopy : Technique that involves replacing the frames of an actual filming sequence by drawings "traced" on each frame.
Sinoptic : Or Picker is the graphical interface to control and select the character.
Spline Mode : Curve editor mode defined by its type of tangents creating a smooth interpolation.
Step Mode : Curve editor mode in which you jump from one key to another without any interpolation.
Straight ahead : Animation method in which you create a continuous action, step by step.
Tangent : Control points to adjust the interpolation between two keys.
Timeline : Timeline in frame in which the keys are drawned.
Trajectory : Path of the successive positions through which passes a moving body.

BASIC FOUNDATIONS : The knowledge of the laws of physics and biomechanics.
8 Figure : Particular type of arc with the shape of an 8.
Arcs : Usual path of a structure with joints.
Balance : Balance is when the sum of forces and momentums of all the parts of the body are canceled.
Biomecanics : Interdisciplinary area of ​​knowledge that studies the kinematic and mechanical phenomena of the living beings as a complex systems composed by tissues, solids and mechanical bodies. That's why biomechanics is interested in movement, balance, physics, the resistance, injury mechanisms that may occur in the human body as a result of various physical actions.
Body Angles : Angles formed by the line of the pelvis with shoulders.
Body Dynamics : Part of physiology that studies the activity of biological phenomena.
Breaking joints : Bending a joint in the opposite direction to its normal rotation, which create the illusion that this position looks broken. It is used to create the illusion of flexibility and make it look like a piece of flexible rubber.
Cycle : Repetition of any periodic phenomenon, in which, after a certain time, the state of the system or any of their magnitudes return to a previous configuration. In animation, generally, that term refers to walking or running cycles.
Drag : Or Wave Principle, occurs as a result of friction or resistance, such as air or water, or because different parts of a character are receiving different amounts of inertia.
Follow through : When a character changes direction and parts of his body continue in the direction it was previously.
Force : Any agent able of modifying the amount of movement or shape of the materials.
Fulcrum : Supporting point.
Mass : Measurement of the amount of matter that a body have.
Overlap : When the different parts of a body continue the movement once the character stopped.
Overlapping action : The action of offsetting a mouvement to avoid that everything arrives at the same time. This allows us to simulate flexibility and avoid that the movement seems rigid.
Path of action : Path through which passes the center of a moving object.
Physic Laws : Theoretical principle deducted from facts, applicable to a set of phenomena and can be stated as a particular phenomenon that always occurs if certain conditions occur.
Power center : Imaginary point that seems to be the energy source of a character that influences his posture, gestures and actions.
Slow in : Deceleration. Slowing in to the pose.
Slow out : Acceleration. Slowing out of the pose.
Squash and stretch : That means compression (Squash) and stretching (Strech) of an animated object without changing its apparent volume.
Successive Breaking Joints : Overlap principle applied to a chain of bones (for example, as the arm) to give flexibility to a movement.
Weight : A measure of the gravitational force acting on an object. The weight equals the force exerted by a body on a support, caused by the action of the local gravitational field on the body mass.
Weight shift : Weight change from a fulcrum to another.

TIMING : The time taken for a moving object to go from one position to another.
Accent : Relief that is given to a syllable in a word by rising the tone of thevoice or in the case of an acting, an action to highlight a movement.
Breakdown : Pose describing how the character or object moves from one key pose (extreme) to the other.
Ease : Inbetweens that define accelerations or decelerations (slow in/out) at the beginning and at the end of a movement.
Extreme : The start or end moment of an action.
Favor / Favoring : Is the fact give more influence of a pose or another during the breakdown to define the spacing.
Hold : Still pose without any kind of movement.
Inbetween : Pose between breakdowns and key poses (Key Poses, Anticipation and Reaction).
Key Pose : Important positions for an action that defines the beginning and end of a movement. Keys or key poses are the main drawings of an animation describing the motion.
Moving hold : A minimal amount of movement used to keep a character alive while still communicating a strong stance or attitude.
Overshoot : Pose that briefly crosses the limits of a key pose and then return to it.
Rough Timing : Stage in which you roughly work on timing .
Rythm : Movement marked by a regular succession of weak and strong elements, or of opposite or different conditions.
Spacing : The manner in which a moving object covers a distance from one position to the next.
Texture : Timing differences, spacing and emotional range within a scene animation, to keep the scene interesting and believable to an audience.

POSE : Pose or position of a character that describes or expresses something.
Anticipation : Pose that precedes and prepares an action.
Attitude pose : A pose that represents through the whole body what a character is thinking or feeling.
Down position : In a cycle, the lowest pose due to the reception of the weight.
Eccentric Action : Fast and small movement within an action that can't be animated normaly. For example, a shake, a little fingers gesture, an eye dart…
Golden Pose : Poses which define the narrative of a shot.
Inner Silhouette : Internal silhouette of a character.
Line of action : An imaginary line that can be drawn along the pose of a character.
Passing Position : On a walk cycle, it is the intermediate pose in which one leg passes in front of the other.
Reaction : Pose resulting from an action or movement.
Silhouette : View of some object which the schematic view inside the outline whithout any kind of details. Shape representing the mass of an object darker than the background.
Twinning : Term used when half of a character is reflected in the other half, as if it was a mirror, and creates an unnatural symmetrical appearance.
Volume : The amount of space a character takes; even if a character is squashed, stretched or distorted, its volume remains constant.

ACTING : The art of transmiting through body language, a good sense of timing and strong poses.
Appeal : The quality of a character to attract the eye and please the audience thanks to its design and personality, and overall quality of animation.
Blink : Blink.
Body Languaje : The kinesics, cinésica, or body language is the broad term for forms of communication in which body movements and gestures are involved, instead of (or in addition to) the sounds, verbal language or other forms of communication.
Character : Each of the persons or things, whether human, animals or of any other nature, real or imagined, appearing in an artistic work.
Cliché : It refers to a phrase, expression, action or idea that has been overused, to the point it loses strength or purported novelty, especially if at first it was considered remarkably powerful and innovative.
Choreography : The art of creating harmonious structures where movements happen.
Exaggeration : It is to increase or decrease qualities or actions, so the person who receive the message give more importance to the quality of the action.
Eye Dart : Quick change of the focus of the look from a point to another.
Lipsync : Or lip synchronization, It is the process of synchronizing the lips and tongue with the audio.
Monolgue/Inner Monolgue : Speech issuing from a single person to a single receiver entity; (who can be itself) as to other receptors (characters, audience, audience, for one thing, a character or a narrator).
Mood : The state of mind, it is an attitude or emotional disposition at a particular time. It is not a temporary emotional state. It is a state, a way to stay, to be, which lasts longer and fade over the rest of the psychic world.
Pantomime : Drama that focuses on representing a story using mime, involving no dialogue or spoken words, instead are involved the expressions, gestures and body movements that allow the viewer to understand the story.
Secondary action : Small auxiliary movements destined to enrich the main action without distracting.
Thought Process : Step through which passes a character to reach a thought, a deduction or emotion.

I hope It was clear. If you have any questions or if I forgot a word, do not hesitate to let me know in the comments of this blog or facebook page.

Note: A tip, use the shortcut Ctrl + F to search a particular word.

I hope it helped you...
Keep animating!!!



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