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File Format Guide

Learn about the different file formats.

In the computer world, a file format is how each program saves its data so you can open it again. Different programs save different file types native to each, but some file formats are easily opened across the board and allow information to be shared between various software. For example, the program a web browser can process and display a file in the HTML file format so that it appears as a Web page, but it cannot display a file in a format designed for Microsoft’s Excel program. Usually, the extension is separated by a period from the name and contains three or four letters identifying the format.

There are as many file formats as other programs to process the files.


  • Word documents (.doc)
  • Web text pages (.htm or .html)
  • Web page images (.gif and .jpg and .png)
  • Adobe Photoshop files (.psd)
  • Adobe Acrobat files (.pdf)
  • Executable programs (.exe)
  • Multimedia files (.mp3 and others)
  • Compressed files (.zip and .rar)


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When working with 3D renders, the most common file format is either jpg or png. The latter has benefits over a jpg as the background can be saved as transparent. These are especially good when working with product renders, as they can be easily overlaid in different colours.





Both file types are great for drafts and final outputs after post-production. However, they are not very good for 3D Rendering output as they do not contain as much information as needed. These should be outputted as EXR and compiled in software such as Adobe Photoshop. EXR is also much better when prints of the images are required. If images ever need to be edited, then the original PSD (Photoshop file) file is always best.

If, for that matter, you are planning to print your house render or any other images, please make sure that your file is in adequate resolution for the printing needed. Additionally, be sure to check the file type that printers require. One of the safer printing file formats is PDF format. Ensure you get this information directly from the printing company so you can ask for it from the 3D rendering company in advance.


Video formats are much more complicated than still image renderings.


The most basic form of any video is a set of images played very quickly, so much so that you cannot see them change, and it all becomes a video. The rate at what they are shown is the frame rate. This is measured in FPS (frames per second). A frame is an image; the general FPS of video formats are 25,30,60 and 120. The higher frame rates are used for slow-motion video. However, there are many variations of frame rates. Read the Wikipedia frame rate article.


Raw video files are generally very large and a short minute video could take up to three gigs of data, but on the other hand raw data is always the best quality and can be edited easier. Clients should not need to worry about this as the 3D rendering company should present them with a finalised file format when the project is completed.


A video codec is how the video has been compressed or decompressed. Finished videos are compressed using standard compression, picking the codec is a matter of compatibility for what the end goal is. The most general one we use is h264 mp4 as these are most widely spread and can be read by most software.

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The most common file formats used in 3D rendering and animation include OBJ, FBX, and STL. OBJ (Wavefront Object) is a widely supported format that stores geometry, textures, and material information. FBX (Filmbox) is a versatile format used for exchanging 3D data between different software applications. STL (Stereolithography) is primarily used for 3D printing and represents the surface geometry of an object. These formats are compatible with a variety of software and are widely adopted in the industry.

When optimising 3D models for real-time rendering and gaming, the recommended file format is FBX. FBX supports a wide range of features, including animation, materials, and textures, making it suitable for interactive applications. It is widely supported by game engines and real-time rendering software, providing efficient and accurate representation of 3D assets. Additionally, FBX offers options for optimisation, such as reducing polygon count and merging materials, to enhance performance without compromising visual quality.

For 3D printing purposes, the most commonly used file format is STL (Stereolithography). STL files represent the surface geometry of an object using triangles and are compatible with most 3D printers. When preparing a model for 3D printing, it is essential to ensure the model is watertight (no holes or gaps) and has sufficient resolution to capture the desired level of detail. Some 3D modeling software also offer additional features for optimizing models specifically for 3D printing, such as adding support structures and checking for printability issues.

When it comes to exchanging 3D data between different software applications, the most widely supported and versatile file format is the industry-standard, OBJ (Wavefront Object). OBJ files can store geometry, textures, material information, and even basic animation data. This makes it compatible with various 3D software applications, allowing users to transfer models seamlessly across different platforms. It is important to note that while OBJ is versatile, some specific features may not be fully compatible when transferring between different software packages, so it’s advisable to review compatibility and limitations for more complex projects.

Yes, there is a file format specifically designed for collaborative 3D projects called the Universal Scene Description (USD). USD is an open-source, highly-scalable, and efficient file format that enables multiple artists to work on the same 3D scene concurrently. It allows for efficient data referencing, layering, and versioning of assets, making it ideal for large-scale projects. USD also supports complex scenes, including animation, shading, and lighting information. Although primarily used in advanced pipelines and production environments, USD is becoming increasingly popular and supported by major 3D software applications.

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals

You're only one step away from better product visuals