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Guest Mike Truly

General Creation Questions About FSX

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I apologize in advance for the newbieness of my questions. I am a very new user of FSX and am extremely intrigued by this program.I am an experienced 3D modeler and animator. I use 3DSMAX2008 and have used this program since 3D Studio DOS ver1 as well as lots of other animation, compositing and graphics programs. So I know all about modeling and animation, etc.I am interested in learning all about FSX but in particular, in this post, am interested in learning about the customizability of FSX using all possible means. What I am trying to get my head around at the moment is just what is (and what isn't possible) regarding customizing using any available means. At this point, I am trying to understand what is involved (the process) in a general sense to customize the experience in FSX.So for example...1. Creating aircraft and scenery. I know that you can obtain a program called FSDS and create aircraft and (some?) scenery for use in FSX. This appears to be a basic 3D program and since I already have 3D programs... can I use MAX instead to create my models? Can my MAX models be imported into this FSDS for export into FSX? When your using FSDS, how do you know your placing your building or tree or runway in the right spot in FSX? Are there other, competing programs like FSDS for creating FSX models/scenery?2. Texturing aircraft. I know there is RePaint. Can MAX be used instead for this function? Are there other competing apps that do this function?3. MOST IMPORTANT... I would like the ability to be able to take a set of data of a (real) aircraft flight and import it into FSX and make the FSX aircraft fly the flight. Is this possible? I believe that when I use the 'Flight Video' function, in the background it is recording the data of the aircraft flight path (and other data) and then when I tell it to replay it, it is not playing a video but rather is re-running the sim with the recorded data. This is what I want except I want to be able to use my own flight data. Is it possible to see and edit this recorded data in some way?Again, I don't need absolute specifics at this point but a general understanding if these things are possible and what methods/tools I would use to do them.I am astounded at the quality of FSX but am also equally astounded that there doesn't seem to be an all encompassing FS Edit app that would let you do all these things in a visual way like working in 3DSMAX.Thanks very much!

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Low level answers to your questions;1. Use 3DSMax, as part of the SDKs has plugins and scripts available just for this line of products.2. Same as above, no need to go outside of 3DS.3, Don't know.2 out of 3 isn't too bad! You might venture over to this site; http://www.fsdeveloper.com/ Explore the forums, check out the Wiki, find out just how much fun and aggravation the design world of FSX can be...

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Thanks very much for the info and links. I take it that there is a lot of aggravation in creating for FSX.There are SO many various websites dealing with all thing FS it's hard to know where to start.#3 is very critical to my efforts and at this point, everything hinges around it. If it's not possible (and from the lack of info I've gotten in various places regarding it, it's either impossible or very difficult), then it may limit how far I pursue this.Regarding #1 and #2, I take it to mean the 3DSMAX SDK is where these scripts or plugins reside that would take 3D models from MAX to FS?I should note that I'm not really a programmer so I'm not sure how far I can pursue any of this... just a lowly artist.Thanks again.

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>Regarding #1 and #2, I take it to mean the 3DSMAX SDK is where>these scripts or plugins reside that would take 3D models from>MAX to FS?>>I should note that I'm not really a programmer so I'm not sure>how far I can pursue any of this... just a lowly artist.>>Thanks again.>The SDKs that I refer to are the FSX SDKs, a part of the Deluxe version of FSX.

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Thanks for the clarification. I DO have the Deluxe version of FSX. Would these have been installed automatically? Because I don't see any SDK stuff in the directories, etc. nor the START menu. After installing from disk, I later installed SP1 and SP2. When I insert the install disk again, it asks do I want to repair or remove.Do I have to completely uninstall and then re-install to get the SDK? (This was a long... long process).Thanks again.

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Nevermind. I found the SDK folder on the disk itself.Thanks!

