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Hornit

User Friendly Scenery Builder Are we CLOSE?

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I have seen many tools for FS2002, but most of us only have a limited knowledge of many of the tools. Some require several others to even attempt to construct a scenery. I for one would like to see a program that would gather USGS or other data for a defined area and allow editing adding mising roads Lakes or other features prior to compiling.I have found many but most are frustating, and some have no documentation.Wouldn't it help to develop a list of known programs and what they can or can not do, or say for example one wants to add up to date land coverage transportation or hydrography to each one degree tile, what programs are best to acomplish this. I downloaded E002VTP, which I thought would do what I was looking for but, nothing documentation wise of what to do. This only adds to the frustation. I think it is fantastic that many take the time to make the tools, and make most of them free for one to use, but with no documentation to most of us they are of little use.My $00.02! Richard;

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As someone who has quite a bit of experience in this area, here are a few comments of mine :)I think most people that design freeware scenery builders, do so for themselves at first. Eventually, they decide to share their work with the community.Developers usually enjoy their work, but hate writing documentation. Most freeware developers that I know, release minimal documentation, and hope that some enterprising user will take it upon himself to go a step further.Perhaps a commercial vendor will come along and fill the gap, but I doubt it for the following reasons:Firstly...These kinds of tools have very high development costs. Even more importantly, they appeal to a much smaller percentage of the Flight Sim community, as opposed to aircraft and scenery packages. As a result, there is a much smaller commercialware profit margin.Next....Supporting these types of tools is typically much higher (per user) than for packaged scenery or aircraft sets.High development costs + high support costs + lower sale volumes = Bad business decision.The creation of freeware development tools is usually done by those that enjoy doing it. When the enjoyment stops, so does the development and support. I would bet that there are several nice scenery building packages that have been created by Commercial vendors. However, they realize that it is not in their best interest to release them to the public (either as freeware or payware). For them, it is much better to sell the finished products (aircraft & scenery), then to have to sell and support the scenery builders themselves (not to mention that they would also be hurting their own business). IMHO, the best thing that could happen to the FS world, would be for more interested user(s) to help out the freeware developers with improved documentation and support issues.Just some thoughts on my part. Perhaps others have differing views. Cheers,Allen KriesmanTerramodels For Fly II

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Allen;I agree, some users are rather proficient inassisting with documentation. I think TerraScene for Fly is a fantastic program for example, too bad their is not a simular version for FS2002. Most programs I have found have good documentation, while a few have none at all leaving one at a loss as what to do with it.Richard;

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Hi Richard.Although this isn't what you've asked, it is related.. seeing as you've brought up TerraScene. :)Terrascene can produce an image from freely available "shapefile" data.The Targa image from TerraScene can easily be converted to a 24-bit Bitmap. Along with the Targa image, Terrascene produces a small text file with the reference latitudes and longitudes of the image.You've already been able to produce 'pseudo-photoreal' scenery by using this image with resample. I assume you want to reduce the scenery size by using LWM and VTP lines and polys.===============In another post, I described how I take TMFViewer screenshots, and use them in Christian Fumey's Ground2K program. This program can easily use a bitmap-converted TerraScene image ( and it's georeferencing ) as a background image ( template ) for drawing VTP and LWM lines and polys.The rendering of the Terrascene image doesn't really need to be at 4.8 meters/pixel... it could be anything that still gives a decent map image... say 15 or 30 meters/pixel. And you don't need to be worried about the ground textures, as they will be just a template or map for Ground2K. This should greatly reduce the size of the bitmap needed.==============Ground2K does have a bit of a learning curve... but the BGL production is fairly automatic... just draw roads, shores and polys, save your work often, and click the compile button when you want a BGL to test in FS.It isn't automatic SHP2BGL, but it is straight-forward to use. Once you get used to the interface, it is very natural ( for me , anyways ), and VTP and LWM creation becomes fun. It takes just a few hours to create a complex LWM-VTP scenery with great detail for an LOD8-sized area.. or larger.Your drawing skills don't need to be sharp, as you're just tracing shapes and lines... and you'll find most lines in FS are pretty blocky or angular, so a lot of detail isn't needed for any one LOD13 Area ( most lines are just 1-3 points per Area ).Dick

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Just to try to clarify - I can use Terrascene to produce its usual accurate roads and coastlines. I then hand trace them using Ground2K, That program in turn creates the efficient and necessary BGLs. Guess I am back to Richard's query; is it possible to do a Terrascene like process on the same USGS data to populate significant regions with accurate renditions of roads and coastlines? Sounds like that process is the "missing link". Dick

