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I didn't even think I'd mess with X-Plane 11 so early, but after testing a few weeks and seeing many simmers already switched with great results, well, I couldn't resist. Here's the thing. I decided to remove all algorithms dealing with private art controls (atmospheric scattering, fog, autogen, lights ect.) at least for X-Plane 11's Beta run, so everyone gets their hands on the improvements Laminar will or will not include in future betas instantly (there have been discussions in the forum about "messing" with what is essentially a preview version of the next X-Plane, and I agree that at least for published tweaks, they should be "clean"). It's already looking pretty good I'd say (SSAO is a killer feature in 11), and the preliminary features of Ventura Sky are working fine. Plus I was able to finally have the sky colors adjust dynamically during visibility changes. Anyhow, did I mention it's already up for grabs on venturasky.com? Happy Holidays!
INTRODUCTION Ventura Sky is a free Fly With Lua script for X-Plane 10.50 which has the potential to transform your X-Plane experience. Requiring SkyMaxx Pro v3, Real Weather Connector, [XPGFS] NOAA Weather plug-in 2.2.2 and Maxx FX (optional), Ventura Sky creates a dynamic atmosphere that combines the variety of real weather with an optimized, dynamic visibility limit which will seamlessly interpolate between live visibilities and increase as you climb out of the weather. By synchronizing visibility, raleigh scattering („haze“) and colors (the Ventura Sky sky color set comes included), Ventura Sky enables a calibrated, vibrant environment for X-Plane that takes full advantage of what X-Plane’s HDR mode parameters have to offer. FEATURES Get rid of X-Plane’s standard dull, washed out day colors - Ventura Sky offers a vivid, realistic look at all times of the day, at all altitudes. Solid visibility limit at 16nm (25700m) below 10000 feet (all values editable in the script), independent from cloud layers. The sky colors have been adjusted to give you a pristine, clear blue sky at 16nm (if the weather allows it). The result is a sophisticated balance of realism and performance. Along with the improved visuals (less aliasing) comes the performance benefit of a visibility limit. Enjoy X-Plane scenery flying low without having to pay for visibility you don’t need. Realtime visibility data from the [XPGFS] NOAA Weather plug-in will be deployed seamlessly - any visibility change will be smooth (10m per frame), never again will you suffer a sudden, immersion killing switch. Visibilities higher than 16nm will always be cut to 16nm (or your desired value) prior to being deployed. Above 10000 feet, visibility will increase / decrease dynamically based on your altitude. By the time you reach say FL 320, X-Plane will flex it’s long range visibility muscles. Descend below 10000ft and the nearest live visibility will be deployed (limit applied if necessary). No more fade-in of scenery - no more „ghost“ buildings at the horizon. Buildings will be drawn fully once they are visible. Increases „pop-in“ effect a little, but that’s arguably better than having transparent buildings on the horizon. Enjoy 6X boosted atmospheric scattering at low altitudes and 4x at high altitudes for improved depth perception - all settings have been synchronized with the Ventura Sky sky color set for maximum realism and seamlessness - at all positions of the sun. A simple status report will be available in your X-Plane dev console. Check the current conditions and the state of the script as you fly, easily understand what it does. Ventura Sky is configuration free - drop the script in the Fly With Lua scripts folder and it will just work next time you start your sim. However, many values may be edited when you open the script (explanations inside). TECHNICAL DETAILS Ventura Sky uses X-Plane datarefs to build the atmosphere and this prohibits X-Plane’s own clouds to be drawn (we need a single, clear cloud layer that goes up to 46000 feet). The [XPGFS] NOAA Weather plug-in hands temperature, pressure and winds directly to X-Plane, however we make it skip cloud levels and have it hand its calculated visibility to the Ventura Sky script (via a dummy variable) instead of X-Plane itself. The Ventura Sky script then calculates visibility and sky condition and writes these to X-Plane. SkyMaxx Pro v3 and Real Weather Connector, then inject METAR data based clouds via the „Always“ function. As of now, we recommend to turn off cloud shadows of SkyMaxx, as these are currently not working well with X-Plane’s own haze. IMPORTANT NOTE Ventura Sky ONLY works with real weather provided by the [XPGFS] NOAA Weather plug-in 2.2.2 (.py file needs to be edited, instructions below). SkyMaxx Pro v3 and Real Weather Connector (set to „Always“) is required to inject clouds. It has only been tested in X-Plane’s HDR rendering mode. Maxx FX is optional, settings are included to achieve exactly the look shown.
I'd like to thank everyone here in the forum for the participation in the Beta process, especially early on when Ventura Sky was still complicated to install. A few features suggested by you made it into the 1.0 release. If you're using Ventura Sky, please spread the word! I have no commercial interest with Ventura Sky whatsoever, I started out to write this only for me, but it turned out to be a great opportunity to contribute something to the community. Excerpt from venturasky.com: "Ventura Sky is a free add-on to modify atmosphere rendering in X-Plane 10.50 by Laminar Research, addressing some of the most criticized aspects of X-Plane’s visuals and weather depiction. It exclusively works with real weather provided by the NOAA weather plug-in by Joan Perez i Cauhé. The main features are smooth shifts between live METAR visibility values, a visibility limit catering to aesthetics and performance as well as a color calibrated atmosphere with improved and dynamic atmospheric effects. All that in a hassle and configuration free package: a FlyWithLua script and a sky color set, drop the files in place and get flying instantly."