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bob.bernstein

Good graphical scenery editing tools?

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I'm new here! This forum definitely needs a FAQ, as I'm sure this question gets asked by every new person here, so sorry!Anyway, the area around my FBO in FS2004 is just random autogen stuff. I'd like to upgrade the area with actual satellite imagery, add some roads, and add new buildings at the FBO (which just renovated).I downloaded the scenery SDK but I just don't have the time to futz with text files (I do that for a living as a programmer).I'd be happy to BUY a good visual program that lets me add satellite scenery, roads, trees?, and buildings, and ideally allows me to add custom textures to the buildings too (I'm planning on taking photos of my FBO). Can someone recommend a good tool that works with FS2004, that also might have tips on acquiring the highest-quality satellite imagery and terrain data available (I'll also buy this if necessary)?Thanks!P.S. I've already downloaded AFCAD and updated my runways and taxiways - I just need to handle the rest of the facelift to make the Madison, WI area visually worth flying around in the virtual world.

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If you "AIN'T" got time to futz, then you are in the wrong area. There are no commercial, shareware, or freeware programs, that are pushbutton easy 1, 2, 3 and the scenery is magically compiled and running in the flight simulator!If you want to lay-down terrain data, then look at the following:Ground2k*.zipAutoasm*.zip - search this forum for the locationLWMViewer.zipIf you want to improve or add an airport:SceneGenX - http://www.airportforwindows.com/AFCAD221.zipMost of the posters in this forum don't mind answering an old question by a newcomer, as long as an honest search is done first. Anyone interested in doing an FAQ is surely encouraged! Wanna Volunteer!!!W. Sieffert

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>If you "AIN'T" got time to futz, then you are in the wrong>area. There are no commercial, shareware, or freeware>programs, that are pushbutton easy 1, 2, 3 and the scenery is>magically compiled and running in the flight simulator!That's all I really needed to know. I had found a couple commercial "scenery editors" but they either weren't updated for 2004 or didn't have all the features I wanted. I was asking mostly for opinions here on whether they were any good. >If you want to lay-down terrain data, then look at the>following:>>Ground2k*.zip>Autoasm*.zip - search this forum for the location>LWMViewer.zipAll right - I'll start here. >If you want to improve or add an airport:>>SceneGenX - http://www.airportforwindows.com/>AFCAD221.zipYep, already did that as per my P.S.>Most of the posters in this forum don't mind answering an old>question by a newcomer, as long as an honest search is done>first. Anyone interested in doing an FAQ is surely>encouraged! Wanna Volunteer!!!I thought I had done an honest search for *visual* tools first. I just wanted someone to validate my frustration in finding something that might actually work.If I have to futz with data files then so be it. But I'm surprised there isn't a comprehensive tool readily available. >

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First you announce you're new here, then you announce what you think is wrong with this forum.Then you say you don't want to spend time with text files.You really expect people to try to help you?Bill's response was predictable. I had a very similar reaction to a very similar post from a fellow named Andrew...you can see that post back a page author is turner112. Read thru the thread. That author changed his viewpoint entirely. Note by the end of the thread he stopped looking for an FAQ.

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I would hazard a guess that MS might have some tools they aren't sharing.When I was buying Flight Simulators for the U.S. Navy, I got to see many tools built and utilized by the Contractor's that were part of the delivery to the U.S. Navy.Some of these tools dealt with terrain design for the flight simulator visual systems. The Contractor considered the tool proprietary and if the U.S. Navy wanted an updated scenery database, you can guess what the cost my be.On the other hand, the compilers provided in the SDKs, are probably the compilers used by MS to compile the new XML style scenery. BGLCOMP.EXE is capable of being run by a batch file to compile the entire XML style scenery.Lastly, we are fortunate to have a cadre of talented individuals providing excellent design tools for free.W. Sieffert