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>is it possible to do a Terrascene like process on the same USGS data to populate significant regions with accurate renditions of roads and coastlines?Yes, there is no different than Fly! II. Terrascene works just as well in FS2002 as it does in Fly! II. Check out the Terrabuilder Forum.Also check my site out below for an example.http://members.rogers.com/jkanold/jimlogo.gif

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Hi Jim, and all.Terrascene will build a composite image from georeferenced SHP files. This image can be easily converted from TARGA format to BMP format, and then used to create "psuedo-photoreal" slices by Microsoft's "resample". That process can result in the creation of hundreds... even thousands of groundtile textures for a modest area... and that figure is multiplied by 6 to include seasons and nights. This means scenery that requires hundreds of megabytes of storage space.But this bitmap can also be used as a template or map within Ground2K, AutoASM, Coastline-Maker, or LWMDraw. Then you can make LWM and VTP BGLs for water and landmasking, roads, streams, shorelines, VTP ground polys ( including placement of photoreal groundtiles ). This will result in default-looking roads, lakes, rivers, shorelines, and groundpolys, that will create a scenery that needs just a few megabytes for a substantial area. This is how MS has made our "world".No, this is not automatic ( at least not for us ).=====================We are still a bit away from turning a SHP file directly into an ASM file. There are still several problems to overcome before a SHP2BGL program is made possible:We still do not understand VTP lines correctly. Our lines taper at the ends, like worms... the default lines do not do this.We are still discovering the use of "reserved" bits in the default code. Just this week we had an example of this by Winfried Orthmann.Sometimes SHP files are just plain wrong, or incomplete... which is why FLY users still need to export SHP files to a CAD program for editing with the help of TerraShape]... a whole different program.So even for Terrascene, we have SHP files, TerraScene, TerraShape, DXF files, CAD programs... and if all goes well, we can finally get a TARGA image that needs to be sliced and resampled for us to get psuedo-photoreal. SHP files may still need reprojection to the correct size and shape in order to make them accurate for FS2002. And if the projection of the SHP data is wrong, we still need a program to reproject the data to 'Platte Carree', and possibly to change the Datum of the projection as well, or all our lines and polys will be "off". And that requires a commercial program like Arcview or ArcInfo, or MapInfo or Manifold ( probably the cheapest at $245 US ).There is no simple program that will grind out an accurate BGL of a roadline for FS2002. And there may never be one.==============What we do have are a variety of helpful programs that can give us assistance to improve the sim's scenery. 10 months ago we had ZERO... just Christian Stock and his struggling understanding of TMF file structures.Christian Fumey's Ground2K gives us a quite flexible CAD-like program with which to draw, and edit our lines and polys prior[/i to the ASM creation... in otherwords he has created his own drawing language, that is then translated to ASM at compilation time. Very good idea. Chris Wright's AutoASM, and Iain Murray's CoastLine Maker also use raster images ( bitmaps ) as drawing templates for sceneries. Ken Nelson's LWMDraw also needs a raster image.Dr. Falko Dienstbach has given us some DOS utilities to help translate SCASM lines and polys to VTP, so we can use familiar GUI's to create our lines. These programs, like Airport, ASD, FSSC, still need a raster image as a template for us to draw the SCASM lines and polys.==============Common thread here? Raster image.Given this as our current state of affairs. What we really could use right now is a simple way to process a SHP file to the correct Datum and ( more importantly ) Projection, and then create an accurately georeferenced bitmap, that we can use in the various raster-based LWM/VTP Drawing programs.Terrascene is half the battle, as it does produce such a georeferenced, equirectangular raster image. But Terrascene is only as good as the data we give it. It cannot reproject, or edit the data. Simply "stretching" a bitmap to 3 or 4 known geographical points simply does not work accurately, as users of TerraBuilder have found out.. For a small area, you can get close, but it will never do for data covering hundreds of square miles. But the data we get is sometimes skewed and twisted, and tilted in 3 dimensions like some kind of torturous puzzle that defies attempts to place it correctly as "WGS84 datum, Platte Carree projection" ( what FS needs ). To straighten this out, we need a freeware reprojection utility.Then, a program like TerraShape can be used to export the data to a CAD program for editing... or you could just use a program like Ground2K, or Coastline-Maker for the "editing".================This is why I say we may never see a program that will simply convert SHP2BGL, and why we may never even want one. We might just want to stick to drawing programs that use a raster image as a template... as long as we get the right image.I have used screenshots from TMFviewer ( which are the correct projection ) as a template for remasking the LWMs for Prince Edward Island. PEI has no land in FS2002.. just shorelines, roads... I use these georeferenced images in Ground2K.In 2 ( long ) days I was able to revive the landmass. I need about another 3-4 days to "trim" the masking, and I'll be able to upload the PEIFix.bgl. It will be the default land created as MS would have corrected it. It uses the default shorelines, roads, etc... It has seasons, nights... and will be about 185 kilobytes in size ( 0.185Mb )A week's time is not what I would consider too long for the project. It covers 15 LOD8 areas... a fairly large size.I could have used more accurate shapefile data, and with TerraScene, created a better PEI image for a template... but I wanted to use the default roads, shorelines, etc... If I had gone the SHP/TerraScene route, PEI might have taken me 2-3 weeks to create. I still don't consider that too long for a project this size.Granted, I have a basic understanding of Ground2K, but that could be learned in a few weeks, by creating simple projects. In Richard's case, he already understands the Terrascene process, and where to get his shapefiles. So Ground2K or Coastline Maker, or AutoASM ( soon to be revised, as I understand ), would be the way to go.I have asked a few mapping websites to include georeferencing data with their map images... no one has responded to me, other than the MSN Maps & Directions team, which will consider the request. Dick

