Hardening Photoimage surfaces

#1
I really can't remember if I asked this before, possibly in a different area, but I did a search and came up with nothing. So I'll ask again!

I am currently working on Woodford Aerodrome (Manchester, UK). I'm actually very close to completion and the only thing left is to decide what to do with my problem. . .which is. . .is there any way to harden the surfaces of the photoimage for the taxiways and runway? The runway isn't a big problem as the AFX runway looks fine, but the taxiways and access rds at Woodford are quite unique and right now my only option is to use AFX and lay in solid taxiways, which obviously covers all the unique markings currently on the image. The taxiways are usable since I have a flatten to level out all those surfaces but when you taxi you get dirt and rocks flying up in all directions and even with the flatten the aircraft rocks around a bit while taxiing.

Here are a couple shots of the project:
 
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arno

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#2
Hi,

What I did on some project a while ago is use the old SCASM SurfaceType command to make those areas smooth. But I still have to test if this approach does not have some negative side effects, at first look it seems OK.
 
#3
Hi,
What I did on some project a while ago is use the old SCASM SurfaceType command to make those areas smooth. But I still have to test if this approach does not have some negative side effects, at first look it seems OK.
I don't think I go back (in scenery design years) far enough to even know what that is Arno, lol. If you can point me in the right direction, and in the mean time I'll search around and see what I can find on the subject. Thanks!
 

arno

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#4
Hi,

Do you have the aprons defined in XML somewhere? I have a little tool in ModelConverterX that can convert the aprons from XML code to these SCASM SurfaceType commands. That might be the quickest way to try it.
 
#5
Well, I did some searching and found a thread by Scott from last year that had some of the subject I'm looking at running through it. However, the last person to post (jvile), had this observation:
My problem now is SP2 and scasm runways are not compatible in certain parts of the world. What works in Atlanta does not work AT EHAM and the scasm runway brings FSX/SP2 to its knees in FPS due to file corruption with surrounding ground textures.
This sounds very much like what I would probably be looking at to harden the surface and since I am running FSX/SP2/Accel. It may not work.
 
#6
Hi,
Do you have the aprons defined in XML somewhere? I have a little tool in ModelConverterX that can convert the aprons from XML code to these SCASM SurfaceType commands. That might be the quickest way to try it.
Not really Arno,
Here's what I have, and actually how my photoreal airports are constructed. I remove the original Airport Boundary with a small exclude. I do any color corrections, retouching, blends, water maps, night maps, etc on the image and then compile in SBuilderX. I add a flatten, normally to the areas covered by the parking apron, rwy's and taxiways. I load the photo bgl, the flatten bgl and the exclude bgl and check to be sure the color and blends look correct. I bring the AFCAD into AFX and remove any taxiways or parking ramps because those never match the photo. I readjust the rwy to match the photo positioning (never the other way around). once the rwy is set I start adding scenery objects and run the Annotator to populate the area with autogen. Once the objects are complete and the autogen is sufficient, I'm done.

With Grass or dirt rwys, hardening is not a problem obviously, but an asphalt or concrete rwy shouldn't have dirt and stones flying up when you land or taxi. Normally what I do is go back to AFX and with it sync'd to the sim, I redraw the taxiways and parking ramps to match the photo image. That gives me a nice hard surface, but looks like hell over top of a nice hi-res image, lol. That's why (and I know it can be done somehow) I'm trying to figure a way to make the photoimage areas of the taxiways like concrete but retain the markings from the image.
 

arno

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#7
Hi,

The technique I propose is not the same as SCASM runways, so it might not give the same problems in FSX SP2. I did not find big trouble when I used it.

What I would try is draw those aprons and then make sure you get the BGLComp XML source file of the airport (I am not sure if AFX can save that, I think you might have to use a decompiler to get it). After that you run the XML file through the special tool in ModelConverterX and this will give you a SCA source where your apron areas will be hard. After this you can remove them from the AFX BGL again. Then it should work.

Btw, are you sure your photos are placed accurately, else it is quite tricky to adjust your runway position to the photo.
 
#8
Ok, thanks Arno. Most of that is over my head. . .new stuff always is, lol. I guess I have stayed in the simplistic world rather than venturing into the complex one where compilers/decompilers and scasm/XML code and such are common place but I guess if I'm going to accomplish what I want, I'll have to take the plunge and start reading up on it because I wouldn't have the foggiest how to even begin.

