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Guest Robert Sanderson

Visible prop in VC

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I need help making a spinning prop show in the VC. So far I have tried several combinations such as:1. A disc with a transparent texture. The disc is visible all the time but there is no illusion of motion. It is also too dark.2. A disc with one of the default prop textures. At low speed the individual stripes in the texture are visible. At full speed nothing shows.3. Segments of a disc with a transparent texture. At low speed you can see the segments rotating when they should be blurred.I am using FSDS2 with the prop_blurred animation. The still prop and slow prop work ok in the VC.What have I missed?Thanks,John Woodward

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Sorry John it took so long for you to get a response...Part order is as much an issue with the FSDS2 VC as it is with an exterior model.In the V/C, the blurred prop part needs to be the last part in the list (a simple cut and paste will do). However, if your V/C also contains glass parts, such as the windshield, these need to be last, then the blurred prop. I handle this by cutting the prop and pasting it back into the same model (V/C), then cutting the glass parts out and back into the same model (V/C)...And, make sure auto-sort isn't checked when compiling the model. -JohnI should add if you still have no luck, send me a PM and I can arrange to look at the source with you...

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Hi John,The prop shows up ok, it just looks terrible. Most of my add-on planes will show just a flicker as the prop turns but my attempts show a whole disc, although it is transparent. I think I am using the wrong shape or the wrong texture. Breaking the disc into segments did not seem to work. It just shows a bunch of transparent segments spinning around.Possibly the trouble is in the animation. I noticed that most of the default planes do not show a prop in the VC.ThanksJohn Woodward

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Download the update I did for Chuck Dome's Mirage or my Microlight. If either of those prop animations look good from inside the cabin, then I can help...-John

