Khronos Showcases Significant glTF Momentum for Efficient Transmission of 3D Scenes and Models

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Open source glTF Validator and glTF 1.0.1 Specification released; glTF MIME Type Approved by IANA; Multiple importers and translators available

Khronos glTF

The Khronos™ Group, an open consortium of leading hardware and software companies, today announced significant momentum behind the glTF™ (GL Transmission Format) royalty-free specification for the transmission and loading of 3D content. Since the launch of glTF 1.0 in September 2015, Khronos has released an open source glTF validator, commenced community review of the glTF 1.0.1 specification that incorporates industry feedback for enhanced interoperability, successfully registered glTF as a MIME type with IANA and has catalyzed a growing array of importers, translators and tools supporting the glTF standard. More information on glTF specifications and activities is available on the Khronos website.

“The world has long needed an efficient, usable standard for 3D scenes that sits at the level of common image, audio, video, and text formats. Not an authoring format, or necessarily a format you would use for a hyper optimized platform specific application, but something at home on the internet, capable of being directly created and consumed by many different applications,” said John Carmack, CTO of Oculus.

glTF is a vendor- and runtime-neutral asset delivery format that minimizes the size of 3D scenes and models, and optimizes runtime processing by interactive 3D applications using WebGL™ and other APIs. glTF creates a common publishing format for 3D content tools and services, analogous to the JPEG format for images. The format combines an easily parsable JSON scene and material description, which references binary geometry, textures, materials and animations. glTF is extensible to handle diverse use cases and already available extensions include binary scene descriptions and high precision rendering for geospatial applications.

glTF 1.0.1 tightens specification specificity to aid in asset validation to facilitate a robust and interoperable ecosystem. The changes include minor updates to corner cases for accessors, buffers, techniques, and other glTF properties. The released draft is for community review and will be finalized after implementation and industry feedback. For details and discussion on glTF 1.0.1, see the Github project page for glTF 1.0.1 discussions.

“glTF has been embraced by the industry as it fills a real and growing need to bring 3D assets quickly and efficiently to a wide variety of platforms and devices. Fast growing industries such as Augmented and Virtual Reality will use the foundation of a widely accepted 3D format to enable seamless content distribution and end-user experiences” said Neil Trevett, president of the Khronos Group and vice president at NVIDIA and chair of the Khronos 3D Formats Working Group

The new glTF Validator is an open source, cross-platform tool that analyses whether a glTF 1.0.1 asset is valid according to the spec and schema, and if it isn't - what is invalid. The glTF Validator will be critical to interoperability between tools and applications as it can be used to ensure all glTF assets are correctly formed. The glTF Validator is available today as a command line tool and a drag and drop validator web front-end tool, with a client-side JavaScript library coming soon. Source and more details can be found at the GitHub page for the glTF Validator.

‘MIME types’ are used to identify the type of information that a file contains. Khronos’ successful registration of glTF as a MIME type at the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) is a significant step in ensuring that glTF files may be reliably and correctly identified and recognized across diverse markets and ecosystems. Previous MIME types include image/jpeg, audio/mpeg, and video/mp4 – the new model/gltf+json MIME type finally recognizes 3D as widely usable class of content.

The glTF specification is being openly developed with the specification and source of multiple converters and loaders freely available on GitHub. Since glTF’s launch, the amount of industry support has grown significantly to include:

  • Direct export from tools such as Blender;
  • Translators from diverse formats such as FBX, COLLADA, OBJ, and OpenStreetMap;
  • Support in the Open Asset Import Library (Assimp);
  • Direct import into engines including three.js, Microsoft’s Babylon.js, Cesium, X3DOM, xeoEngine, PEX and the A-Frame framework for WebVR;
  • A community-generated glTF Reference Card by Marco Hutter.

More details are on the GitHub project page for glTF tools.

