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Christopher Low

Quality of UK photoscenery

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I only fly around the UK (and across the Irish Sea to Dublin), and I have this entire area (with the exception of Northern Ireland; ORBx FTX) covered with the PlayHorizon VFR UK Photographic Scenery. I have always been a "supporter" of this photoscenery ever since I purchased the JustFlight VFR Real Scenery by mistake (thinking it was the same product). The JustFlight product isn't bad. It's just far too "green" and rather "washed out", which affects the contrast between various geographical features and areas. It is also less impressive in its depiction of sand banks and other features just below the surface of the water in coastal regions, and I remember seeing mesh elevation problems at some of my UK2000 VFR airfields.

 

I have recently been flying circuits in the A2A Simulations Piper Cherokee 180 at almost all of my airfields, using all of the runway approaches at each airfield. I am doing this to familiarise myself once again with all of the small airfields that I neglected for so long when I was messing about with the PMDG 737NGX at the large airports :smile: I am also taking the opportunity (as a UK2000 beta tester) to note any "issues" that may be visible as I work my way through the list.

 

This "project" (for want of a better term) has also given me time to check out the quality of the photoscenery around these airfields, and I have to admit that there are a lot more poor quality areas (resolution and colour saturation) than I had previously realised. To be honest, the overall quality of the Engalnd and Wales photoscenery leaves a lot to be desired. A quick "top down" view of this region of the world reveals quite significant variation in colouration and quality of the various "strips" of data that have been used. Some areas of the VFR Scotland Photographic Scenery suffer from low contrast (rather bland looking) textures, but the overall consistency is much, much better than that in England and Wales (in addition to the significantly higher resolution of the photo data).

 

Because of this, I decided to use FS Earth Tiles to "extract" photoscenery "patches" to cover up the worst areas in England and Wales. However, I wasn't expecting the scale of this task to be so excessive! I was aware of a really rather ugly strip of terrain textures running north to south from just east of EGBP Kemble, down past EGDL RAF Lyneham (a particularly nasty area), and down almost as far as EGDM MOD Boscombe Down, but my travels so far have had me patching here, there and everywhere! :blink: These patches are rather basic, since they are rectangular in form, and do not include any attempt at watermasking.

 

I have probably become even more picky since I decided to look for these blemishes, but I am surprised at just how long it has taken me to see these inconsistencies. Some areas have only required small patches to cover up particularly obvious areas of "bright colour" or ugly texturing, but I have also completed several rather large areas that desperately needed attention. The problem here of course is that these areas do not blend perfectly with the existing scenery. However, they are a better alternative than seeing ugly splashes of bright colour scattered all over the place. In fact, it seems that the PlayHorizon England and Wales photoscenery suffers from an excessive amount of red. Most of the problem areas suffer from an over abundance of this colour (I have lost count of the number of irrigation waterways that look blood red), but there are a handful that have an excessive amount of blue aswell. One area that I noticed yesterday looked particularly ghastly, but it was made even more problematic by the fact that the replacement photoscenery straddled a boundary where the Virtual Earth images looked completely different! :angry:

 

The scale of the problem is highlighted by the fact that I even considered replacing the lot with ORBx FTX scenery for England and Wales. Now, I am not saying that the latter is rubbish. Far from it. However, I do like to be able to see real world geographical features and landmarks when I fly around the UK, and the thought of flying between two airfields looking down at generic scenery (however beautiful) was not an encouraging one. In short......I really wish that some developer (probably one with more money than sense) would release a new photoscenery package for England and Wales, with much more consistent colouration and texture quality than the PlayHorizon version, and at 0.6m resolution.

 

Anyway, I must go. My two pigs are eager to get going, and the prevailing winds are currently in their favour :wink:

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Christopher,

I too am an ardent enthusiast of the Horizon VFR Scenery and like you have all of the UK covered, other than Ireland, for which I use Mega Scenery Ireland photo Scenery (very green BTW but the it is Ireland)!

 

Don't know if you are aware of this site which documents a number of fixes, although I don't think most are tile fixes, but may be worth looking at.

