3D creations and 3D photos have a home on Facebook.
The social media giant is embracing a new type of content for you to upload alongside text, photos and videos. 3D objects and scenes saved in the industry standard glTF 2.0 format can be dragged straight to a browser window to add to your Facebook account. Update: This article originally published on February 20 of this year, but on Oct. 11 Facebook added 3D photos as well to its platform. The glTF feature was added to the platform’s tools so developers can build ways to export creations to Facebook from various apps, while the photos feature is available on “compatible dual-lens smartphones” — at launch that means iPhones with two rear cameras.
This means you’ll see 3D objects in your newsfeed that you can interact with in new ways. In addition, Facebook’s social VR software Spaces will let visitors reach out and pull these objects, or scenes, straight from the newsfeed and into their virtual world.
Facebook managers said they had no plans to let anyone re-download the creations. Put another way, you can put 3D content on Facebook but you can’t pull it back out to use in a non-Facebook app. This makes the approach quite a bit different from, say, Google’s Poly service which offers the option to let anyone download objects for use in other software. Responding to questions about why the feature doesn’t work both ways (you can re-download photos, for example), Facebook representatives said they wanted to get the feature working well first without hiccups so users could express themselves. They added that you can adjust the privacy of a 3D post just like any other. So it can be visible to only you, publicly to the world or somewhere in between. For comparison, Poly lets users make objects read-only or set it so that anyone can download for use in other programs.
Neither service offers a way for creators to make money from their uploads.
Facebook also recently launched animation tools for its Quill creativity software to bring scenes and objects to life. These creations, too, might one day come to newsfeeds alongside animations from other programs.
“It is very much our top priority,” said Lucy Bradshaw, Product Manager, Facebook Social VR.
Giants like Facebook, Google and Microsoft as well as startups like Sketchfab are racing to provide useful services that turn the Web 3D. Depth-sensing phone cameras and VR software like Quill, Blocks and Tilt Brush are making it possible for people to create 3D content more quickly and easily than ever before. This means 3D creation, which was once the domain of only experts working in fields like video games or movies, is increasingly becoming possible for anyone.
According to Facebook:
…artists using 3D authoring software can directly drag/drop their 3D files to Facebook to create a 3D post…people can easily share 3D memories captured with an Xperia XZ1 phone via Sony’s 3D Creator app. On the web, people can share objects directly from the Oculus Medium web gallery and soon from Google’s Poly as well. And 3D modeling software Modo has added the ability to generate Facebook-ready files, with support coming to more 3D programs soon.