element of imagination and creation

Create 3D posts and 3D photo for Facebook

C

Hey, what’s up, everybody! I’m back after a short (but too damn long) pause. I hope everything’s good with y’ all.

In this post, I’m going to show you how to showcase your content for Facebook based on your 3D works or your awesome photography. The tools I’m going to use are FACEBOOK (doh-doooh!), Sketchfab, Agisoft/Metashape, Adobe Photoshop. I’m not paid by any of these companies, actually I’m the one paying to use them :)).

I’m going to detail three methods here:

I. Using Sketchfab
II. Facebook 3D Post
III. Facebook 3D Photo

There are three types of visual content you can show off on social media, today: video, photo, and 3D. 3D content publishing in the online has come a long way to be accessible on any device. Photography and video, on the other hand, are the most common forms of visual content since the modern era of the Internet and still are the centerpiece of any content creator (along with storytelling, but that’s another … story).

I. Using Sketchfab

Perhaps the easiest way to show off your 3D content is by using a dedicated platform like Sketchfab.

I usually recommend Sketchfab as the Youtube for 3D content. It has the same user-friendly approach and supports 50! (as they say, I didn’t test them all) different formats. A list of their supported formats you can find here.

More than that it, is compatible with VR and AR devices so you can set up your 3D scene scaled to your VR/AR needs. Their Help Center is really good so I’m gonna make often references to their pages.

Usual workflow

This is not an in-depth tutorial about Sketchfab. For detailed help, you can check their Getting started with Sketchfab page. However, let me know in the comments if you’d like to see my detailed workflow and settings for Sketchfab publishing.

Now, let’s do this!

1. First, you need to Finish your 3D model.

Whether you modeled it from nothing or you reconstructed with photogrammetry or any scanning method keep in mind that any online platform … is online. Meaning that the viewers of your model will depend on their own Internet connection to see your creation in real-time. So a reasonable size of your model is advised.

I like my files and projects very organized on my storage disk. So I always have an export folder with other folders containing different versions of my 3D models (various formats and sizes depending on their destination or purpose). For Sketchfab I export my models with their texture and store them in a dedicated folder. (imagine/imagini).

2. Next step is to Upload your model.

There are several ways to do that.

More and more 3D modeling and reconstruction software have included Upload to Sketchfab tools in order to send your 3D content directly to Sketchfab without the need of export/archive processes.

The classic way is to archive your folder containing the 3D files using generic archiving tools: RAR, ZIP or 7Z and upload it as is.

If the upload is okay, a Properties window will pop up and you can define and describe your object as you wish. (image). This info will be available to other users that are viewing your model. Depends on you on how many details you want to share about your method of creation or reconstruction or whether you want them to freely download your model or not. For paid accounts, you can make your model private.

3D model properties window

Now that your model is up and running you can find it in your models or collections. For the best user experience, I recommend Tweaking up a little the model presentation.

Sketchfab has a powerful online editor where you have available a lot of processing tools and effects. You can rotate, drag or zoom your object set your favorite viewpoint and click Save View. This is your model’s thumbnail now and what the users will see the first time when they view your model. The first impression. Next, you can modify the lighting system, the background and many other effects for the texture and shadows.
If everything looks good, hit Publish and you’re done.

Now we’re getting to the Facebook part.

After your model is public and up and running, you will notice the Share and Embed options right below the interactive area. You can share it on any of the suggested social media platforms. From here things are pretty straight forward.

Now you have your 3D model posted on Facebook and anyone can interact with it directly on their news feed.

As a shot note, you should test which sharing option allows direct interaction within the Facebook page: the short link, long link (in the browser search bar) or the share to Facebook button. Sometimes the created post is not interactive but just a thumbnail with a link to the Sketchfab model page.

