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Thread: My Quick Review On Designing Scenery for X-Plane

  1. #1
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    Default My Quick Review On Designing Scenery for X-Plane

    Thought I'd write up a short summary of what I have learned about designing scenery for X-Plane for those out there who may want to get started. I have successfully used tools like Sbuilder, Coastline Maker Airport for Windows and several others for creating scenery for FS2004. With that said, I am no expert in scenery design for either MSFS or X-Plane, but I'll share my opinions and give some insight for those interested or who have considered investing their time in creating X-Plane scenery..

    What appears to be the main and most popular tool at the moment is WED or World Editor. My first impression of the program was that it would have minimal or narrow ability, something like Afcad which allowed you to do several things but not everything. I discovered very quickly that you can do tons of things with WED, and the learning curve is easy. The basic help material that you can access from within the program will guide a beginner through most of the things that can be done. Other tasks such as photoscenery with orthoimagery do deserve reading through some of the threads that cover the topic in better detail. Some of the things that I liked about designing scenery for X-Plane using WED, particularly in comparison to trying to achieve the same or similar results for MSFS are as follows,

    1) Very easy and intuitive way of adding taxi lines, all manner of markings like hold short lines, taxi signs, runway and taxi edge lighting, etc.(This is something that takes some skill to make it look good for both FS2004 and FSX.

    2) Very shallow learning curve. You can do some pretty significant work without the trial and error/experimentation that is involved with scenery design in MSFS. I was able to put a good sized dent on a small local airport in my area in a manner of 3 hours the day I installed the program.

    3) Clean and efficient way of selecting and moving the objects you are working with in the graphical interface. I think this has lots to do with the fact that the software is written by the same people who code the simulator. It would be the equivalent of the ACES guys writing up Sbuilder, AFCAD and a good object placement program all in one.

    4) Lots and lots of options for just about every item that comprises an airport to the point where you can opt to stay with X-Plane's own default rendering rather than creating a custom one. Very specific lighting and runways are a few that come to mind.

    5) Ease of getting a good photoreal airport going. While it's not that difficult to do for MSFS,I think WED gives even a novice the ability to do photoreal airports with minimal effort and very good results. In short, there is very little in the way of trickery or advanced knowledge to get a really good photoreal background into the airports. In my short experience, you're basically dealing with chopping up images to power of 2 dimensions such as 1024, 2048, etc. In my case, I got better results (Due to some limitations of FS2004) in a few days of just playing around with the WED orthoimagery system than I got with weeks of trial and error along with techniques that I learned for achieving photoreal airports for FS2004 using both sbuilder to create photoreal times in and around the airport and using ground polys etc.

    One thing that I have immediately noticed since I started working on my X-Plane scenery projects is the lack of inventory of available objects that you can use for your scenery. Where you can go to any file library and find tons of static objects to use like hangers, cars, people and trees, there doesn't appear to be as many available for X-Plane, although there may be workarounds like model converters, etc that I am not aware of. So far, that is the biggest major negative I've run into.

    I'm sharing this not for the purpose of putting one platform up against the other, but simply because I am impressed with what a novice like myself was able to do with WED. They have provided an excellent piece of software and anyone here who has ever dwelled in creating scenery knows how addictive and fun it actually is and WED is simply innovative in putting some serious designing power to those who might not otherwise get involved due to the learning curve/workload. Feel free to post your comments or experience in the differences of scenery design between MSFS, X-Plane, Flightgear, etc.
    Ricardo
    FSThrottle.com

  2. #2
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    Before and after screenshot of KHWV Brookhaven with some enhancements like hangers, static aircraft, removal of runway shoulder, etc. This can be done in a few hours using a good overlay image to use as a guide. Editing the taxiways and taxi lines is also easy but takes much longer. I put in about 12 hours just on the taxiway and hold short lines and I still have a few to go. Orthoimagery is next. Also working on the Bayport Aerodome.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Ricardo
    FSThrottle.com

  3. #3
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    An update screenshot with photoreal textures. This is where I feel that WED for X-Plane really shines for the novice. You can get near perfect payware like quality with minimal effort and know how. It's my opinion that well placed photoreal textures at least on and around the immediate airport perimeter make a huge difference in the look and feel of a scenery. Lastly, even though the formal way of positioning your textures in WED for X-Plane revolve around GeoTiffs that snap into place because they contain coordinate info or manually entering corner coordinates if using other image files like bitmaps, etc, you can actually freestyle the positions, which is handy for hand tuning or simply adjusting imperfections.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    Ricardo
    FSThrottle.com

  4. #4

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    I'm glad you like it, but I can't wait for the 1.4 version because working with USGS and version 1.2 or 1.3 is still a nightmare, in my opinion.

  5. #5
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    Unlike some of the more detailed posts I've read on imagery, I'm not sure exactly where people are getting their Geotiff files because when I download from the USGS, it's usually the JP2 files that have the better resolutions for using as airport orthos. What I do is go to the HTML file that is found inside the rar and I look up the coordinates on the webpage and enter them manually. If we're on the same page, you'll quickly discover that the tiles do not match up 100% and you have to basically go with one and hand place the rest. It's a chore, but at least the result is worth the effort.
    Ricardo
    FSThrottle.com

  6. #6

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    Where on the htm? Spatial_Reference_Information?
    Which ones do you use? How?

  7. #7

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    OK I got it, I convert JP2 in TIFF using Contenta Converter

  8. Default

    I find it very good place, I would go back if given the opportunity

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