Part 2 - Get your 3D Models ready for distribution

Prajwal Bhaskar
January 10, 2020

Part II: Get your 3D Models ready for distribution

This is Part II in a four-part series about getting your product from a 3D model to embedding it as an AR element on any platform — learn how to create a model here.

Part II — Getting the 3D Model optimised for devices

Once you create the model (which you can learn about here), you need to get them ready to be put onto your website or application.

Before the models can be used, they must be exported in a format used by your the platform of your choice.

We recommend using the gLTF/gLB format as it works across most platforms (websites, Android, Magic Leap etc) while platforms like iOS require formats like USDZ to be used.

gLTF — the new normal

Here’s how the Khronos group (the non-profit working on and maintaining the standard) describes the format —

glTF (GL Transmission Format) is a royalty-free specification for the efficient transmission and loading of 3D scenes and models by applications. glTF defines an extensible, common publishing format for 3D content tools and services that streamlines authoring workflows and enables interoperable use of content across the industry.

Put simply, the gLTF format is an open format for transferring & loading 3D scenes across multiple platforms without having to export multiple files each time you want to use it on a different device.

“gLTF is the JPG for 3D.”

This means that any model which is of the gLTF (or the accompanying gLB) format has a minimal file size and support for everything a 3D scene will need, including support for PBR (Physically Based Rendering) materials for realistic rendering, a great feature to have if you need to show your product in as close to the real one as possible.

There have been many advancements made by companies that are a part of the Khronos group for the format.

For example:

  • Google started a glTF extension for Draco mesh and point cloud compression built for high compression, efficiency, and speed.
  • Multiple 3D applications building in support for the format (Blender, Unity, Autodesk etc.,).
  • Support for gLTF rendering on major browsers (Google Chrome, Mozilla, Safari).
  • Support for the format on the ARCore platform by Google.

With support and enhancements coming in for the gLTF format day-by-day, it’s a great bet to have your products distributed with the same specifications and standards to maintain a seamless experience across devices.

USDZ — the new new

Similar to the open gLTF format, Apple created an optimised 3D file format, called USDZ.

It uses the innovative USD (Universal Scene Description) format build in collaboration with Pixar, to create a zero-compression ZIP archive, the former has been used by the animation giant for a number of years when working with 3D content, but the introduction of USDZ sees the technology now optimised for mobile devices.

This means any iOS ranging from the iPhone 6 to the latest can easily open this format across a variety of applications

With Apple being a part of the Khronos and a contributing member, it may seem bizarre that they would create a competing standard to the gLTF format. But as we’ve seen multiple times in the past, Apple’s decisions have far-reaching consequences that influence entire industries.

This means that if you want the 3D models to be compatible with Apple’s ARKit, you’ll need to convert it into the USDZ format, along with the gLTF format for the web.

Given how quickly 3D and AR are becoming as quintessential as websites, knowing what formats are the best gives you the technological edge to get them out to your audiences easily.

Here’s how you get them into the two formats mentioned above:

Scapic’s Platform

Once you’ve got the 3D model, you can either use the inbuilt exporter if the software you used to create it supports the gLTF format. USDZ is a trickier thing since it’s Apple’s own format and there’s currently no way to natively create models in the format.

Scapic’s USDZ Converter
Scapic’s USDZ Converter

If you want to save a lot of time and avoid frustrations with the 3D software (the exports if not natively supported will run into quite a lot of issues), and also convert into one of the above formats, you can use Scapic’s USDZ Converter.

You can download the gLB/USDZ asset or even email it someone. The email will also contain a link to the object which they can use to view the object in AR without installing any application.

A few examples, all converted using Scapic’s USDZ Converter
A few examples, all converted using Scapic’s USDZ Converter

Now that you‘ve optimised your model to be compatible across multiple platforms, there are only a few steps left:

3D creation is not new, but most organisations are not set up to create/use 3D assets efficiently. For marketers, e-commerce and businesses, this means the barrier to entry for delivery of compelling 3D and AR experiences is rapidly decreasing, opening the door for increased engagement and consumer understanding.

Scapic’s platform provides an easy way to deliver this to all media such as websites, Facebook, Instagram as well as the ability to quickly and easily export assets to match the specifications of each distribution channel and online platform.

Don’t have 3d Models and want to showcase 3D on your site?

Don’t worry, we’ve got your back. Contact us.

Have your own gLTF models?

Learn how to get them ready for AR across a multitude of devices & media — here or contact us.