Sethos1988

What's the word on the shadows?

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Hey,

I was just wondering what the official word is on the current state of X-Plane's shadows? Right now, they just seem all over the place. Jaggied, inaccurate, shimmery and people are using private dataref fixes just to get them sorted inside cockpits. I assumed this was on the to-do list but searching around, I haven't seen them make any mentions of them, unless I missed it? Probably my number one annoyance with X-Plane right now and getting them sorted would be absolutely fantastic. 

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I'm not seeing a problem with shadows in the default sim with no tweaks, but maybe it depends on your acceptance level for aliasing.

With the current 11.02RC2 version, there is a tiny bit of aliasing on the edges of plane and cockpit shadows if I really look hard for it, but not enough to bother me. No shimmering. This is with a fairly low anti-aliasing setting too, of 2X SSAA+FXAA. I could bump that higher if it bothered me, but I find this acceptable:

Shadow-aliasing-01.jpg

Shadow-aliasing-02.jpg

 

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Really? Here's how mine look on everything,  external planes, objects, ground, cockpits and have done since X-Plane 11 released as far as I remember.

Cockpits a jaggied and sometimes shimmering mess;

nwYgNTc.jpg

A lot of buildings, the shadows look downright awful;

d1Ybyft.jpg

Jaggies;

S4P4twG.jpg

svRyHw3.jpg

And on planes, it leaves major gaps due to being so inaccurate;

oc7ZMMs.jpg

This is all regardless of AA settings. 

EDIT: And I'm definitely not the only one, as I've read numerous of people with the same issue, even goes back to X-Plane 10; https://www.avsim.com/forums/topic/489282-x-plane-shadows-are-horrible-wth/

 

 

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I agree it's pretty bad in your screen shots, but I don't know why the shadow edges I posted are so much better. Especially on a fairly low AA setting.

Aside from that, I have Visual Effects on High(HDR) and Texture Quality on High, but I don't know if that affects shadow quality. I leave "Draw shadows on scenery" turned off because it hits the frame rates too hard on my system, but that shouldn't affect plane and cockpit shadows. 

If you're using a NVidia graphics card, do you have any settings for aliasing enabled in NVidia Control Panel for x-plane.exe? I have everything on "Use Global Defaults" there, except for threaded optimization off (which isn't relevant here).

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1 hour ago, Sethos1988 said:

Hey,

I was just wondering what the official word is on the current state of X-Plane's shadows? Right now, they just seem all over the place. Jaggied, inaccurate, shimmery and people are using private dataref fixes just to get them sorted inside cockpits. I assumed this was on the to-do list but searching around, I haven't seen them make any mentions of them, unless I missed it? Probably my number one annoyance with X-Plane right now and getting them sorted would be absolutely fantastic. 

Do you have "Draw shadows on scenery" enabled?

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28 minutes ago, Paraffin said:

I leave "Draw shadows on scenery" turned off because it hits the frame rates too hard on my system, but that shouldn't affect plane and cockpit shadows

Actually, on my system it does affect the shadow on the exterior of the aircraft drastically - about the same as the screenshots from Michael.  If I leave shadows on scenery turned off then the aircraft shadows are fine, so this may be what is causing the problem for the op. I believe this is a bug, but I can't say whether Ben Supnik at X-plane is aware of it or not. Perhaps if he reads this he will respond.

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1 minute ago, turnandbank said:

Actually, on my system it does affect the shadow on the exterior of the aircraft drastically - about the same as the screenshots from Michael.  If I leave shadows on scenery turned off then the aircraft shadows are fine, so this may be what is causing the problem for the op. I believe this is a bug, but I can't say whether Ben Supnik at X-plane is aware of it or not. Perhaps if he reads this he will respond.

Yes, it actually affects all shadows. Scenery shadows turned on:

Nx8posz.jpg

And scenery shadows turned off:

V9Hz7BF.jpg

 

 

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14 minutes ago, Murmur said:

Yes, it actually affects all shadows.

