Online 3D content distribution website Sketchfab is currently the go to viewing platform for sharing in-browser 3D models. Since the startup launched in 2013 they have added several types of new functionalities, including the ability to share 3D content directly to Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, as well as offering users the ability to offer their 3D models for download under Creative Commons licenses. And now, Sketchfab is gearing up to allow users to host and share viewable 3D animations in addition to 3D models.
Using the same WebGL technology as their embeddable 3D viewer, users will be able to upload 3D animated models, allowing them to display their animations on virtually any website or social media page. This Animation Preview feature enables the easy browsing or sharing of 3D animated content without requiring additional applications to open and view them. The Sketchfab player has controls similar to YouTube, allowing the viewer to pause or play the animation, and just as with the 3D viewer, the animation can be rotated, zoomed in or out and even moved to a specific frame. The default setting for Animation Preview is to allow it to continuously loop, however that setting can be customized individually.
Animated files are uploaded the same way that standard 3D files are uploaded, however currently Sketchfab only supports animated files in FBX format. Thankfully, FBX is one of the most popular animated 3D formats, and most of the popular 3D design software platforms on the market natively support exporting files in it. If you’re not sure how to export in FBX, Sketchfab has a handy page explaining how the process works for programs like Maya, 3ds Max and Blender.
“Animation support is a huge step for Sketchfab as a product, it’s pretty much a 4th dimension. It means you can now tell mini interactive stories and share them anywhere online. We want to be the best place for your 3D files, so we will continue to improve Sketchfab as you push creative boundaries. I can’t wait to see what you show and tell with animations,” said Sketchfab CEO and co-founder Alban Denoyel.
The Animation Preview API is capable of rendering both skeleton animations and solid animations, so the 3D animated object can simulate both movement in space, and movement using scripted actions. This makes the 3D animation viewer ideal for online portfolios, showcasing video game animation or features without needing to launch the game and even as a way to display and demonstrate the functionality of a real world product. And Sketchfab already supports VR headsets, so users will also be able to upload 3D animations that can be viewed using the latest Virtual Reality technology.
The new Animation Preview feature has long been one of the communities most requested functionalities, and is set to be just the first of many new ways to use Sketchfab. Premium users already have the ability to directly upload content natively from Photoshop or Blender, or from 3ds Max and SketchUp using a plugin, and Sketchfab also plans on rolling out several new premium tools aimed at creators and professionals. They will also be launching a 3D model marketplace for downloadable 3D printable files, 3D models and sponsored content that allows users to buy and sell content with transactions that take place directly within Sketchfab.
Currently Animation Preview is only available to beta testers, but it is expected to be rolled out to all users in the next few weeks. However any current Sketchfab user is invited to try out or test the Animation Preview feature, simply sign up here to request being added to the beta program. Let us know what you think of all of the new Sketchfab features over on our Sketchfab In-Browser Animations forum at 3DPB.com.