3d Rendering and Animation File Formats


Common file formats are jpg and png. PNG has the advantage of supporting transparency, but has larger file sizes. Transparency means the image can allow for portions of the image to be see-through.

Product renderings may use transparency to place a rendering over another image using a software such as Adobe Photoshop. Both jpg and png formats are great for drafts and revisions, but when you request your final images you should make sure you receive EXR or another HDRI format.

An HDRI format allows much more information to be stored and can produce much better results when printed. Although, generally, differences between HDRI and formats such as jpg and png only become apparent if you plan on making modifications to the images it can be great to have.

Requesting the PSD (Adobe Photoshop) file in addition to the final image file can be useful if you ever foresee yourself needing to alter the image in the future. A PSD file allows a designer to separate out layers, effects, and backgrounds for easier manipulation.

If you're planning on printing your house render or any image for that matter, be sure your file is in sufficient resolution for the required print. Additionally, be sure to check on the printer's requirements for file type. One of the safer file formats for printing purposes is PDF format. Be sure to get this information directly from your printing company to ensure you can request exactly what is needed ahead of time.


Video formats can get a lot more complicated than still images.

Frame Rate:

At its most basic form, a video is just a set of images played quickly enough that you cannot see the transition between frames. The rate at which they are shown is called the frame rate: the higher the frame rate, the smoother the video will be during fast movements. Standard frame rates are 24p, 25p, 30p, 60p, and 120p. However, there are many variations of frame rates. Click here for Wikipedia’s excellent article on frame rates.

Animation Compression:

Raw or uncompressed video files are very large. A minute of footage can take up several gigabytes. Raw footage is the best quality, but is difficult to transfer or play. If you are going to have the footage edited, you should ask for raw video, but plan for plenty of time to transfer it.

Animation Codec:

Finished videos are usually compressed using a codec (a compression decompression standard). Picking a codec is a matter of balancing compatibility, file size, and quality. We offer animation services and generally provide our clients with wmv files for Windows and mov files for Mac.

If a client is going to post the video online, we provide an h.264 mp4 file. All these can still be edited, but generally you will only experience a small decrease in video quality. It is good practice to request the raw footage just in case.

Converting raw to compressed:

As mentioned, the uncompressed footage created in an animation can often be unmanageable and needs to be compressed. On average, a 1 minute animation file in 1080P is around 55 gigs (often much too large to be transferred). We typically use Adobe's Media Encoder with H.264 in good quality to bring that file down to about 87MB, often seeing no visible compression artifacts.




Typically, 3D rendering comprises both 3D and web-development. It is the process that creates 2D images from a 3D model, using specific data that specifies the color, texture and material in the object. 3D rendering was first accomplished in 1960 when William Fetter simulated the space needed in a cockpit by depicting a pilot using 3-dimensional images. Sketchpad, known as the first 3D modeling program, arrived in 1963 and since then, the world of 3D modeling and rendering has evolved tremendously.

Over the years, graphic designers have developed various techniques for 3D rendering. Some of the popular methods include rasterization, ray-casting, ray tracing, and rendering equations. Each technique has unique advantages and shortcomings. Some common 3D rendering formats for web applications include:

  • Autodesk 3d Studio Max (MAX)
  • Autodesk Exchange File (FBX)
  • Wavefront (OBJ)
  • Rhino 3D (3dm)
  • Grasshopper 3D (GH)
  • Revit (.rvt)
  • SketchUp (.skp)
  • There are numerous other formats available for computer and web application 3D rendering.



There is a mind-blowing number of 3D formats available for real-time viewers. These formats are easily shareable across different mediums and can also be used with various 3D modeling tools available to designers. Some of the most popular formats used for real-time 3D asset delivery include USDZ and glTF. USDZ formats are fairly new in the market and are designed for iOS users. The format displays 3D combined with AR information and is only usable on iOS platforms.

Android users have their unique option in glTF. The formats are read-only, which means you cannot edit them without using 3D modeling software. To edit a USDZ file, you must extract them separately, just like you would any other zip file. glTF is a royalty-free specification for rendering real-time 3D scenes. It minimizes the runtime process required to unpack and utilize assets, making it a compelling choice for real-time 3D rendering.


Numerous DCC tools have recently emerged in the film and gaming industry. In recent times, 3D rendering inside DCC applications has crossed over to the architectural industry, where formats, such as MAX, FBX, and 3DS are a mainstay. The formats are simple to edit and interoperable across multiple workstations. DCC tools are packaged as native operation systems and require professional-skills to maneuver. They feature complicated interfaces but are also widely used for 3D modeling and rendering.

Choosing the right 3D modeling software is another important step. One of the most popular building information modeling (BIM) software choices among 3D architects and engineers are Autodesk Revit and SketchUp.

Revit is considered as one of the most advanced architectural programs there is, its native formats include RVT, RFA, RTE, RFT.

SketchUp offers multiple plugins, making it easy for the 3D designers to adapt the software for many different purposes. SketchUp file formats include VRML, IGES, JT and STEP.



There are hundreds of 3D modeling formats, so it is essential to choose one that suits your needs. Some formats are unique to the modeling tool, limiting interoperability if you want to share projects with designers using different software. However, you can find neutral formats, such as FBX, OBJ, STL, 3DS, COLLADA, and IGES, among others. These formats can be used across a wide variety of tools and suit almost any workflow. It is best to understand the pros and cons of each format before you start rendering 3D models. As an architect, you can start with MAX and FBX formats and grow into other options as you sharpen your skills.