• 3D Lights Redux

    3D Lights Redux

    By Nigel C. Martin (24 May 2008)

    Have you ever thought to really enhance the lighting on the aircraft? Actually I have on numerous occasions. I felt this is one area that can be, well, marginal at best. Even on commercially available offerings, the lighting effects can be awful, and from a personal perspective, really lets the entire package down.

    Actually, some freeware has been exemplary, but again a bit of pot-luck came into play. OK, not all fit into the pile of rejects, but many do!

    So my brethren, when I noticed an add-on called 3D Lighting REDUX from Shockwave (now known as A2A Simulations), I had a sneaky look at the screen shots, a shout of 'hip hip hurray' came form me!

    The pictures look a VAST improvement to the default lighting effects both on older and modern aircraft. So, there was not a moment to lose, reach for the credit card! (Again...)

    Caravan takeoff; note new lighting effects Default Cessna Caravan; note strobe flashing on wing Default Boeing 737 takeoff

    INSTALLATION

    This process is effortless. I downloaded the program, followed the simple instructions, and hew presto all done. I would back-up the original downloaded file if I were you.

    After a very recent complete HD failure, I lost 'tons' of FS info, back-up is now second nature, after all HD failure won't happen to me, or you, right?

    During the installation process there will be a screen that tells you which aircraft has been 'tweaked' and now has some 'natty' additional lighting.

    I noticed all the default aircraft were listed having had 'the' treatment, but many add-ons were missing. Oh well, forging on, let's see if our path to excellence is 'illuminated' (oops sorry about pun!).

    You will notice there is a PDF document which shows you how to add the effects to other aircraft. I have to say the procedure at first glance looks fairly complicated, but we will wait and see... I will certainly be very keen to add the wonderful effects to my favorite aircraft.

    Default DC-3 on ground showing ground illumination Default Cessna 172 on final; great lighting Default Cessna Caravan new lighting, easy to see ahead
    Default DC-3 new lighting in air Default DC-3 new lighting Default Robinson R22 in hover

    IN-USE: FSX

    Well installation over and complete (both in FS2004 and FSX in Redux package) I have to say I selected FSX with a little trepidation, selected the Boeing 737 at dusk and waited. Wow! The lighting and strobes are incredible. Yup, that is best word to use: incredible!

    The nav lighting was proportional and effective, and the strobes look incredibly realistic. I have tried to capture this effect in the pictures accompanying this review, but the actual flashing has to seen for you to truly appreciate the effect.

    Landing lights, as on the Boeing 747, Cessna 172, DC3 and so on, (all the default aircraft) look, well, real. Praise indeed, and justly deserved.

    While taxiing, the light intensity on one aircraft was quite strong, and on a few occasions I had to look hard at the ground, to ensure I was going in the right direction, but this presented no real issues. The lighting spread seemed very accurate. Trying other aircraft, I found the entire taxiing experience without issue.

    I have mentioned before I love helicopters, so without further ado, I selected the Robinson and Jet Ranger, both sporting the new wonderful lighting. The effects seen taking-off and landing are really excellent.

    FSX Boeing 747 parked at terminal FSX Boeing 747; note landing lights FSX Airbus A321 on takeoff
    FSX Boeing 747 lighting before touchdown FSX default Airbus A321; note strobe on wing FSX Boeing 737 banking at dawn

    IN USE: FS2004

    I kind of expected the lighting to work perfectly in FSX. I had some doubts, however, if it was to function as well in FS2004. Why? I guess because of the vastly improved graphics engine in FSX. I installed the program for FS2004, and all done. It again indicated the default list of aircraft as having the enhanced lighting added, none of the myriad of other third party added aircraft... I will have to look at this issue later.

    I started FS2004 and selected the trusty Cessna Caravan. Again, jaw dropping lighting effects, as was all the other default aircraft.

    I tested the effects at dawn, dusk and night conditions, and was equally impressed at all levels. Taxi lighting effects were noticeably enhanced.

    As I tend to fly in FS2004 a great deal, mainly due to the myriad of add-ons like FS Nav and Squawkbox, I am very eager to add the effect to the many aircraft I have still in the 'hangar'.

    After printing off the PDF file (not too lengthy, but a must to follow the instructions), I attempted to add the lighting. To cut a very long story short I succeeded, but I found the process a little awkward. I will pursue my quest to add the effect to my other aircraft, but I really hope there will be simpler way introduced. After all, we are not all competent at adding information to various vital file areas.

    FSX Boeing 737 full lighting effects at dawn FSX Boeing 737 taking off at dawn FSX Tornado; note flare on landing lights
    FSX Tornado taxiing Looking up towards underside of 737 in flight Ground lighting effect

    CONCLUSION

    If you are looking for aircraft exterior enhancement, to improve your dawn, dusk and night flying, look no further. This program is a gem and will deliver in abundance what you are seeking.

    As covered, this program provides lighting effects to older aircraft, as well as newer ones (different lighting effects due the lighting performance of that time). I must say, I have never seen strobe effects like these. You can almost hear the whine just before the flash! A stunning job.

    I adore the effects, thank you to Shockwave for producing such an innovative add-on which adds so much to the feeling of realism in the virtual world in which we all fly.

    I have to say, this is a must for any serious flightsim pilot. It is so simple to install, and within minutes you can see the incredible effects on the default aircraft.

    OK, to get the best effects you have to be flying the red eye flights, or out at dusk or dawn. In fact I have never flown so much in these lighting conditions since installing this program! In fact, with the amount of night flying I'm now doing, I think I will change my name to Count Dracula! Any charts for Transylvania?

    Light on EC135 landing Light on Sea King landing Light head-on Boeing 737
    Note strobe on wing tip Lighting on default Boeing 737 in air Lighting on takeoff; note ground lighting effect

    As to adding the effects to other aircraft, well, I had a go and despite being eventually successful, I found the process complicated, and for any one whom is not comfortable 'mucking' about with files within the FSX and FS2004 program will not get the best from the effects offered. I would urge Shockwave to look at this, and create an easier way of taking full advantage of the fantastic effects, adding to thirrd party aircraft.

    So, a quick note to all other commercial developers. If you want our hard earned cash, ensure that the lighting reaches the benchmark this program offers. Any less will not do! You have been warned...

    In conclusion, such a little program but has a massive impact!

    Taxiing inside cockpit of default 737 R44 standard lighting Front view of 737; note strobe on port wing

    System Used For Review

    AMD 64X Athlon dual core processor
    3 Gig SD RAM
    Nvidia G-Force 7900 GT

    Onwards and Upwards..

    Nigel C. Martin
    n.c.martin@btinternet.com

    Learn More Here