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You are right about the learning curve of Ground2K, a lot I do not understand. I have a rather good understanding of TerraScene, as I used it in Fly! and Fly!2 from the GetGo. I however do not understand how, if I make a Terrascene image with all my selectected textures, how I go about telling FS what or how to replace them with FS textures. If I only make an image of only Transportation and Water/Rivers/Lakes Shape files, how can I get the correct textures in FS? I used TerreBuilder and FS2000 resample and got only a white background texture over the default. I could get by with Justin Tymes Land Class although it is way off in my area. While as you mentioned TerraScene works but it is not FS Texture and no REGEN texture. If one were to use a specicic solid color as is available in TeraScene, then tell a program to replace the solid color with a specific FS texture wouldn't this be great? It seems that Ground2K would do this if one could have a step by step tutorial for a given area. I was thinking of using ArcView to CAD then CAD to BGL but I have no option, as far as I know for setting Land Use areas, and I would have to do it County by County Layer by Layer. One could use 7.5 Topo Maps but trhat would be hundreds for my state alone, not to mention DL time on a 56K moden.Richard;

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Dick,I agree that eventually the tools and methods you mentioned will be the way to go and to significantly reduce filesizes. But ask yourself, why doesn

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Hi Jim.MS gave us examples of Niagara and Oshgosh, and also tools that couldn't even reproduce them! We've had to kludge along with the older FS2000 version of resample to get a working version. :)Also, those projects were actually quite small... just a few LOD13 Areas ( groundtiles ). Nowhere near the size of Terrascene/photoreal PEI or ThunderBay.( Oshgosh actually did use some VTP and LWM design ).You stated the Terrascene image needs to be rotated correctly... that's exactly why we need a freeware utility to reproject the SHP data... then there will be no rotational or placement problems. Much easier to fix the shapefiles mathematically, than to try to rotate or stretch the final bitmap. The odd rotation of the Terrascene image isn't Terrascene's fault. The data's projection is wrong.And the hours spent tinkering, to try to match FS2002 textures, could be spent tracing the lines and polys within Ground2K or Coastline-Maker... with no worries of matching anything, as the bgls will use default lines and landclass textures. I've used LOD8 sized Terrascene-derived images to make very accurate LWM water bgls with AutoASM.MS has covered 99.9% of the planet with LWM and VTP polys and lines. If these lines and polys are "off", it's only because MS didn't use the most accurate data. There's nothing more difficult about using better data... but the widely available public domain data is free.If MS had used the best available data, we'd have a flight sim that cost $1000's, but it would be stunningly accurate. And it wouldn't need much pseudo-photoreal groundtexturing.You've looked at PEI in Terrascene. You'll note that the ground of PEI is actually missing in the default data of Terrascene... just like it's missing in FS2002. :) Same data, same result.==========I agree scenery designers could benefit from using Terrascene. You like the photoreal/resample route. It can produce stunningly acccurate psuedo-photoreal. But the "cost" in scenery size is huge. It's difficult to share such huge sceneries over the internet. Even if you can get an internet host to agree to have the scenery in their library, the download times are terrible. I'm sure a few users have been scared away from PEI and ThunderBay by the size of the download, and the space on their harddrives.The same accuracy is now possible using default textures and LWM/VTP lines and polys... with relatively tiny scenery size. No worries about blending or texturing, as we use the defaults. Should we want custom or photoreal textures, we can do that as well.These are two different methods, each may have their advantages.I'm attaching 2 sceernshots.The first is the default Abbeville, in northern France. Cheap data.The second is a slightly reworked Abbeville. Just a couple of hours to grab a georeferenced Mappoint bitmap, and rework the area with Ground2K. Added ponds, shorelines, raillines, extended the city's boundries. All blends in like default, because the texures are default. Scenery size? 3 files. 5Kb ( 0.005Mb ). The scenery could be extensively reworked, by using accurate shapefiles and a Terrascene bitmap as the "map". If I liked, I could make the city's ground poly as "concrete" and "grass" default textures, and place trees and buildings on them for accuracy down to the 4.8 meter/pixel limitation we all have to live with. All done with VTP and LWM, with placed trees and buildings.This wasn't even possible only weeks ago, as we just didn't have the tools. Now we have them.I've made a rough resample of my home area. Single LOD8 size. The data was accurate, as it matches perfectly with other adjoining LOD8 sized areas. Terrascene image resample. 1024 43Mb textures for one season. To get 5 seasons and night, 264Mb of textures. I'll be working this area with LWM and VTP soon, using the same Terrascene-derived image as a map in Ground2K. Should be about 200Kb ( 0.200Mb )... and just as accurate.Either way, resample or TDF lines and polys, ( or a combination of the 2 ), Terrascene does a very good job for us.Why doesn't MS give us an example of this type? We're way ahead of them. You are also way beyond them with the beautiful Terrascene/resample sceneries you've worked on. I don't see MS giving us a great seasonal pseudo-photoreal Chicago area ( 250 Mb on a CD )! :)I do think there is a benefit to take this beyond the resample stage. I don't think it will take any longer to produce, as the 'drawing time' replaces the 'texturing time' needed for a good resampled scenery. Dick

