Get Ready to See More 3D Selfies in Your Facebook Feed


Alban Denoyel, CEO and Co-Founder of Sketchfab spoke at the 3rd Annual LDV Vision Summit in 2016 about 3D content and 3D Ecosystems and its impact on virtual reality.

At the 2017 Annual Vision Summit this week, we will be expanding upon the conversation with new speakers in the AR, VR and content creation spaces. Check out the agenda for more.


As Co-Founder and CEO of Sketchfab, I'm going to talk about User Generated Content in a volumetric era. The VR headsets are all hitting the market today and tomorrow it's going the be the AR headsets, and we're starting to see holographic devices. And the big question is, of course, the content. What content are we going to consume with all this hardware?

If you look at your content today, I put it in two brackets. One is to germinate content like the Henry movie by Oculus. It's really great. There are two issues with that. One is that it takes time to make and the other one is that it takes money. And the result is that there is very little studio-made VR content. And if you go to the Oculus store today, you'll see that for yourself.

And the other bracket of content, is user-generated content. And it has to be the bulk of your content. It has to be user generated. And today, user generated content for VR is mostly 360 video.

We live in a 3D world as you all know and we have six degrees of freedom. I can walk in a space in real life and VR is able to recreate the same thing and this is what we need to get a real sense of presence. And the advanced VR headsets are able have positional tracking, and let's you walk inside a space in all freedom. And so, which content is going to be able to serve this ultimate VR promise.

The good news is that we're entering an era of 3D creation for all thanks to two trends. One is much easier tools to create 3D content. I think the most iconic example of that is Minecraft. Maybe you don't think of it as a 3D creation tool, but hundreds of 3D creations coming from Minecraft on Sketchfab. Just by assembling small cubes you are able to build entire walls and then you can navigate into them in VR.

Another great example is Tilt Brush that let's you make VR content in VR, I don't know if you tried it, but it’s really fascinating. You create in VR and then you're able to revisit that in VR.

© Robert Wright/LDV Vision Summit

The second mega trend for 3D creation is 3D Capture and it is really fascinating to see how it has evolved over the past five years. The most famous project is maybe Project Tango by Google. They are shipping their first phone with a 3D sensor this summer with Lenovo. And also, if you look at the events on the Apple side, they bought PrimeSense three or four years ago.  PrimeSense was a company making the Kinect and all this points to our future iPhone with 3D camera. And the day we have an iPhone with a 3D camera you'll be able to capture spaces and people in 3D. And if you look at how we've captured the world, we started with drawing and then we started taking pictures and then we started taking videos. But as we live in a 3D world, 3D capture is going to be the next way we capture the things.

And so, here is an example with my son, William. I make a 3D portrait of him every month. I took it with just a phone so it’s hard to show a 3D file on a 2D screen. And it’s not dancing yet, but I also have dancing versions of him.

3D capture is super important but being able to distribute this content is equally important. When it comes to user generated content you have to share it online and help it travel across the web. And so that's what we do at Sketchfab, we're a platform to host and distribute 3D files. And with technologies like WebGL and WebVR we are able to browse this content in VR straight from a browser. And a pretty good example of that is we are natively supported in Facebook, which means that I can share this 3D portrait of my son, William, in a Facebook post and then prompt a VR view straight from my Facebook feed just from the browser without having to go to a store and to install crazy setup.

One area where user generated 3D content is really booming is around cultural heritage. A lot of museums are starting to digitize their collections in 3D.  But also a lot of normal people, when they go to the museums they're just starting to take pictures from various angles of statues and then publishing it on the web. They're very interesting initiatives that started like two years ago and are still happening is around what happened in Syria when ISIS started destroying art and museums there were lot of people on the internet started crowdsourcing the reconstruction in 3D of places like that. So here's an example of a temple in Palmyra that was preserved forever in a digital format.

Another very interesting vertical to me is documenting world events. Now, with this technology we're able to see 3D data from an event pretty much the day it happens. It really gives a new perspective to an event that is super interesting. On the left, you can see Kathmandu just after the terrible earthquake that happened last summer. The day it happened a guy flew a drone over Kathmandu and then generated a 3D map from it, then published it on Sketchfab. And you were able the same day to walk through the devastated Kathmandu in VR just from the web. That was pretty fascinating. And then on the right, super different, is the memorial that happened the day of Prince's death. People started putting flowers and guitars in front of a concert place and a guy just made a 3D picture and it’s a great way to document this place and this event.

3D capture is all areas of content and we are starting to see the same trends as what we saw on Instagram. People shooting their things, their food, their faces, so I think you can get ready to see more and more 3D selfies in Facebook news feeds.

Don't miss our 4th Annual LDV Vision Summit May 24 & 25 at the SVA Theatre in NYC.