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A Glossary of animation terms

Animation Clip terms

Term: Definition:
Animation ClipAnimation data that can be used for animated characters or simple animations. It is a simple “unit” piece of motion, such as (one specific instance of) “Idle”, “Walk” or “Run”. More info
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Animation data that can be used for animated characters or simple animations. It is a simple “unit” piece of motion, such as (one specific instance of) “Idle”, “Walk” or “Run”.
Animation CurvesThe curve drawn between keys set for the same animatable property, at different frames or seconds. The position of the tangents and the selected interpolation mode for each key determines the shape of the animation curve. More info
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Curves can be attached to animation clips and controlled by various parameters from the game.
Avatar MaskA specification for which body parts to include or exclude for an animation rig. Used in Animation Layers and in the importer. More info
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A specification for which body parts to include or exclude for a skeleton. Used in Animation Layers and in the importer.

Avatar terms

Term: Definition:
AvatarAn interface for retargeting animation from one rig to another. More info
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An interface for retargeting one skeleton to another.
RetargetingApplying animations created for one model to another. More info
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Applying animations created for one model to another.
RiggingThe process of building a skeleton hierarchy of joints for your mesh. Performed with an external tool, such as Blender or Autodesk Maya. More info
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The process of building a skeleton hierarchy of bone jointsA physics component allowing a dynamic connection between rigidbodies, usually allowing some degree of movement such as a hinge. More info
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for your meshThe main graphics primitive of Unity. Meshes make up a large part of your 3D worlds. Unity supports triangulated or Quadrangulated polygon meshes. Nurbs, Nurms, Subdiv surfaces must be converted to polygons. More info
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. Performed with an external tool, such as Max or Maya.
SkinningThe process of binding bone joints to the vertices of a character’s mesh or ‘skin’. Performed with an external tool, such as Blender or Autodesk Maya. More info
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The process of binding bone joints to the character’s mesh or ‘skin’. Performed with an external tool, such as Max or Maya.
Muscle definitionThis allows you to have more intuitive control over the character’s skeleton. When an Avatar is in place, the Animation system works in muscle space, which is more intuitive than bone space. More info
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This allows you to have more intuitive control over the character’s skeleton. When an Avatar is in place, the Animation system works in muscle space, which is more intuitive than bone space.
T-poseThe pose in which the character has their arms straight out to the sides, forming a “T”. The required pose for the character to be in, in order to make an Avatar.
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The pose in which the character has their arms straight out to the sides, forming a “T”. The required pose for the character to be in, in order to make an Avatar.
Bind-poseThe pose at which the character was modelled.
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The pose at which the character was modelled.
Human templateA pre-defined bone-mapping. Used for matching bones from FBX files to the Avatar. More info
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A pre-defined bone-mapping. Used for matching bones from FBX files to the Avatar.
Translate DoFThe three degrees-of-freedom associated with translation (movement in X,Y & Z) as opposed to rotation.
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The three degrees-of-freedom associated with translation (movement in X,Y & Z) as opposed to rotation.

Animator and Animator Controller terms

Term: Definition:
Animator ComponentA component on a model that animates that model using the Animation system. The component has a reference to an Animator Controller asset that controls the animation. More info
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Component on a model that animates that model using the Animation system. The component has a reference to an Animator Controller assetAny media or data that can be used in your game or Project. An asset may come from a file created outside of Unity, such as a 3D model, an audio file or an image. You can also create some asset types in Unity, such as an Animator Controller, an Audio Mixer or a Render Texture. More info
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that controls the animation.
Root MotionMotion of character’s root node, whether it’s controlled by the animation itself or externally. More info
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Motion of character’s root, whether it’s controlled by the animation itself or externally.
Animator ControllerControls animation through Animation Layers with Animation State Machines and Animation Blend Trees, controlled by Animation Parameters. The same Animator Controller can be referenced by multiple models with Animator components. More info
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The Animator Controller controls animation through Animation Layers with Animation State MachinesThe set of states in an Animator Controller that a character or animated GameObject can be in, along with a set of transitions between those states and a variable to remember the current state. The states available will depend on the type of gameplay, but typical states include things like idling, walking, running and jumping. More info
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and Animation Blend Trees, controlled by Animation Parameters. The same Animator Controller can be referenced by multiple models with Animator components.
Animator WindowThe window where the Animator Controller is visualized and edited. More info
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The window where the Animator Controller is visualized and edited.
Animation LayerAn Animation Layer contains an Animation State Machine that controls animations of a model or part of it. An example of this is if you have a full-body layer for walking or jumping and a higher layer for upper-body motions such as throwing an object or shooting. The higher layers take precedence for the body parts they control. More info
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An Animation Layer contains an Animation State Machine that controls animations of a model or part of it. An example of this is if you have a full-body layer for walking or jumping and a higher layer for upper-body motions such as throwing an object or shooting. The higher layers take precedence for the body parts they control.
Animation State MachineA graph within an Animator Controller that controls the interaction of Animation States. Each state references an Animation Blend Tree or a single Animation Clip. More info
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A graph controlling the interaction of Animation States. Each state references an Animation Blend Tree or a single Animation Clip.
Animation Blend TreeUsed for continuous blending between similar Animation Clips based on float Animation Parameters. More info
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Used for continuous blending between similar Animation Clips based on float Animation Parameters.
Animation ParametersUsed to communicate between scripting and the Animator Controller. Some parameters can be set in scripting and used by the controller, while other parameters are based on Custom Curves in Animation Clips and can be sampled using the scripting API. More info
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Used to communicate between scripting and the Animator Controller. Some parameters can be set in scripting and used by the controller, while other parameters are based on Custom Curves in Animation Clips and can be sampled using the scripting API.
Inverse Kinematics__ (IK)__ The ability to control the character’s body parts based on various objects in the world.

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