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Hi Richard.I'll try to answer your post."I however do not understand how, if I make a Terrascene image with all my selectected textures, how I go about telling FS what or how to replace them with FS textures. If I only make an image of only Transportation and Water/Rivers/Lakes Shape files, how can I get the correct textures in FS? I used TerreBuilder and FS2000 resample and got only a white background texture over the default. I could get by with Justin Tymes Land Class although it is way off in my area. While as you mentioned TerraScene works but it is not FS Texture and no REGEN texture."Ground2K does have the ability to produce a landclass BGL. So does Landclass Assistant, by John Cillis. You'd need to read some posts on landclass and what the landclass number values mean. Landclass, and VTP polys, are basically the soil and landusage type. Ground2K will allow you to make VTP polys, as well.Ocean, lake, and large rivers are LWM watermask polys. Ground 2K can make these. You can force an area to be filled with LWM land, then draw the water polys on them. Streams, roads, raillines, and shorelines are VTP lines. Ground2K can make these.A TerraScene image is just a background image, to use as a drawing guide in Ground2K. A very good background image.============There are limitations of FS2002 that you'll need to understand. You'll need to grasp the concept of an LOD13 Area. This is the exact size of a custom groundtile in the sim. It is 0.01098632825 degrees NS x 0.0146484375 degrees WE.Landclass is assigned to the corners of those tiles... and will blend in from the corners to meet the other assignments at the center of an LOD 13 Area. You can't get landclass for an area smaller than 1 LOD13 Area. That's the limit of the sim and of 'resample'. If you are concerned about accurate landclass data placement, this is your limitation.You can use VTP polygons to force a landclass texture to an area as small as an effective LOD21... a single "pixel", or 1/65536th of an LOD13 groundtile. We do have a bug in the scenery engine that flips this VTP poly texture vertically, and that will affect the default autogen placement. We can control the texturing of every "pixel" in the sim. ( 26,388,279,066,624 pixels , at approx. 4.8m/pixel )Generally, this vertical flip isn't even noticed by most simmers. Autogen buildings can be replaced by Advanced Buildings, and object trees, if needed. You can even force the VTP poly to place CUSTOM textures, with their own CUSTOM autogen... the same CUSTOM textures made by resample.. or textures you make, or even transparent "sheets" with their own CUSTOM autogen. There has been a LOT written on this in these forums. The info needed to understand this is out there.====================But to control a substantial area, you need to stick to resample and a landclass BGL. If Justin Tyme has problems accurately placing landclass, you'll have problems as well. Justin is using fairly accurate data... but if the data is wrong, the scenery will be wrong.Resample assigns a texture to an area about 1200m x 1200m. That's a pretty big area. To make matters worse, landclass data isn't in the placement form of exactly one per LOD13 vertex.. and then the resample program decides what landclass to place, by it's own internal formula. So no wonder you don't like the placement of Justin's data! His website has a means of contacting him about innaccuracies that he will then attempt to fix.====================There is no simple solution to ground scenery. But there are solutions. You need to define exact needs, then create the ground scenery to meet those needs.What is the area? How big? All seasons? Is this a landclass issue? Do I need new roads? All roads in the area? All roads, streams, lakes, rivers, shorelines? The greater the needs, the greater the complexity.In an above post, Jim indicates that he would prefer to just use the Terrascene/resample approach. It does have drawbacks such as the need to pay attention to the textures used by Terrascene, and the huge amount of CUSTOM textures produced.I prefer to use LWM/VTP/Landclass solutions, but then I have spent a great deal of time understanding these filetypes, and so that is now easy for me, and fun as well. Other designers have been using Ground2K, AutoASM, LWMDraw, and Coastline-Maker, and have also found them usable and enjoyable... and they have far less experience with the newer TDF/TMF design ideas. But I'm sure they have spent time studying and reading the posts at AVSIM.If you are waiting for a program to automatically grab georeferenced data and create perfect landclass, CUSTOM, LWM and VTP BGLs, you'll be waiting forever. If you're satisfied with Terrascene, maybe you need to develop the skills at texturing that Jim has advised above, and then stick to pseudo-photoreal techniques, which can be amazingly good to use for VFR flying. Otherwise, I've outlined the last option, which is VTP/LWM design. It has many possibilities. But it requires getting used to new tools and methods, and is not as straight-forward as stamping a texture onto the ground.And that's the end of the road, as far as I can tell. I don't forsee anyone creating a program of the type you imagine.Dick

