Universal File Format?

Hi. I was just wondering, what is the most universal file format? In otherwords, what can I export a mesh to that will be understandable by the majority of 3D programs? Also, what file format is best for scenes? I have heard that .obj is pretty good, but I maybe I am mistaken. Thanks.


dxf or obj are very common and can be read by almost anything that can handle vertices and edges. however, sometimes some programs have difficulties digesting some models. for example, lightwave often ignores some dxf files…

scene data is more complicated and i don’t know of a Über-format that let’s you exchange all data easily between different programs. on the commercial site there are attempts like the FBX-format (kaydara motionbuilder) which can be used as a exchange format - there are plugins available for all big 3d packages (max, maya, xsi, lightwave etc…) which makes it a versatile format indeed. however, i’m not sure if there is data that is not recognized/supported. and last but not least blender is not supported.

max has an ascii-scene output that could be parsed easily and transformed into different formats, and XSI introduced some time ago the dotXSI format, which can be read via plugins by other packages, too. as far as i remember lightwave-scenes are plain-text which puts them on the same level as max-ascii. and finally, blender can output xml-data (for yafray) from which conversion could be done again with the appropriate tools.

in the end, it all comes to programming custom conversion tools. there is still a gap between blender and “the rest” when it comes to scene data. but IMO it is a matter of time till we’ll be able to export/import scene data to and from other packeges (this might also be a step for blender towards “profesional” production environments - all major studios use a combination of many software programs that make their production pipeline).

Okay. Thanks :smiley: !


Plain text, XML :slight_smile:


I personally use OBJ the most, but that’s because I bought Zbrush and that’s it’s main thing.

however, for some complex model’s, I have to use DXF from blender, and then use a 3rd party program like 3DWin4(which is ESSENTIAL, it converts a blender DXF into just about everything!!!).

The blender OBJ export script is still a little buggy, but works for most things.

I say .obj and .dxf are by far the best, expescially when used with a converter program like 3Dwin4 that will convert it flawlessly into whatever format you need.

imho is OBJ for all what is static, *.x for animated characters with bones and weights.

just a hint - cinema 4D is by far the best “conversion” tool i know. it takes all major known formats and outputs to almost anything. and, compared to others (like lightwave, which i mentioned above) it doesn’t seem to have any problems with any of the supported formats.

if i remember correctly there is a free version of C4D (at least it used to be on the cover-CD’s of some graphic design magazines).

yes, I have them both…

5.0 LE , with some limits, and 6.0 SE (if was so called) which only was limited I think to an smaller render…768x512 or 640x480, can’t remember.But for conversions, animation, mdoelling, perfectly usable…
Perahaps a good helper tool to blender, but i wouldn’t see much need of it, as both 2 obj blender scripts work very well, and there are ase, x, 3ds, md2, etc, formats…
BTW, is nice to have as much tools as possible :slight_smile:

BTW, I’m a freak of this free gifts, and thoug I purchased it (was like 300$) Amorphium 1 was given away with a Digit’s issue. And it really worth it…

Same as Truespace 3.2 is free and downloadable(some more formats)…link is found digging a bit at caligari.com site…

And a version of 3d explorer , which is an outstanding converter, while it was a non crippled beta or the like…it just tell u “remind me later” to purchase it… It was here http://www.dsmith.gmaxsupport.com/Essential_Tools.htm

but as people can get lost (I’ll edit it in soem days, as I don’t like to put direct links to files) the download link in that page that is good is this one :


Another that allows conversions (euh, and great modelling tools, my fav together with Wings3d ) , but is not correct to use for comercial projects :

The LE version opens OBJ files (keep the join closed vertices marked in import dialog) , 3ds, lwo, etc…and outputs , very well indeed, *.x files, *.cob (truespace format, it keeps quads! ) , dxf with or without quads (the only one I know to do this) povray, etc.

But one of my favourites ones, as converters, is free in the means that it does not expire, nor is feature limited, nor save disabled.


Is full, but he says you should buy the software. I think it really worth the 20 bucks.
I anyway, cheaper than Deep exploration, though hardly anything can beat deep exploration(the previous verion of it was 3d exploration, I put u the link of that site where the a user yet has it uploaded.)

My actual favourite is Ultimate Unwrap(40$), I have it and it even converts bones and wieghts animations. It has plugins for every format out there…specially game related, but also the others. www.unwrap3d.com

BTW; I think now u actually don’t need any of these, if you grab the load of python scripts out there for formats :slight_smile:

I have a link-section on file-converters on my website. Here’s the direct link to the Freeware and Open Source collection (I’m going to add some of the above mentioned stuff there as well):

VRML and X3D are international, open standards. They aren’t as popular in actual use as 3DS or OBJ though. If it’s just mesh data it’s easy to convert any format to any other though.

Thank you all for the links! They are really helpful. And thanks, also, for taking the time to educate me. :smiley: