• Interview: Gottfried Razek and Joop Mak BlueSkyScenery

    Interview: Gottfried Razek and Joop Mak BlueSkyScenery

    Conducted by Dominic Smith

    Development

    When did you start developing for flight simulators and what got you interested in it?

    I first started developing for MSFS way back in 2001 when I did my first photoscenery experiments. Back then there were not as many photoreal sceneries as there are today, and I was totally fascinated by the idea of flying over real world terrain. I will never forget the wow effect when I loaded my first scenery into FS2004. I've been hooked ever since then. My good friend Joop, who I develop my sceneries with, started a year before me (2000) making scenery adjustments.

           

    Tell us about the nature of your designs and what you do?

    As mentioned, Joop is the other member of the team, and he creates all our airports. The airports are very important because most of the time the layout of the default airports don't match that of the real world, which causes double or misaligned runways. He also brings a little life to the otherwise empty default airports by placing all kinds of objects. This makes a huge difference as an airport should feel alive. Over the years Joop has made more than 1000 airports which if you think about it, is quite awesome and an amazing feat. Myself, I create the photosceneries and the elevation mesh.

    What do you consider your best or most popular work?

    That's hard to say. We think most of our sceneries covering large cities like Los Angeles, San Francisco, Phoenix or Salt Lake City are the most popular. However, sceneries covering scenic areas like the Canyonlands, Glacier or Grand Canyon and all our other National Parks are also very popular.

           

    What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of a project?

    The most challenging aspect is to get the colors right. Most of the time the colors in the original aerial imagery are not correct and often there are abrupt changes. We try to eliminate all of that so as to achieve as smooth and realistic flying experience as possible. In areas with many lakes or coastal areas, defining water bodies is also a challenge. In this case, you have to define an alpha channel that matches the textures to a couple of pixels so as to make them look good and believable. With large waterbodies or coasts you also have to define a blend channel for a smooth transition to the default water.

    Yes, a lot of photographic sceneries suffer from having textures of different shades, so how do you go about about fixing that?

    As I already said, this is often the greatest challenge. We do not just pull the imagery and throw it into the resampler. Most of the time we do a lot of image processing to get colors, saturation, brightness and contrast right. Sometimes we do a whole area twice.

    For Joop, large airports are a real challenge, as not only does he have to adjust all the runways, taxiways and buildings, but he also has to adjust the information so that the AI traffic behaves correctly.

           

    What have been your favorite projects?

    My personal favorite probably is the Canyonlands area, but I like all the national park sceneries we have created.

    What software packages and tools do you use to develop?

    Joop uses ADE165, developed by Jon Murchison (ScruffyDuck) to create his airport improvements. To minimize the impact on frame rates, he only uses default objects from the FS library. For myself, I use mostly Photoshop and programs from the FSX SDK. I also use a couple of small utility programs that I wrote myself and which aid me with my work.


    25 Comments
    1. Carob's Avatar
      Carob -
      I would be interested to know how people use their photo real sceneries. On what probably is an "average" system I tried to put together the majority of California and the computer and after about 5 minutes the computer could no longer render any of it and things were not useable. Refreshing the scenery made things work for about 20 seconds and then right back to everything being blurry. I was expecting things to work much better.
    1. fsxar177's Avatar
      fsxar177 -
      Sounds like you need a computer, my friend.

      I have used them for years, excellent performance - average system.
    1. Carob's Avatar
      Carob -
      Even the versions for FS9 that came out quite some time ago are system killers. I don't know who people ran them with the system that were out at that time.

      The system I was playing with these on is a Core2 Duo 3 Ghz with 6GB of RAM running Win7 64-bit with a GTX750 video card. I would think that should be plenty to run FS9 with the BlueSky stuff. But it's not.
    1. W33's Avatar
      W33 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carob View Post
      Even the versions for FS9 that came out quite some time ago are system killers. I don't know who people ran them with the system that were out at that time.

      The system I was playing with these on is a Core2 Duo 3 Ghz with 6GB of RAM running Win7 64-bit with a GTX750 video card. I would think that should be plenty to run FS9 with the BlueSky stuff. But it's not.
      Let's first congratulate this team on the outstanding gift they have given to the community! Wonderful work and my thanks to you both. To often thanks is missing from users comments!

      Carob; it looks like you might have something wrong with your system as I've never had any problems running any of their fantastic sceneries. This is with a machine that is less powerful than your own.

      Thanks again for the interview.
    1. Carob's Avatar
      Carob -
      Carob; it looks like you might have something wrong with your system as I've never had any problems running any of their fantastic sceneries. This is with a machine that is less powerful than your own.

      Well I'd like some help figuring that out then as everything else is working just fine.
    1. modelr's Avatar
      modelr -
      Carob, sounds like you might have a video card getting hot.

      Also, are you running other programs at the same time? At just 3GHz, and two cores, you could be overwhelming the processor also, especially if you are having this happen at lower altitudes and fast aircraft. (100knots or faster.) Photo scenery uses a LOT of processing. Try flying at higher altitudes, above 3000ft AGL.

      My older machine did that at lower altitudes until I updated to a 4GHz multiple core (8 in my case, AMD) processor. And added extra cooling to the video card. Makes a huge difference.