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Gentlemen,I'm new to the business of aircraft modeling, only been at it since late March of this year when I received FSDS2 as a birthday gift. I have been flightsimming since FS2002 and I continue to be amazed at what is possible on the PC, and at the wonders of FS2004.In addition to what John Ci has said, If you'll accept the input of someone with only a couple of months experience in these matters, let me relate the following: Regarding the prop animation in the VC, I've been having the same troubles as jlwoodward. In fact his description of what he has tried to date so closely mirrored my own efforts that I was moved to post this reply and respond with a few comments and observations of my own.After much trial and error (one entire weekend, two long days of trying every combination of materials and textures I could think of which includes the same list of experiments and identical results as jlwoodward) I finally hit upon a texture/material combo that looked pretty good to me. During the course of events that weekend I noticed that the stock aircraft use for prop_blurred what looks to be a disk with 16 sides with a material transparency of something like 64 to 128 (just a guess). They then map a 32 bit with alpha transparent texture to it which creates the illusion of spinning blades and hides the blocky edges of the disk. I was able to use the same method to achieve similar results, but it never looked as good as the MS aircraft prop animations. It always froze one 'blade' when the rpm was stable, and this same lone 'blade' was also too prominent as the prop rpm was changing. The aircraft I'm developing uses a three-blade Rotol C/S wooden propeller and needless to say no aircraft that I'm aware of uses a single-blade prop, so this was unacceptable to me. The MS prop textures also hide the edge of the prop disk, with only the single 'blade' segment defining it, and all my efforts to create a transparent prop texture of my own resulted in a well defined edge to the disk, not too attractive if you use 16 or 32 sides for your prop_blurred disk!The combo I finally settled on was to create a 32 side disk for prop_blurred, and since FSDS will only allow 32 sides for a disk, I copied prop_blurred and rotated the copy (prop_blurred.1) until the segments bisected the sides or segments of the prop_blurred disk. In effect, this left me with a 64 side disk, which looked better than 32, but I found that 128 gave a nice clean edge that looked the best of all. If you don't mind increasing your poly count a little for such an important part (it's in your face most of the time you're flying a single engine A/C from the VC) then four such disks suitably rotated (see screenshot #1) will work nicely. You can select and join the parts into a single prop_blurred, but it's not really necessary.I'm using a material transparency of 8 for the prop_blurred disk(s). It looks OK to me but this might need to be adjusted to suit individual tastes.After many failed attempts to create a texture I found a bitmap in the Extra 300 folder called prop_spinner_2. I resized this via DXTBMP and PSP7 to 256x256, darkened it (my prop blades are black) and saved it as a 32 bit texture with alpha (screenshot #2). When applied to my disk it gives a fairly realistic illusion of spinning blades, with none of the previously mentioned drawbacks! I'm going to invest some time in creating a similar texture for the finished model as the MS texture under certain conditions has one segment that appears a little too light in color for a prop with black blades (it would be perfect for an aluminum anodized prop or better yet a polished aluminum or steel prop), but that will be a last minute detail before release, I've got too much on my plate right now with more pressing matters!In the meantime, at least I no longer wince when I'm flying from the VC and look at the prop disk. Screenshot #3 shows the VC prop in flightsim, but you can't see the spinning blade effect and the 800x600x32 screen resolution and JPEG compression makes it look much worse than it does at 1600x1200x32 in FS2004. You can get a sense of the clean edge and prop disk transparency though, and trust me, it does look like a spinning prop in FS2004.I'm not sure if GMAX or 3DS MAX or whatever MS uses to create aircraft models does a better job at creating the prop animation for the VC, but I do know that I can't duplicate the really superb MS results using FSDS2. I suppose this isn't too suprising, as I'm kinda making this up as I go!!!One other thing I've noticed about the prop animation in the VC, simply copying over the prop disk from the exterior model will result in a prop that appears much too small in diameter when viewed from the VC in flightsim. The Hurricane has a propeller 11'3" in diameter, viewed from the VC in FS2004 it looked about half that size and seemed more suited to pulling a Skyhawk along than a +300 mph fighter aircraft. I've seen this same 'small' prop perspective in other addons for flightsim, and was determined to solve it. I set up a small experiment i my living room involving a chair, tape measure and a protractor to measure the angles involved. I marked off the wall with masking tape to represent the top, left and right extreme edges of the 11'3" prop diameter, then positioned the chair approximately the distance from the wall that the pilots seat in the hurricane cockpit is located from the propeller (about 10'). I made crude measurments of the angles horizontally and vertically to the tape marks on the wall using tape measure and protractor. This gave me a rough idea and a good sight picture of what the prop disk should look like from the pilot's viewpoint in the cockpit. I then adjusted the diameter of all my VC prop parts until they presented this same viewpoint perspective of the prop disk at runtime in flightsim as my simple measurements revealed for the real aircraft. It is consederably larger in the modeling program than I would have ever thought necessary (screenshot#4).This isn't the only instance of skewed perpective in the VC I've noticed, but I'll leave any discussion of that for another time.Don't hesitate to contact me if I can help with this or any other aspect of modeling aircraft for flightsim with FSDS2, I don't know a lot yet, but what I do know I'm glad to share, and I'm always eager to learn!Good luck with it, I hope it works out for you!:-)Take care,Robert http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/78586.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/78587.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/78588.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/78589.jpg

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I'm glad you added your thoughts to the thread.... Great technique for more resolution in the prop--I wouldn't have thought of the copy/rotate to get 64 sides to the prop..-John

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"I'm glad you added your thoughts to the thread.... Great technique for more resolution in the prop--I wouldn't have thought of the copy/rotate to get 64 sides to the prop.."Hi John,Ya gotta do whatever it takes is my motto! This is a great forum, I've found a lot of good stuff on gauges here. I wouldn't have been able to do some of the more creative XML stuff without the info found here at the Avsim design forum! I'm happy to contribute a little to it!I just read John Woodward's second reply a bit more carefully, and I am kinda uncertain now about what the problem might be. He says:"Possibly the trouble is in the animation. I noticed that most of the default planes do not show a prop in the VC."I doubt the trouble could be the animation, that's handled by the sim after you assign the stock animation part name. And all of my stock MS prop aircraft except the Ryan NYP show a very visible prop animation in the VC. Could he be having a video card problem? Or perhaps the FS2004 display settings can affect this?BTW my first post contained an error, I'm using a material transparency alpha setting of 12 for the prop_blurred disk, not 8. I found 8 to be too transparent and the strobe or flicker effect of the spinning blades imparted by the texture was too subdued. Take care,Robert

