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nudata

Need Process For Making Part of PhotoReal Transparent

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I have FSTEXTURE. However, what is the process to create a transparency mask to block the appearance of specific elements/thing of a photoreal texture from showing in FS2002?? I have never used the Alpha channel so not sure of how to do this - color, etc...The objective is to isolate roads from Terrascene for placement without any other textures so that the roads are laid on top of the existing FS2002 textures and not show Terrascene textures.DickKLBE

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I use DXTBmp for transparency. Very simple . All what transparent must be painted with pure green 0,255,0. (you may use pure black too). Then save as .tga or even bmp. Load as Normal, hit create Alpha Channel and save as Extended. When in Save as Extended window you will have many options of format. Chose either DXT1 or DXT3 depending on what transparency you want to get (full DXT1 , partial DXT3).Play little with program and soon you will be at ease with it.From now on you can load your picture to be previewed by Load as Extended. Do not forget about Mipmaps. And wait until the process of photo conversion is fully finished - takes 2 to 5 secs. Now for your application I would suggest first to extract the roads from the map by " color selection" - for that I use Photoshop. Then your layer has only roads and background which you will fill with pure green. Ted

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Ted,Thanks for the info. This is either part of my needed answer or what I am trying is not possible.In Terrascene, if you are not familiar with it, I can create a green background (0,255,0) with grey roads. The roads are created directly from USGS data. I normally take this BMP and run it through Terrabuilder. Here the BMP is resampled, passed through the Imagetool and then through TMF2BGL. I now have a set of proper textures in standard FS2002 format and a BGL describing them.From what I reading DXTBMP only operates on one texture file at a time and I can have dozens. This does not seem a viable approach.FS Texture Converter operates on all texture files located in a particular folder. That looks like what I need.The question arises (for me) is how do I prepare the Alpha channel? I have created a series of textures (FS2002 format 43kb) with grey roads on a green background. Do I use the original single image of the total scenery as the Alpha mask (grey on green)? Should I convert it first with DXTBMP to grey scale? Is this the proper Alpha mask or just something needed by DXTBMP?As you can see I am not sure how to create the Alpha mask and also how to best handle the dozens of FS2002 format textures.DickKLBE

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Yes I see what you are after. I think that FS Texture converter should convert all files from Terrabuilder folder. This is a batch converter. Terrabuilder should resample big BMP from Terrascene with just green background and grey roads. Green or whatever color FS Texture converter considers as transparent (do not quite remember). Ted

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BTW talking about automatization of scenery designing process. Looks like we will soon going to need it badly. Just that "exclude" clicking in Ground2K for one Area 1024 times can really put you to sleep. I was looking briefly at "Automate" program to see if some of the activities can be done by komputer alone. Ted

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Thanks Ted,I hold down the ENTER key while clicking the exclude sectors. Makes it a single click operation. I also usually kill the background so I can clearly see the road/river I am isolating.With Ground2K I usually do very large areas using Topozone maps. I just get the largest lo-res (200000:1) map and use a screen shot as the template. Topozone provides the lat/lon for you also - a must. I have tried Global Mapper but really do not see a need for it when placing larger road/river areas. I cheat(re-align) a little to match items accross new map boundries. The large maps reduce the number of cheating interfaces. FSGenesis 38.4 mesh for the USA helps as rivers stay inside valleys. The greatest problem are rivers that FS200x displays. If you exclude them the original flattened river bed remains and looks quite bad when the correct river is placed. I just finished doing the Youghiogheny River - it is near Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water Home in south Central PA. The river is a white water attraction and thus did it in sections to keep elevations reasonable. Dick

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Hi Dick.First a picture:http://forums.avsim.com/user_files/25493.jpgThis is Whitewater, Wisconsin.The city streets are grey roads masked onto a black background. The background is then made the alpha channel. The transparency is because the textures are 8-bit, flipped vertically, mipped, with alpha, and placed as a VTP2 poly, layer 32, with the landclass #253 ( no seasons for this example... as the roads could be the same for all seasons ).The country roads leading to the city are regular VTP lines, layer 31.By using the 'slices' for just the cities, you save a LOT of texture overhead. If you use a large Terrascene image for the Ground2k background, you'll have your road "map", and the roads should line up very well with slices made from the same image.The slices are named by resample, and Ground2K shows the slice name for each LOD13 area. The polygon doesn't need to be exactly an LOD13 size, it can be the size of the entire city, and irregularly shaped... it's just roads and transparency. You can even make autogen for the city. Make it for the road slices before you flip them. ( The uppermost layer's autogen will show ). The autogen and slices need to be in the .../scenedb/world/texture folder ( with the default autogen ) for that to work. If autogen is unimportant, the slices could be in a local texture folder, twinned to the scenery folder.VTP2 is vertically flipped, so the slices need that done. XNView has a batch function ability for that. I think one of Martin Wright's utilities may also do that. Elrond Elvish's "FSTexConvert" can batch the alpha's if you want, but I do alpha's of the slices with PaintshopPro, as I'm only doing the cities. I convert from 24 bit to 8 bit ( and mip ) with imagetool, as a batch.Here's the LOD13 Areas marked:http://forums.avsim.com/user_files/25497.jpgHere's Delavan:( Before flipping )http://forums.avsim.com/user_files/25498.jpghttp://forums.avsim.com/user_files/25501.jpgDick