Hmmm.... not all shadows, apparently. I just tried turning "Draw shadows on scenery" on (which I don't normally use), and I got this result:

 

Shadow-aliasing-03.jpg

 

Notice that the interior shadows from the yoke and panel overhang on the instrument panel are sharp, but now the diagonal shadow cast from the outside fuselage (window frame?) is heavily aliased. I also see much more aliasing on the plane shadow in external view. 

Anyway, yeah... Laminar needs to fix this, so shadow aliasing is consistent inside and outside the aircraft. Meanwhile, disabling scenery shadows is a quick fix if you can live without it.

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That seemed to clear up the worst of it, thanks lads. Though it could still do with some love in terms of sharpness but this is much better. Then it's interesting if the scenery shadow option is a bug or it reduces shadow accuracy and resolution on purpose, to increase performance?

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1 minute ago, Sethos1988 said:

That seemed to clear up the worst of it, thanks lads. Though it could still do with some love in terms of sharpness but this is much better. Then it's interesting if the scenery shadow option is a bug or it reduces shadow accuracy and resolution on purpose, to increase performance?

I'm calling it a bug (pending more info). It might make sense to have scenery shadows at a much lower quality level, on the assumption that you'll be seeing most of them further away. But it doesn't make sense to replace that nice sharp external plane shadow with a lower quality version, just because scenery shadows are turned on. The plane isn't a scenery object. So it must be a bug. 

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Well, Ben had acknowledged that there are a lot of graphical problems in the cockpit, so in the long run the whole system how the cockpit is rendered will be replaced.:http://developer.x-plane.com/2017/02/maybe-x-plane-is-a-first-person-shooter/

So it is on the to-do list, but as part of a bigger problem. But I don´t think that all shadow problems are in fact the same basic problems. Some of the problems will be bugs of the deferred rendering.

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Not only graphical glitches with shadows, but also rendering/lighting bugs with trees and scenery objects. Trees end up glowing when the light is behind them, but also buildings take on a strange faded out (or really dark) colour against the terrain which looks quite bad. I end up continually moving the time of day when flying to try and get rid of it. 

I'm sure there are more important things to be fixed for 11.10, but I really hope the glowing problem on scenery objects is fixed.

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1 hour ago, tonywob said:

Not only graphical glitches with shadows, but also rendering/lighting bugs with trees and scenery objects. Trees end up glowing when the light is behind them, but also buildings take on a strange faded out (or really dark) colour against the terrain which looks quite bad. I end up continually moving the time of day when flying to try and get rid of it. 

I'm sure there are more important things to be fixed for 11.10, but I really hope the glowing problem on scenery objects is fixed.

X-Plane could really take another significant step up the visual ladder if they fixed some of all the 'minor' stuff, that still has a big impact on the overall visual representation and consistency. Texture shaking, which I know they are focused on, shadow issues, shading issues, rendering / lighting bugs as you mention, get those new waves implemented so we can be rid of repeating water texture, stuff like that. 

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And most of these bugs are typical problems of deferred rendering. They are all solvable but normally require a closer look, when an element is added. Its tricky an requires a lot of concentration, so this is nothing that should not be even attempted in a  smaller update, since you have to check and test the complete rendering engine. Its a pain to get it right, but once you have it right...

If we might see improvements in 11.10 I don´t know. I think even Ben couldn´t answer this question at the moment. Many of those problems aren´t small isolated bugs but a general problem, that you must not fix on the run, otherwise you would create real chaos.

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Yeah, X-Plane engine is the more advanced in several features (atmospheric scattering, artificial lighting, PBR, reflections) but on the other hand, it still has many visual imperfections and many missing things. I hope it sees some advancements during the v11 run.

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2 hours ago, Murmur said:

 I hope it sees some advancements during the v11 run.

Parts of these problems are simple growing pains. From its basics it is now far ahead of even P3D v4. It simply has to follow its way that is already scheduled. And Laminar now has more developers. They have aclear road map, but it is extremly risky to predict, when a specific bug is really fixed.

