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Sponsored Feature: Interoperability and Autodesk FBX Technology
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Sponsored Feature: Interoperability and Autodesk FBX Technology


April 23, 2008 Article Start Page 1 of 2 Next
 

Being able to move data between applications in a production pipeline that employs multiple tools is crucial to the success of any digital content creation workflow, especially for game developers. For example, such companies often need to access existing content created with varied versions of their software because their pipelines are standardized on a particular version. To attract top-notch talent some boutique studios offer artists their choice of tools. When a film house collaborates with a game studio, data interoperability enables team members to share assets built with one toolset and repurpose them with another.

Data interoperability also enables production facilities to have artists modeling with one tool and animators working with a different tool that is better suited to the task. With interchange technology like Autodesk FBX, a company that prefers to model and animate characters using one toolset is able to outsource architectural and virtual environments to a company that uses a different toolset.

Managing data in production pipelines is becoming more complex. Autodesk FBX technology offers a solution to these complex interchange challenges. FBX technology makes it easier to transfer all manner of 3D data types across applications; including 3ds Max, Maya, and MotionBuilder software tools, as well as countless proprietary and third-party 2D and 3D tools and plug-ins. Most major 3D data elements, including motion, cameras, characters, non-polygonal surfaces, and skeletal hierarchies, as well as 2D, audio, and video media elements are supported by FBX technology.

Autodesk includes FBX plug-ins with both 3ds Max and Maya. MotionBuilder is built to support the FBX file format natively. Autodesk offers a free C++ SDK and API. There is a free utility for converting OBJ, DXF™, 3DS, COLLADA, and other file formats to the FBX file format. And an FBX viewer is available as a plug-in to QuickTime®.

The FBX plug-in and SDK deliver unprecedented levels of interoperability. But to take full advantage of this power, you need to be aware of the differences among your 3D applications and to understand how FBX technology helps you solve seemingly insurmountable challenges.

Understanding FBX

FBX is much more than a file format. The FBX technology family of tools offers a comprehensive data interchange solution. In the same way that PDF files let you share documents with users who do not own the word processor or page layout program those documents were created with, FBX technology lets you exchange data between 2D and 3D applications. The FBX file format, however, is more flexible than the PDF format, because data passed between applications via the FBX file format retains its ability to be manipulated.

When data recognized by FBX technology is exported to the FBX file format, it is usually stored in a lossless manner, retaining full fidelity and functionality. When importing an FBX file, FBX technology in the destination application examines the incoming data. If the data type is not recognized by the destination application, the FBX plug-in tries to convert the data to a form that produces a result functionally equivalent to the result produced in the source application.

For example, say you have an animation produced using a specific type of fcurve:

  • If on export the FBX processing technology recognizes the type of curve, it is stored in a lossless manner and retains full fidelity and functionality in the FBX file.

  • If on export the FBX technology does not recognize the curve type, the curve is automatically re-sampled (interpolated) using a type of curve supported by the FBX plug-in. When the FBX file is imported into the destination application, the result is full visual fidelity. Your ability to manipulate and edit the data is not limited. However the data will have been modified by the plug-in on import.

  • If on import the destination application recognizes the type of curve, the result is lossless interoperability.

  • If on import the destination application does not recognize the type of curve, the FBX plug-in attempts to interpolate the curve’s data so its intended result can be reproduced as closely as possible in the destination application.

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