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Thanks for your usual detailed explanation...Just to see if I have this correct since I have never paid any attention to Alpha stuff:Create the usual "slices" of the original full texture BMP through normal processes (SDK etc.) to produce the extended 193kb BMPs.Then create another set of slices, from the same full BMP, that will become the matching Alpha masks. I assume that I can vertically invert the full BMP to satisfy the requirement for vertically inverting the Alpha masks. Then use a batch processing program, such as FS TEXTURE, to combine the two sets of slices (using the 193kb bmp slices for both) into properly masked final 43kb BMP slices suitable for use in FS200n.I understand the masking and the density of the mask determining the degree of transparency. Therefore, I assume that it may be best to create a seperate original full BMP for Alpha masks with all white roads to permit the final grey roads to fully display.I remember the original Alpha discussions some time ago but never looked at them since my focus was on something else at the time. If there is a basic tutorial of some sort on this stuff that could save you a lot of time trying to remotely lead me to water (roads).Thanks,Dick KLBE

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Hi Dick.I create slices with resample. I can save a copy of the slices if I want autogen with these textures... as autogen is not flipped vertically, and I'd need the originals to place the autogen correctly.I then flip them vertically.I then alter them for the alpha channel with PaintShopPro7, by 'selecting' the image, and 'modifying' the selection as 'transparency' = black. I then save the selection to alpha channel, and then save the image as a TARGA ( making sure the option for the SaveAs is 24 bit uncompressed ). This image can be read by imagetool for processing as an 8-bit, mipped bitmap ( approx. 87kb image ). This is the FS2000 extended format. It is not DXT.There are ways to use FSTexConvert or Martin Wright's BMP2000 to do this alphatizing. The alpha must also be vertically flipped... so you flip first, then alphatize. I'm not sure if Martin's utility allows batch processing. I believe he has such a utility for DXT1 textures, and that could be used, but then they'd need to be re-batched by imagetool for 8-bit. I can't remember if Elrond's FSTexConvert can batch as 8-bit mipped.. so those might also need re-batching with imagetool.=========================So... resample, save copy, vertically flip, alphatize, process as 8-bit, mipped.Now these can be placed as VTP polys... and those can be placed in 3 basic ways:1) If you desire autogen, place them as VTP2 landclass #253 ( or #252 if you've made seasonal variations ). These textures would need to be in the .../scenedb/world/texture folder ( and the autogen as well ). You can use a large poly to cover an entire city.. even trimmed to the city limit extents. I use this even if I don't want autogen. The sim tiles the correct CUSTOM texture in the right LOD13 Area, within the confines of the polygon. That allows you to control the autogen exclusion by trimming the poly in Ground2K... so a single LOD13 Area can have many landclass numbered polys and each having their own autogen.or2) If you don't want autogen, you could place the textures as named textures... a name for each season. If VTP2, then you'd need to try to make the polys go right to the limits of each LOD13 Area.. and you may have "imbrication" issues if they overlap slightly. Instead of one large poly, you'd need many small LOD13 sized polys.or3) Use the placement as VTP1... Christian has some sort of VTP1 placement that will flip the textures for you. I honestly haven't used it much, and you'd need to read the docs. I think these also need to be named textures ( not numbered as #253 ). I also have heard of some problems with VTP1 polys and FS2002... even after seasonal/night variations are named.Of all those methods, the first makes the most sense, and allows autogen.==============I realise this all sounds horribly complicated. Terrabuilder has some sort of integration with FSTexConvert.. so that would help, except each slice needs to be vertically flipped ( not the entire source image ). The whole problem would be solved if there was a utility that could batch the works as automatic flipping, then color-coded alphatising, then rebatching to 8-bit... or if imagetool allowed flipping and alpha creation.I do remember that Martin Wright has some sort of utility that does allow flipping, alpha creation, and batching. But it is DXT1, I believe. Even so, those slices could be re-batched to 8-bit by imagetool. So the steps could be reduced.For my use, PaintShopPro and imagetool do the job. For larger projects, you might need batching of some sort.Dick

