Glossary of animation related terms

Glossary of animation related terms

Alphabetical list of words relating to animation with some brief explanations:

  • ambient occlusion (or AO) – Ambient occlusion allows you to simulate the soft shadows that occur in the cracks and crevices of 3D objects. The soft shadows created can help to define the separation between objects and add another level of realism.
  • animatic – An animated storyboard. Characters are placed on a trajectory to indicate motion. The camera moves are animated. Used to determine the pace of the animation. A good overview of the project before beginning production.
  • animation – A simulation of movement created by displaying a series of pictures or frames.
  • anisotropy – The quality of a material that shapes and angles its highlights – brushed metal is the best example of this.
  • anti-aliasing – A computer rendering post processing technique that changes the color of some image pixels defining a
    sharp inclined edge so that it looks less jagged or “stair stepped”.
  • anticipation – One of the fundamental 12 basic principles of animation. An anticipation pose is a preparation for the main action leading the audience to anticipate the motion while also helping to make the action appear more realistic.
  • aspect ratio – The relationship between the width and height dimensions for any scene, frame or film format. Widescreen ratio is 16:9.
  • background – The part of a scene that is farthest to the rear. The background is the artwork, or decor, against which the animation takes place.
  • bitmap – An image composed of pixels with a single resolution (size). If it is enlarged too much, it will lose definition and individual pixels will begin to appear. This is known as pixelation. Bitmap image files are defined as a standard rectangular mesh of individual pixels. Each individual pixel contains a value that represents a specific colour.
  • camera shake – Camera shake occurs in a scene when the camera moves slightly and quickly in several directions. This gives the impression of an impact, vibration or, for example, bumps on the road.
  • caption – A text field containing dialogue, effects, sound or slugging information in a storyboard.
  • CGI – The creation of still or animated visual content with imaging software.
  • chromatic aberration – In optics, chromatic aberration (CA), achromatism or chromatic distortion, is a type of distortion in which there is a failure of a lens to focus all colours to the same convergence point.
  • CMYK – A  colour scheme for combining primary pigments used in print. The C stands for cyan, M stands for magenta, Y for yellow and K for Key (black).
  • codec – Short for compressor/decompressor, this is a mathematical process which analyzes the frames in an animation or image sequence and uses several techniques to reduce the file size.
  • colour grading – Application of a range of effects such as contrast, colour, saturation, black level and white point to enhance the “look” of a video or still image.
  • colour wheel – Illustrative organisation of colour hues around a circle, which shows the relationships between primary and secondary colours.
  • compositing – Combining visual elements from different sources into single images, often to create the illusion that all those elements are parts of the same scene.
  • compression – Data compression is widely used for images, sound, and video/animation. For images there is a division between lossless compression, in which the original image is perfectly recreated, and lossy compression, in which a certain amount of data is permanently lost during the compression process.
  • copywriting – Writing text for the purpose of advertising or other forms of marketing.
  • cut – A sharp break from one scene to another without a transition.
  • DPI – Dots Per Inch is used to describe the resolution number of dots per inch in a digital print, typically 300 dpi. Often used interchangeably with PPI (Pixels Per Inch) which describes the number of square pixels that show up in an inch of digital screen, typically 72 ppi.
  • ease – The acceleration or deceleration of an object as it moves. The process of making the animation less severe or pronounced.
  • edit – The process of joining all the scenes of an animation together, often in conjunction with the soundtrack.
  • establishing shot – Generally a long shot at the beginning of a scene that sets up or establishes the context for a scene by showing the relationship between its important figures and objects.
  • fade in/fade out – A term used to describe a transition effect where the image slowly fades up or fades down either over black or over the previous/next scene.
  • FPS – The number of frames per second. Typically 25 fps for explainer videos and corporate animation.
  • FX or F/X – Digital effects covering the various processes by which imagery is created or manipulated.
  • frame – A single image in an animation or video. Common FPS (frames per second) rates are 24, 25, and 30.
  • frame rate – The number of frames per second. Typically 25 fps for explainer videos and corporate animation.
  • HSV – A colour model that describes colours in terms of hue, saturation, and value (brightness).
