๐Ÿ’ป3D Standards In The World Wide Web

Feb 18, 2023

At the moment, there are no standards in the realm of 3D. There are conventional workflows that exist, but nothing that can relate to an actual standard.

What Do We Call A Standard?

Some principles in 3D can be very difficult to grasp, and we are aware of that. Even if we do not expect anyone to fully understand it, we believe education is a powerful tool that helps elevating individuals.

If we were to find an equivalence, we could simply compare a 3D file and a 2D image. As of today, when one needs to share an image, there is no need to know what kind of format, compressions, resolution and whatever other features an image can have, in order to receive or display it.

Being in the NFT space, the vast majority of users will know that there are mostly 2 formats that reign over the realm of 2D images: JPEG and PNG.

Do you know what the differences are? No necessarily, and thatโ€™s because you donโ€™t need to know. The only thing that matters is that you can see and use it, and pretty much anyone else with a computer will be to do the same.

When It Comes To 3D, That Is Not The Case.

If you want to learn a little bit more about 3D, make sure to read our thread on how we created the Knittables, that might help you understand basic concepts of the 3D creation process.

When working in 3D, there are different steps that need to be taken into account, and without going too much into details and risking to lose you right here, letโ€™s try to sum these up real quick:

  • Move points in 3D space, connect 2 points to create a line, connect 3 or more points, and you get a surface called a polygon. This step is called โ€œmodelingโ€ - it is basically just a boring grey representation of what the shape of your 3D model is and only holds information regarding the position of the points in the 3D space and how they connect with one another.

  • Grey you said? Indeed. As of now, your model only exists as a dull version of itself. In order to bring it to life, you will have to create materials (generally called โ€œtexturesโ€) that will define what pieces have what colour and so on. The creation of the materials is directly connected to what additional software you will use to export your final visual.

  • In order to make it look all cool and fancy, you will need an extra piece of software called a rendering engine, that will calculate how light acts and reacts to your 3D model, based on the colours and textures you applied to it, the light you added to your scenes and the settings you chose within the rendering engine. This piece of software is independent of the geometry creator and often comes as a separate add-on to 3D programs.

Thatโ€™s for the basic of what constitutes a conventional 3D object - but it doesnโ€™t stop there and there are still tons of other features that adds complexity (animation and other attributes that we donโ€™t need to tackle here).

Do you get where we are going? If you wanted to access all the features of a 3D object, you would need to have the same pieces of software as the creator, otherwise, you would only get access to an exported version of it, that only includes a couple of exported features, and reconstitute some elements, in order to make it work in your 3D package and rendering engine.

Why Is That A Problem?

In a world where the number of 3D projects and applications are growing by the day, there is a need of having a file format that would allow every 3D package as well as every rendering engine to read and access it seamlessly. Most of 3D packages do not allow tons of flexibility. Most of the features are what we call โ€œdestructiveโ€ and it means that once you set it, you will not be able to go back to it and easily edit its features.

Pixar, our favourite animation studio, is working on such a standard that is called USD (it stands for Universal Scene Description and not US Dollar, you little degen!). That file format is aiming at become the JPEG of 3D, thus allowing any program that supports it to read and use the files as is. It is though still at its infancy and it will take some time before we can actually call it a standard.

Why Should You Care?

All the above describes a traditional/conventional 3D pipeline, where assets are created, locked and exported. Even though that works and has worked for decades, it does not allow any flexibility when it comes to adapting to different situations. Imagine having to go back to step 1 if you had to change something to adapt for a specific purpose.

At Knittables, we decided right from the start to use a workflow that would allow us to get full flexibility down the line. We are using a non-destructive workflow that processes assets without ever locking them in. Using a panel of custom tools, we are able to change settings within the collection and re-export its entirety to fit different purposes.

That particular feature becomes relevant, when it comes to integrating many different projects, that all use different workflows. We have the ability to get the requirements from new partners, set it up in our pipeline and proceed to a custom export that will enable them to easily integrate our collection.

And if tomorrow USD were to become an actual standard, we would simply be able to re-export a USD version of our Knittables and have them ready to rumble in a blink of an eye!


Knittables was set to be versatile and flexible right from the start. We thought ahead and implemented features within our workflow that would keep future doors opened.

There is a whole world of technical challenges that creators in the 3D world have to face, but the good thing is, you donโ€™t have to worry about it, because we do.

Together, as a Tribe, we stay!

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