Maya FBX Plug-in glossary
.fbm file

The file generated when you export an FBX file with the Embed Media option activated. The FBM file contains all the associated textures in the FBX file. The “M” in FBM is for “Materials”. See Embed media.

.mc file

Autodesk point cache file extension.

.pc2 file

Legacy 3ds Max point cache file extension.

.xml file

Extensible Markup language file. The Maya FBX Plug-in creates an XML file when it processes point cache data.


Stands for American Standard Code for Information Interchange.


Baking is a re-sampling of all the animation data within your scenes.

Bind pose

(Maya) In animation, the default position of a skeleton, used to keep track of transformation attributes for all the skeleton’s joints and influence objects.


Bones are 3D objects that you can link like human joints to create animation.


See FCurve.

Degrees of Freedom (DOF)

Degrees of Freedom (DOF) are MotionBuilder properties that let you limit translation, rotation, and scaling of objects or animated hierarchies. Defining Degrees of Freedom for objects in a scene lets you restrict their range of movement.

destination application

The application in which you want to use your FBX file.


A type of 3ds Max helper object, a placeholder.


An edge is a straight or curved line that connects two vertices in a mesh object or spline. You can modify object shapes by transforming its edges.


In animation, a method of rotation that uses three angle values (X, Y and Z) plus a rotation order to specify three-dimensional orientation. Euler rotation has several drawbacks, including Gimbal lock and choppy interpolation between keyframes.

FBX file

An Autodesk FBX format file used as a universal 3D Asset Exchange.


(MotionBuilder) (Also referred to as a Function Curve.) A graphic depiction of an animated value. The time and value of the animated value displays on two axes: the vertical axis representing the value, and the horizontal axis representing the time.


Frames per second.


(Maya) In general, a surface, NURBS, NURBS curve, subdivision surface, or polygonal surface (mesh). (3ds Max) Geometry refers to all objects that are not cameras or lights. Meshes, polys, patches, NURBS, splines, helper objects, etc.

Geometry cache

A file that stores positions of vertices. Cache files let you preview the results of a simulation without rendering the scene.

Gimbal lock

A Gimbal Lock occurs when you rotate one axis and accidentally align the two other axes. When these two axes align, you lose one axis because you cannot separate them. When a gimbal lock occurs, your bone can rotate only in two axes instead of all three.

host application

The application used to create the file you are going to save as an FBX file.


A reference point, or key point, that marks the position of an important action or change in a scene at a specific point in time.


In polygonal modeling, a collection of polygons, which can be of different types (triangles, quads, n-sided).


Morphs (or per-vertex) is a method of 3D computer animation that is sometimes used as an alternative to skeletal animation. Morph target animation is stored as a series of vertex positions. In each keyframe of the animation, the vertices are moved to a different position.

Depending on the renderer, vertices move along paths to fill the empty time between keyframes. The renderer can also switch between different positions.

Animation composed in one 3D application suite may require transfer to another, such as for rendering. To avoid export issues, native animation formats often convert to morph target animation. This is necessary to accomodate the implementation of bones and other special effects in different 3D application suites


In modeling, the directional line perpendicular to a surface. Polygon normals indicate the orientation of polygonal faces. Because shaded (or rendered) faces are visible only when the normals are facing towards the viewer, it is sometimes necessary to reverse a normal to correct a face’s orientation.


Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline. A type of geometry that includes curves, patches, surfaces, etc. NURBS are a superset of conics, splines, and Bezier curves. They are particularly suited for modeling in 3D, because they provide excellent continuity with a minimum number of control points.


Non-Uniform Rational MeshSmooth. A NURMS object is similar to a NURBS object in that you can set different weights for each control vertex.


Describes vectors that are perpendicular (at 90 degrees) to each other. In 3D space, when the X, Y, or Z-axes are not perpendicular, they are considered "non-orthogonal". The Maya FBX Plug-in has a limitation related to non-orthogonal axes. See Non-orthogonal matrices.

Point cache

(3ds Max) A file (or series of files) that stores positions of vertices. Cache files let you preview the results of a simulation without rendering the scene.


An n-sided shape defined by a group of ordered vertices and the edges that are defined between pairs of those vertices. Polygons can be either simple shapes, such as polygonal primitives, or complex models built from the various polygonal tools. A polygonal object can be closed, open, or made up of shells, which are disjointed pieces of geometry. Also known as mesh.

procedural image map

An image not composed of a fixed matrix of colors, but rather generated procedurally by a mathematical algorithm. You cannot transfer these textures through the FBX format.

Quaternion interpolation

A method of rotation that uses a unit quaternion (a quaternion of length one) to represent an orientation in three dimensions. A quaternion is a four dimensional extension to complex numbers. Quaternion rotation is an option that is useful for avoiding Gimbal lock.


The process of creating a key for every nth frame of an animation's interpolation (or curve).

selection set

(3ds Max) A group of objects that have a name assigned to them.


A deformation tool that lets one object deform another, for example a skeleton deforms a mesh.

smoothing groups

Smoothing groups define whether a surface is rendered with sharp edges or smooth surfaces.

Smoothing groups are numbers assigned to the faces or patches of an object. Each face or patch can carry a maximum of 32 smoothing groups. If two faces or patches share an edge and share the same smoothing group, they render as a smooth surface. If they do not share the same smoothing group, the edge between them renders as a corner.


(MotionBuilder) An animation scene done between one start and the following stop, a segment.


Objects in 3D scenes are composed of triangles. The triangles are defined as three XYZ vertex coordinates.


User interface.


The up axis is the global axis that is pointing upwards.

(Maya) There are two choices of axis (Y or Z) as the world up direction. The Y axis is used as the default up axis.

(3ds Max) The Z axis is used as the world up axis. This cannot be changed.


Maya’s default up-axis.


3ds Max’s default up-axis.