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Blender LOD instructions?

I've been doing a lot of searching on this website for instructions on how to properly do LOD's and not having any joy yet! Is the information I need piecemealed throughout this forum or is there a step by step procedure somewhere?

I'm creating some very detailed hangars and other buildings and need to implement LOD's in them. I understand why LOD's are necessary, and know how to create the models. For me personally, there is a disconnect somewhere and cannot quite figure how to perform this LOD procedure from start to finish with ALL of the required steps, things enabled, (export automations?) and named items and WHY you name them that.

In the "New Aircraft Procedures" (Microsoft), it lists the LOD names(?). What significance do the numbers have? (i.e. LOD_400, LOD_150...) Does this relate to the distance from your viewpoint that the LOD takes effect? Can you use any numbers? Or just the ones in the list? Do you HAVE to use all of them? Do you HAVE to have an LOD_5?

If someone would please point me in the right direction I would appreciate it and the procedure itself (if one exists) may answer a lot of my questions. Again, a step by step procedure or something similar would be greatly appreciated. I can follow directions, I just have a hard time assembling bits and pieces of instructions from many different threads.

Thanks!

TB2
 
Duhh. Sorry about that

FSX, P3D (4&5) and MSFS.

Using Blender 2.9 and “your” exporter

I’ve successfully exported content into FSX/P3D so I’m experienced with that.
 

Pyscen

Resource contributor
Sorry, about that! If you have created LOD for FSX/ P3D, how about sharing? For others that don't know.

For MSFS, I'm not sure, since I believe has changed a couple of times because the SDK. If I remember correctly, Vitus mentioned it in the beginnings of the toolset for MSFS.
 
Thanks Doug but I’ve not created any LOD for FSX / P3D, I’m asking how to do it! I’ve seen piecemeal tidbits here and there suggesting some inputs, and “they” seem to respond favorably, meaning “they” achieved something, but again, I need a step-by-step approach on how to do it. It’s time consuming to hit and miss and experiment only to find out it still isn’t working.

If anyone else out there could share, I (we?) would certainly appreciate it!

Thanks!
 

Pyscen

Resource contributor
Sorry, for the delay once again.

"In the "New Aircraft Procedures" (Microsoft), it lists the LOD names(?). What significance do the numbers have? (i.e. LOD_400, LOD_150...) Does this relate to the distance from your viewpoint that the LOD takes effect? Can you use any numbers? Or just the ones on the list? Do you HAVE to use all of them? Do you HAVE to have a LOD_5?"

First, I haven't done anything with MSFS because in "my opinion" it's not worth my time until "they" complete the SDK (without any errors). The aircraft parameters for LOD aren't the same as for scenery. For aircraft, generally speaking, uses LOD_450, LOD_150, etc. For scenery, at least for me, represents more like a percentage, such as LOD_100, being at 100% of the model will show at close range, within a mile. My answers aren't scientific by any means.

You asked if all numbers need to be used?

Within MSFS, I believe that the answer is "yes" (such as LOD_0, LOD_1, etc. I believe that is correct for MSFS). I could be wrong in this.

For FSX, FSX-SE, and P3D, the answer is "no". Generally, the LOD_100 and LOD_0 need to be used. Anything in between is up to the developer's discretion (usually depending on the importance of the model, along with the size of it). In most cases though, there is only one additional LOD, LOD_40. Of course, the more a model has (for LOD), the more memory the model will use.

For Blender, I can't remember how they were handled within the old toolset (I think they were handled in sections within the same file structure/ model using an "empty" for each LOD). Since v2.80+, I believe they are separated by "scene collections" (I believe it's handled the same way for MSFS, only the numbering is handled differently.) I haven't tested this but will try doing so soon.
 
Flying Theston has a pretty clear tutorial for using Blender to create scenery models with multiple LODs for use in MSFS 2020 here:


The short answer is that each LOD goes in a separate Collection in Blender, named as follows: x00, x01, x02, etc., in declining order of detail (x00 is the most detailed). When you export from Blender using Blender2MSFS, make sure that you select "Batch export LODs", which should produce a single XML file for the whole model, plus a GTLF file and a BIN file for each LOD. Just follow the directions in the video about where to store these files in your project. In the XML file, you can edit the MinSize line for each LOD except the one with the least detail. I am not sure what the units are for the MinSize, but I am speculating that they are somehow related to the displayed size of the object in the Sim in pixels. The default values in the XML file seem a bit low, which could cause your more detailed models to display a bit early. But that is probably better than having them display too late. So if in doubt, you might just leave the MinSize values at their default values.

