This page is no longer maintained, find current documentation on our Help Center:
Exporting animations turns out to be a tricky topic, and we need to provide the community more knowledge. However, it’s impossible to write all these tutorials ourselves and on top of that the animation functionality is still unstable.
So for now I have opened a wiki page on the forum where community members can leave their contributions and share their knowledge. I have added information that we already have, or that was posted on the forum. Please add anything that you have found here too! Just edit the document with the pencil button:
Please note that you can only edit the top post - put all your tips and tricks in there. To report bugs, just post a new message in the Support forum.
Once the final Animation release gets closer, we will use the information in this document to draw up some official documentation on animation export for 3D apps. We might even reach out to you for some help with that
Getting access to the Animation feature
As support for animations is still in beta, we’re carefully inviting artists to help us test. If you’d like to try it out, please sign up here. We’re adding new batches of users several times a week and we will send you an email once you’re added.
General information about animation on Sketchfab
- You can find in-depth information about our animation support on the Sketchfab Help Center.
- Currently, we only support FBX files for animation. We’re working on supporting other file formats too.
- The system supports skeleton/bone/rig and solid animations.
- Morphing and camera/light animation, aren’t supported yet
First thing you’ll want to do is go into System>Preferences and choose the FBX I/O option on the left hand side of the preferences window. There are no options at export time so you need to do this before exporting your animated model. I find these settings are working well so far when exporting in FBX 2013 format:
- Make sure you choose FBX 2013 format specifically from the dropdown list when you export your animated model.
- If / When support is added you may be able to enable the camera and lights options.
- Same with morph maps, don’t expect them to show up on your model just yet (I currently have my setting enabled for testing).
- Sample animation will bake keyframes onto your bones at the interval you specify. This will increase your file size. You should try exporting with this disabled first, and if you notice “swimminess” or inaccuracy in your animation then turn this on and try different FPS settings. 1x FPS means add a keyframe to every bone on every frame, 2x means every other frame, 3x = every third frame, etc. (My current setting is a leftover from a previous project, not because I was having issues with Sketchfab. I haven’t tried turning this off for Sketchfab yet but I will update when I do.)
I use ACS (Automatic Character Setup) in Modo to rig my characters. ACS is amazing and unless you can create your own rigs from scratch you should be using it too. Please refer to the ACS documentation for help setting up your character. Once you’re ready to export, there are a couple things to keep in mind when using ACS for Sketchfab:
- You should Bake the rig before exporting. This will remove all fancy rig controls and other unsupported elements and leave you with a simple keyframe animated skeleton. Make sure to save your file first, then undo the bake or reload your file after you export, otherwise you will be stuck with this skeleton and no longer have your easy to animate rig.
- Once you bake the rig your model will be contained within the hierarchy, as the “Jack_3” model appears below:
Make sure to grab this item and drag it out of the hierarchy to be a top level item (you can drag it up onto the scene name, in this case “Jack.lxo”):
Important If you don’t do this your model will not show up at all in Sketchfab!
Now when exporting, make sure you have only that main model selected. The entire hierarchy and any child objects (like eyeballs, teeth, etc.) will automatically export into your FBX.
Application: 3DS Max
- Usually, disabling baking is best
- However, certain plugins don’t work with FBX (Character Animation Toolkit) and should be baked
CAT rigs are supported but have to be exported a certain way. In order to export animation that is made using CAT (Character Animation Toolkit), make sure you do the following:
- BEFORE you try to export make sure you are NOT displaying any bones as a box. Select the object/bone, right-click and go to Object Properties. Display as Box causes an FBX export error.
- When you export your animated model you only need to select the Model not the bones. Any CAT bones that are skinned to the mesh will automatically be exported out.
- In the FBX Settings, you must check Convert Deforming Dummies to Bones. Otherwise it will cause an error and your bones will display as geometry. I found the following FBX settings to be optimal.
Don’t use points or helpers as bones. It is not supported and causes missing animated geometry.
But if you can’t avoid it then you will have to export it “twice”. For some reason the “convert deforming dummies to bones” option at export doesn’t work. So first export it to FBX as you would normally do. Then import it back to 3ds max for converting every point and helper to bones and export it out again to FBX.
- “I could only export properly with Blender 6.1’s ASCII FBX exporter. 7.4’s binary exporter created lots of empty animations.” (carpaintergeril)
- “There is some glitches with IK - I am now trying to reproduce glitch and find correct settings to export FBX in Blender. I will hope to have update soon.” (polish_farmer)
- I found out that unchecking “NLA Strips” and “All actions” worked best for solid animation.