  • keyframe – A frame that defines the start and end points of a motion.
  • kinesomania – A compulsion for movement. An excessive desire to be on the move.
  • lip-sync – Animation of a digital character’s lips to match the voice over heard by the viewer.
  • live action – Filmed footage involving real locations with people.
  • matte – Used to combine two or more image elements into a single, final image. The compositing technique known as chroma keying, such as “bluescreen” or “greenscreen”, is probably the best-known although rotoscoping and multiple motion passes are also common.
  • mesh – A generic term for a polygonal surface that can be open or closed.
  • model sheet – Also known as a character board or character sheet. A document used to help standardise the appearance, poses, and gestures of an animated character or group of characters.
  • NURBS model – Non-Rational Uniform B-Spline and refers to the surface edges of the model being defined by 3D equations that accurately define a 3D curved surface between them.
  • packshot – A still or moving image of a product, usually including its packaging and labelling.
  • palette – Refers to the collection of colours chosen for use in a still or moving image to compliment a brand’s style.
  • pan – Refers to the horizontal scrolling of an image wider than the display, parallel to the current view plane. The camera moves perpendicular to the direction it is pointed.
  • PBR – Physically Based Rendering, a means of computing light interaction with surfaces that is based on real world physics.
  • pickup – A sentence or phrase in a voice over that was incorrectly recorded and needs to recorded again.
  • pixel – The smallest unit of a digital image or graphic that can be displayed and represented on a digital display device.
  • PNG – A widely used and convenient image format; the name stands for Portable Network Graphic, often pronounced “ping”.
  • PPI – Pixels Per Inch describes the number of square pixels that show up in an inch of digital screen, typically 72 ppi. Often used interchangeably with DPI (Dots Per Inch) which is used to describe the resolution number of dots per inch in a digital print, typically 300 dpi.
  • post production – Compositing of pre-existing visual and audio elements to create the finished picture.
  • pre production – The conception, planning, and development of a film and characters. Pre-production artwork does not appear in a finished animation.
  • previs – A previs is simply a way of visualising complex scenes in a 3D animation before moving on to the more detailed and time consuming parts of the process and without committing to the long render times associated with 3D. It’s the 3D equivalent of a storyboard.
  • rendering – An often slow, computationally intensive process used to generate an image or sequence of images used to create a layer of animation for compositing in post production or to create the final video file.
  • RGB – The RGB color model is an additive color model in which red, green and blue light are added together in various ways to reproduce a broad array of colors.
  • rigging – Animation modelling technique where a character or other articulated machine is represented as a surface mesh and a hierarchical set of interconnected bones (called the rig) that is used to pose and keyframe (animate) the mesh.
  • scene – A segment of an animation that when placed sequentially make up the entire story.
  • script – The written words, typically organised into scenes, used to record the voice over.
  • storyboard – Storyboards are a series of rough drawings broken into scenes or shots that tell a story.
  • showreel – A sequence of short clips taken from full length animation projects, set to background music, used to demonstrate an animation company’s technical ability, creativity and skillset.
  • soundtrack – The background music, either royalty free or bespoke, used in an animation.
  • t pose – Also known as a reference pose, it’s the default state of character models in 3D animation prior to rigging and animating.
  • timecode – A text overlay used to indicate the time or frame number of the frame being played often used to aid the client feedback process. May also include the scene number or version number of the file being watched.
  • timeline – The panel of an animation program that organises and controls an animation’s content over time in layers and frames.
  • transition – The joining of two scenes in an animation. Can be an instant scene change (a cut), any digital effect such as a fade or cross dissolve or a bespoke animation.
  • voice over – The recording of a script by a voice talent. Usually digitally processed using audio effects such as noise reduction, declick and volume normalisation. Then edited for pace prior to export for use as a layer in an animation program.
  • voice talent – Actor/Actress used for voice-over recordings.
  • walk cycle – A sequence of keyframes applied to the bones of a character rig used to define the walking motion of a character that is then repeated or looped.
  • weight – Technique in animation that gives the animated character a real sense of heaviness.
  • widescreen – Cinematic screen ratio where a standard Academy format is reduced at the top and bottom to give the picture an extended landscape look.