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Wow - thanks for the "grim news".... Just kidding...Excellent overview of where we are. I have created many Terrascene areas but I miss the autogen that adds that bit of reality to VFR. I have absolutely no desire to sit in front of a CRT for days to populate custom textures with autogen.I have also substituted FS2002 textures for several Terrascene textures since I found a few of them to be bland. The file size is and issue, no autogen is an issue, no dynamic shadows are an issue, and my personal view is that the Terrascene seems just a little less clear (may be a shadow issue).I have all of the USA DLG & LULC files from USGS because of FLY!. The roads and rivers of Terrascene follow the valleys quite well and fit within the 38 meter elevation points. Only where a hillside falsely appears due to elevation resolution, is a problem created. 10 meter mesh would fix most of these. Overall, in the USA, the USGS data is vastly more accurate than the MS effort.Now, since we can use specific solid colors for roads and rivers in Terrascene, could a "mask" be created that is color keyed to these elements? Then using a modification, or pre-process, with an existing FS2002 tool redraw the roads and coastlines? Of course, some secret bits need decoded so the worm effect is eliminated for roads. I have had no problems just "dropping in" a Terrascene image and coming close to the interfacing MS roads/rivers. Since they are not accurate anyhow, this is not an issue for me. This technique would retain the quite good textures in MS, the autogen, "tuned" landclass, and file size of the basic stuff we now have. Since all of the output from the process is native MS all tuning tools remain compatible.Otherwise, I guess I am doomed to a larger disk and Terrascene (yuk no autogen or dynamic shadows). I just do not have the patience to hand-draw/trace coastline, rivers and roads for 500 square mile area (my VFR area).Regards & thanks,Dick BoleyDick

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I hope that you do not mind my stepping in here, Dick.I whole-heartedly agree with you - VTP/LWM and Christian Fumey's Ground2K allow for easy efficient creation of highly-optimized scenery. Ground2k is extremely easy to use -really, the only problem is in understanding the concepts, but the program is simplicity itself and extremely thoughtful.It takes most of the hard work away from the user and automates it. Plus, it can easily handle concave shapes and does not limit drawing to segments that fit in a LOD13 area.Christian includes everything in the program, from Land and Water Class creation to layer excludes - even his texture viewer reads compressed dxt and extended textures with no problem.Probably the best thing to do is not read the manual (except the part on creating a background bitmap), but just jump in and start drawing. It is quite easy to get the hang of it.Here is a quick and easy project that I started yesterday - the default Monaco:http://ftp.avsim.com/dcforum/User_files/3e5a154a2fb08798.jpgAnd, after a very fast and easy session drawing a few lines, the modified Monaco:http://ftp.avsim.com/dcforum/User_files/3e5a157d30586f2c.jpgOf course, this is not high-detail photo-realistic scenery, but as you say, there are only 5kb of bgls and no effect on frame rates.As far as I am concerned, this beats polygon- and texture-heavy scenery that slows flight to single-digit frame rates.Best regards.Luis