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Hey Robert...I've been playing with your method, and I have to say it works really well...I also have it down to a point where the prop only uses two polys--yep--only two.After I create the first 32 sided prop, I copy it, and rotate it 2.8125 degrees. I then do it again. I then merge all three props, giving me a 128 "sided" ptop.After that, I strip all the polys....Next, I "connect the dots", and draw a poly around the perimeter of the prop. Since all the points are in the same plane, this works quite well...Next, I copy the 128 sided disk, and flip the poly. I then merge the two final parts, and have both sides to my prop, which can be reused in all my projects....-John

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That's a great tip John! Just when I thought I was finished with the props on my aircraft you come up with a great idea to help me further optimize my model. I'm always looking for ways to cut polys, the Hurricane already has a high poly count, the exterior model has 25917, and the VC 16632. Although I'm not seeing any difference in framerates from the stock FS2004 models on my mid-range computer (AMD Athlon 2600XP/GeForce FX5700 Ultra), I'm concerned that folks with older or more modest computers and video cards might feel the hit and not be able to use it. I want to model the RR Merlin XX engine with detachable cowlings and panels but I'm getting a little nervous about adding more detail to the exterior when the VC is still far from finished and the poly count is over already 40000 total. I'm telling ya, every little bit helps, and here's a big thank you from me! :)Some further thoughts on props:I already covered the VC prop in my earlier reply. Since then I've updated and finalized the texture, see image 1. After much experimentation I found a texture that worked to my satisfaction, and yes it has FOUR swirled blades, not the three wooden ones that Dowty-Rotol installed on some of the real aircraft. But I found four blades gave a better flickering effect and eliminated that awful single frozen blade at steady power settings. I also reworked the prop to include a pitch change animation by copying the prop_blurred disk and then pasting a copy of it that I rename lever_prop_pitch0. Since I already have the prop lever named lever_prop_pitch0, it becomes lever_prop_pitch0.1. I then reduce prop_blurred to a single hidden poly, and make it the parent part of lever_prop_pitch0.1. Then I keyframe animate lever_prop_pitch0.1 to move forward with increased prop pitch, frame 0 is the first keyframe and represents low pitch or fully fine as the British call it, frame 100 is the last keyframe and represents high pitch or fully coarse. I set keyframes in between as necessary. Image 2 shows how this works on the exterior model, you can see the difference in position between lever_prop_pitch0.1 and the prop_still and prop_slow parts with the animation at frame 100, but of course you only see the lever_prop_pitch0.1 disk in FS2004 when the engine is running the other two aren't visible. It's the same process in the VC. This looks cool when you do your run-up and cycle the prop after the mag check, if you watch the prop disk it looks like the blades are changing pitch. We didn't talk about the prop on the exterior model before. On the exterior model the prop is setup like the VC but I do something a little different with the pitch change animated lever_prop_pitch0 disk (the lever_prop_pitch0 tag will work on my exterior model, no animated cockpit lever is present). Note that this part could be 2 cones joined but I started with disks and made my changes from there. First I make a copy of lever_prop_pitch0, and then I select the center point of lever_prop_pitch0 and move it slightly forward to create a cone shape. I paste the copy (lever_prop_pitch0.1) and select the center point and move it very slightly aft, but not as far aft as I moved the other point forward. Now I join the two disks into lever_prop_pitch0 (more polys :(), and keyframe animate it to move forward as I described for the VC.Now I have a prop disk that looks like a real propeller when viewed edge on, instead of a razor thin line, see image 3. It also moves with pitch changes, but I am less happy about the way that looks than I am with the same animation in the VC. It would be better if just the front half of the disk moved instead of the whole part. It doesn't seem possible to keyframe animate just the forward center point though, so I'll settle for what I've got right now! A final note on props, much to my disappointment the prop texture for the VC doesn't look right on the exterior model, so I created a different 32 bit texture (image 1) that looks good when viewed from tower or spot plane mode using a material alpha of 14. I've come to think of the VC as a kind of flightsim alternate universe where the rules are a little different and everything is slightly skewed. I guess that's not far from the truth! Roberthttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/80461.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/80462.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/80463.jpg

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