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#3 is somewhat possible or you can get very very close with a freeware add-on program called FS-Recorder. It does *not* allow you to enter flight parameters manually (although the data files can be edited), but it *does* record flight vector data (speed, altitude, attitude, and certain events such as engine, lights, etc) and save it as a flight parameter file. You can then re-inject, if you will, that data back through FS-Recorder via the "replay" function (or "replay as AI") to have the flight repeat itself at your will, and under different external circumstances such as time and weather.The downside of this approach is that you "enter" the data by actually performing the flight in FSX first, so you'd need to do that, or have any number of proficient volunteer pilots do that for you and send you the file.More info here....good luck!http://www.fs-recorder.net/

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I think FS-Recorder may be the ticket... thank you VERY much! Someone else had suggested this to me earlier but it wasn't made clear that these videos are not videos at all but rather sim re-runs. Since I thought that they were actual videos that FS-Recorder made, I thought that there was no way to edit the values.There seem to be several tools for editing the values of the FS-Recorder 'recording'. (I have to explore this more). If this pans out, it will be great.Thanks again.

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Hi Mike,>3. MOST IMPORTANT... I would like the ability to be able to>take a set of data of a (real) aircraft flight and import it>into FSX and make the FSX aircraft fly the flight.With SimConnect (part of the SDK) you can read all kinds of data from FSX and as well feed data like position, speed, direction, and much more into FSX. However, you cant change physics, e.g. you cant fly the Cessna 172 at Mach 2 - but you could use slew mode.What exactly do you have in mind ?Martin

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>Thanks very much for the info and links. I take it that>there is a lot of aggravation in creating for FSX.>>There are SO many various websites dealing with all thing FS>it's hard to know where to start.I wouldn't characterize it as "aggravation" per se, but it is most definitely a "challenge!" :-lol I would heartily second the advice to register and use the forums at http://freeflightdesign.com myself. Many of the most knowledgable and talented freeware (and even some 'professional') developers make that their home.There's a great wealth of knowledge archived there as well as plethora tutorials, tips and great entertainment! :-beerchug As for your #3 question, there are quite a few who're already using SimConnect to drive the sim from external software programs they've developed.

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Martin,In reading the SDK docs... I get the feeling that there are lots of possibilities but that (as a non-programmer) they may be more complex than I can handle (certainly at this point). I was reading about 'Waypoint' objects and thought they might possibly be a way of telling an aircraft to 'be here at this time, be here at the next time, etc.'.Currently, with the FSX Flight Recorder and the add-on FS-Record, the 'videos' are not videos at all but rather a recording of the sim data that is later played back (re-run) in FSX. As the user 'eyeballs' their flight (with their skill level), the data is recorded and later played back.What I want is a means of precisely inputting the flight data (we'll start with the basics such as XYZ Pitch Roll Heading Time) rather than flying with my joysticks, etc. I want this for the purpose of precisely flying a flight to a known set of values and being able to verify those values. So if someone provides me with a set of values and I can produce a flight for them... there is a way to verify that those are the actual values being used.After I have made a FRC recording of a sim using FS-Record, I can use another utility such as the FRC Editor and instantly see the Lat Lon Alt Pitch Roll Heading Time, etc. This is great for the verification aspect. But now I need to find a way of getting MY values used rather than the values that were generated with a eyeballed flight.Regarding your comment about defying physics, I can assure you I don't want to defy physics in doing this, but I'm wondering why you say I can't defy physics since I CAN defy physics all day long in my 3D animation app? Tell an aircraft to be at this point one second and another point another second and you've got MACH2. In looking at the flight recorder data generated by FS-Recorder, if I were able to input my data, why couldn't I use data that defied physics?Thanks!

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Thanks for the tips Bill! I've got a lot to learn (obviously) and my brain hurts at this point.Are any of these sim driving products for sale? For example, where the user would feed in flight data (say from a TXT file or Excel spreadsheet) and it would fly the aircraft per the parameters?Thanks again.

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It is great. I just edited the parameters (altitude) of a FS-Recorder recording. I then went and played it back in FSX... it seemed to work great! Thanks again for this suggestion.

