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Night Lighting Question...

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I have included 2 shots of a panel I'm working on based upon Marco Spada and Chris Alvritis' crj panel. The first pic shows what the bitmap looks like in Pixel Studio. The lights are smooth and uniform.The second pic is what it looks like once in FS.It seems that the resolution deteriorates once inside FS leaving the light blotchy and not smooth for lack of better words. The pics here do not really demonstrate the deterioration.Does FS use a lower resolution that causes the deterioration because, although these jpgs do not really show it, there is a vast difference in the display.Is there some setting I can use either in FS or in my editing program that will result in smoother looking lights?Incidentally, I blacked out a bit of the panel above the left screen as I borrowed }( a little wee piece from someone elses panel and haven't yet got permission to use it. I've also borrowed/modified slightly an excellent autopilot David Durst. I would like to upload this panel some time if anyone wanted it, but naturally would need permission form the designers of various gauges/bitmaps etc. For now it's just for me to play with at home on my own computer.Thanks in advance, Adam http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/57783.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/57784.jpg

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Hello Adam,I don't believe your issue has anything to do with pixel resolution. Though I will say that I never use anything larger than 1024x768 for a main panel bitmap, just personal preference I guess.I think your problem is a result of image color depth. To the best of my knowledge, FS only likes panel bitmaps using 256 colors. I think this is a bit archaic, but that is how MS has set it up. If the bitmap is of a higher color depth, I can't say for sure how FS deals with this, but I would guess the interpreted results would not be favorable.As you may well know, converting your lovely panel bitmap (or any higher color depth image for that matter) to 256 colors can produce some undesirable effects, I refer to these effects as "banding". In your second image you can see this "banding" in the subtle transition of your lighting effects. Note that this is not visible in your first image, the lighting transition is nice and smooth, as you likely intended it to be. With an image using a 256 color palette, there are only so many color slots available. If your orginal image contains a wide range of colors, there are fewer colors available in the reduced palette to represent the orignal appearance, and this will generally result in a crappier (?) looking finished product. One way of minimizing this in the method you choose when converting to 256 colors. While I am not familiar with Pixel Studio, most graphic software gives you options when converting images to different color depths. These options may be refered to as "error diffusion", "ordered dither" and "nearest color". There may be others as well, but the point being that the choice you make when converting can drastically affect the appearance of the finished image. Experimentation seems to be the best way to find out which one will produce the least lossy output.Hope this helps a little....

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Thanks for the response. Hmmm...yeah, that's too bad FS only likes 256 colors for the panel bitmaps. I have seen some other panels in FS with a better lighting effect. I will take your advice and try some different approaches. I doubt I'd like the color loss with 256 colors, but maybe I could redo the night bitmap using 256 colors in the lighting effect only. I don't know as I just recently got Pixel Studio.Thanks again.Adam

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edited due to wrong spellingFor some bitmaps it helps to reduce banding, when you "sharpen" or even "sharpen more" the bitmap with a programm like Paint Shop Pro after you have applied the lighting effect and before you reduce the colours to 256. You can then either let FS2004 reduce the colour depth or you can do it manually (using error diffusion as airhead has stated) whatever looks better. When I reduce colour depth manually within Paint Shop then I'm definitely able to reduce the banding, but sometimes get other strange patterns instead. It's all a question of trial and error.Wolfgang

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Thanks Wolfgang, I've left that project temporarily in favor of a scenery project I'm working on but will return to it before long and attempt your suggestions. Adam

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This has nothing to do with paletized bitmaps (256 colors) because when paletized, or when 24bit, each color is still represented as an RGB888 triple (each R, G, B can go from 0 to 255).The issue is color sampling, because FS reduces every bitmap to a more efficient "packed" color format at run time.In any case, FS supports every type of bitmaps (24bits, 16 bits, 15 bits, paletized 256 colors).There is little to do but trial and error for a particular bitmap.One promizing way is to try "playing" with alpha channel bitmaps to render light effects, but there are problems (gauges in front/back of the other) because FS still does not handle properly gauge stacking to my knowledge.By the way, your panel with Jet Line 4 looks fantastic!!Hope this helps!

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I did some testing tonight and found out that reducing colours step by step drammatically reduces banding. So don't reduce colour depth straight to 256 colours but to 64k first then to 32K and then to 256 (or just leave it at 32k, this also helps).But be carefull, the chances that RGB 0,0,0 will be converted into 1,1,1 or similar are good. This causes some extra work.Wolfgang

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Thanks Wolfgang, I will try this method when I get back to the panel.Adam

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