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>First you announce you're new here, then you announce what>you think is wrong with this forum.>Then you say you don't want to spend time with text files.>You really expect people to try to help you?Excuse me. I thought I was being polite when I said I was new, and announcing that usually begs forgiveness if the answer I seek is readily available in a FAQ.THEN I said that I had done some looking through the site for an existing FAQ. Obviously, if there had been such a FAQ I wouldn't have had to ask my question. As I pointed out, this seems like something people ask ALL THE TIME, so not having a FAQ (and forcing us newbies to bug you old-timers with the same old questions) *is* indeed something wrong with the site. Without a FAQ, we're forced to ask "dumb" questions that everyone here already knows the answer to(probably because you asked at some earlier point in time), which makes us newbies look lazy and ungrateful. I've seen this attitude on forums time and again. You're all too busy to make a FAQ, which would save everyone a ton of time (and potential hurt feelings of people who are merely ASKING a QUESTION), and then treat people with honest questions as lazy idiots, yet these messages are riddled with comments like "why don't YOU make a FAQ?". I'm new here, know next to nothing, and you want ME to make a FAQ? Really, I didn't expect the third degree on here - most aviation-related forums are actually filled with really helpful people who LIKE helping, not trying to make everyone feel dumb and a waste of time.All you had to do was say there are no good tools like the kind I am looking for, so I will have to use the SDKs, but here are some good documents to help you get started. Short, concise, and polite. That's all I was asking for.

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>I would hazard a guess that MS might have some tools they>aren't sharing....>Lastly, we are fortunate to have a cadre of talented>individuals providing excellent design tools for free.I agree the best tools are not available to end-users. But the commercial tools I've looked at seem to fall short of what a good tool should be able to do. Conversely, I thought AFCAD was pretty well-designed and full-featured - but it only lets you do aiports.Essentially, what I want to do should be pretty simple, but going the SDK route makes it much more difficult than I think it should be. If you can recommend even a basic design tool that will at least let me do satellite terrain alignment and roads, I would be grateful.

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Well, since you feel your approach to this forum was appropriate, its a wonder that you got two old timers annoyed. <>Heads up...just a quick alert...something you seem to have forgotten... Anyone teaching on this forum is volunteering to help others. If you get any help, your beholden to that person. He/She will likely only ask for politeness and/or respect, but you owe him/her that much. When you assert that these volunteers haven't worked hard enough...you cross a line.If you review the thread I suggested you may learn a lot. If you ask actual design questions, I'll be more than happy to help.

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>Well, since you feel your approach to this forum was>appropriate, its a wonder that you got two old timers annoyed.My "approach" to this forum was to ask a detailed question for information, beginning with an apology for asking what I knew was probably a FAQ, but without a forum FAQ to refer to, I had to ask.But I got jumped on for suggesting maybe the forum needs a FAQ.><a ton of time >>>>Heads up...just a quick alert...something you seem to have>forgotten... Anyone teaching on this forum is volunteering to>help others. If you get any help, your beholden to that>person. He/She will likely only ask for politeness and/or>respect, but you owe him/her that much. When you assert that>these volunteers haven't worked hard enough...you cross a>line.I don't think I ever asserted such a thing. In fact I pointed out that if a FAQ existed, then needless conversations like this one would not happen. You seem to have taken my question as an insult to this forum, which I assure you it wasn't. Why so sensitive? >If you ask actual design questions, I'll be more than happy to>help.I don't need help with design - I need help with tools. I guess this is entirely the wrong forum.