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Hi Mike,to give a somewhat solid advice, i need to know more about the original problem you are trying to solve.Here are two extreme cases of original problems to illustrate the possible solutions ..Problem A) Near some big airport, a new 1100 ft skyscraper is being built very close to waypoint Delta. Because of that, the published approach to runway X has to be changed. Your boss has invented a new one that is pretty much the same as the old one except for these minor adjustments:- Altitude at waypoint Alpha was and will be 2000 ft.- Altitude at waypoint Delta was 1000 ft but will be 1500 ft.- Altitude at waypoint Gamma was and will be 500 ft.Which means from Alpha to Delta the aircraft will have to sink slower than before, but from Delta to Gamma it will have to sink faster than before.Your job is to do a first check if that new approach looks ok or not, and so you want to look at it in FSX, and you want to try if it is possible to fly that new approach.So you create some custom scenery addon with the new skyscraper.Next, you define a flight plan in FSX that follows the waypoints of the new approach. Then you fly it in a C172 and a B747. In FSX, both have GPS and autopilot, so they can follow the track, but you have to set altitude and sink rate on the autopilot manually. Or you could write a little SimConect program that monitors position and sets altitude and sink rate on the autopilot. Or you could get some addon aircraft (e.g. from LevelD or others) that has a FMC/FMS with VNAV management.Then you could play with the weather settings in FSX to give all kinds of bad conditions and see what happens ..To the professionals: No, i dont think that ARINC 42x conforming approaches should be developed this way .. The important point in this example is, that the real world data is very loosely coupled to the simulation. We have a very small number of real world data samples (just the 3 waypoints and altitude) with lots of time between (minutes). FSX "connects the dots" using its own idea of weather and aerodynamics and cockpit systems simulation. The multimillion dollar simulators from Boing and others are most likely somewhat more precise.Problem :( After some soaring plane championship you get the pilots flight recordings and you have to check if someone has cheated by editing the recorded data. The recorded data looks like this:one sample every 10 seconds, consisting of latitude, longitude and altitude. Each sample is one line in a text file. You write a SimConnect program that reads the recorded data and sends one sample every 10 seconds to FSX. On each received sample, FSX sets the aircrafts position accordingly and lets the FSX engine run. With a locked frame rate of 20 fps, FSX will have calculated and drawn 200 frames until the next sample comes in. Most likely the simulated aircraft position, orientation and speed in FSX after these 200 frames will differ slightly from the next real world data sample. For example, in FSX the left wing touched a thermal with 3 fpm uplift, but in the real flight the right wing touched a 7 fpm thermal uplift. So in FSX the aircraft will do a small jump every 10 seconds to resync with the recorded data. It depends on your original problem, whether these small jumps just look funny but are tolerable or not. For example if you see a sudden huge jump instead of lots of tiny jumps, the recorded data smells like cheating ..In this example the simulation is coupled very tightly to the recorded data (lots of samples) with small time steps.Each problem comes with its own can of worms ..Thats why i need to know more about your original problem.What real world data is recorded ?- position (lat, lon, alt)- aircraft orientation (pitch, roll, yaw angles)- speed (amount and direction), momentum (1st derivation)- sample rate- small plane or big iron- what else ..What is important about the resulting simulated flight ?- view from outside- view from cockpit to outside- displayed values on cockpit instruments- preformance data (time enroute, fuel consumption, derivation from planned track/altitude, ...)- what simulation errors are tolerable- what errors are not tolerable- what else ..Martin