As for the rwy positioning, I've never done it any other way really and to be quite honest, repositioning the image to match an AFCAD never entered my mind. Once I started using photoimages for the ground textures, my mindset was and still is that nothing is more precise than a satellite image. Repositioning a rwy takes less than a few minutes to do and I'm moving on to something else.
Thanks for the assistance!!
 
#9
I may have found a simple solution to this. In AFX, (and possibly other programs like that) I can assign an "apron path". I draw a taxi link in all the taxiways around the airport, then select and change them all to apron paths. It still gives the AI traffic a link to follow, it has the properties of the taxi link but it's invisible, so I have a hardened taxiway that allows the unique qualities of the photoimage to display.
 
#10
Hi Ed:

Do you now have the desired "Effect" displayed at the aircraft wheels when they roll over the aprons you made (the textures for which are, for all practical purposes, "invisible" beneath the custom photoreal texures) ?


I'd like to understand this option better as well, so your feedback on this would be appreciated. :)


Thanks,

GaryGB
 
#11
Hi Arno:

I'd like to better understand this option of processing the FS Airport XML code via ModelConverterX to output and tweak the code you referred to above. ;)


Would you please be so kind as to describe it in detail here ? :rolleyes:


I may have an application for this in both airport and other terrain scenery projects where I'd like to:

1.) Render the custom photoreal ground texture with a "hardened" attribute

2.) Render "ground roll" Effects displayed at aircraft wheels appropriate to custom photoreal imagery.


Also, I am wondering if a water ramp were to be created with a sloped flatten, and "mesh-clinging" custom photoreal ground textures are draped over the sloped flatten (treated as a part of the local FS terrain mesh), would this tweak allow retaining the "hardened" surface attribute of the water ramp while also displaying an appropriate change of "ground roll" Effect at aircraft wheels when they transition to / from land / water ? :confused:


More specifically:

1.) Can this tweak be applied to just (1) LOD-sized tile of the custom photoreal ground textures, or does the entire custom landclass BGL inherit that attribute ?

2.) If this tweak is applied, does it prevent the normal change of "ground roll" Effect at aircraft wheels when they transition to / from land / water ?

3.) Does applying this tweak to custom photoreal ground textures interfere with ability to render autogen from locally associated custom AGN files ?


Thanks for any further explanation you'd be willing to share on this special procedure ! :)


Regards,

GaryGB
 
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#12
Hi Ed:

Do you now have the desired "Effect" displayed at the aircraft wheels when they roll over the aprons you made (the textures for which are, for all practical purposes, "invisible" beneath the custom photoreal texures) ?

I'd like to understand this option better as well, so your feedback on this would be appreciated. :)

Thanks,
GaryGB
Hi Gary,

Well, two things I was trying to eliminate in the process were:
1) The bouncing effect inherent with an aircraft taxiing over uneven ground (despite being on what should be a solid platform (taxiway))
2) The "effect" you speak of which in the case of taxiing on grass or dirt, is the constant dirt and dust effect.

I can say, that on the small strip of ramp area that I applied the apron path to, both problems were solved, no bouncing and no dirt or rocks being kicked about. I did not apply any adverse weather to see if the water spray effect was present, however, I suspect it will show as well.

What I wish I understood, was what the properties of the "apron path" are and how that could be applied, if at all, to an area poly. Basically taking the flatten I did for Woodford and converting that to apply the characteristics of the apron path. In effect applying an invisible hardening layer over the photoimage.
 

arno

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#15
Hi Gary,

1.) Can this tweak be applied to just (1) LOD-sized tile of the custom photoreal ground textures, or does the entire custom landclass BGL inherit that attribute ?
It is done for the aprons defined in the XML code, so it has no relation with the terrain scenery at all. Basically you are defining a polygon and inside that a command is used to alter the surface type.

I think the technique would only work on flat terrain, but I would have to double check that.

2.) If this tweak is applied, does it prevent the normal change of "ground roll" Effect at aircraft wheels when they transition to / from land / water ?
It alters the type of surface and in that sense also the effect (so no dirt). What would happen with water I am not sure, I never placed this command in the water, only used it at airports.

3.) Does applying this tweak to custom photoreal ground textures interfere with ability to render autogen from locally associated custom AGN files ?
I don't think so, but I would have to check. Like I said I used it only on airports before.
 
#16
Hi Ed:

Thanks for your reply and information on the "Apron Path" Link; sorry I did not initially acknowledge the applicability of that airport object type in the context of this discussion, as AFX refers to these objects as "Apron Links" (Page 18 in the AFX Manual).

Additionally, I had previously assumed one could properly address such matters as you described in your opening post for runway visibility ...via the use of "invisible runways" in the airport file underneath the photoreal airport background.


