[Bf-committers] The future of FBX and/or other formats in Blender

Ton Roosendaal ton at blender.org
Wed Feb 10 16:16:27 CET 2016

Hi Bastien,

Thanks for the notes, I know how much you've been suffering *and* contributing in this area!

Let me share a bit of background info, and provide a translation of Bastien's rant :)

Bastien is already involved since September 2013 to work on FBX. He did a truly amazing job in getting IO on a reasonable working level already. I hear a lot of professionals and studios who are happy with Blender's fbx support.

After over two years of FBX work, Bastien is now our #1 expert in that area. He made a well informed (albeit a bit frustrated) decision that he doesn't further want to develop on it.

His suggestion is just to freeze the support level for FBX (or limit it, like Campbell suggests) and move energy to another and truly open format.

Of course we keep FBX, and if a developer comes by who likes to maintain it or who can bring it up to an even higher support level, then the person is more than welcome (possibly with a development fund grant). Knowing the quality of Bastien's work, then this is not going to be a simple job for anyone. But it could be tried!

(BTW don't forget, Autodesk is not giving out docs or specs, and they change the format at will randomly. We need to reverse engineer the format).

And that is the real main reason for this frustrated situation:
--> Autodesk's persistent refusal to open up FBX as an exchange format <--

It's how Autodesk frustrates and dominates the market. Good for their share holders. 

And secondary: why are parties like Epic Games, Valve or Unity not solving it then?
Together they are a 100x more powerful than Blender Foundation. They can start to make nice plugins for Maya and Max for an open format tomorrow. Heck, they could use the .blend format even!



Ton Roosendaal  -  ton at blender.org   -   www.blender.org
Chairman Blender Foundation - Producer Blender Institute
Entrepotdok 57A  -  1018AD Amsterdam  -  The Netherlands

> On 9 Feb, 2016, at 17:42, Bastien Montagne <montagne29 at wanadoo.fr> wrote:
> Hi,
> So, lately there's been a lot of FBX-related issues reported to our 
> tracker. Most of those are either:
> - Known (half-)broken things (like cameras/lights orientation issues), 
> over which I do not intend to spend more time, since those are not 
> critical features to support imho.
> - Broken corner-cases in an area that globally works rather well 
> (thinking about skeletons here).
> - Mysterious third-party applications-related issues (scaling, skeletons 
> again, etc.), that is, bugs that show with one app but not another.
> I think later point is a good demonstration that FBX itself is a failure 
> and a dead horse - if even rather big and serious companies like Unreal 
> or Unity cannot get a reliable FBX importer working using official FBX 
> SDK, then how are we supposed to do it without even that SDK?
> Further more:
> - In past two years a lot of time and energy was invested (lost) in FBX.
> - </rant> I’m just dead sick of that format, of hitting any possible 
> table corner when trying to walk my way in that non-sensible pitch black 
> box, etc. </rant>
> - Knowledge I gained of this format and its evolution is **not** 
> encouraging at all (stupid things like supporting two different and 
> complex transform systems [3DS max and Maya ones, btw ;) ], a very weird 
> inconsistency at binary level, etc.). I do not have any feeling this is 
> a sane format, nor that it is evolving in a sane direction. It seems to 
> be defined a bit as needs arise, piling up new stuff over old ones, etc. 
> To summarize: no clear design behind it, and a very dirty way of 
> handling new versions of it.
> So I would claim to stop relying on and developing it. It would not mean 
> we just remove it from Blender, but think it’s time to switch to 
> something more modern and open - am aware of at least to possible 
> alternatives, which could even be quite complementary.
> I) glTF
> Promoted by Khronos group (https://www.khronos.org/gltf), it aims at 
> being the open exchange format for games (from simple asset to complete 
> scene description).
> Think it’s still very new stuff, not much widely used yet, but it seems 
> to have some support from several major companies (including Microsoft 
> and even - rofl - Autodesk, see http://gltf.autodesk.io/).
> Promoted by Pixar (http://graphics.pixar.com/usd/), it aims at being 
> some kind of generic pipeline format for CG studios (it also has 
> integration of Alembic e.g.).
> I have no idea of its acceptance currently, but sounds like it could be 
> a valuable option for our 2.8 'pipeline/inter-application exchange' goal?
> (as a side note, interesting to see that those two have a similar 
> approach, they are not monolithic files but rather a combination of 
> binary data and textual descriptions…)
> Anyway, those are very early reflections, would like to get your 
> feelings about those two formats/projects (or others you may have in 
> mind! ;) ), but I’m feeling much more enthusiast at the idea of spending 
> time on modern, open-designed (or at least, open-specified) formats, 
> than on piece of proprietary crap!
> Again, even if we end up deciding we stop trying to fully support FBX as 
> our main exchange format, it would keep being supported in its current 
> status at least for one or two years - just I would not try to add 
> support for new versions (2016 one seems to have some incompatibilities 
> with our code already), nor would try to understand and fix more stuff 
> in that format.
> And that’s a long enough mail, thanks for reading it!
> Bastien
> _______________________________________________
> Bf-committers mailing list
> Bf-committers at blender.org
> http://lists.blender.org/mailman/listinfo/bf-committers

More information about the Bf-committers mailing list