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FSXA FS2004 aircraft propeller states

euroastar350

Resource contributor
#1
Hi guys,

Seeing that many users are converting FS2004 aircraft into FSX native aircraft, how does one get the 3 propeller states to show within MCX? I've looked at the manual, but haven't seen a reference on how to get the to show and I rather not export the compiled model into an editable mesh as results may vary when exporting into a 3DS/OBJ file. Any help is appreciated.
 

arno

Administrator
Staff member
FSDevConf team
Resource contributor
#2
Hi,

When you import the model you can set the state of certain variables. Propeller state is one of them. So you can't switch the state after loading anymore.
 
#3
You need to import the FS9 hidden prop disk in MCX. At import, change any Condition Variables zero value below “parts_visible” to 10000. The prop disc appears, isolate and save it as a separate MDL file.
Next import the FS9 model again as you normally would, now the normal prop blades appear.
Then you need to merge the isolated prop disk into the FSX main model and tag the animations/visibility conditions for the 3 states used in FSX:

Still: Apply tags to the main model static prop part(s). Animation = prop0_still; viscon = prop0_still.

Slow: Merge the isolated prop disc part and apply tags. Animation = prop0_slow; viscon = prop0_slow.

Blurred: Merge a 2nd instance of the isolated prop disc part and apply tags. Animation = prop0_blurred; viscon = prop0_blurred.
 
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#4
If you use a separate prop_slow part like I do, setting that variable to an intermediate value will now display that part (experiment). Then save that too.
 
#5
Sorry to resurrect a year old post, but I have gone through just about every thread on the subject of prop blur and have yet to find a solution to an issue I am having. I have used MCX extensively in Scenery Design, but not much on the flight side except to look at an aircraft model to see how a repaint looks without having to fire up FSX or FS2004 each and every time.

To explain, several members of a Virtual Airline I belong to are planning to do a fly over of Flander's Field to remember the 100th Anniversary of the end of World War One, "The Great War". We would like to do this in period aircraft, with each member in a different aircraft of the war, both Allied and Axis. The majority of the aircraft I have found are FS2004 aircraft. All are freeware and very few have been "converted" to FSX models, yet each one displays and flies beautifully in FSX (even the non-converted). In fact, the ones with the most stunning and, in my mind since I've never seen one for real, realistic virtual cockpits are the pure FS2004 models that no attempt to "port" or "convert" has been done.

Sadly, there is an irritating "artifact" of using the FS2004 model in FSX...the model prop disk that blocks or masks any autogen, scenery objects, and clouds when looking "through" the blur. I've been researching this for days and the majority of answers are "live with it, you cannot change it" and yet threads like this one seem to give me hope that maybe there have been advances in the process since the model was designed that will allow removal of that prop disk from the model, opening the door to create a true FSX prop blur that can be viewed through without losing objects in the blur.

However, as I said, I have never used MCX to manipulate a model, only to look at it. This thread seems to imply you can, in fact, manipulate a model with MCX. Specifically, Henk's comment, "The prop disc appears, isolate and save it as a separate MDL file." I do not know how to do that, but if it is possible to "isolate it" would it not also be possible to delete it?

A screenshot for further clarification...


Thanks in advance...even if you tell me not possible. Then at least I will know definitely.

Randy
 
#7
Thanks in advance...even if you tell me not possible. Then at least I will know definitely.
Randy
It is very much possible, here is a FS9 plane converted to the P3Dv4 standard, notice the three propeller states; still, slow and blurred:

I do not recommend the linked procedure, although it is materially accurate, one does not need to edit the .x file nor does the procedure cover special circumstances where all animations are tied into a master parent.
Anyway in a nutshell, you want to capture the prop disk and to do it, you manage the visibility conditions window by replacing "0" with "10000" in every field below the parts_visible section:



That gives you the FS9 equivalent of "in motion" and we see our prop disks displayed:



We use the Hierarchy Editor to find and isolate the prop disk:




And there it is. Before exporting, we must confirm the animation is one our compiler will support, if not the animation will fail and the model will export in a fixed state. The FS9 style animation tag "engine0" is not recognized by the FSX compiler, so we assign the "prop0_blurred" tag.