Apparently FSX SP1 and SDK SP1A restored support for FS8-style "invisible" runways, that IIRC was previously possible in FS8 and FS9

http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/esp/cc789354.aspx


IIUC, this most often is done by making runways at the minimum width of 1 Meter, which does not allow the runway texture to be displayed by FS.


I also got the impression (apparently incorrectly, and colored by my own "wishful thinking" :p ) from a cursory initial read of Arnos reply, that if "special tweaks" could alter "ground roll" Effect behavior of pilot-controlled aircraft on photoreal imagery ground textures (as a form of mesh-clinging custom land class ...and therefore "terrain scenery") superimposed on underlying airport objects via changing XML attributes of those airport objects, there might also be a way to tweak the behavior of photoreal ground textures if draped over non-flat terrain such as a water ramp.

However, I suppose we may find that FS airport objects are always intended to be flat, so I am not certain there is a way to put an Apron Path or Taxiway Link on sloping terrain. :rolleyes:



That subject brings us to the other part of your question in regards to airport taxiways. ;)


I tend to assume most developers of FS airports would likely set them up for AI with Apron Paths and Taxi links (even though I don't use AI myself very often, if at all).


But it is apparent there are a number of ways folks might opt to design and code their airports to deal with making airport objects "invisible" while still having an impact on airport display and function as Jim Vile explains here:

http://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/showthread.php?t=4015

http://www.simforums.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=22204&PID=126030


...And an important caveat Jim also points out about moving airports in general:

http://www.simforums.com/forums/forum_posts.asp?TID=14884&PN=1



Regarding the airport "Apron" tweak Arno mentioned:

I'm not sure what exactly is involved in the XML code tweak alluded to by Arno using ModelConverterX that can "convert the aprons from XML code to these SCASM Surface Type commands" by a process that requires one to "run the XML file through the special tool in ModelConverterX and this will give you a SCA source where your apron areas will be hard."

IIUC, the result is not the same as SCASM runways and is not vulnerable to the performance hit SCASM "runway" code incurs in FSX SP2, but instead specifically imparts a "hard" attribute to the airport Apron Path which IIRC, is treated as form of Taxiway ? :confused:


So IIRC, one would be removing that particular Apron area from the airport Apron XML code otherwise being rendered by FS.

Thus, via the tweaked SCA intermediate file, that airport Apron area in question will then be rendered in FS via a SCASM compiled BGL ...instead of via XML code compiled by FSX SP2 SDK BGLComp (or the semi-proprietary run time compiler in AFX ...after one re-opens and saves the re-compiled XML airport in AFX).


Perhaps Arno could be so kind as to explain this process in further detail when he gets a chance ? :teacher:


BTW: I believe Arno meant that if one were to use an airport object (such as a runway) created via SCASM, one might find that it is more challenging to move it in the SCASM code form than it would otherwise have been in the XML code form; I presume this same caveat might apply to the Apron Path as well. :spushpin:

So one might infer he was advising one to be certain all airport objects are positioned where they are wanted before processing any of that airport's code via the ModelConverterX method (that ends up going through SCASM code intermediates before compiled into the BGL to be used at the airport).

No doubt your airport objects are positioned where they are wanted, as they are aligned with properly geo-positioned aerial imagery used for the airport background.


Like you, I would like to better understand "what the properties of the "apron path" are and how that could be applied, if at all, to an area poly".

And I too, wonder if one could alter the attribute of photoreal airport backgrounds so that one might (via a non-airport vector terrain poly) be... "In effect applying an invisible hardening layer over the photoimage".



Alas, so much to learn... so little time ! :banghead:


Hope this helps ! :)

GaryGB
 
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arno

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#17
Hi,

IIUC, the result is not the same as SCASM runways and is not vulnerable to the performance hit SCASM "runway" code incurs in FSX SP2, but instead specifically imparts a "hard" attribute to the airport Apron Path which IIRC, is treated as form of Taxiway ? :confused:


So IIRC, one would be removing that particular Apron area from the airport Apron XML code otherwise being rendered by FS.
This SCASM SurfaceType code has nothing to do with aprons or taxiway paths. It is old-style code that tells the scenery engine if something is smooth or not and it does not show anything visually.

So I am using the XML aprons as input and these are converted to such code to make sure the area they cover is smooth. After that you can remove the XML aprons from the file, since you don't want to see them. And the SCASM code you made will make sure the area is still smooth when you taxi over it.

