Jump to content

Interview: Jackson Banks


Interview With Jackson Banks



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


I released my first file for X-Plane back in 2011, however I had practiced a lot prior to that first release. I believe I started off with liveries for Ramzzess' IL-96 in 2010 (at the time I was only about 13... hard to imagine now) as I had been very dissatisfied with the quality of those provided with what was otherwise a brilliant aircraft at the time. These were never released as I didn't feel confident enough in these new-found skills, and by the time I was, those liveries had been destroyed by an unfortunate hard drive fry-up! Even before my tentative steps in design, I had used and flown X-Plane for a long time, starting with an early version of X-Plane 8 - which was initially intended as a gift for my father. However, I found it much more exciting than he and ended up becoming completely hooked.














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


I create both scenery and liveries for X-Plane, depending on what takes my fancy! Usually the former but this is more because I feel liveries are a quick project which can be accomplished easily. These are then released, and then updated if a quick fix or a major issue is either needed or noted. Scenery on the other hand, is more of a slow-burn project that I may release and re-release with lots of tweaks and additions during its development lifespan. I don't follow any particular theme with what I create (though I have tried to!) as I like to make practically whatever takes my fancy.








What do you consider your best or most popular work?


Since I work with two very different elements of X-Plane, I'd have to say that in the scenery department, I'm particularly proud of my recent Bahrain scenery. The livery which I feel represents my best work is my ANA A320. The reason I think these two pieces of work stand out is because I feel that I've crammed in more detail (using greater complex techniques) than I have ever done in any file preceding them. These two in turn, will no doubt be surpassed when I create the next scenery or livery! My most popular work so far is undoubtedly my Lufthansa livery for the standard X-Plane 747, which I can only assume is because it is an aircraft every XP10 user has! This and the fact that a lot of people tend to love Lufthansa and its different liveries through the years.














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


Finding the time to complete it. I'm still a student so I have lots of work to complete before I can work on a project!


What have been your favorite projects?


I think my favorite project is an, as-yet, unreleased livery of an airline (one I have entirely made up), with the single goal of designing an awesome livery from scratch!


This chosen airline is based in Bahrain, with the reason being that I use a game called AirlineSim where I play as a Bahraini Airline, and thought this would make a good foundation for my livery! To complement this livery, I ended up creating Bahrain's main airport (which didn't exist in X-Plane).


Images of that livery can be seen here: http://i.imgur.com/SZzZDw8.jpg














What software packages and tools do you use to develop?


For livery creation I use Adobe Photoshop CS5, though I started with Adobe Elements 6. These are very expensive tools though, and I would recommend GIMP for those who can't get a copy of Photoshop.


For scenery design, I find that the two major tools, WED and OverlayEditor (OE), both have their uses and it depends on what has to be done at the time. If there is a good apt.dat provided with X-Plane already (there usually is) then I'll start by placing objects roughly where I need them in OE first. Then I will tweak locations to suit what I think is most accurate using WED. This step usually involves adding parking spots, tower locations, and other similar details.


Do you develop payware/freeware or both and why?


I develop freeware because what I do is a hobby and done for pure enjoyment. I don't have the time or skills to provide payware entirely on my own! As I don't have any 3D modelling skills (which I feel are needed for payware scenery), I just wouldn't be happy, as scenery, in my opinion, should ideally contain lots of custom 3D objects. However, if I was approached to create some payware liveries, I would be more than willing, especially as I feel that some payware liveries for aircraft are often of a lower quality than what some users have created or have the capability to create.












Do you have any experience in real aviation?


I do indeed! I'm currently at 36.5 hours into my PPL flying a Cessna 152 out of a tiny airfield called Netherthorpe, which was the subject of my first ever scenery. I recently started flying solo nav exercises, which is really exciting as it is more 'real' flying than just doing circuits around my home base!














What started your interest in aviation?


I don't think anything in particular 'started' off my interest in aviation, as I've always had a love for travel and transport for as long as I can remember. Aviation has become by far, my most dominant interest, and I feel it is in part due to the fact that I have always been fortunate and lucky enough to go on many long-distance holidays. I think that because of the amount of time I have spent flying, these 'moments' have been ingrained into my memory, which in turn, gives me the fascination I have with aviation today.


