Real-Time Engine


Fog, smoke, fire, and other physically-based visual effects rendered by a real-time engine.


A virtual representation of a real-world user, often operated via performance capture or physical control interfaces; see also digital humans.

Baked lighting

An asset with highlights and shadows baked into its surface texture which does not directly respond to lighting changes; useful for increasing real-time render performance. See also interactive lighting.

Camera calibration

The process of aligning a real-world camera to its virtual counterpart, essential for integration between live-action and virtual elements.


A non-interactive animation sequence in an otherwise interactive experience as referred to in real-time engines. Also called a cutscene.


A non-interactive animation sequence in an otherwise interactive experience. Also called a cinematic.


The reduction of geometry and texture to optimize an asset’s real-time performance; a key difference between assets created for real-time vs. post-production animation.

Digital asset

Building blocks of digital content creation used in a virtual production. Can range from 2D files (photo, video, graphics) to 3D files (models, rigs, animation, assemblies).

Digital human

Photorealistic character rigged for real-time, performance capture driven animation, also referred to as avatars.

Final pixel

The goal of achieving final image quality live, in-camera, without the need for additional major visual effects work.

Frames per second

1) How many pictures the camera is taking per second. 2) How many images the real-time engine is rendering per second, which should never run below that of the camera. Rendering frame rate is influenced by the complexity of the assets, the processing power of the artist machine, and the...


The region of the virtual world the camera sees. This is important because anything outside of this view doesn’t need to be rendered

Frustum culling

The process of removing objects or reducing rendering quality for areas that lie outside the inner frustum since they are not directly visible to the camera.

Global Illumination

A method of virtual lighting which achieves greater photorealism by simulating the indirect, bounced properties of physical light; a crossover between virtual and physical cinematography.

Global Illumination (GI)

Virtual content determined to be of sufficient visual quality to be suitable for final pixel, in-camera visual effects.

Head-up display (HUD)

A transparent overlay which presents data about the virtual world to a viewer without their having to look away from their current perspective. Used in conjunction with virtual camera to approximate the display of a real-world camera during virtual scouting, techvis, etc.

IES Profile

A file format defined by the Illuminating Engineering Society which describes a light’s distribution from a light source using real world measured data.

Interactive lighting

An asset whose highlights and shadows will respond interactively to lighting within the environment. See also baked lighting.

Level of detail (LOD)

The representation of a 3D asset, with a specific image quality and render performance. Multiple levels of detail may be produced for various applications.

Machine learning

The development of algorithms which enable a computer to learn and improve without being specifically programmed.


“Map” or “Level and Scene” refers to a set environment within a real-time engine.


A stage in the process of asset development where assets are optimized for real-time performance while maintaining high visual quality. See also level of detail and performance.


1 The performance quality and render rate of the onscreen real-time content, measured in frames per second or in milliseconds, also referred to as perf. Perf must meet or exceed the camera’s frame rate for optimum visual appearance with an LED volume. 2 The actions of a character in a...

Quality assurance

The process of searching for errors, flaws, and imperfections within an environment or asset, often abbreviated as QA or as quality control (QC).

Real-time composite

Layering the live camera feed with foreground/background digital elements viewed live through a monitor on-set. The digital elements could consist of pre-rendered/captured 2D media or real-time rendered 3D assets playing back on a display surface (LED / Projection), a live broadcast or live-keyed against Green / Blue screen. The Live...

Real-time engine

If the physical camera needs to be motion captured to strengthen real-time integration of digital elements, see Simulcam.

Real-time rendering

The translation of a scene into display pixels for instantaneous playback at real-time speeds such as 24, 30, 60, 90 frames per second. In contrast, traditional offline rendering may take minutes or even hours to produce each frame.

Scene assembly

The integration of discrete elements such as environment, lighting, animation, motion, etc, into a unified file. See also load and DCC.

Three-dimensional space

The geometric parameters describing the position and orientation of an object in 3D space, expressed as X-Y-Z coordinates and pitch-roll-yaw.

USD (Universal Scene Description)

An open-source 3D scene description and file format for content creation and interchange among different tools.

Virtual camera (Vcam)

A camera in a real-time engine which behaves the same way a real-world camera would with respect to optics, aspect ratio, etc. A Vcam can be manipulated using a tracked device such as a mobile device, tablet, game controller, or a physical object with a tracking reference attached such as...

Virtual green screen

A green screen created directly on an LED volume surface; often constrained around the frustum to preserve the rest of the virtual environment for interactive lighting.

Virtual lighting

Light created within a real-time engine, often simulated with real-world physical and optical behaviors. Can be used on an LED volume to directly light a scene or act as interactive/reflective lighting. See also light cards.