Sketchfab is an online platform to view and share 3D files. The company has been adding a bunch of new features over the past few months, including computer-generated animations and a VR button to view 3D models with a VR headset. Today, the company is partnering with TimeSlice Films to add support for “4D,” which are really 3D movie files captured using multiple cameras.
TimeSlice Films has built a structure made out of 53 GoPro cameras to capture footage from every angle. The footage is then processed by the company’s custom software to create a 3D movie file. Sketchfab now lets you display this kind of files in your browser and around the web using embeds. Here’s the end result (don’t forget to drag around to see that it is indeed a 3D file):
Compared to 3D animations, this is a much more complicated feature as these files aren’t just animated skeletons programmed by professional animators. 4D movies are more like old school animated films. Back in the early days of 2D Disney movies, animators would draw many still drawings and put them back together to create a smooth, 24 frame-per-second movie.
The short movie above is made from a large number of still 3D models. They’re then put back-to-back to create a smooth animation.
Many companies are working on 360 video content for virtual reality headsets. But those companies aren’t creating 3D content per se. You can just pan around in a Google Street View-like video. It’s a sort of 360 two-dimensional video.
That’s why TimeSlice’s footage is quite impressive. And you can see Sketchfab’s incredible optimization work as this tiny movie is playing smoothly in my browser here. It’ll be interesting to see how creators are going to use this new technology.