      I also want to thank Gottfried and Joop for their sceneries. I use quite a bit of Bluesky Sceneries.
    1. marcori's Avatar
      marcori -
      I have not enough words to thank Gottfried and Joop for their outstanding work.
      I download all their sceneries and all them are loaded into my FSX (in a dedicated hard disk) and I never had any kind of problem, even with my older and less performing machines.
      Great job guys !!
    1. 3955's Avatar
      3955 -
      Gottfried, Joop,
      Superb work guys. Many thanks.
    1. jibrady's Avatar
      jibrady -
      I too have download almost all their scenery. It is outstanding! As mentioned in the interview, the work they put into color matching/balancing is what really makes their work so impressive. I always look forward to obtaining more scenery from them. If you have not tried their scenery than your really missing out!
      Jim
    1. phjoop's Avatar
      phjoop -
      Thanks for your comments, guys. We appreciate it very much.
      Joop
      BlueSkyScenery
    1. scottharmes6's Avatar
      scottharmes6 -
      I am also a very grateful and satisfied user of BlueSky scenery. It offers the most realistic flying experience, and there is nothing like flying over what the world really looks like. I am currently developing some photo scenery of my own, some of which is in Arizona around the Meteor Crater, and I am trying to match the colours with the adjacent Bluesky scenery. You guys are probably also working on it, but hey, if you beat me I don't care, because yours will definitely be the best. I have even made my areas the same size as yours so they will fit next to the AZ_North3, 4 and 5. I also made a 1m mesh for the crater area from elevation data from www.opentopography.org. This was all inspired by your brilliant work, so thanks again.
      Cheers, Scott
    1. Carob's Avatar
      Carob -
      Quote Originally Posted by modelr View Post
      Carob, sounds like you might have a video card getting hot.

      Also, are you running other programs at the same time? At just 3GHz, and two cores, you could be overwhelming the processor also, especially if you are having this happen at lower altitudes and fast aircraft. (100knots or faster.) Photo scenery uses a LOT of processing. Try flying at higher altitudes, above 3000ft AGL.

      My older machine did that at lower altitudes until I updated to a 4GHz multiple core (8 in my case, AMD) processor. And added extra cooling to the video card. Makes a huge difference.

      I also want to thank Gottfried and Joop for their sceneries. I use quite a bit of Bluesky Sceneries.
      Nothing else running and above 20,000. No way card is getting hot.
    1. DominicS's Avatar
      DominicS -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carob View Post
      Nothing else running and above 20,000. No way card is getting hot.
      Carob, please do not use the comment box here for support.

      If you require help, then please use the appropriate forums.

      Regards

      Dominic
    1. Carob's Avatar
      Carob -
      Tried to get help from BlueSky but got nowhere.
    1. scottharmes6's Avatar
      scottharmes6 -
      5 out of 14 comments are you complaining about a FREEWARE scenery. If you do not like it or it doesn't run well on your system, then uninstall it. Problem solved.
    1. gtrbarbarian's Avatar
      gtrbarbarian -
      Hi ...what ever happened to your Colorado scenery it was great, and I had it stored on a hard drive that went corrupt....I'd love to download those again!
    1. Airmail's Avatar
      Airmail -
      GREAT work.

      I'm too old to get out there and see it for real, but you guys bring that area to life for me.



      Carob, there are thousands using their software without any problem. These guys aren't getting rich by giving away exceptionally good software - FOR FREE!

      Start learning a little and stop expecting others to solve your problems.
    1. darrinward777's Avatar
      darrinward777 -
      Quote Originally Posted by Carob View Post
      I would be interested to know how people use their photo real sceneries. On what probably is an "average" system I tried to put together the majority of California and the computer and after about 5 minutes the computer could no longer render any of it and things were not useable. Refreshing the scenery made things work for about 20 seconds and then right back to everything being blurry. I was expecting things to work much better.
      Hey, The problem with blurry scenery is not likely your computer. The problem with FSX is that it is a old program and does not utilize the hardware on modern systems,in fact it does not run high quality wide screen out of the box. There is a way to correct most of the issues by changing some basics within the config files of FSX. I found that with some tweaking you can get this program switched from its default 1024 resolution to 2048 or 4096. I addition put in the HIGHMEMFIX and set the config for widescreen. If you are having frame rate issues you can improve that very well. Simple things from setting your frame rate limiter in settings to UNLIMITED. The reason is that using the limiter puts more load on your processor and FSX is very processor dependent. It does not split the load very well. There is help on Youtube. See FSX Genius and go through his fixes. I am running 70fps with no blurries and with multiple screens open during flight. Did you know that in areas where the scenery is dense that FSX only uses 2 Gigs maximum of your ram? There is a way to get this program to use 4. If you are like me and addicted to flight simulation, you will take the time. PS: Hold off on getting the STEAM addition until Dovetail gets a new version out ( Lots of issues going on )
    1. darrinward777's Avatar
      darrinward777 -
      Quote Originally Posted by gtrbarbarian View Post
      Hi ...what ever happened to your Colorado scenery it was great, and I had it stored on a hard drive that went corrupt....I'd love to download those again!
      You can still get the work on simivation for free. It is in 4.7mm res. They had issues with the people who ran the server and it will take some time to correct that issue on Blue Sky's Network. Right now they are working on IDAHO. Can't wait for the Snake River Canyon in Twin Falls
    1. darrinward777's Avatar
      darrinward777 -
      Many thanks to the Blue Sky Team !!! Your product is far better than the payware known as Mega Scenery Version 2.0. I have purchased Virginia, Maryland, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Colorado and Missouri, Mega Scenery Colorado is a joke . The shading where sections meet like right in the middle of Denver the most populated region ruins the flight experience. The west side of town is far lighter in shading than the east. Mega Scenery does not correct airports either. Blue Sky is freeware that far exceeds other photo-scenery payware. If you guys did all the states, a lot of payware companies would be out of work.
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