Are there any export formats which preserve the ability to interact with 3D Graphics? (In particular, the ability to rotate.)

EDIT: I've found this question: How to make a 3D plot auto-rotate? which produces an object with head DynamicModule. Can I export as an animated gif or QuickTime movie?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I guess it depends on the software you would use to rotate it after the export. $\endgroup$
    – Öskå
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 17:29
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Save your notebook as a CDF file and download the free CDF player to view and rotate? wolfram.com/cdf-player $\endgroup$
    – Bill
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 18:30
  • $\begingroup$ Take a look here. $\endgroup$
    – Öskå
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 19:07
  • $\begingroup$ I don't think this is a duplicate since the OP specifically asks for an export format that "preserves the ability to interact with 3D Graphics" and then settles for a non-interactive animated gif/movie. I am not clear on what is being asked here. $\endgroup$ Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 1:57
  • $\begingroup$ @stopple Why is the CDF format not desirable? All the other suggestions pale in comparison with what you can do with CDF. $\endgroup$
    – Edmund
    Commented Jul 25, 2015 at 13:12

3 Answers 3


First let's take a 3D element:

g = PolyhedronData["Spikey"];

Mathematica graphics

  • Export as GIF:

    As stated here one can Export a List of images as a GIF:

    animation = Table[Show[g, Boxed -> False, 
      ViewVector -> {0, 5 Cos@u, 5 Sin@u}], {u, 0, Pi, Pi/20}];
    Export["~/animated.gif", animation, "DisplayDurations" -> .1]


    enter image description here

But since the question is "Are there any export formats which preserve the ability to interact with 3D Graphics? (In particular, the ability to rotate.)" I propose the following which I find very interesting:

  • Export as STL:

    Export["~/Spikey.stl", g];

Then one can use Sketchfab to visualize it and get the ability to easily interact with it (click for the full ~3MB GIF):

enter image description here

  • $\begingroup$ Nice and interesting. +1 $\endgroup$
    – RunnyKine
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 0:33
  • $\begingroup$ @RunnyKine Thank you, I felt that the Sketchfab idea was worth being shared :) $\endgroup$
    – Öskå
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 0:35
  • $\begingroup$ Indeed, thanks for sharing :) $\endgroup$
    – RunnyKine
    Commented Aug 12, 2014 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ How can I increase the distance in the animation, such that the whole graphic is shown? Have a similar problem and found this question. $\endgroup$ Commented May 17, 2020 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ @HighwayJohn Have you looked at the "DisplayDurations" option? $\endgroup$
    – Öskå
    Commented Jun 30, 2020 at 9:42

Partly a response, You can work with Interactive Manipulation (just hit F1 and search for it) as well with Import and Export Animations (you know F1).

m = Manipulate[Plot3D[Sin[x y + a], {x, 0, 6}, {y, 0, 6}], {a, 0, 4}]

Export["manipulate1.avi", %]

Works fine on Mac OS X x86 (64-bit) internals will translate "avi" to "mov".

enter image description here


Possibly you are looking for something like LiveGraphics3D, a Java applet for interactive rotation of 3D graphics. Three different summaries:

  • $\begingroup$ Cannot download applet from Mr Kraus' homepage. The Mathworld link does not seem to work with Safari 11.0.1 even if I allow the Java plugin everywhere: no animation is visible. :-( $\endgroup$ Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 9:21
  • $\begingroup$ @LaryxDecidua I'm sorry to say that LiveGraphics3D appears to be an abandoned product. The Mathworld example isn't working for me either at this point, but I get a message that it is blocked so I should at least try to figure out how to unblock it. Nevertheless I don't think this will be of much use any more, even though it was once a nice solution. $\endgroup$
    – Mr.Wizard
    Commented Jun 13, 2018 at 14:53

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