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Dick;It seems you and I are on the same treadmill. I would be more than willing to pay for a program that would meet our needs and I am sure that someone knows what we are looking for and is thinking or or working on a program for us less skilled Flight Sim NUTS! While I sit and ponder on other programs like Ground2K, I guess we will either wait untill a tutorial that is being worked on as we speak, or we get someone who loves the challange, and willing to share with others or sell what we are looking for we will just dream of VFR near true scenery..Richard;

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Luis;That looks great! Do you think you might in the future develop a tutorial, step-by-step of how you created that fantastis looking scenery?Richard;

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Dick, if you are a beginner, I would like to suggest you (a) become an expert in producing photoreal textures with Paint Shop Pro and (:( learn to place those photoreal textures in a BGL file with Terrabuilder PRO.Download or order some infrared photos from EarthExplorer if you can to work with. Coloring photos and using the Paint Shop Pro tools to shade, blend textures with masks,etc will keep you busy for a while.Very busy.You can produce very superior VFR scenery with custom photoreal textures of the region you are interested in flying over. Later you will need a facility (Martin Wrights BMP2000, freeware you can find and download), so you can look at individual default Microsoft textures to understand how Microsoft default textures look and allow you to use spinoff custom textures. They are in a format that normal Paint Programs cannot view or modify.You should search this Forum to understand how Bob Bernstein can produce small bgl's with SCASM to remove mutiple groups of default buildings from MicroSoft bgls so you can replace the default buildings with your own.I would download MicroSoft's SDK on GMAX and work through the tutorial so you can start to produce 3D structures and place MicroSoft defaault building with your own custom buildings.I wish I could simultaneously work on really accurate photoreal scenery and keep up with the experts on this board but simply do not have enough time. This way you can have your own anatomically accurate lakes ponds roads and highways with your own custom buildings placed where you want them.Paint Shop Pro,the GMAX SDK,BMP2000 will get you a long way down the road and will keep you very busy developing a facitlity with them.I would appreciate any opinions regarding this approach for a beginner.

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Wow! the shot of Monaco says a lot. I am willing to invest the time if someone can do a cursory tutorial on the proper steps to get that kind of result. I downloaded G2K and its sitting here gathering dust because it just looked a bit daunting on the setup/bitmap creation(overhead shot) and how you go about doing the actual changing of the scenery. I would start by enhancing my home areas and branch into doing major cities like New York, Boston, London, SFO etc enhancing the poor coastline and shoreline areas in these cities. I learned how to use Apt 2.6, PSP Pro, all the Afcad/AI tools, so this should be doable. The only probelm right now is the tutorial is just not easy to follow. If that could be changed I would be going to town right now!Hornit

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JohnC;I do not know where you live, but I know that in my area things have changed to a point where if you were gone for 15 years you would not know where you were. We now have the FBI Fingerprint division, our interstatw was all 2 lane devided highway now a 2+ mile section is 6 lane and now another section that is two lane is going to be 8 lanes. Our airport was a small 3500 ft runway, they took off the top of a mountain and filled in the valley on 21, added 250 ft overrun to 03 now their talk of adding another 1700 ft. We had an area of a small Mall along I-79 in the past six years for example Lowes tore down one store and rebuilt one on the same spot several years ago then more land was made available Wal-Mart built a Super Center about a mile south of the Old Wal-Mart and at least ten other stores. Last Fall more land was made available Now we have an even larger Lowes and several new stores there. Now North ot this near the FBI Several hundred acers are being developed A New Hospital Hotel Complex and much more along a new US-50 I-79 devided highway connecter. I would never thought things like this would have happened 40 years ago let alone what has happened in the past 6-15 years.Richard; The photos are all 7-10 years old.

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I feel your pain...but my experience is that artificial roads,lakes,etc. made from scratch out of your head NEVERr come close to aerial photos...look in the Terrabuilder Forum at the mine in Utah someone has posted...and look at how artificial the default coastlines are in Hawaii...not to criticize Microsoft but they are so plainly artificial I can hardly stand to look at them now.I would use the 7-10 year old photos and keep all the natural features as they are and draw in the roads and new development...better some roads are drawn over than all of them drawn from scratch.But this is just my opinion about aesthetics. I would drop out of this hobby if I couldn't lay down real photographs.Good luck to you, whatever your choices are.I can't seem to upload a little piece of photoreal coastline off the runway in Kahului, Hawaii to emphasize my point.