Work is already underway to evolve and expand glTF’s capabilities. Extensions in development include sophisticated streaming of very large 3D CAD models from Fraunhofer IGD and advanced 3D mesh compression using 3DGC technology from the MPEG Consortium. Potential future core specification features include definition of physically based rendered (PBR) materials, morph targets and support for the upcoming WebGL 2.0 standard. Anyone is welcome to join the discussion on the glTF GitHub project page.

“glTF is the result of a multi-year effort to design an open, interoperable format for sharing 3D graphics. The level of community effort and industry adoption we have seen in the few months since its initial ratification show the huge promise of an open format for sharing 3D everywhere,” said Tony Parisi, virtual reality pioneer and co-editor of the glTF specification.

glTF at Web3D and SIGGRAPH Conferences 22-28 July, Anaheim, CA
There are multiple presentations and demonstrations showcasing WebGL, glTF, and other Khronos APIs between July 22nd-28th at the Web3D and SIGGRAPH Conferences in Anaheim, CA.

Industry Support for glTF
“glTF adds standardization and web portability for OpenGL-based viewing and processing tools, which overall makes sharing immersive digital experiences much easier,” said Stefano Corazza, senior principal scientist at Adobe.

“The Augmented Reality for Enterprise Alliance (AREA) congratulates the Khronos group on the launch of glTF. The increasing momentum and acceptance of glTF is another important step in the development of the AR in Enterprise ecosystem and wider 3D industries,’ said Mark Sage, Executive Director of AREA.

“Unlocking 3D content from proprietary desktop applications to the cloud creates massive new opportunities for collaboration. Designers can share their work much earlier in the process, makers can show what their objects will look like before being printed, educators can incorporate interactive elements to the courses they produce, and much more. This future is so close we can feel it - the hardware is capable, the browsers are capable, now if only we could solve the content pipeline. Having an interoperable standard for tools manufacturers and engine developers to work against is a huge step - go glTF!,” said Ross McKegney , Platform @ Box.

“glTF has become the foundation for 3D geospatial visualization on the web, from SmartCities to flight simulators, and is a core component of 3D Tiles for streaming massive models,” said Patrick Cozzi, Principal Graphics Architect, Cesium.

“With the growing computational power of modern graphic cards and better approximations, physically-based rendering (PBR) are becoming an exciting trend in real time graphics. Now, the researchers of Fraunhofer IGD are bringing this new trend to the web — with glTF! The main goal behind PBR is to follow real physical laws, so materials will look accurate and consistent in all lighting conditions without changing an immense list of parameters and settings. glTF is the container for this new kind of web technologies,” said Johannes Behr, head of competence center Visual Computing System Technologies at Fraunhofer IGD.

“We clearly see a big momentum about glTF in the Babylon.js community. This is why we keep improving our glTF loader to be sure to respond to our user needs,” said David Catuhe, principal program manager at Microsoft and author of babylon.js.

“OTOY believes glTF will become the industry standard for compact and efficient 3D mesh transmission, much as JPEG has been for images. To that end, glTF, in tandem with Open Shader Language, will become core components in the ORBX scene interchange format, and fully supported in over 24 content creation tools and game engines powered by OctaneRender,” said Jules Urbach, Founder & CEO of OTOY.

About The Khronos Group
The Khronos Group is an industry consortium creating open standards to enable the authoring and acceleration of parallel computing, graphics, vision, sensor processing and dynamic media on a wide variety of platforms and devices. Khronos standards include Vulkan™, OpenGL®, OpenGL® ES, WebGL™, OpenCL™, SPIR™, SPIR-V™, SYCL™, WebCL™, OpenVX™, EGL™, COLLADA™, and glTF™. All Khronos members are enabled to contribute to the development of Khronos specifications, are empowered to vote at various stages before public deployment, and are able to accelerate the delivery of their cutting-edge media platforms and applications through early access to specification drafts and conformance tests.

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Neil Trevett, Khronos President
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