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I'm architecting a software project which involves 3D graphics and will soon need to select a 3D modeler to build some models for us. I'm trying to figure out what file format I should require the modeler to deliver to us.

  • We would ideally like something which can be opened and edited with free tools, but we don't want to force the professional modeler to use non-industry-standard tools which he/she may not be familiar with.

  • We will need to write a script to batch-render the models with a variety of texture maps. We need to be able to re-run this script on demand, and without using a GUI. So either the format must be accepted by a standalone rendering engine which we can run from the command line, or it must be simple enough that we can write our own scripts to convert it to what the rendering engine accepts.

Can you recommend a suitable 3D model file format?

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This question may be related. – Lèse majesté Feb 27 '12 at 16:26
What engine are you using? Some are optimized for specific formats. – Lynn Jul 22 '14 at 18:57
up vote 2 down vote accepted

You may want to research COLLADA:

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The Wikipedia page has a list of supported applications, which seems fairly comprehensive unless you need to support CAD applications. – Lèse majesté Feb 27 '12 at 16:27
Thanks, we are going to use COLLADA! – Alex D Feb 28 '12 at 7:23

An .obj is an object file that gets exported/imported amongst different 3D modeling softwares.

For instance, it's common for 3D modelers to create their base object in Maya or 3DS Max, then export that model as an .obj so it can be imported into another program for creating detailed effects such as Z-brush or Mudbox.

I think an .obj would be an option for their needs as it can be read by multiple 3D programs.

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Can you please explain a little bit more what you mean? Perhaps an example? – Kurt Apr 24 '13 at 20:48
@Kurt, I edited my answer and provided more detail. – ckpepper02 Apr 24 '13 at 20:58

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