- Sometimes the Blender FBX exporter can crash on long animations. Learn how to reduce the number of keyframes with this tutorial by Dennis Haupt: How to Export an FBX file from Blender with reduced keyframes.
- Uncheck NLA Strips and All Actions if you only have one action on your rig or your animation is solid.
- Make sure all your bones in the rig are parented to a main bone that has the entire model assigned to it to avoid parenting issues when Sketchfab converts the model.
- Export with FBX 7.4 Binary gave me no issues, just make sure that you select the ‘Mesh’ & ‘Armature’ categories and check ‘Selected Objects’ to avoid complications.
- Sketchfab is very versatile when it comes to animation, so don’t be afraid to pick a dense mesh for the animation, my first animated mesh was 244k in polygonal density and it works great.
- IK rigs have given me no trouble thus far, just make sure you use them correctly and make the controller for them separate from the other bones.
- Use the Bake Action feature in Blender before you export a FBX. If you bake all actions in Blender and delete all the unused actions later you don’t need to change anything in the FBX exporting settings, all animations will work in Sketchfab like you see it in Blender. It works for Poses and Objects, also you can clear all Constraints and Parents.
- At the moment Sketchfab assumes subframes, even if you use constant interpolation mode in Blender. A workaround in cases where constant interpolation is absolutely necessary is using a zeroscale for the bone or object for several frames (3 should work) and move the object in that time. (Think of a chimney emitting transparent spheres for smoke, you dont want them to fly back into the chimney because of that interpolation)
- The pose of “No Animation” depends on the frame when you export it
Who can share an overview of optimal FBX export settings for Blender?
##Application: Cinema 4D
- Options are almost identical to 3ds Max
- Options are almost identical to 3ds Max
(I might be stating the obvious for some) but from my experience:
Tested fbx exports from Maya 2009 and Maya 2015. I would assume they work in all versions in between, but feel to correct/confirm those that can.
Animations joint hierarchies that use IK handles, IK splines, or constraints will not export or animate properly unless the animation is baked to the joints.
Optional Baking Animations before exporting: Edit > Keys> Bake Simulation > option box. Baking every certain number of frames can help keep file sizes small, such as every 2 frames or 4 frames etc, You are also able to bake part of or whole hierarchies. If you do this, there is no need to bake animation in the fbx export settings.
Exporting: When having complex or rigs with lots of hierarchy and controls, its best to use “export selected” for .fbx
Selecting all of the geometry, and then selecting the bone at the top of the hierarchy before exporting.
This leaves out the numerous redundant groups, controls, and constraints sketchfab is not compatible with.
When exporting make one group that include everything that skinned.
Unit Scale: Changing the “Scale Factor” during export may cause problems with how the model displays in Sketchfab. By default, this is set to Scale Factor: 1.0.
Animation Speed: 24 fps seems to be ideal, as it looks most natural when played in the sketchfabs viewer.
Bone/joint limiations?: I’ve successfully had animation play with 9 rigged, characters totaling 675 joints. It takes a while to load, and has cause browser crashes on friends machines, but it works and might be a good limitation to keep in mind.
Failure to “export selected”: Using "export all’ has given an error where the animation still plays, but its followed by lengthy static time until it loops again.
Failure to animate at 24 fps: The animation either plays too slow or too fast . Easily remedied by using the x.05 or x 2.0 animation speed options, but that has to be done manually each time the model is loaded.
Animation Tips and tricks:
Keyed object visibility is not recognized by sketchfab
To give the illusion of objects appearing/disappearing, key its scaling on one frame, then scale it to zero the next or (vice versa). Can be done with joints with skinning and meshs. Works best with small projectiles.
With looping animations, the first and last key tend to be the same. This can cause a slight pause in animations keeping them from looking smooth.
By baking the animation with out the first or last frame, the animation will play smooth.
Maya FBX may export all frames in the scene so be sure to crop the timeline to the exact time you wish to play on Sketchfab.
Application: Motion Builder
- MB 2010 doesn’t work
- MB 2016 works
Heres a Youtube explanation of how I make FBX animations for Sketchfab in Autodesk MotionBuilder 2014 https://youtu.be/VqdLxsvsHwk2 (mrbones)
- Mixamo offers 10 free motion capture animations
- Great with a full body scan in t-pose from itseez3d app
- Here’s a quick tutorial on rigging scans with Mixamo - it’s how we made Alban dance
Application: Milkshape 3D
Export to Alias FBX and it will “just work”! (MS3D animates at 24fps by default)
The entire animation timeline up to the last keyframe is exported
FBX export can sometimes over-emphasise the smoothing of translation between keyframes (the “bounce” that happens most obviously over long-distance movement), so you might need to set 2-3 similar/identical keyframes in a row to dampen this motion