Finally before exporting, save a version of the prop disk texture:



Ok, here it is in Photoshop and we see that this artist has chosen to use an all black alpha channel, with the various propeller related translucencies rendered through the color channels of the image. This probably works ok in FS9, but is not adequate for other versions of the sim. The easiest fix is to invert that alpha channel, but different sims have different requirements and it is best to experiment for good results. Alpha is intended to control transparency, all black or all white is fully transparent, depending on the sim version. Obviously FS9 is all black for transparent, so...



For a final hint, here is what I made for P3Dv4, the slow and blurred:




Ok so putting it all back together. I hope it is already obvious that you can use the same rotating disk model for the slow and blurred animations. Simply import one, tag it as such and then use the Merge Objects tool to recombine the model parts. In the Hierarchy Editor, you will have to assign the visibility conditions, each condition matching the prop state.



That should cover it, if the flight sim gods are feeling generous this procedure should lead to a working prop disk. I had mentioned special cases, there will be situations where you feel you've done everything right and you compile and the new model has all its animated parts squished together in the fuselage. Don't despair. You can try adding your airplane model to your new animations, instead of what would seem natural, as the other way around. You may have to export the entire animation tree, break each part and re-tag it, or you could make an .x file export, open that in text editor, and see if you can hack in that master parent animation. Everything is pretty basic with obvious names and related tables of positions, it certainly doesn't hurt to change a few things around, save that file and then compile it in MCX to see if you've had a beneficial effect.
 
#9
Thank you rk for that amazing response. Sadly, it is late here and I need to get some sleep, but you can be sure MCX will be one of the first things I open in the morning after my eyes...

Thanks again. I'll post my progress.

Randy
 
#11
Thanks Jan, I was using 1.3 Stable and have now installed 1.4 Developmental version.

=rk=...

A few comments about my attempt this morning to follow your guide. First, you said " replacing "0" with "10000" in every field below the parts_visible section:" When I imported the Albatross model, doing this did not display a prop disk. There was a parameter called "F6" below gen_model but above parts_visible. When I changed it's condition from 0 to 10000 the prop disk then displayed in the preview window.

Everything went smoothly from there following your guide until I reached the point where you discuss the textures for the blurred prop, specifically when you said...

"Finally before exporting, save a version of the prop disk texture:"

In the original model the texture for a blurred prop is called "propwash.bmp". It is a DXT3 bitmap (not .dds) with a completely black alpha channel. I know that by opening it in DXTBMP. Using the MCX Material Editor window and looking at "propwash.bmp" shows just an empty white screen where your screen shows a texture to the left of the words "AN12_PRO"

I have seen in other threads where three conditions are needed...I think..."prop0_stop", "prop0_slow", and "prop0_blurred" I am using Tom Tiedman's blurred prop textures to replace the default "propwash.bmp" in the Albatross. I used his two-bladed image, copied it, and renamed it "propwash.bmp". So what do you mean by saying "save a version of the prop disk texture" before exporting. Save it where? In the FSX/Simobjects/Airplane/Albatross/Texture folder? There's already one there and it doesn't show in the material editor as I explained above.

I exported the isolated prop disk anyway and then imported it back in to MCX, then merged it back with the complete model and although MCX says it successfully imported the model I don't see it anywhere after the merge operation completes, just the prop disk...nothing else.

I fear this is outside my realm of ability. Perhaps if I could sit down and watch over someone's shoulder I could begin to master this, but following text and pictures is defeating me.

Randy
 
#12
This stuff is fairly technical, but so is flying, no? It seems like, however, you are making it more complex than it is, I don't know. Breaking it down, there are two key things, as I see it, the texture and the animation. Ok so to start with the animation, first off, your prop_still is just the propeller. It should be animated to rotate to about 500 rpm and then the disk animation takes over. So the only thing you have to worry about is one rotating disk, put one texture on it, tag it prop_slow, put another texture on it, tag it prop-blurred and you're good. Go another route, take your prop_blurred animation and texture, duplicate it, tag your duplicate model prop_slow and will you really notice the missing prop_slow texture? You decide, see?

As to your uncertainty about saving a texture, well, I don't really work in bmp/dxtbmp. If you do, that is fine, as you write, there is already a copy in that format. Not really sure about your empty white screen, examine other prop textures. I am sure Tom Tiedeman is great but I would be looking at default stuff. The sim was designed to be played with and improved and the default Cessna and DC-3 are excellent examples of demonstrator models.
 
#13
I guess the main thing about this process that I don't understand is that I have to isolate the prop disk, change the animation type to prop_blurred in the animation editor, change the visibility condition to "prop_blurred" in the hierarchy table, set the texture, save that as...a model?...then merge the prop disk back to the model. probably over simplified in explanation, but that's the gist of what I got.