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Indeed that is a daunting set of process when one is dealing with several hundred texture slices/sectors/files. Ok for small city area but not for large the areas that I am working with. Thought that there might be an expedient method to place Terrascene roads since this is the only program that fully automates the creation of roads. I have revisited this from time-to-time but never found a good way to do it. Ground2k is a wonderful program for correcting the wierd FS200x roads and rivers. However. I always wanted to completely blanket an area with a full contingent of elegible roads to see what it looked like. Would take longer than justified by the Ground2K manual method.If Christian had some hooks (API) to permit a devoted and skilled programmer to build a program that would input USGS data and drive Ground2k that would be ideal. I have also suggested to him the possibility of creating an agolrithim that would re-mesh/smooth elevations for roads to avoid tilted roads or where roads are cut thru a hill and the cut out section is too small to render using 38 meter mesh. Yes, you can redo the mesh under the roads by hand but another very tedious task. Especially given the hundreds of miles of roads in a typical VFR excursion area. Probably I should play with jets at 40,000 feet so all I need are some of the fine airports available with no regard for scenery detail.Dick

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Hi Dick,Since I haven't been active in the community for quite some time, I'm pretty well lost with the discussion you're having... Except the bit about needing a tool that will vertically flip resulting resample.exe created slices during the process of applying the alpha to them while creating masked DXTx or Extended textures. This, if I understand the gist of what you need, I can do.In the existing TexConvert, I actually have to internally flip all slices vertically before they are written right now when creating CUSTOM resamples because the textures are processed "upside down" internally. I can add a commandline and UI option to bypass that internal flip and leave them in the state it seems you require if you wish. Such an update to TexConvert would still require a separate alpha mask bmp that was run through resample.exe (exactly like the "base" bmp) instead of internally creating the alpha by color match from the original slices... Its the method of alpha masking that I designed the tool around (its a much "cleaner" method of alpha masking even though its more work). But if you need the flipping, I can help with that.Let me know if I caught the gist of what you need and/or want an update to TexConvert.Take care,Elrond

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Hi Elrond.VTP2 polys that use a texture number of 252 ( seasonal set ) or 253 ( single season ), can display resampled slices in FS2002 and FS2004.If the slices are converted to 8-bit mipped with alpha ( the same as the road and river textures ), then we can use the alpha channel as tranparent in VTP2 polys, rather than as resample's water.The odd thing is that VTP2 displayed textures are vertically flipped.All this allows you to use a program like Ground2K to draw any sized or shaped poly as VTP2 with landclass number 252 or 253, and correctly named bitmapped slices will display in the drawn poly.This also allows roads, rivers, LWM water... to be used with photoreal images in the sim.As the above images show, you can make a georeferenced image of a city's streets, and make it a layered VTP2 poly. Kind of a nice detail for a project.nudata's project is much more ambitious, as he would like to cover a vast area with these transparent slices... very possible with the right tools, but I'm not sure about framerates and memory management in F2004.Dick

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Thanks for the explanation Dick. That clears up the topic pretty well for me. So, it sounds like adding the vertical flip (actually removing it, since I internally flip already) might be useful. If you agree, I'll do so sometime in the next week and get a new build out. If you'd rather have a different tool that also includes building the alpha internally from colored pixels instead of merging them from a separate mask, I'll leave it for someone else's utility.Take care,Elrond

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Dick;Do you think this forum might get some of our great programmers heads togeather and produce a program like TerraScene in the near future? If they could work with each other with their tools I would think it could be in use in a few months. I would think the developer of TerraScene would be willing to add his support.Richard;

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Hi Elrond.DXTBMP, by Martin Wright, allows flipping of the image and the alpha... but doesn't use 8-bit.... but it could be saved as 24 bit and then batch processed as 8-bit with mips in imagetool. I think DXTBMP has batching.I don't have any problem with using a separate BMP for the alpha, as that can be created from the source image quite easily. It's just the vertical flipping of all the textures with alpha that is a problem. The conversion to 8-bit mipped can still be done by MS' Imagetool.Dick

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I would imagine that the answer to this is yes, but just in case I'll still ask:Have both DXT1 and Extended 16bit (1-555) format textures been tested using the VTP2 method? You'd think either (specially the extended 16bit) would work just as well as the 8bit since they both carry the mips and 1bit alpha but better color depth. 16bit 555 would also look much better than an 8bit texture with a too simple 256 color pallet - at least for some tiles with complex road or other blending that I could imagine. While a correctly optimized pallet should indeed be enough for many areas, 16bit would be optimal in some designs.Thanks,Elrond

