Stream Massive glTF Models with 3D Tiles and Cesium ion


Cesium ion now supports uploading glTF models as input into our 3D tiling pipeline, unlocking a bevy of massive 3D content for streaming to Cesium applications. Because of glTF’s emphasis on interoperability, there’s a good chance that your tools can already export glTF models. 3D Tiles is built on glTF, making it a natural fit.

glTF EcosystemA Khronos standard co-created by the Cesium team, glTF has become the “JPEG of 3D,” a ubiquitous, efficient model specification supported by almost everyone. Courtesy Khronos.

While CesiumJS has supported glTF since its inception, loading massive multi-gigabyte models over the web isn’t practical with glTF alone. Tiling these models into 3D Tiles with ion allows for massive 3D content to be streamed on the web with multiple levels of detail and without sacrificing quality.

Because glTF supports modern graphics techniques, such as physically based rendering (PBR), the ability to convert glTF to 3D Tiles brings the computer graphics and geospatial industries closer together than ever before. glTF, combined with the streaming, performance-focused nature of 3D Tiles, sets a new bar for geospatial visualization, especially in AR, VR, CAD, and BIM, where performance constraints have traditionally held back graphics fidelity.

San Miguel 2.0San Miguel 2.0 from Morgan McGuire’s Computer Graphics Archive is a 1.1 gigabyte OBJ model, but only a 511 megabyte glTF. Both can be made streamable with 3D Tiles.

As an added bonus, glTF models can be considerably smaller than their OBJ or COLLADA counterparts. glTF geometry is routinely 50% smaller than an equivalent OBJ and over 75% smaller than COLLADA. This translates to faster uploads, faster tiling, and less storage in your ion account. While all three model formats can be tiled with ion, bandwidth and storage savings make glTF the obvious choice.

Modern OfficeglTF models exported from Blender, Sketchfab, and many other tools can now be uploaded for tiling in ion.

You can start uploading your own glTF to our 3D tiling pipeline today by signing up for a free ion community account.

The ion tiling pipeline is also available on-premise as a set of command line interfaces that run completely within your own infrastructure for integration into custom data workflows.

Get started with a Cesium ion account

Sign up for free