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Martin,Thanks very much for the detailed write-up. I apologize for the lenght of this.Your second example is probably closest to what I need. But at this point, it's critical to understand the differences in approach between something like a flight simulator and an animation.In FSX (I'm learning) the possibilities are endless for proper sycronization and operation of various components (if they're programmed to operate correctly). I am very entrigued with the capabilities (and potentials) I see and amazed all that I've seen done in this market segment.With an animation, I can do all the same things and get the same visual end result (which is what I need to deliver... an animation of a flight). But since an animation app is a general app, I must create everything and animate everything and syncronize everything to get the animation working properly.(**I should note here that an animation can get far better visual results as it is not constrained by the real-time nature of a simulator and rendering and effects tricks can make anything visually possible. That having been said, the visual qualities of FSX are very close to acceptable for my needs and that's why I'm exploring the possibilities with it).For flight animations, it would seem that a flight simulator (like FSX) is very well suited for this particular application (if certain possibilities can be realized). (FSX is not well suited for a detailed medical animation, it's not well suited for a detailed automobile animation, but it's very close to being well suited for an aircraft animation).But there are a number of possibilities which MUST be realized before I can use it. These possibilities fall into different categories such as data input, data verification and visual quality issues.Each project is different in what is required (visually) in the end result animation. So I will give a simple example.The goal is to create an animation of a flight. The aircraft starts sitting on a runway, rolls out and takes off and flies around the airport and comes back and lands on the same runway. This needs to be shown visually from both a cockpit view and a follow view. During the animation, we also want to see a single data readout displayed of airspeed during the flight (we don't want to see all the gauges moving , etc... just this one data readout via some means). Very simple.I am provided the flight data. Someone else has created and verified the data and I don't care (at this point) if it's wrong or right. My job is to take this data and make a flight animation of it. This is simple flight data such as position, orientation, time, and airspeed.So... I need to be able to:1. Create the proper airport scene model, sky model and aircraft model.2. I need to be able to input the flight data of the aircraft.3. I need to be able to verify that the data is being used correctly.4. I need to make the final animations for viewing.So it's a very simple task at this point. In the animation world, the tools are readily usable, but time consuming. In the FSX world, it appears to be more complex to setup mostly because of the tools and methods you are forced to use in the FSX world. But once the initial work is done, the simulator aspect lets you make changes and generate a new version quickly (this is the appealing aspect).For example, in the animation world, I can dive right in and start modeling the aircraft and scene very swiftly in MAX10. If I need to build a building and place it in the scene it is instantaneous. In FSX, it seems a bit more convoluted in that there is no one all-powerful 'FSX MAX' editing app where all this can be done visually with little programming. (Models created and placed, cameras swung around to a new view or position animated over time, model components animated, etc.). Anyway, this FSX process for these tasks will have to be learned but it appears far slower than it's animation counterpart.Then there's the data input. Again, in the animation world it's a snap. I have found the FS-Recorder will record flight data and that can be edited and new data inserted and the data saved and then the sim re-run in FSX. This is the critical part. Without this, I can't make this application work.Then there's the verification aspect. In the animation world, you can rotate about your scene and put digital tape measures on everything and measure to make sure the runway is the correct length, width, etc. You can also constantly see the data values of anything and everything so it's easy to show someone that the aircraft is in the right place at the right time, etc. In FSX, this is more complex but may be able to be done in other ways. Like the 'goals' in the FSX tutorials, perhaps visual flight path 'dots' could be added to show the flightpath visually and that the aircraft was following the path, etc. Or the actual data values could be displayed at all times so when the aircraft was at a waypoint, you could see that the data matched properly.Then there's the visual quality aspect. In the animation realm, visual quality is the whole point so you have complete control over all aspects. FSX is very good and if certain issues such as anti-aliasing and render quality can be made good enough... it will work. One issue is resolution. Currently, I have it set to the max which is 1280x1024. Ideally, I would like to at least do an HDTV aspect if not resolution. All this can be dealt with in editing and compositing but it would be better if it were possible to generate higher res images from FSX. (It would also be handy to be able to have a mode of FSX that did NOT try to run real-time but rather rendered the images out frame by frame so the user could achieve higher resolutions than are capable realtime).Again, it would be nice if there was an all encompassing 'FSX MAX' app where you could do all these things but there isn't.So my current experimentation is with getting flight data into FSX and then re-running the simulation to see it. Currently, with my limited experiments, it seems to be working with FS-Record.I've obviously got a long way to go but it is promising at this point.Thanks for your time!

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One more thing I should note.The flight data provided might be in any number of time increments but for this example, we'll say it's at 1 second intervals.After data is input... it is frequently found to be somewhat wrong. For example, it might be that the resulting flightpath is 'rough'. When this is found to be the case (which can be frequently), the flightpath must be tweaked to be smoother.In the animation world, this is easy as you can simply grab the flightpath spline and adjust vertex positions and make it smoother. Or if you have too many data points, you can just select certain data points and remove them and let the computer interpolate the spline postions.But since it's frequently beneficial to be able to see this flightpath adjustment relative to the other objects of your scene... it would be fantastic if there was some means in FSX or a utility, that would let you visually edit a flightpath in this fashion. But at this point, the solution would be to edit the flightpath data within MAX10.But it would be far more interactive to be able to do this in FSX.Thanks!

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