II. Facebook 3D Post

At the beginning of 2018 Facebook introduced a new feature call 3D Posts. With this, you can drag and drop 3D models, like any other photo, into your post creator. But there is a thing. This feature came with several limitations:

  • format: .glb
  • size: max 3MB
  • no customization

GLB file format is not very common so if your 3D modeling/reconstruction software of choice does not have the option of exporting GLB format you’ll have to find a workaround. Agisoft/Metashape as of version 1.5 has included this format for export. Before that my workaround was exporting to FBX and then using a command line tool for conversion. And it worked. In the link below you have all the steps.

https://developers.facebook.com/docs/sharing/3d-posts/glb-tutorials

An easier way is to use an online converter where you upload the model and texture and download the glb file.

https://blackthread.io/gltf-converter/

Once you have the .glb file you just create a post and drag and drop the file and let Facebook create your new 3D post.

What you need to know:

  • the 3D Post will sense the mobile device movements so it wil rotate accordingly. which is a neat feature!
  • you can also rotate by dragging the mouse or with your finger, but there is a big limit for the rotation over the horizontal axis.
  • with right click you can slide the model up and down, right and left
  • texture is preserved.

Model and texture size

Because you are limited to only 3MB per 3D model you need to significantly reduce your mesh size. For the model below I decimated the model to 15.000 polygons (for a 1.4 MB obj file) and texture of 1096×1096 pixels (for a 0.3 MB jpg file). The .glb file resulted from online conversion was 1.73MB.

III. Facebook 3D Photo

Finally, we get to photography.

The last year was quite busy for Facebook regarding the “3D” features.

After the 3D posts, they released at the end of 2018 a new feature, the 3D Photo. Although up until now it is still limited to iOS systems, with some tweaks that I’m going to explain below, 3D Photos can be created from Android and PC systems.

If 3D posts did not get very popular, the 3D Photo feature literally flooded my news feed, especially from digital art groups. Because it really enhances the view of 2D artworks (if the feature is correctly applied).

This is a 3D Photo. I’m sure you’ve seen plenty of such images.

For iOS devices, there are a lot of straight forward tutorials for creating a 3D Photo. But for Android and PC, there is a little bit of work to be done.

What Facebook needs in order to create a 3D Photo is just two files: image.jpg and image_depth.jpg. Those files are the actual image file and another file (also image) containing the depth map. Based on these two files, Facebook will create a pseudo-3D look for your 2D image.

Although there may be several automated solutions for creating a depth map I would recommend the “manual mode”. From a single image it quite difficult to correctly determine the depth of certain image features. So we are going to build it.

For this purpose, I am using Adobe Photoshop, but you can use any other image editing/creation software you feel comfortable with.

Before we start let me explain what a depth map should be:

Depth maps are image files, the same size with the original image, that stores shades of gray instead of RGB pixels. What is special about these shades of gray is that each shade tells Facebook (or other depth map interpreter) the relative distance from the camera to the pixel with that shade. Lighter shades mean closer pixels, darker shades mean farther pixels.

My workflow for 3D Photos

  1. Resize the image. 1800×1200 pixels are more than enough. A portrait format would prove more useful but not is mandatory.
  2. Duplicate the base layer for reference.
  3. Think and determine the layers of depths that you want to emphasize. Objects, backgrounds, floors, etc.
  4. Start slicing your duplicate layer into smaller layers based on your plan set at the previous step.
  5. Clean the layers of image data.
  6. Establish grey shades for distances in the image and start filling the layers with according shade (for best effect use gradient tool where needed – for example, floors or round objects).
  7. Save the image as original_image_name_depth.jpg
  8. Upload original_image_name.jpg and original_image_name_depth.jpg to Facebook and let the magic begin.

It is a little bit of work but if you are familiar with image editing programs this should be a breeze.

Below are the two images used for the example from before. It’s a photo I took at Chiajna Monastery ruins, some time ago. Here, the depth layers were easy to identify.


So this is it for now.

Please let me know if you have any questions regarding the ways you can use Facebook for showing off your 3D and photography content in this new modern way.

Have a nice weekend!

Pax

PS: I noticed that the Facebook posts embedded in a webpage (like those I’ve put in this post) are not working properly on mobile devices. They are not interactive. I tested other pages that have similar Facebook embeds, and it’s all the same.

About the author

Laurentiu-Marian Angheluta

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