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JohnC;I do not know where you live, but I for one can only obtain photographs that are from 6-10 years old. What use to be forested farm or other areas is now buisness or populated areas.For example! The FBI Fingerprint Division came here. A section of I-79 that was only 2 lane is now six. Another 2 lane section iss going to be 8 lanes. We had a small mall area with a Wal-Mart, Lowes, Kgogers and a few smaller stores. They first tore down the Lowes and rebuilt a store twice as big. About 7 years some land was developed south of there with a new Wal-Mart Supercenter and several ather stores. This fall more land weas developed a New even larger Lowes was built with many more new stores. Now several hundered acers are being developed along a new devided bypass from US-50 to I-79 with a new larger hospital motel complex and who knows what else. Our airport was 3500+ ft long. They took off the top of a mountain filled in the valley on RW-21 end, added 250 ft overun on 03 added 3500 ft to 21 now at 7,000 ft + and talk of extending 21 another 1700 ft. this is just in the past ten years. Most photographs are distorted to an extent. USGS data Shape files mainly are rather up to date. If we had a program simular to TerraScene that could produce the detail and acuracy, plus allow editing of smaller sections prior to making a much larger map, transfer this map data into scenery files, I would be more than willing to pay up to one hundred dollars for a user friendsl program.I see little activity on the Terrabuilder forum so I guess it is not what is needed. I hear Ground2K is close to what is needed but not quite there. At my age and a disabled VietNam Combat Veteran I love woriking with scenery for FS2k2 I wouked with Fly!/Fly2K!, for some time. Back in the old FS2,2,4 days we got the designer with the program that was rather simple in todays standards but what I would considere user friendly. With the DEM files available 7.5 minute or even smaller Land Use Land Coverage we could do a lot. I know many people spend many days and hours to produce the tools we have now. Many ask for help in creating good documentation to make them even greater, but if one has little knowledge of the workings of FS2002, he can not be of much help. If I had the right tools I would gladly upload all the scenery I could upload or send it on CD's for free + $1.00 per CD S&H, for those who wanted it. FS2k2 is a fantastic program but except for some areas it is far from VFR. I will post a screen shot of The New River Gorge tomorror to give an example of FS2002 default and one of TerraScene.Richard;

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Hi Dick, while I always enjoy reading of your work, and study your posts, I've never thought that the results of TDF lines and polys comes anywhere near photo scenery. Its certainly a case of "each to their own". It seems your images show "corrected" default, while I like flying over something VERY different than the default altogether.Best regards,Bob BernsteinPS...thanks for the tip of a corrected terrain sdk...right on the money as usual.