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"Note by the end of the thread he stopped looking for an FAQ."LOL...I stopped looking a bit earlier than that, Bob - just before I started that thread, actually ;)But what's being said in this thread shows two things - first, there's no FAQ ;)Moreso, as I found out rather quickly, this forum is a little unusual, and quite different from most forums I've been to around the net - The experienced people in here don't seem to get annoyed by people asking the same question over and over.. and over... Hmmm... it's odd, but it seems true.I think there should be a FAQ, honestly - but my questions were answered so quickly, it may not have made a difference; in fact, having the "old-timers" respond was way better, probably, because they can respond to specific questions, and they can ask questions. If it's true that the tools change really quickly, then a FAQ about the tools may not be the best idea; a more general "readme" about FS' various elements of scenery design, and which tools, historically, have worked well for editing/creating them, is probably more along the lines of what I'd like to see.But again, it's different in here, and I'm glad to see it. If you "old-timers" could just share your secrets of patience, I'd be much obliged.Andrew

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Howdy,Andrew, the best document that I know of that summarizes the ins and outs of the FS landscape display engine is "tmf_manual.zip" by Christian Stock, here in the library. It doesn't talk much about tools - and those change frequently, as you point out - but the display basics haven't changed much since FS2000 and thus his manual is still very helpful.As for the "graphical editor" debate: not sure whether this got pointed out in the other thread but I believe the simple reason why there is no payware WYSIWYG tool for "non-experts" is that a programmer/developer stands to make way more money from selling add-ons produced with his/her utility than by selling a few copies of the utility itself. However, I would hasten to add that many of the available freeware utilities are very well designed and sufficiently versatile to create anything that can be done for FS. One important downside of any "simplified" utility is that it's a black box and thus the newbie user doesn't know why problems arise, if he/she even realizes that there are problems. Case in point are several faulty freeware mesh files generated with a click-and-drop tool like SRTM2BGL. IMHO, quality work requires background knowledge and lots of first-hand experience.Cheers, Holger

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<>Assuming you mean with the techniques of design...I just recognized that the fun of design is not the new flying location, its the learning process. If I end up with a new ability, or understanding the goal was reached. If I end up with a lucky break and a nice looking scenery, but I don't understand how I got there, nothing was gained.Assuming you mean patience with other people, well I'm not very good there, so I switch from teacher to learner on that one.Could be I don't have your perspective..since I've been designing scenery as an addiction for so many years, I don't frequent many other types of forums. I don't know any scenery design forum, thou, that has collated this faq concept, and there are quite a few design forums out there. This one is the most active imho. There are some wonderful design guides out there for techniques that are obsolete. I suspect that once those authors realized how quickly there work becomes obsolete, they hesitated to rewrite their work year after year.

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I do not generally participate in threads intiated by anonymous users. While this is an anonymous internet forum and everyone is free to not reveal anything about themselves, even a signature to their post, it seems to me that AvSim is all about generating a feeling of community, and anonymous posts run completely contrary to that. But, this is just my pet peeve and everyone is free to disagree, of course.Nonetheless, the initial poster (whatever his name may be) raised a valid point - beginners have no ready source of information other than asking vague and general questions.Because of this, I am in the process of putting together a list of essential scenery tools and links for beginners. Hopefully, some of the more experienced designers here (like Arno, Dick, Edgar, Holger, William, etc.) will consent to look it over when it is done and provide suggestions, comments, and corrections. Then, it will be a simple matter to get it pinned to the top of this forum.It may be a while before I can get back to this project, however, as my peacock has fallen deathly ill and I am presently ministering to him with all sorts of medecine 24 hours a day in hopes that he will recover.http://forums.avsim.net/user_files/89675.jpghttp://forums.avsim.net/user_files/89676.jpgBest regards.Luis

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>I do not generally participate in threads intiated by>anonymous users. While this is an anonymous internet forum andI don't know why you got the impression that I was anonymous or wanted to be anonymous. My profile has enough relevant information to find out where I live, how to email me, and to learn that I am a student pilot. With that knowledge (and with the information in my original post) you can probably guess that I do not want to make a career of scenery editing. I just want to update the area around my FBO so I can practice in the simulator and "see" the real landmarks that I do in "real life". For for my nickname, well, I've been using that for over a decade, and I'm more likely to get that as a forum ID than any variation of my real name. >Nonetheless, the initial poster (whatever his name may be)>raised a valid point - beginners have no ready source of>information other than asking vague and general questions.And I for one thought my questions were pretty specific. As a pilot and professional software developer, I always try to be as concise as possible. >Because of this, I am in the process of putting together a>list of essential scenery tools and links for beginners.This would be welcome and extremely handy!>It may be a while before I can get back to this project,>however, as my peacock has fallen deathly ill and I am>presently ministering to him with all sorts of medecine 24>hours a day in hopes that he will recover.Best wishes - you have a beautiful bird.