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Hi Elrond.Both DXT1 and 555 show the color-keyed alpha as black ( the color key I use ). When using an alpha not color-keyed, the alpha simply doesn't show, which is what I expected.The 8-bit is used for the road and stream textures... so it appears to be the MS requirement for transparency.Dick

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Hi Richard,While not addressed to me, I don't think a TS like program would be as useful on the FS side today - at least one that is tasked to create pseudo photoreal output. With all the different and unique methods of modifying stock FS scenery available here, pseudo photoreal looses most of its appeal for a few good reasons: massive size (specially with multiple seasons, and all at 4.8m resolution instead of the Fly! original 15m), loss of autogen, etc. Few of the newer FS methods of modifying stock scenery so completely were ever developed on the Fly! side, so TS was a wonderful and extremely easy alternative during its heyday.I do however think TS is still an extremely useful tool for FS developers as it is (if woefully unrealized). Instead of using it for its intended purpose as a pseudo photoreal scenery generator, it can be used to created coded output as input for various tools already available in the FS community. Some pieces are still missing, but if an effort was made TS could become even more invaluable:1) It can be used today as extremely accurate input for creating landclass in FS, anywhere in the US and in some areas outside the US where manually gathered data is available. A simple rendering of coded land use colors (mapped to FS texture info) then run through resample.exe makes this process easy.2) It can be used today to generate custom texture overlays for VTP2 polys. This includes extremely accurate road and rail data, but other more imaginative uses as well.3) It can be used today to easily generate a light map for night lighting on any true aerial based projects.4) It can be used today to easily generate a water mask for "real" FS water on any true aerial based projects.5) With a custom tool, it could be used to completely automate the placement of autogen on any true aerial based projects of any size. Its ability to code realworld land use data in specified colors would make this trivial, once a tool was made to read the pixel data and generate matching polys, the result would be automatically generated .agn files that exactly match an aerial. I get the feeling that the authors of the recent Mega Scenery for FS did something exactly like this (if TS was used or not I of course have no idea).6) If the author of Ground2k or other tools could implement reading of TS generated color coded BMPs (like described in 5 above), it could be used to fully automate the "drawing" of "real" VTP2 polys for FS road and rail data.I'm sure there are other valuable uses for the existing TS that I can't think of as well. So, I agree with you from that perspective: some custom support for reading the output images from TerraScene could dramatically improve the ease of use and ability to modify stock FS scenery - without any texture overhead.I don't, however, think its proper of you to presume about Todd doing any FS projects, without first talking to him. How do you know what he would "be willing" to do or not do? Just thought I'd point that out.Take care,Elrond

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Thanks Dick, I appreciate it. I haven't looked into modifying TexConvert yet (and if I can support 8-bits without a full rewrite), but I'll do so later this week.Take care,Elrond

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Nice synopsis. Terrascene indeed is a potentially valuable tool as you point out. In a role as a generator of input to programs that would then create FS suitable graphics. This preserves the textures, blending and autogen aspects that are supressed by the direct use of TS in FS - as you illustrate. Perhaps Christian Fumey will read this and take a look at Terrascene 2.1 to evaluate it as an input to Ground2K. Dick KLBE

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Hi Dick,Indeed, if Christian might take an interest in reading and interpreting coded TS bitmap output, the result would be staggering for the entirety of FS scenery in the United States and some parts outside the US where LU data is available. For most of the non-US countries where that data isn't readily available, it could still be extremely useful as users in those countries could trace their local maps and create their own BMPs or TGAs as input. Impressively, some of those users seem to do so already for landclassing, etc.Using Ground2K (or another tool), native FS scenery could be automatically generated that fully updates the land use, road, rail, creek-stream-river and coastlines for any supported areas to fully match the real world in unprecedented detail... With a few clicks and a couple hours of waiting.I can imagine within weeks of such support, the entire United States fully transformed with the two tools - all in a few tens of MBs (probably less).It would blow all FS users away, I have no doubt. It would be a VFR scenery revolution (and realization of a long standing dream for many) on a country wide basis.Take care,Elrond

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Elrond;I for one know how large Near Photo Quality scenery can be. I have made my entire state of West Virginia and sourounding area over to Washington DC. Although only in summer texture it was an improvment aver FS2002. Now with FS9 the basic city, and other texture is very close, however with missing lake, and river sections, not to mention rivers, it could use improvment. Wouldn't it be nice if one could just replace things like lakes, rivers, and roads of larg areas, without the tedious and sometmes difficult operationsd now involved with these efforts.Richard;

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