Yet...in order to isolate it, I open the hierarchy table and find it's SceneGraphNode and select it, then choose isolate. By selecting it to isolate the same info comes up as in the isolated disk. Why do I have to isolate it at all. Why not select it, make the animation and hierarchy changes while it's still attached to the model and then export? Then I don't have to worry about the merge.

Which brings up another point. Because this is an FS2004, for the gen_model parameter I can choose "1" or "2". I always choose "2" so I can see the model. When I export it I always lose the virtual cockpit, variable "1". Do I have to merge that back in as well?

Randy
 
#14
You know, you could try this alternate procedure, I think you should, if it works. Seems to me, now I am just guessing here, because I haven't actually tried it yet, but it seems to me that you want a prop disk on the plane that you don't have to change all those values to see. So if you summon that state by setting the variables, yet you do not isolate it's prop disk, how are you going to get it back into the propeller version, or alternatively, how do you propose to get propellers into your prop disk model?
I guess the main thing about this process that I don't understand is that I have to isolate the prop disk, change the animation type to prop_blurred in the animation editor, change the visibility condition to "prop_blurred" in the hierarchy table, set the texture, save that as...a model?...then merge the prop disk back to the model. probably over simplified in explanation, but that's the gist of what I got.
Ok great, give that a try. Have you done it yet? We're not just talking about this dispassionately as a proposal, as if, we'd ever actually do it, right? Because it seems so easy and quick to me that I am ready to just do it to the default Cessna while we talk, because that is faster, or maybe your Albatross, but then I would have to keep it because I do not distribute edited works without release. So yes, by all means try that procedure. If it doesn't work, export as a model instead of save. If that doesn't work export to .X file, or some other format that holds animations (pretty sure it is only .mdl and .x that hold animations) and try it. I would much prefer you try this, let it fail (or work) and then come back for suggestions.
It's my hope that you will come up with other procedures that I can try, like the idea to edit the F6 parameter, so your comments have been very helpful, thanks. You see, we get asked this question so often, how to fix a FS2004 prop disk, that it is my intention to provide a very thorough answer. Your questions underscore some of the salient points that I was not clear enough about. I have already saved this link and together, our conversation will comprise my answer the next time the question arises. Thank you for playing the role of my proverbial student, I hope I wasn't too harsh and please continue until you are comfortable with it.

As to the virtual cockpit, there is provision, you probably don't have to worry about the merge and I endorse you to examine the default Cessna for answers.
 
#15
Rick,

You are correct about "losing" the propeller when the prop disk is displayed by changing the F6 variable to 10000. I had not thought of that, so obviously, that is why just the prop disk has to exported. When I do the merge there is no propeller, so that idea is eliminated.

I will continue researching, I just finished watching a you tube tutorial by Milton Shupe on converting an FS9 B26 to an FSX native B26 using GMAX. He really doesn't discuss the animations and attach points except very briefly, mostly concerned with converting the materials used, but the video did give me some ideas to try that I will report back on.

I did look at the default FSX C172 model in MCX and especially the various SceneGraphNodes involving the propeller. Especially the three visibility conditions of prop0_still, prop0_slow, and prop0_blurred. I noticed each "condition" was a separate SceneGraphNode. I also noticed that when you select the "SceneGraphNode" entry there is no visibility condition attached. Only the ModelPart(s) has/have a visibility condition and only for prop0_slow and prop0_blurred. I guess it is obvious prop0_still would not need a condition or animation attached.

I was somewhat confused because in each SceneGraphNode for the three conditions there were two animation entries listed. I don't really understand why unless the first is the start point and the second is the end point. I look more in to that as I go.

Anyway, off to the web to do some more research. It is surprising after all these years and all the new applications available no one has discovered a "trick and tip" on how to do this more simply...maybe there isn't one...when the prop blur is a part of the model and not a texture controlled blur. I did find it interesting that as clear back as 2006 this was being attempted and one gentleman in some obscure site mentioned he solved it by animating the prop blur so it was the last item in the hierarchy listing. Then someone else pointed out "true. but then the blur hides certain components of the model instead". Wish there was a way to modify the Object Hierarchy Tree in MCX moving which SceneGraphNode displays where. I would move the blur to the last entry.

Anyway, now I'm off to do some more looking.

Thanks for all your tips, pointers, and direction.