If we look at the current payware: Look at Aerosofts Bergen:It uses a new Custom Mesh System which might, in the long run, fix the Mesh problems of airports. Everywhere developers really improve their products. vFlyteAir made with their Twin Comanche the first pure X-Plane 11 plane, where X-Plane 11 meant more than just PBR.

And if we look at the FSX market: More and more developers go to X-Plane. Just a short time ago most expected a pure move to P3Dv4, but in fact many go to P3D v4 and X-Plane 11.

But these new players also add pressure to Laminar to fix their basic problems, or at least add interfaces, to let other developers do this task.  

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Scenery shadows are quite useless for now, as no currently available CPU is able to run max world details with shadows (not even talking about the glitchy look). And who wants to turn down world detail? But Ben stated that it's only a matter of time until shadows become viable - with more CPU time optimizations incoming.

But as this thread turned into a little agony column, how about the goddamned flickering roads when viewed from altitude? The so called "Z-trash". How hard is this to fix? Ruins so many otherwise stunning exterior views - especially when using ortho images.

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The effect on shadows you see is "normal", i.e. not a bug. Used to be the same way in XP10:

If you have no scenery shadows (light CPU load), XP11 will render the "airplane shadows" super-crisp.

If you have scenery shadows on (heavy CPU load), XP11 will render ALL shadows rough to save on CPU time.

 

XP10 had some detailed settings to determine how sharp you wanted your shadows to be (highest level was "melt your CPU").

There was a thread somewhere with a settings.txt tweak that enabled the "super crisp" aircraft shadows, even though scenery shadows are on as well.

Cheers, Jan

 

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1 hour ago, Janov said:

There was a thread somewhere with a settings.txt tweak that enabled the "super crisp" aircraft shadows, even though scenery shadows are on as well.

For those interested, this tweaked settings.txt (the original one is in the "resources" folder) should give better cockpit shadows when scenery shadows are on. Of course, in case of issues, do not nag Laminar Research for support: :-)

https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B5fyJwRhjar5UWJWazJlVmdBSjQ

 

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On 7/8/2017 at 4:19 PM, Paraffin said:

I'm not seeing a problem with shadows in the default sim with no tweaks, but maybe it depends on your acceptance level for aliasing.

With the current 11.02RC2 version, there is a tiny bit of aliasing on the edges of plane and cockpit shadows if I really look hard for it, but not enough to bother me. No shimmering. This is with a fairly low anti-aliasing setting too, of 2X SSAA+FXAA. I could bump that higher if it bothered me, but I find this acceptable:

Shadow-aliasing-01.jpg

Shadow-aliasing-02.jpg

 

I wonder if there are any plans to soften the shadows?  Because hard-edged cutouts like that don't exist in real life.

Yes, I'm nitpicking.

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5 hours ago, Mountain Man said:

I wonder if there are any plans to soften the shadows?  Because hard-edged cutouts like that don't exist in real life.

Yes, I'm nitpicking.

Wel that made me go look - think it depends on the surface - in this video there are some pretty hard edged shadows on smooth surfaces (throttle binnacle) and not on the rough (e.g. tarmac, sheepkin seat cover). Even more nitpicky :)

cheers

Peter

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12 hours ago, Colonel X said:

Scenery shadows are quite useless for now, as no currently available CPU is able to run max world details with shadows (not even talking about the glitchy look).

I'm a bit puzzled by that statement Colonel. I'm running both at Max on an i7-4790k with no problems at all.

I'm not quite sure what defines the 'glitchy look' though.... (the Memsahib wouldn't let me Google it in case I found a replacement for her :biggrin:). 

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59 minutes ago, J.L.Seagull said:

I'm a bit puzzled by that statement Colonel. I'm running both at Max on an i7-4790k with no problems at all.

I'm not quite sure what defines the 'glitchy look' though.... (the Memsahib wouldn't let me Google it in case I found a replacement for her :biggrin:). 

Well, it depends where you run it I guess. Try a KLAX 25R approach at 2pm in the default 737. I am pretty sure the FPS will drop to the low 20s. For rural areas I suppose you are good! With glitchy look I was referring to the low resolution cockpit shadows (and other quirks) when running with scenery shadows.

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