P.S. Sometimes Blender2MSFS may only produce a single BIN file rather than one BIN file for each LOD. This won't compile properly in MSFS. So you might have to go back and re-export, making sure that you have selected all of the LODs first before starting the export.
 
Hmmm, Ok, thanks for all of the info, but, I need information / tutorial on P3D at the moment. As you stated above, I'm also not doing anything with MSFS, (including purchasing it) until "they" get most of the issues worked out.


TB2
 
Thank you for your efforts. I truly wasn’t expecting you to do everything, but was (still) hoping that someone who has gone through this would pitch in. I really don’t know why everything is so piecemeal when it comes to content creation and placement. I have found excellent articles and videos throughout these projects, but they all lack something that I discover later that should or could be done. I’m so saturated with learning, creating, placing that I don’t have time or experience making my own tutorials, but perhaps I should consider it. 🤔
 

hairyspin

Resource contributor
@TBryson2, things have always been piecemeal ... but the MSFS sdk assumes like all its predecessors that you already know how to model, map, animate etc. I don't use Blender and I built aircraft so the following link won't step you through building/scenery LODs, but I hope it gives you some ideas of what's involved:–

 
P.S. Sometimes Blender2MSFS may only produce a single BIN file rather than one BIN file for each LOD. This won't compile properly in MSFS. So you might have to go back and re-export, making sure that you have selected all of the LODs first before starting the export.
There's something to this. I've been using Blender2MSFS 40 for a long time now with single or multiple objects, but without using the LOD batch export. It has been flawless. Now that I've started making lower LODs, I've had to use the batch export to get a proper .xml file and ID. I tried to get a better handle on the minsize parameter by making three simple icospheres in Blender (2.83), putting a different MSFS simple color on each and adding them in the middle of KLGA's Rwy 31 just for kicks. Once, and only once, did this work. I was able to zoom out from the three spheres and see the change point quite clearly. I should mention that the one time it did work was not my first export and build. I then kept getting various errors saying that the compiler got into trouble with the LOD01 level. (There were three levels for starters.)
OK, I took the six files, a .bin and a .gltf, at each level and looked at them in a .gltf viewer on-line (I used this one: https://gltf-viewer.donmccurdy.com/). The LOD00 always showed up fine, but the other two gave the error "r is undefined". I did this a lot of times with different sets of objects.
Knowing that the LOD00 files were "OK", I then copied the LOD00 .bin and .gltf, pasted them back in to the set, renamed them LOD01, deleted the original LOD01 files, and repeated this for the LOD02 files. The build was flawless! They went onto the runway at LGA without a hitch.
Now I'm going to go back and change the colors separately, compile them separately, and substitute the different colored sphere .bin and .gltf files for the "defective" ones. Something tells me my problem is with Blender2MSFS. If so, I hope to help them fix it with info from these experiments. It's a great add-on, and I fully understand the beta status.
More later.
Anybody know more on this subject? Trust me: the straightforward original batch LOD export worked once!
 
Assuming you have three LODS, if you select all three of the LOD Collections and export with "Batch Export LODs" turned ON, it should create a working XML file, which you can then edit to adjust the MinSize for each LOD. If you don't get three GLTF and three BIN files initially, you can go back and export each LOD/Collection separately with "Batch Export LODs" turned OFF. This should not overwrite your existing XML file, and once you have all seven files in place it should compile properly in MSFS.
 
