Exporting and Importing file formats

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image CC licence Attribution 2.0 Generic by Easyflow on Flickr


When you "import" an image, model, data or video file into a 3D Graphics package you pull in data about that media into the graphics program you are working with.

You can then change and manipulate that data if you have permission or if the original data is yours.

At some point you will have to "export" - (push out) - files into several different formats to get the effect you want – no one program can cover them all.

Sometimes you may just want to convert one file format into another one without changing the data but simply changing the file format.

Some of the skills you may need to do this effectively are knowing about file extensions and formats and directories paths and file navigation. Where possible, in this Wiki we will provide detailed exemplars of how to do this or quick video tutorials making the process easier to understand. A lot of online tutorials take for granted that you have knowledge you don't possess! So we are starting from a very low threshold and working up from there.

Different file extensions

So some developers use different packages to import and export file types between programs to get the results they need.

Essentially each program saves files with different extension endings like .OBJ, .KMZ, .DAE etc. (Explain what these are in more detail and why they are there.)

Each of these formats have grown up over time through the use of more proprietorial commercial programs or open source equivalents but essentially they are all wrappers for the different types of data of the same object created to be read into different applications for different purposes.


Common terms associated with Graphic file formats

There are also a few terms that you will pick up along the way such as:

  • faces
  • nodes
  • vertices
  • textures
  • UV mapping
  • NURBS
  • Polygon mesh
  • Spline
  • Point Cloud
  • Sculpted prim

and quite a few others but don't let this put you off.

These terms will be explained when they are used and examples given.

The basic concepts for making and saving to different file formats are similar to a word processing document saved into .DOC, .PDF, .TXT formats and some but not all can be read or “imported” into other programs to be tweaked or converted for further use.

They can be used to make architectural drawings or for use in desktop publishing or making models to place in Google Earth.

Just experiment with the different packages below and see what suits your purpose.

Once you have used one or two then you soon become familiar with the concepts involved.