• Review: FlightControlReplay Professional Edition v4

    FlightControlReplay Professional Edition v4

    By Michael Hayward

    Flight Control Replay Professional Edition v4

    Since development for FSRecorder stopped back in 2012, FSX and P3D have both struggled to find a decent flight replay tool other than the default one built-into the platform, which generally gives mixed results.

    This is where FlightControlReplay comes in.

    FlightControlReplay is a tool developed by Fabio Merlo, and has seen a number of editions over the years. Today we take a look at the v4 Professional Edition of his FCR tool and see if it is a worthy successor to FSRecorder on both FSX and P3D.

    Download & Install

    Installing the add-on is simple. After purchase, you are given two installers, one for 32-bit platforms and another for 64-bit. After selecting your sim, the rest of the installation is automated.

    After installing the software, I did have a couple of small teething issues getting it to connect properly, but after re-reading the included documentation, as well as excellent support from the developer, I managed to get everything working - a testament to the support that Fabio is willing to provide to ensure that everything works to perfection!

    Features

    The main feature of this program is that it records and replays your flights. This is done through SimConnect and saves a tracked and recorded .fcr file into its root directory, or a folder of your choice. This can then be opened within the recorder and played in your chosen simulator.

    The program also has a rewind feature, where you can revert your flight back up to five minutes. For example, performing a stunt and flying too low? Don't like that turn you just made? Not to worry, this feature allows you to go back in time, and play from a previous point, meaning that you can correct and re-do your manoeuvres.

    You can also 'record as AI'. This is where you record the first flight as normal, and then re-record on top of this same clip, but as another aircraft. This means you are able to populate airports and sceneries with aircraft in positions that you set them to, and is an excellent way in which to record wingman flying videos and POV clips with aircraft following your lead.

    One of the unique features of FCR, is that it can record and render mp4 videos directly from the simulator as well. When you start a recording, it will capture everything on-screen and render it into a playable video format, enabling you to send your flight videos directly to people, or upload to video sharing sites such as YouTube. This I found particularly useful in recording quick in-sim videos, and then posting them online to a number of simulator community groups.

    On top of that, there is a small console that allows you to input text into the simulator, which is displayed as an in-sim alert. This is especially useful for videos where the user doesn't have a microphone, but still wishes to communicate with their viewers. Having it as part of the simulator UI instead of adding text boxes manually post-recording, is really useful.

    There is then also a way to export your flight plans from the simulator and load them up onto Google Earth, showing off your flight routing and heading at all different stages of flight.

    There are then a plethora of other features and gimmicks that this tool comes with, some I may have not even noticed yet! There is a lot that FlightControlReplay v4 does, and I have to say that for a small package, it really does pack quite a punch!

    Testing

    The program claims to work with a number of third-party add-on animations, as well as the default ones, and I have to say that this has been expertly implemented.

    Animations on some JustFlight/CLS and PMDG aircraft can only be done through their own methods such as an on-screen UI or via the FMC as opposed to [Shift] + [E] commands, allowing for custom XML animations to take place on their own triggers. FCR knows that this is the case and as a result, all animations will work as expected.

    Flaps, slats, speedbrakes, gear suspension, doors, lights and just about everything else works as they should in clips, making for a fun replay experience.

    Smoke and particle effects are also really well recreated in recordings, and this applies to both default and add-ons such as PrecipitFX. These are accurately recreated in the simulator and don't stray from their original paths, something the default FSX recorder in particular suffers on.

    The add-on, however, is not totally without flaw. On some occasions when trying to run a replay of the PMDG 737 on FSX, skipping parts of the replay can cause the simulator to overload and crash. This is more of a fault of the simulator being 32-bit rather than the program, but minimal skipping or watching the whole replay is seamless and works as you would expect. This issue didn't arise while flying in Prepar3D v4, proving again, the limitations of the older platform.

    One of the enhanced features of the P3D version of FlightControlReplay, is an improved Play as AI feature. When compared to FSX, AI aircraft run a lot smoother on this platform with a lot less jittering (jumping from one spot to another). This is due to a greatly improved SDK within the P3D environment which enables it to run a lot easier in comparison to the older sim. The result being, AI aircraft are more optimised and your performance is improved.

    Voice commands are something that have also been added, and for me is a lot more useful than it sounds! If you only want to record your short final and landing before replaying it as opposed to the full flight, one option would be to pause the simulator, open up the program and click on play, or another would be to leave it running in the background, and tell it to start recording your flight! This means there is no need to stop in the middle of manual flying to turn it on, which depending on the weather or aircraft you are in, will not cause any sudden adjustments made by switching program.

    The Future Of FCR

    I also spoke to Fabio over the future of his program and where he aims to go in the future.

    The first thing that Fabio mentioned was the UI, as it is in desperate need of a re-work. It just doesn't look the most appealing in its current state, and is something that he wants to fix in the long run. He also hopes to have this work with hardware integration too; that means having it run on Garmin G Series products and more.

    Something that also interested me, was his plan (in the next update) to support the Microsoft Surface Dial. I'm not 100% sure what this will entail, but if his voice-activated commands are anything to go by, then there could be a number of exciting features on the way!

    Opinion & Closing Remarks

    Overall, I have really enjoyed using the FlightControlReplay v4 Professional add-on.

    While X-Plane users have the luxury of watching their replays without any issues because of the built-in tools, the same cannot be said for ESP-based simulator users. For me, this program bridges one of the gaps between FSX/P3D and X-Plane, and really provides a boost to the flight recording scene.

    It may not be the most beautiful tool to look at, but when it comes to functionality, it's superb! When speaking to Fabio about future updates, the future really does look interesting!

    If you are someone that enjoys watching flight replays, or judging your landings from different angles around the aircraft, or even thinking about uploading some of your FSX and P3D flights online, then FlightControlReplay is a tool I cannot recommend highly enough!

    The Technical Bit

    Minimum Requirements

    • P3D v4.X / P3D v3.X / P3D v2.X / FSX / FSX SE
    • All kind of Multicore CPUs
    • Windows Vista 32 / Vista 64 / Win7 (32 bit / 64 bit)
    • Net Framework 3.5 SP1 (or higher)

    Review PC Spec

    • Microsoft Flight Simulator X: Steam Edition
    • Windows 10 Professional
    • 6th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 6700K Processor
    • 16 GB RAM
    • NVIDIA® GeForce® GTX 745

    Michael Hayward

    Purchase FlightControlReplay Professional Edition


    1 Comment
    1. dswanson's Avatar
      dswanson -
      Does it work with FS9 ?
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