Assuming you have three LODS, if you select all three of the LOD Collections and export with "Batch Export LODs" turned ON, it should create a working XML file, which you can then edit to adjust the MinSize for each LOD. If you don't get three GLTF and three BIN files initially, you can go back and export each LOD/Collection separately with "Batch Export LODs" turned OFF. This should not overwrite your existing XML file, and once you have all seven files in place it should compile properly in MSFS.
Yes, that works! Many, many thanks. I'll keep experimenting and post anything new I find. Any exports above the 00 level are indeed corrupt, though. I've subsequently found others who have reported that this failure of the Batch Export of LODs is indeed a bug. Your solution is much simpler than mine. Hope they have time to fix this soon, though.
Update: Exporting with the Batch Export LODs turned on but with the Include boxes unchecked will generate the .xml file properly, and then you can turn off Batch Export and turn the Includes on - then select and export each LOD model separately. I just click the file icon to set the file name field.
 
Yes, that works! Many, many thanks. I'll keep experimenting and post anything new I find. Any exports above the 00 level are indeed corrupt, though. I've subsequently found others who have reported that this failure of the Batch Export of LODs is indeed a bug. Your solution is much simpler than mine. Hope they have time to fix this soon, though.
Update: Exporting with the Batch Export LODs turned on but with the Include boxes unchecked will generate the .xml file properly, and then you can turn off Batch Export and turn the Includes on - then select and export each LOD model separately. I just click the file icon to set the file name field.
Yes, it's been broken for ages. Looks like the Blender2MSFS is no longer maintained, as there has been no updates since October I think, and the main support thread is locked. I use the same workaround, but it's annoying. I wish someone would fix it. I'm not familiar with python to attempt that.
 
Looks like the Blender2MSFS is no longer maintained
Yes, I don't have news. Vitus send me a beta 0.40.2 by PM in november, to correct a problem when exporting models with detailled textures. The problem is solved.
I reply many times to him, but he never answer. I hope he don't have problem.


More simple workaround is to export first with batch LOD activated, with all LODs selected, and then, export LOD01, LOD02 and more separatly with Batch inactivated.
The LOD00 is alway correct. There is only the others Lods to re-export.
One thing more. Don't forget to to CTRL-A in blender before exporting to avoid problems of incorrect distance of lod show.

Now, in DEV-mode in FS2020. we can see when LOD are changing with the size showed. More the "building" created in blender is big, more the LOD00 must be bigger.
 
Yes, I don't have news. Vitus send me a beta 0.40.2 by PM in november, to correct a problem when exporting models with detailled textures. The problem is solved.
I reply many times to him, but he never answer. I hope he don't have problem.

I sent Vitus a bunch of Euros two days ago via PayPal with a thank you for the toolkit. Indeed, there is a problem with 40 exporting textures along with albedo tints. It's got a work around here: https://www.fsdeveloper.com/forum/threads/blender2msfs-limitation-color-multipliers.450272/.
That may be what he fixed in the 0.40.2 he sent you. I've been exploring the workaround, and the link will explain. It is a problem when combining a generic texture like a gray scale trim sheet and then trying to use the albedo tint to color it properly. This workaround is good, but it involves editing the node tree. Could you ask Vitus, if you ever contact him, whether you could share this version with us, please.
 
Thank for this information.
The problem of albedo_tints is not corrected in my version of Blender2msfs. I already try to change it then i wanted to darkness a model but it's also don't work.
I red the post you links an note the workaround whith the color 2. Good idea.

I agree to share my version if, in some time, Vitus dasn't reply to my messages.

To RomanDesign. Thanks a lot for your message about Parallax rooms. I was trying since many hours in a skyscrapper and nothing was shown in the simulator. Whith your informations, i was able to see something behing the glass. Just more time to adjust effect.
 
The problem of albedo_tints is not corrected in my version of Blender2msfs. I already try to change it then i wanted to darkness a model but it's also don't work.
I red the post you links an note the workaround whith the color 2. Good idea.
I just finished a complicated New York City bridge that required the albedo tint method using gray scale trim sheets and tinting to the "dried mustard" color the actual bridge is painted. I also used your variation on the LOD export with great success. Thank you. I am studying the actual meaning of the LOD values in the .xml file. In each different LOD model I placed a large color coded cube above the model - large enough that I can see it from far. I then use the Window->Ruler device to measure the distance to the model as I move away.
Yes, I would like to try the 0.40.2 beta, but only if Vitus agrees.
I, too, hope he is well in this pandemic.
 
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