 

http://www.arm-computers.co.uk/Photo_Scenery/FSX_Patches/fsx_patches.html

 

Also, you may be interested, but Flightstore.CO.UK currently have a sale on and they have V3 updates for all UK regions at £5 each. I have these and they do include 0.6 m resolution for a number of areas. FS also have the Treescapes packs on sale too at the same price.

 

http://www.flightstore.co.uk/dvds-sims-c346/flight-sim-software-c499/microsoft-fsx-add-ons-c814/scenery-fsx-c543/uk-scenery-for-fsx-c547

 

Hope this info is of use.

 

Stuart

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Thanks, Stuart. Tony's site includes patches for a handful of terrain mesh issues that were identified. These are completely different to the texture quality issues that I am talking about. I have all of the v3 updates with the high resolution towns and cities, and also the entire TreeScapes bundle!

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Download free osm & OS vector data for uk in ESRI shp file...

Convert to .kml

Import into FSET to use as watermasks

Create photoscenery for entire UK :)

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Somehow Kevin I do not think your post is helpful to this conversation.  I did a Google for "import into FSET" and got nothing intelligible.  Download OSM & OS Vector data for UK in ESRI shp file.  Let's see, Google says.... well, that's a bit easier to interpret as I got the following - https://wiki.osgeo.org/wiki/Public_Geodata_for_the_UK. I didn't check on how to convert to .kml but obviously that would be simple.

Getting closer to figuring it out but think I'll let someone else figure it all out. It's just that I'm worried that any product produced won't be watermasked as I heard that is absolutely the hardest and time-consuming task of all. 

 

Best regards,
 

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Sorry Jim, that was more for Chris as he knows I've dabbled with those processes :) It wasnt intended to be a technical manual though, just a basic outline highlighting that it can be done.

 

Import of kml files into FSET is covered in FSET's documentation, and just requires a simple kml file with a specific name. Vector polys just need to be given a specific name within that kml file depending on what transparency is required. One click on a button in FSET and the vector data is imported into FSET :D

 

I did miss out a step though, that the same shp data would need to be used to update the underlying hydro poly in any given area so that it matches the transparency applied in FSET. That can be <b>relatively</b> easily accomplished using SBuilderX, again with the how to being covered in its manual, forum and various online tutorials.

 

Cheers K

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It's worth noting that photoscenery for the entire UK is not totally consistent. I mentioned in my opening post that there are areas of the Virtual Earth photo data that do not match up with each other (the one I referred to is west of York, and a very good example). I would need to look at the entire map to see how many of these "boundaries" there are, but a project of this scale is not something that I am going to attempt. I have too much other stuff on my plate, which is why I would like a nice, friendly software developer to do the work for me! :smile:

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Yes chris, lots of work to do with the base imagery to make it consistent. It could be possible to download all the tiles for areas with FSET and blend the edges to join up more consistently, but thats a tough and long manual process and I dont know enough about how to do it to say whether it can be done automatically somehow :( I suspect it could, but only by someone a lot cleverer than me!

 

Darren and Vikki started it with autogenesis, but that sadly didnt work out, although Darren did share by email the process he went through to do it...have to dig that out...

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I made a quick circuit of EGHN Sandown yesterday, and as I was looking at the scenery, I was thinking about how nice it would have been to see an ES version of the Isle of Wight :sad:

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Sorry Jim, that was more for Chris as he knows I've dabbled with those processes :)

 

No problem Kevin.  My comments were sort of tongue in cheek comments too. 

 

Best regards,

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it is just easier to re-scan the whole uk again using FSET as mike has done at simhaven, the results are simply spectacular at .25m per pixel

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Capn Bligh Sir, Participants here may be interested to note how it was done, what base data/settings were used, if any transparency masking around the coast was created etc?

 

It may also be useful to note for people that cixvfr club (http://www.cixvfrclub.org.uk/index.php) are producing a full autogen set, buildings and vegetation, for the whole uk. Its still in development and improving as time goes on and you need you join the club to get it, but take a look if you're interested?

