-Glossary of 3D Terms-

Terms Used and Defined on this Site:

Short for Three Dimensional, referring to the building of a geometric model in virtual space and not a 2D, or Two dimensional flat drawing or computer graphic. For stereoscopic 3D products I use the proper term Stereoscopic 3D
Stereoscopic 3D:
Think AVATAR! This is specific redered output for stereoscopic viewing via glasses or without. A minimum of two images, one for each eye is created and the combined images create the illusion of depth to the viewer.

Computer Generated Image [CGI]:
An Image that is rendered in a computer program and output as a single image or a sequence of images to create a movie, both are referred to as CGI. The term in context is compared to an image not created using a computer.

3D Designer:
A designer specifically trained in three dimensional thinking and design and not merely a 3D program user[See-3D Carpenter]. A 3D Designer thinks in volumes and dimensions rather than flat shapes alone like a trained 2D designer does.

3D Carpenter:
Someone trained in a 3D program with little or no training as a Designer in 3D.I use the analogy from Architecture, in that everyone sees the difference between the framer/carpenter building the home, and the architect/designer who created the concept. Since what I do is rare in that I do both, I refer to those who only build as 3D carpenters.

3D Model:
The geometric objects themselves built out in a 3D program that are rendered out to produce the CGI needed for print, Web or AV use. Some clients refer to this as CAD files, but that is a more limited term.

3D Illustration:
Some call it virtual photography but it is all the same, namely a still image rendered out and used to illustrate a real or imaginary object, effect, world, space, or creature. It can be photo real or stylized.

3D Animation:
Is moving any 3D object, light, camera, Effect, or character in a virtual 3D space and having that rendered sequence output for viewing as a movie either online or output for a specific device.

This is the process when the 3D program calculates everything that the 3D Designer has set up in  the Virtual scene on the computer and draws out an image from a point of view[ usually a camera] in the 3D space. A still image usually is a single rendering but many times is done in separate passes for future adjustments, and an animation is rendering out in as many frames as are needed in the animation length. Rendering involves the materials, environments, and lighting of the 3D models in the scene.

Photo Real:
A term used to describe a specific visual look for a 3D illustration or rendered animation as looking as close to real as possible. Photo Real is the most time consuming and difficult of all 3D rendering tasks and takes years to master.

Render Farm:
This a series of computers set up specifically to calculate and help render out the images from the 3D program. I use both an internal Renderfarm for small to medium jobs, and use an external Renderfarm with well over 800 PC’s for my larger jobs, or those that require a very rapid turn around.