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Sketchfab Has a [3D] Vision for How Models Should Be Displayed Online

Welcome to Mozy’s App Profile, where we introduce some of the new programs seeking the way we live and work. This week, Sketchfab recreates a 3D world on a 2D screen..

Despite the amazing technological advancements you’ve seen in your life, the images on your computer and smartphone can’t fully replicate the three-dimensional world around you.

Sketchfab is trying to change that. The New York-based startup has a vision to create a website where designers can properly showcase their 3D model work as it should be–with height, width, and depth.

“There are major web platforms for each media format,” said Alban Denoyel, CEO of Sketchfab. “YouTube [is] for videos, Slideshare [is] for slides, and Soundcloud [is] for music. Sketchfab [wants] to become the online home for 3D files.”

Unlike artist video reels, where viewers only get a limited, awkward taste of an artist’s work, Sketchfab enables viewers (and prospective clients) to fully experience all of the finer graphic details–like zooming in and out, into and around every nook and cranny of the model. Sketchfab’s Sony PS4 model, for instance, provides users with a unique view of the new gaming hardware.

“3D models are incredibly engaging, and do exactly what the internet does best–convey information,” said Denoyel. “They display levels of detail that you either can’t get from a photograph, or would need multiple photographs to convey. And [3D models] give the user full control of how they take that information in, as opposed to photo and video, whose point of view has been decided on by someone other than the user.”

Sketchfab also provides users with the ability to make on-the-fly stylistic edits with the “Toolbox.” Users can choose between a shadeless or original render, as well as transforming it into a wire-frame style in either white, grey, black, or blue.

The model platform also takes 27 different 3D formats, has exporters available for most major software platforms, and each model has its own embed code. The latter means, from a social standpoint, that Sketchfab makes sharing simple. Linking or embedding a 3D model is as elementary as a YouTube link.

And there doesn’t seem to be much competition, either.

“There were many attempts to do a web-based 3D viewer before,” Denoyel noted. “But all of them required plugins, which is a no-go today.”

Considering the ease and seamlessness of the platform, the appeal of Sketchfab is universal–and has a lot of long-term potential.

While the company is still exploring various revenue models, Denoyel’s eyes are on capturing the market. “The absolute focus is to be the number one community for 3D designers on the web” he said. “Because you can make 3D models of anything, [...] 3D models will become an integral part of media in general, as well e-commerce and brand marketing, amongst other verticals [like the tech world]. Imagine going to Amazon.com, and instead of needing to click through 10 different photos to get an idea of what a product looked like, you could instead fully interact with a life-like 3D model.”

Even though Sketchfab is still in its infancy, the site is quickly becoming popular. In fact, Sketchfab’s 3D model of the new Sony PS4 received more views than Sony’s official trailer–and in just five days, the model haseclipsed the 430K view mark.

As exciting as Sketchfab’s initial success has been, the future of 3D model technology might revolutionize the types of media online users share.

“3D scanning technology will be built into smartphones, which means anyone will be able to create a 3D model,” said Denoyel. “And [users] are going to want to share their creations–the same way people want to share their photos and videos. [...]”

Denoyel thinks “that’s a pretty good place to be.”

 

 

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