Monday, 31 December 2012

Jersey - #1 What will I need?

First of all I will need an accurate water mask.  This is so that when the photoscenery is created the water mask will accurately show water round the correct coastline and not the default FSX coastline!

As Jersey is split over 4 QMID 11 areas I will create 4 polygons in Google Earth, each relating to one QMID 11 area.  As you can see below, I have traced out the outline of the coast for one of the QMID 11 areas already. 

I then used the FSX_KML program to create a water mask for this area that I can import into SBuilderX to create the necessary water mask.  Firstly you need to run the prefsx_klm program to correct some geo-referencing, then just open up the coastline .kml file from Google Earth and add a water attribute.
FSX_KML then outputs a shapefile (.shp) which you can import into SBuilderX.  This is important and useful because the water mask needs to completely fill the relevant QMID11 rectangle, which can only been accurately referenced within SBuilderX.  Once imported into SBX the polygon required only a little amending to cover the entire QMID11 rectangle (minus the land!), and looked as follows...
This process will be repeated for each of the QMID 11 areas until the total island water mask is complete.

Friday, 28 December 2012

Jersey - An Unsettling Thought...

I suddenly realised that I was heading down a slippery path...  I have managed to be able to do the following now:
  • Photoscenery - using either sourced imagery and SBuilderX (as in my first Liverpool project) and over a wider area using FSET.  I can also do watermasks and blends with those.
  • Autogen - using annotator in the FSX SDK.  I've looked through the SDK and I think it should be fairly easy to use bespoke models as custom autogen in principle.  (However, when I tried to open the program to do this it crashed and I haven't looked into whether it can be fixed yet.)
  • Custom scenery models - using Sketchup, ModelConverterX and Instant Scenery.
  • Default airport layouts - using ADEX.
What I haven't yet mastered are 3 critical elements to be able to produce any reasonable scenery area:
  1. Water and Landclass areas - to get the right representation of land and water.  (Although I believe that using Google Earth, together with FSX_KML and SBuilderX I can fairly easily learn to do this properly.)
  2. Mesh and terrain modelling - I've been reading up on this a LOT over the past two days.
  3. Ground Polygons - I think this can be done without too much hassle through ModelConverterX but I haven't done any reading or research about it yet.
So...I decided to bite off way more than I can probably chew...and try to see if I can do a halfway decent job on creating a whole scenery area somewhere, just to prove I can do it :)

It would have to be somewhere that doesn't really have a good scenery already existing, (or it wouldn't be worthwhile doing it!), have decent existing photoscenery data available, and not be large enough to take a decade to actually do!   The first idea that came to mind was Jersey, in the Channel islands, as it has not been done properly yet as far as I know, there is good photoimagery for the island and I have surrounding sceneries from Earth Simulations and FranceVFR that I could fly to and from with it...

The next post will detail how I'm going to start this mammoth (for me) task.  It might go slowly and take some time, but hopefully I'll explain each step as I work it out, so it will be both a learning experience for me and might just stimulate someone else to help out! :p

Photographic Scenery

Over the past year I've been playing around with autogen in my head, and on odd occasions reviewing the SDK terrain and environment sections.

I've come across a couple of very good utilities in FSET (FSEarthTiles v.1.03), and FSX_KML.  I've been a johnny come (very) lately to the utilitarian functions of Google Earth as well, until now just seeing it as a nice virtual version of that spinning globe I had on my bedside table when I was much younger!

My initiation into FSET was entirely by accident as I was browsing the AVSIM forums.  I came across this post:  FSET allows you to create your own custom photoscenery for anywhere that the imagery is available on a tile server on the internet.  There are numerous providers but I won't mention them here...

FSX_KML allows you to use .kml files and transform then into .shp files which SBuilderX can import.  (SBX cannot import .kml files directly.)  FSXKML is downloadable from:

FSET took a little bit of working out, mainly in terms of updating the providers section of the .ini file so that it worked properly.  With a couple of hours research it wasn't too difficult and I was soon able to create a small test area of photoscenery to prove it was possible :)

Since then I've been very busy and FS scenery hasn't been uppermost in my mind, but I've come back to it over this Christmas.

I looked through the manual for FSET to try to learn how to create water masks and blend masks for photoscenery.  Surprisingly, it seemed very simple, all that you have to do is create a .kml file with two lines in it using Google Earth.  To make it work, you need to assign a specific name to each of the lines.

So I tried it on a small test section, first creating the .kml file in GE and using that to create the blends and masks in FSET. Lo and behold it worked perfectly! Hurrah!

Then I had a rather unsettling thought........