Real-Time Engine

Asset

A piece of content for use in a virtual production, can include props, lighting, environments, etc.

Atmospheric

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

Avatar

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.

Cinematic

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

Cutscene

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

Decimation

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 human

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

Digtial asset

A piece of content for use in a virtual production, can include props, lighting, environments, etc.

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 The current speed of a motion picture camera. 2 The current rendering speed of the real-time engine, which should never run below that of the camera for proper results. In a real-time engine, frame rate is influenced by the complexity of the assets, the processing power of the render...

Frustum

The region of a virtual world which appears as a viewport to the camera. On an LED volume, the inner frustum moves in sync with the camera, while the outer frustum is unseen by the camera and maintains the remainder of the environment static to provide consistent, realistic lighting. Typically...

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.

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 definted 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 application of artificial intelligence which enables a computer to automatically learn and improve without being specifically programmed.

Map

Refers to a set environment within a real-time engine.

On-screen control (OSC)

Interfaces used for controlling real-time attributes via tablets and other devices.

Optimization

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.

Path tracing

A form of ray-tracing which requires much high compute power but can result in more realistic, complex lighting. See also ray-tracing.

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

A live, real-time image or environment composited from different 2D or 3D elements. Real-time composites can be used to create tracked green screens over virtual environments on an LED wall, or to create finished composites in-camera instead of deferring to post.

Real-time engine

A software development environment designed for the creation and display of real-time interactive content; initially for video games and interactive experiences, now used for many other applications including virtual production.

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.

Show quality

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

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.

Universal Scene Description (USD)

An open-source scene interchange and assembly scene format, created by Pixar and widely adopted in the visual effects industry.

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.