Alpha channel, Alpha buffer
Used for fades with 2D images or movies. This channel determines at which points and to what extent an underlying picture will be visible. Alpha channels are usually greyscale images; the darker a pixel the more intensely the underlying picture comes through.

This refers to the surrounding light which causes the scene to generally appear brighter. In CINEMA 4D this property is set in the environment object.

This refers to the environment (with all its functionality) in which the objects are animated. Many programs have two distinctly separate components, an Animator and a Modeller, which forces the user to constantly change between them. This is not the case in CINEMA 4D.

Method for reducing the undesirable zig-zag effect along object and colour edges. It is achieved by generating intermediate points from colours of adjoining pixels. Images that have had antialiasing applied normally appear somewhat blurred.

B Spline
Bezier-spline. Method for achieving soft, curved spatial curves.

Security copy of data or of files.

Bevel, Bevelling
Slanting or rounding of edges, to achieve smoother transitions.

Two-dimensional pixel graphic.

Object (usually a sphere), with a surrounding gravity field, which attracts objects or parts thereof.

B. George, English. mathematician (1815­1864), founder of logical algebra.

Boolean Operation
Combining two or more elements according to Boolean algebra. In 3D programs it is the linking of two objects. This enables e.g. the forming of holes by subtraction (drilling).

Application that lets you manage and view files.

Bump Map
Relief texture. The surface is seemingly indented. Usually greyscale images. The darker a pixel, the more strongly the object is indented. CINEMA 4D also lets you reverse this behaviour.

Computer Aided Design.

In CINEMA 4D this refers to restricting the angle of a joint. Useful particularly in connection with Inverse Kinematics, to prevent, for example, a rotation of the upper with the lower arm.

Central Processing Unit, the heart of the computer. Without it, nothing works.

Drag & Drop
This is the technique of grabbing an object on screen with the mouse and keeping the mouse button depressed while moving it to another position. When the target is reached, the mouse button is released and the object dropped. This may trigger other actions (like launching a program).

Extrude, Extrusion
A 3-dimensional object is generated by pulling a contour into a particular dimension, therefore creating depth. In addition, CINEMA 4D can create covers with and without bevelling or rounding.

Gouraud Shading
This shading algorithm smooths the edges of objects. Without it, objects usually look faceted, i.e. the individual surfaces are visible.

Refractive and reflective effects around a light source.

One of the colour models‹Hue-Saturation-Value.

Inverse Kinematics
Using ordinary Kinematics on a hierarchically structured object you can for example move the shoulder of a puppet. The upper and lower arm and hand will automatically follow that movement. I.K. will allow you to move the hand and let the lower and upper arm go along with the movement. Without I.K. the hand would come off the model and would move independently in space.

Key image within an animation. The user defines certain key positions for objects at given points in time. The program automatically calculates the intermediate positions.

This is usually a non-tiled texture, analogous to the labels that you find on bottles.

Lathe, Lathing
Generating a 3D body from an envelope curve.

Lens Flares
When photographing or filming light rays may fall into the lens, causing smaller or larger coloured rings on the exposed material. Such flares can be the result of air bubbles or lenses that are not completely tight. One normally tries to prevent this disturbing effect, however, in photorealistic computer graphics it is sometimes desirable to use them as a design element (also can be described as the most overused feature in 3D by new animators).

Local Coordinates
Every object has its own origin, which is subordinate to the world coordinate system (or other objects that are higher in the hierarchy). Local coordinates are useful for determining positions of subordinate objects.

The way in which a texture is projected onto an object. Also refers to the technique that is used, such as Bump Mapping, etc.

Synonym for wireframe.

Complex 3D structure consisting of one or many (hierarchically structured sub-) objects.

Modeler, Modeller
Refers to the environment (with its complete functionality) in which objects are created and modified. In many programs Modellers and Animators are separate entities, so you have to switch between them. Not so in CINEMA 4D.

Motion Capturing
Special sensors are used to record particular movements of humans and animals (such as swimming, running, dancing ...). This data can then be assigned to 3D computer models.