Any memorable flights in real life?


Obviously my first solo while learning to fly is the first that comes to mind. Other than that, I think my first flight on an A380 was pretty impressive! Flying from London Heathrow to Singapore with Qantas in Premium Economy (my first time outside Economy too) was another memorable experience.














Would you like to share what you do in real life?


In real life I'm studying for my first year of A-Levels in the UK. Hopefully I will be able to escape school soon and fulfill my dream of becoming a commercial pilot!


What other hobbies or things do you do for enjoyment?


Outside of X-Plane, I have little time for other hobbies thanks to the huge amount of work I have at school, though many of my other hobbies tend to be aviation related, like collecting 1:400 scale model aircraft. I do enjoy plane spotting but never really get the chance to visit any airport to do so, thanks to the fact that Sheffield doesn't have any airports particularly nearby! I do enjoy watching aircraft fly overhead with tools like Planefinder and Flightradar.














Have you ever considered doing flight simulator development full-time?


No. Whilst I love flight simulation, it is only a hobby for me and will always be that way. As much as I love it, I would much rather spend my professional life in or near real aircraft! However, as much as I prefer being around the real deal, I can see myself being an active flight simmer for quite a few years to come.


How do you choose your next new design or project?


That's easy, it is done by simply looking at whatever piques my interest. This could be an interesting livery, somewhere I flew to or an airline I flew with, or (particularly with my earlier creations), due to a desire to have a better representation of a local airport or livery.














What simulators do you design for now and what ones do you plan to develop for in the future?


Currently I develop primarily for X-Plane 10, and will continue to do so for all future versions until something comes along that bests X-Plane, which I doubt will happen for a long time. I consider X-Plane to be (in my opinion) by far the best sim out there and it has enough of a community to keep it going strong into the future.


In what ways do you see development changing in the future?


As I can only speak about X-Plane in any great detail, I can't make too general a statement, but I think we will see an increasing amount of high-quality add-ons for the sim as a whole. Mainly, I feel this will be down to a broader range of simplified creation tools like OverlayEditor. These tools, although relatively simple to use, will provide more than enough power to deliver incredible results.


If you can add one 'wish' feature to X-Plane, what would it be and why?


I'd love to see more realistic reflections on aircraft and scenery! While some developers have incorporated realistic reflections on glass, cockpits etc., I'd love to see these features being made possible for the exterior of the aircraft and for scenery objects too (e.g. windows on terminal buildings). This would add a great deal more depth to the exterior of aircraft and really enhance the look of the aircraft from the outside, which is something I value highly as a livery maker. FSX seems to have very nice reflections for aircraft (for example in this video and it's one of the main features of FSX that I am most jealous of.














If you had one tip to give to a new X-Plane user, what would it be?


For new X-Plane users I'd really recommend getting involved and adding new things to your simulator! You can do so very easily as most tools are free to download or included with X-Plane, and you learn a lot more about the sim whilst doing so.


On top of this, you'll be able to customize almost everything in the X-Plane world to suit your needs. Love a particular airline but can't find a livery to download? You could make it yourself! Same goes with scenery. Is your local airport just a runway? Well...use World Editor and/or Overlay Editor to create it yourself. If you fancy publishing these original works, you may be surprised by how many people use them. I've seen quite a few of my liveries featured in YouTube videos, and the surprise of it is always welcome!


What can sites like FlightSim.Com do to support you and the hobby better?














Primarily, I would like to see more access for livery designers into discussions. Whilst most sim forums will have categories for aircraft and scenery design, I've yet to see one with any established section for the discussion of livery creation. This is unfortunate as, in my opinion, livery creation is one of the simplest ways one can get into creating content for a flight simulator! I would love a place to give and receive advice, to share creations, and to discuss each others plans and creations.


Jackson Banks (aka "jiggby2")
Download Jackson Banks' add-ons

User Feedback

Recommended Comments

There are no comments to display.

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

  • Create New...