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>Assuming you mean with the techniques of design...I just>recognized that the fun of design is not the new flying>location, its the learning process. If I end up with a new>ability, or understanding the goal was reached. If I end up>with a lucky break and a nice looking scenery, but I don't>understand how I got there, nothing was gained.This is likely where our attitudes differ. I'm busy enough with my jobs and flight training - I really have no desire to understand how MS scenery *works* at a technical level (although I'm sure it's interesting, and if I had enough time and interest I would probably eventually talk myself into writing my own scenery editing program). This is why I came in looking for a ready-made program that would save me some time and effort.Now I realize I might have to mess around with a few data files, but there are also probably some slightly less amazing tools out there that will at least let me get close to what I want. I'm taking a look at TerraBuilder right now.You will have to accept that not all of us have the passion you do for scenery design - I just want to learn enough to help me with my passion, which right now is learning to fly.

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<>Easy for me to accept that. The sim has advanced so fast, and changed so much from version 2002 to 2004, that comprehensive tools can't keep up.Terrabuilder is a great example. I own a copy, when it was released (perhaps fs98? maybe fs200..) it was pretty cool. As the versions changed, Misho (Katulic) felt obligated to maintain all the dumb quirks that old fs version threw at him, so that by this time, only a small part of that tool is useful for fs2004. And using that small part may be troubling unless you understand the underlying process so you can interpret when it doesn't compile.He is hard at work to create an fs2004 version, but time is running out!When fs3 came out, I was just learning to fly. I added the vfr reporting points for Boeing Field..probably for the same reason you want to. The only tool then was SEE04 and a text only version of airport. Very rudimentary. You can place a couple objects using simple xml. Why not read the sdk for scenery? It'll show you to write an xml file that identifies the object and place it where you tell it, and you can select an id for a stock library object. If you just want to place reporting landmarks, maybe you can fine stock objects that are close enough?I noticed that another reader was resurecting a discussion from long ago on fuel triggers..it contains snippets of funcitoning xml from both me and Dick (Rhumbaflappy). B

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Luis, what a beautiful bird. I do hope he gets better soon. Best regards, Chris

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>Because of this, I am in the process of putting together a>list of essential scenery tools and links for beginners.>Hopefully, some of the more experienced designers here (like>Arno, Dick, Edgar, Holger, William, etc.) will consent to look>it over when it is done and provide suggestions, comments, and>corrections. Then, it will be a simple matter to get it pinned>to the top of this forum.Good idea Luis. On my website I have tried to get a list of programs as well (with short descriptions etc), but due to lack of time the list is not as complete as I would like.I would certainly be willing to have a look at it when you are reading or help in another way if needed.

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Bob and I don't usually agree on things, But, On this I agree 100% with him. Way back in the iceage ( or shortly after) I asked Ken " We Bad" Nelson to teach me his method of scenery design. I didn't say anything about the lack of knowledge or posts or anything else. I wanted to learn scenery design period.I will and have many times offered my knowledge ( such as it is ) to anyone who wants to learn. But don't start complaining or telling me how it should be done. I will let you bang you head a while learning. It's really nice to have someone to share thier knowledge in anything.Bob's scenery is right up there with the best and always has been. We just differ in opinion sometimes.Be grateful that anyone answered your post.Joe WatsonLake Placid, Florida