Randy
 
#16
It is surprising after all these years and all the new applications available no one has discovered a "trick and tip" on how to do this more simply...maybe there isn't one...when the prop blur is a part of the model and not a texture controlled blur. I did find it interesting that as clear back as 2006 this was being attempted and one gentleman in some obscure site mentioned he solved it by animating the prop blur so it was the last item in the hierarchy listing. Then someone else pointed out "true. but then the blur hides certain components of the model instead". Wish there was a way to modify the Object Hierarchy Tree in MCX moving which SceneGraphNode displays where. I would move the blur to the last entry.
I think the reason for what surprises you is that there is no real set way, so far as I can tell. I am certainly still learning, I've converted or created but a few, less than a dozen, and every procedure has been different. This would be impossible for me at all, without Arno's tools. For the ability to express my interests so fully through this work I am very grateful and I'm obliged to endorse we all express the same. To Arno, Jon, Dick and all the contributors that make this place possible.

As to hierarchy nodes, they are draggable. You can take any ModelPart and drag it to another SceneGraphNode, or another ModelPart and I believe you can also drag SceneGraphNodes.
I think it would be helpful to isolate the propeller prop_still animations and parts and just work with them, it will avoid confusion with other animations and such. Worst case scenario is that you will confirm it is possible (since it is) and the best case scenario is that your successfully merged animated prop model will simply replace the single prop_still animation and you'll be good to go.
 
#17
Hi Rick,

I made some headway today and then lost every bit of ground I made.

I actually had a working model (switched to a Fokker DVII for FS2004 because I had an additional working prop blur, still, and slow using the same "propwash" texture...even the same prop object...for an FSX Fokker DR1). I got as far as having prop animation for still, slow, and blurred, but the blurred FS2004 prop disk was also present because I forgot to remove it (been at this for almost 12 hours now and was a little "eye-weary and brain-fried"). When I went back to remove the FS2004 prop disk I must have done something wrong cause I lost everything I had gained. I hadn't written down any notes...lesson learned the hard way...so I could not remember how I got to where I was I had tried so many different combinations and actions.

Think I'll call it a night and begin anew tomorrow.

Randy
 
#18
You recorded the procedure, it will have become easier to see the patterns. Careful you don't develop an affinity for it, or you may one day find yourself at an onramp holding a "will convert prop animations for food" sign.
 
#20
I am trying to merge the prop with a prop0_still visibility condition and the propdisk (twice) once as prop0_slow and once as prop0_blurred back into the main model (not the one I reassigned the variables to display the prop disk). I've reassigned the animation tags successfully from engine0 to prop0_xxxxx, where "xxxx" equals either prop0_still, prop0_slow, and prop0_blurred.

I have solved the loss of the virtual cockpit when I export the model. I just first imported the gen_model with a variable of "1" and exported that model (changing engine0 animations to prop0_blurred tags) as an interior model, then modified the model.cfg to display both the normal and interior model. I get the virtual cockpit everytime now after resetting the radius for both models (normal and interior...they have slightly different values) with RADItor

But I guess I do not understand how to use the "Merge" key, because nothing I merge shows up as "merged", even though the SceneGraphNode data for the "merge" shows up in the Hierarchy Tree. I have tried merging the prop blur to the model and the model to the prop blur. Here's what I am doing, so please jump in here and explain why the "merged" model doesn't display and export.

I have, sitting in the aircraft folder's "model" folder the modified prop disk model with two SceneGraphNode entries, each with a different vis condition and animation tag (either prop0_blurred or prop0_slow). Both conditions have textures assigned. When I import that model, and just that model, the textures display and the animations work. To perform the merge I first press the "Merge objects" key. A window opens that wants me to either load or select and object. There is nothing to select, so I hit load and browse to the aircraft folder and select the aircraft.mdl file. I then select the "Merge" button at the bottom of the window and MCX does it's thing and says "finished loading, but I don't see the model anywhere.

However, now the green arrow keys at the top left of MCX are lit up and I can use them to go back and forth between the prop disk and the aircraft.mdl

Without doing anything else, if I look at the hierarchy table with the prop disk displaying, I see all the hierarchy entries for the aircraft model merged with the entry for the prop disk, but the model is not displayed, only the prop disk is visible. If I bring the aircraft model in to view using the green arrow keys I see the hierarchy table for the aircraft, but no entry for the prop disk.

I don't get "Merge"???

Randy