Multi-Processor System
Computers working with multiple central processors. This can be used to work on several processes simultaneously or to have several processors tackling one task. Applications need to support this type of processing in order to benefit from it.

The standard, developed by Silicon Graphics, for exchanging 3D data between applications and graphics cards.

Phong Shading
This Shading algorithm smooths the edges of an object. Without it, objects may look faceted, i.e. each individual surface is clearly visible.

Picture element. The size of a pixel depends on the resolution of the output device. Monitors usually have 72 pixel per inch (dpi), laser printers 600.

Separate add-on which is integrated into the main application at launch and is then called from within it. Plug-ins are not normally autonomous, i.e. they do not work outside an application.

3D models consist of (control) points and connecting lines. The area that is formed is called a polygon.

Basic element of a (graphics) program. In 2D programs these are circle, line, ..., in 3D programs sphere, surface, ... CINEMA 4D has a large set of primitives.

Procedural Textures
Mathematically generated textures (2D and 3D). Their advantage is that they are largely independent of the projection type.

Apple graphics standard. There are QuickTime movies and images as well as the VR (virtual reality) walkthroughs.

Special rendering method which takes into account not just the light that is radiated from light sources but also light that is reflected from other objects. This process is very CPU-intensive.

Random Access Memory: Data may be read and written to this memory in a non-sequential manner. When you switch off the computer, the contents of this type of memory are deleted.

Computes the course of a light beam in space. In non-scientific computer geometry it is not light rays that are being traced but visual rays, i.e. rays that emanate from the viewer¹s eye rather than from a light source).

Refers to the computing of images. The method used (raytracing, scanline ...) is irrelevant. These days, the application of filters to 2D images (such as brightening and sharpening) is also called R.

The colour model Red/Green/Blue. Mixing varying parts of these three colours produces the intermediate colours.

A 3-dimensional object is generated by rotating a contour around an axis. In addition, CINEMA 4D can automatically form covers with or without bevelling or rounding, as long as the rotation angle is less than 360 degrees.

Device for reading images (from books, photos etc.) into the computer. Useful for creating realistic textures. With a 3D scanner it is even possible to capture three-dimensional objects and convert them into models.

Refers to the whole of a 3D computer model, consisting of objects, light sources, cameras, etc.

Shadow Buffer
Buffer for storing information which allows objects to cast a shadow. These buffers are used particularly for generating soft shadows.

This property determines how shiny(and sometimes wet) an object appears.It represents the highlight that the light creates when shining on an object.

Usually a 2-dimensional image, which can be used as a label, a tile, or in its full format for defining material attributes. There are also 3-dimensional textures, which are normally generated with the help of mathematical algorithms. These are normally referred to as procedural textures (see separate entry) or shaders.

Tile Textures
Tile texturesThese are textures which can be joined seamlessly (tiling). However, when looked at from a distance, distinct repetitions can be visible in the pattern, if you cover a large area with small tiles. If you want to avoid this, use a mathematically generated ¹infinite¹ texture.

User Interface
Appearance of a program allowing interaction with the user. Includes all graphical elements, such as menus, popups, buttons, etc.

A node. Vertices are the intersections of two lines in a wireframe model and of three edges in a surface model. In CINEMA 4D vertices are edited in Point mode.

Virtual Reality
Another fashionable term, just like ¹multimedia¹. No accepted definition exists, but what is generally meant is an artificial, computer-generated 3-dimensional world (which you can produce with CINEMA 4D).

Volumetric Lighting
Special lighting technique, which calculates shadows within visible light.

Volume element. Originally, the expression was used in medicine, in analogy to pixels, when scanners were able to read in 3-dimensional objects. They were the smallest spatial unit that a medical scanner was able to resolve.

Most common way of representing objects in the Editor. Objects are shown as wire structures. Often, this is the only possible representation, but CINEMA 4D also supports Gouraud Shading, Flat Shading, Cuboid, Skeleton and invisible.

Z Buffer
Is used for computing quick previews, that take no account of shadows or surface detail.