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Hi John.I'd like to direct this to you, and Bob, and others that have found photoreal a satisfying approach.One thing that is most disturbing about photoreal is how it is difficult to merge the photos seamlessly to the default textures. Applying them as trimmed VTP polys could help.Photoreal and VTP/LWM can be combined. There is no reason you could not lay aerial photo 'slices' as VTP polygons. When placed as a Layer4, they will behave exactly like default landclass textures. Even better, the poly shapes can be trimmed to follow the edges of roads, or fields, or cities... so blending the photos into the default terrain becomes quite easy. As a Layer4, then VTP lines and polys can be placed over the photoreal if desired. And LWM watermasks will still create water.====================Regarding the shorelines of Hawaii... Shorelines do have a somewhat cartoonish appearance. Part of that is due to the texture used for the shorelines. You may also not be aware, but the shoreline BGLs of Hawaii are assigned many different types of shorelines... but these texture assignments are defeated by the terraintextures.cfg file, which assigns all these many types to mainly 1 shoreline texture. Hawaii would look very different with the correct shoreline textures.====================Regarding the accuracy of aerial photos, there a several issues involved. Camera angles, lens distortion, reprojection of the source photos all add to these sources becoming less reliable. In truth, a good surveyor can produce topological data superior to aerial photos or satellite images. This is true with mesh sources as well. The newer Aster data is subject to a great deal of local distortion, that must be mathematically adjusted to create a good DEM, whereas a good team of surveyors could do a more accurate job. ( But it might take hundreds of thousands of surveyors to do it!) The love of imagery data comes from the scientific community. But when the data needs to be "massaged" to make it useable, then the science becomes psuedoscience. It reminds me of a military problem the US had several years ago when the scientific mapping data led the US to bomb a friendly Embassy.. then they blamed the data. It was not the data, but the team of scientists and mathematicians that insisted it was correct... and the military officers that accepted the science as fact. A surveyor could have told then it was an Embassy. In fact, local paper maps of the area correctly identified the building ( prepared by surveyor data ). Government officials later explained, although the digital data was reliable, it was not neccessarily accurate. (?)Atmospheric and time-of-day/season also affect these sources. And they are also many times out of date... just like any other data. MS used data that was from the Digital Chart of the World ( originally CIA data ). That data was compiled by scientists and mathematicians from satellite and surveyed data, then "resampled" to "fit the grid". It's way off. Aerial photos are are off.. but not nearly as off as MS' data. Oddly, MS now has much more accurate data as is evidenced by their MapPoint programs. I'm hoping this data gets used in FS9, but I'm not going to hold my breath. Even rendered as VTP and LWM, it would greatly increase the number of CDs needed to give us the sim.I'm saying this because we often like to think we can always get more accurate data, when it is unlikely we will ever get perfect data.This comes to bear on Richard's problem. Even if he were to get that perfect data, it would be a full-time job to constantly update the real-world changes into the sim, for even a rather small area. So we must accept a level at which we can say this is OK for my scenery. ========================My problems with photoreal are that is isn't necessarily more accurate than digital sources, and the photos must be reprojected, and worked over with a paint program to just get 1 acceptable season. MS has 5 seasons, and night. Then there is the problem of blending in the photos to the default terrain textures. Then there is the problem of megabytes of textures.I can avoid all this with VTP and LWM polys and lines ( not that they don't have their on problems ). I've taken data from Terrascene images and converted them to LWM and VTP BGLs. They are stunningly accurate ( as long as the SHP data was accurate ). I'll possibly use aerial photo sources in some projects down the road, but probably as a template for a VTP/LWM program such as Ground2k or AutoASM. LWMDraw can take a 'slice' as a bitmap source to perfectly fit it's 256x256 format.=========================Why would MS not create Niagara as VTP and LWM, rather than photoreal? Because I don't believe thay had the tools to create the small area as an accurate VTP and LWM. They have this big database of DCW data, but Niagara would have needed to have street-level accuracy in the data... much easier to color some photos than to create a drawing program like LWMDraw or Ground2K, or to convert the data to a CAD program and then export it as BGLC code. Also MS had a decent set of USGS aerial photos from their terraserver website.But I would't be surprised if we see an example or two of a detailed VTP city in FS9. Oshgosh was the first addon they gave us that had VTP and LWM elements... and those were a bit crude when measured by the possibilities I've mentioned. MS now has developed MapPoint.net for mapping data. And MS might want to show us what they can do. Oshgosh was released at a time when Christian Stock and I very much needed some clues as to VTP shoreline design, and landmasking of LWMs. MS delivered the clues right on time. I accused them of teasing us with it, and they might have been. :) I expect a tease or two with FS9.Right now, I'm pretty happy we have several choices to explore for rendering ground scenery that can satisfy our individual preferences. And it appears we'll be able to use all current methods of scenery design for FS9. Good news for everyone.Dick

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Dick, <>I agree that construction using VTP polys makes sense, as long as everything else works as I want, such as autogen. I've followed the threads forever looking for the point to jump in, but I had a problem over the first year of fs2k2....so much to learn that I got very little scenery designed! For the past few months, I decided to apply what I'd learned and churn out a few of my favorite spots, so I could have fun flying when I wanted to. I'm working on Harvey field, and re-doing from scratch, so again, my time is very tight.Care to collaborate, and in that way demonstrated what can be done?Bob B

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Hi Bob.Actual collaboration would be difficult for me as I have lots of things going on of my own. :(But I can answer questions, and help with details either here or through e-mail.If you have resampled slices of aerial photos that you believe are placed correctly, then Ken Nelson's LWMDraw might be the way to go, as you can load the slices right into his program, and use them as templates to make VTP and LWM. You need to know the Cell and Area location of the slice, and TDFCalc3, or LandCalc2 would help you there. Or perhaps you already have a spreadsheet to helps ID CUSTOM texture location.Ken's program is fairly straight-forward.The same approach could be used with Ground2K, by using the source bitmap you used for photoreal, and using that as the background image. Christian has taken some flak for a lack of tutorials, but a few hours with the program pays off very well. Then the interface becomes quite intuitive. As Luis points out above, it works very well... and I'm sure he'll agree the process actually becomes fun to work with.Dick

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Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts about photorealistic images.And I admire your very original Forum login name.I am one of the (I think many) guys who have to make a choice

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