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Hi Stele,I want you to know I was not annoyed in any way in my first response! If I got annoyed by posters, even ones that tell me I don't know anything about computer, I would leave the forums. I provide information to the best of my knowledge based on over 35yrs of computer experience and 20yr of buying flight simulators for the U.S. Navy.My comment, "If you AIN'T got the time to futz...", meant that we don't have readily available tools to do the scenery design without blood, sweat and tears. You are correct when you say the available commercial tools are lacking. There probably isn't enough profit margin to market a limited use tool. That is why we are grateful to the many talented tool designers that share their abilities with us.I don't design tools but use tools provided by the many talented designers from these forums. I beta test software and these tools with the understanding that I am providing a users input to improve the tool or software.I haven't done much in the way of the terrain tools, so can't help you in that area. However, if you read this and the other two forums just below this forum, you will find a lot of good information about terrain and the tools available.W. Sieffert

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I'm sorry we all got off on a bad start. Now that I know that what I am looking for doesn't exist, I'm more amenable to digging into the SDKs and what tools ARE out there. And I appreciate everyone's offer of help when I do have a specific question.Since I was striking out trying to find a good place to get satellite scenery, I went ahead and got a subscription to Keyhole, which has 1-5m terrain information for the entire US. I was able to pinpoint my FBO, house, and surrounding area with decent resolution. The photos are several years old, so I'll have to touch up with some aerial photos that I'll probably take myself, but at least I have a start for my new landscape scenery.The next step will be to check out the tools that take those photos and build them into texture files. Then I'll want to lay down new roads (or maybe I should buy USA Roads 2004?) and adjust treelines, etc. I'll keep you guys posted.

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wow.... kind of scared to post after all that. Anyhoo, I see you've found Keyhole. Cool stuff especially if you have a nvidia gfx card. A site I use that has some nice sat imaging is Microsoft's own Terra server( terraserver.microsoft.com ) Images range from 2-4 years in age and most are 1m to 5m rez.How hard would it be to have say AFCAD also generate the necessary code to replace/exclude elements of the airport. Like taxiway signs. New buildings or replacment buildings. Corrected towers from either stock library items or user defined objects. Just wondering.

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>Since I was striking out trying to find a good place to get>satellite scenery, I went ahead and got a subscription to>Keyhole, which has 1-5m terrain information for the entire US.I now have a 4x3 grid of screenshots from Keyhole, each showing a small rectangle of Madison. When I bring these into Photoshop, I see they don't line up exactly, probably due to the curvature of the Earth and the wedge-shaped dimensions of long/lat rectangles. Is there a tool which will let me stitch the images together into one large image, taking into account alignment differences due to curvature?

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--> no expert nor old timer :-) ...but I realize you're assembling this for terrain. Whenever I've done it it's been for a single airport (to check "real" layouts, proportions and relationships) I've just grabbed .25m rezed, over lapping images and by hand pasted them together so there was no missing areas. hee, at .25m I can see taxiway markings. Gotta love de-classified sat imagery.

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Stele, you mentioned you want to lay down imagry for your area. once you have an image for your terrain area, you will be at a design crossroad. One path is making VTP (vector terrain polygon) style design, in which you define mesh clinging polygons that can have a custom texture, and you draw roads, water, etc. Ground2k4 is a fine tool to make that type of scenery. many gurus are here at avsim to provide guidance (I'm not one of them really...I use Ground2k4, but I'm not a specialist in that area like some of the folks here).The other path you could take is to make a larger photoreal area (maybe you've seen megascenery...the technique they use is this path). This is the area I've specialized in. In this process you will be replacing the textures of the area with photography. You can't draw new roads over top of the image, using this approach, you do edits like that within the image itself. You can place water, lakes, rivers, within this photoregion. This is the output that terrabuilder was intended to provide. I find it much more effective to create my results using the sdk tools directly, and I find the tools from fs2000 sdk to be the best. I would be happy to send them to you if you wish, they are no longer available from ms. If you would like, I'm happy to provide additional help with the second process, if you prefer to go with the first process, then I'm sure Rhumbaflappy, or Luis will jump in...they know that stuff way better than I.Bob

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