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Jack Hubler-Dayton

3D File Formats to Archive and Display

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Hello All,

DNGs are the standard for archiving photos for posterity, my question is what is the best 3D file format? OBJ? 

I have noticed that STL and OBJ seem the most common to export from photoscan especially for CRM professionals however I find that those formats are not the easiest to share/display, especially loading online. I have used three.js in the past to display models and those developers recommend using gLTF format because of its quick load time and efficiency, hence the nickname "jpeg of 3d". Any thoughts here? PDF's are easy to share but I know they are a horribly lossy file format...


On this form I found a OBJ/Collada>gLTF converter

 https://groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/cesium-dev/0tzql9s-e6M . 


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I think this is an important question to consider, and the answer may depend on the purpose and the longevity expected. You mention Archive and Display, and I think there are useful parallels in terms of images, especially as we may have one format for long-term assured storage and another for speedier manipulation and display.


You mention DNG, and DNG can contain TIFFs. Top-level archives which accept images will often specify they must be un-compressed TIFFs. This seems counter-intuitive in that they are taking on storage obligations which could be significantly reduced, but they are protecting against future licensing changes. The TIFF standard has no proprietary issues, but some of the algorithms behind compression standards, whilst open to read and implement at present, are private property, and there is the danger that permission may be revoked.


Whilst not implying any concerns over or criticism of Khronos, it states at the top of https://www.khronos.org/gltf/ “glTF™ (GL Transmission Format) is a royalty-free specification” – in other words, it looks to be remaining Khronos’s property.


There are precedents to be a little concerned, especially for the long-term. The Graphics Interchange Format (‘GIF’) is now thought of by most as a container for handy little images or animations etc. The GIF was developed by the Compuserve BBS team, and internally the data is losslessly compressed using LZW. LZW is proprietary, and from what I recall, there were attempts by those who owned them to assert their rights the LZW algorithm, and this led to the development of the open PNG standard.


I don’t have an answer in the ‘model archiving’ space but will be interested to learn.



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