 

Cheers K

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Hi, cant find any mention of vfr scenery other than  autogen there, which i am not really interested in. we have scanned the whole uk using fset at -2  and done a proper water as  well however we had to use a mixture of google and other suppliers so in some few places, mostly scotland there are some colour changes.

however it is some 600gbs in size

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I understand it to be autogen that enhances photoscenery, in the tradition of the much-missed ESI.

I'll definitely give it a go, when I can get it downloaded...

 

I do have Treescapes UK but can't get the installer to work yet...so maybe this is an easier installed alternative?

 

I've just installed Playsim's Shetland etc with Scotflight airports and have to say it is excellent! Second only to the ESI Scilly Isles/Shawbury Fields etc.

Will probably go for their Western Isles too, as I have the airfields already

 

Only problem so far is elevation issues at Scatsta airfield which is on a plateau (actually it was floating in mid-air last visit :( ) - Christopher, any thoughts on that?

 

Simhaven looks very interesting too - I'm surprised I've never heard of them, will be registering :)

 

Cheers

Keith

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Capn Bligh Sir, Participants here may be interested to note how it was done, what base data/settings were used, if any transparency masking around the coast was created etc?

It may also be useful to note for people that cixvfr club (http://www.cixvfrclub.org.uk/index.php) are producing a full autogen set, buildings and vegetation, for the whole uk. Its still in development and improving as time goes on and you need you join the club to get it, but take a look if you're interested?

Cheers K

Kevin, just wondering whether you, or anyone else, have tried this cixvfrclub autogen, what's it like and whether it's compatible with already installed Treescapes add-on?

Cheers,

Stuaet

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I have it and it's excellent, I use it instead of Treescapes, which TBH I couldn't get to install....

As I understand it, CixVFR will replace Treescapes wherever there is a conflict as the AGN file name for a location is fixed, but as CixVFR includes building and trees that's not a problem.

Really brings photoscenery to life. :)

Doesn't have the same hand-placed accuracy as ESI - theoretically you can use ESI and CixVFR together - but given the scale and the price entirely understandable.

Cheers

Keith

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I havent used it yet myself.

Credit to the author for producing it for nothing. However it's not 100% accurate as trees have been placed along railways and rivers etc that arent actually there in real life.

It is possible to merge Treescapes and cixvfr autogen but it is not easy or quick :(

There is excellent free data for the uk which would enable anyone with the time and a bit of knowledge to make excellent and accurate autogen using Scenproc.

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I remember the excitement of seeing 1.2mpp resolution of England advertised at the same time as the release of FSX. Compared to the scenery limitations of fs9 it was incredible (even with the monitors around at that time) but now, with the passage of time, it's pretty crap compared to many other scenery's out there.

 

I made the same mistake as Chris and purchased Real scenery from the Steam store thinking it was Horizon's. Bloody horrible, deleted immediately. As I only fly rotary I rely on photo scenery heavily. Scotland @ 60 is incredible in places and I only wish they would continue to produce England and Wales at the same resolution with up to date imagery. It would sell like hot-cakes, I'm sure. BTW How the f*** does one purchase Scotland Central? It's impossible.

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Earth Simulations were working on higher resolution photo scenery and custom autogen, but they only released one small area in the far Northwest tip of Scotland before they had to close down. The idea was to sell quite small regions but it would have worked out very expensive to cover the whole of the UK and you would have needed a massive amount of hard drive space but it would have been spectacular.

 

Such a shame Darren and Vicky had to give up on this project, but I believe "keeping the ship afloat" took it's toll on their health.

 

Ian   

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ES were trying too hard imo. Just 60cmpp or above, plus trees, would have been wholly adequate and would not have taken an eternity to produce.

 

Instead of having object placement, custom autogen or whatever you call it? you just increase the resolution in city areas which was exactly done by Horizon after many years of promises.

BTW I have managed to tweak everything so that flying with the Oculus Rift is absolutely incredible. Especially Scotland with treescapes. I welcome anyone that would travel to Portsmouth UK to visit for a demo.

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