BTW: I believe Arno meant that if one were to use an airport object (such as a runway) created via SCASM, one might find that it is more challenging to move it in the SCASM code form than it would otherwise have been in the XML code form; I presume this same caveat might apply to the Apron Path as well. :spushpin:
Nope, I don't think I meant that. When I was talking about moving I was referring to which source you believe more. The default runway or your photo background. Only if I would know for sure that the photo was correctly geo-referenced I would believe it more than the default runway. In other code I would probably try to place the photo more accurately, instead of moving the runway to match the photo.
 
#18
Hi George:

Thanks for your reply and screenies showing what IIUC are photoreal land textures blending into default FSX water "on top of" underwater shoreline textures.


May I please ask the following of you and others here having expertise with photoreal scenery which incorporates such "blend masks" ? ;)


This assumes an airport with a water ramp for amphibians (formed from sloped flattens "underneath" the superimposed custom photoreal land class terrain textures).

Does the "ground roll" Effect behavior of pilot-controlled aircraft on photoreal imagery ground textures change to water spray under amphibious aircraft wheels as soon as that aircraft contacts the water body vector poly area, or does it occur farther out into the water area after the "blended" photoreal imagery has faded away entirely ?


I suspect that although a water body vector poly is transparent in the area of the blend so that the photoreal imagery shows "underneath" the water, the contact of the aircraft wheel on that vector poly still immediately changes the displayed "ground roll" Effect behavior of the aircraft.


So, I'm wondering if one can make a fully "invisible" transparent terrain vector poly (or a custom photoreal land class layer) that "blends" with FSX default landclass scenery in such a way that one can change the "ground roll" Effect behavior of pilot-controlled aircraft (and if possible, AI aircraft too), to a "different" attribute than would otherwise have been produced if the aircraft were making direct contact with the FSX default terrain ? :confused:

In this case one would be trying to produce aircraft "ground roll" Effect behavior associated with "paved" surfaces... rather than dirt or water.

This would be in lieu of using airport "invisible" runways or Apron Links etc. (which IIRC, can only be utilized on flat surfaces), and is instead intended to control "ground roll" Effect behavior of aircraft on sloped flatten terrain surfaces.


Additionally, I wonder if such a transparent vector polygon with non-water attributes either blended with, or placed as a "hole" in, default FSX water overlying a water ramp could be capable of stopping aircraft from suddenly "dropping" down to their lower "floating" water contact point positions, or "bouncing" up from same onto the shore level... so one could make a smooth, powered transition on the water ramp surface to /from the FSX default water there.


Thanks for any insights you and others might share on this. :)

GaryGB
 
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#19
Hi Arno:

Thanks for your clarifications as I attempt to better understand the topic, and for correcting my mis-interpretation of your statements regarding positioning of aerial imagery and airport objects. :)


PS: Is there any additional information to be had somewhere at FSDeveloper (via wiki or forum thread etc.) on the described ModelConverterX tweak that can "convert the aprons from XML code to these SCASM Surface Type commands" by a process that requires one to "run the XML file through the special tool in ModelConverterX and this will give you a SCA source where your apron areas will be hard." ? :confused:


I now see the ModelConverterX wiki (...this seems to also be the manual) has only this to say about that feature:

"XML Apron to SurfaceType converter brings up a new dialog that allows you to convert the aprons of a BGLComp XML airport file into a SCASM file containing SurfaceType commands for these aprons. This can be useful if you want to delete your aprons from the XML to see an aerial image below, but still want aprons that are smooth. Without such code the aircraft will bump around and show dust behind the wheels"



Regards.

GaryGB
 
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arno

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#20
Hi,

PS: Is there any additional information to be had somewhere at FSDeveloper (via wiki or forum thread etc.) on the described ModelConverterX tweak that can "convert the aprons from XML code to these SCASM Surface Type commands" by a process that requires one to "run the XML file through the special tool in ModelConverterX and this will give you a SCA source where your apron areas will be hard." ? :confused:

I am afraid it is a largely undocumented feature as you have found out :).

But it is not more complex then I explained in the previous posts. Using this feature would work like this:

  1. Draw aprons at the areas you want to be smooth, can be done with any tool that can save to the BGLComp XML format (or can be decompiled into that)
  2. Start up the conversion tool in ModelConverterX
  3. Select the XML file that contains the aprons, select where to save the SCASM file
  4. Compile the SCASM file into a BGL file and place in your scenery folder
  5. Make sure to remove the aprons again from the XML code or at least don't load the BGL that contains them. They have only been drawn to generate the SCASM code, not to be used in your scenery

That's all!
 
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