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I've got a custom OpenGL based rendering engine and I'd like to add support for cinema-type scene animation. The artist that is helping me uses primarily 3DSMax. I'd like a file format for exporting and importing this data. I'm also in need of a file format for skeletal animation data, which may have an impact here.

I've been looking at MAXScript to manually export this stuff, which would buy me the most flexibility, but I have virtually no experience with 3DSMax itself, so I get a little lost when it comes to terminology.

So I'd like to know what file formats exist for animated scene data, and whether they are appropriate for my use (my fear is that they will be way too broad for my fairly simple needs.)

The way I view animated scene data is basically a bunch of references to [animated] models with keyframe-based matrices describing their orientation over time. And probably some special camera stuff to handle perspective. I might also want some event type stuff for adding/removing objects. Is this a sane concept?

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One file format that might work is the ASE file format:

It seems to conform to (and validate) my theoretical scene concept I described in my question. It's also a plaintext format, which should make importing straightforward. It's well supported by 3DSMax, and from the looks of it other modeling programs.

The only problem I have with it is that includes mesh data, which doesn't fit my needs. I have meshes that will be shared between many scenes, and used independently in gameplay, so it's important that the scene file reference the data instead of including it. Any suggestions?

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