AeroScenery Beta - Help With Testing Required

  • Will USGS tiles allow us to share the converted ttc files? If so, we'll need an easy way to crowd-source the conversion/upload process and an easy way to select those converted files and download them for FS2 installation. Same possibility for cultivation toc files.


    This download/conversion process probably takes ~1 hour per tile (level 9) or 2 hours if you include elevation & cultivation but a USGS option with already-converted ttc files would bring that down to minutes for a new FS2 customer.


    Then we could move on to the next challenge - tall city buildings or AeroCityScenery :)

  • Will USGS tiles allow us to share the converted ttc files?

    Had a quick look on the USGS site and all it says is that it is provided free of charge. They also talk about sharing but this seems geared more towards sharing data with them, rather than sharing data from them.


    They also state :-


    "It is critical that our information be protected from uninvited disclosure or intentional corruption, and that our systems are secured against external attack to the maximum extent possible. This memorandum established guidance that will help assure that our contractors perform in a manner consistent with DOI's security needs and mandates.


    IT security must be incorporated into all phases of program planning and execution, from budgeting to close-out. The cognizant Program Manager or IT System Owner has primary responsibility to assure that contractors are aware of and comply with the DOI IT Security Program."


    If IPACS sourced their map and elevation data from USGS, then they may already have the answer to your question.

    Did a bit of testing to see if download image levels have any benefit in FS2. While level 20 took longer than level 19, the resulting level 15 images showed no improvement. So all level 20 does is eat up your HDD space, increase your download times and take longer to produce the ttc files. The area used was New Orleans as I figured a populated area in the USA would have the best chance of having higher level imagery. I'll compare the other levels after the AeroScenery update.


    Image download level - 19

    Map level 15

    Images downloaded - 1122

    MB downloaded - 4.4mb

    Total HDD space used - 278mb


    Image download level - 20

    Map level 15

    Images downloaded - 4290

    MB downloaded - 16.7mb

    Total HDD space used - 869mb


    19 vs 20 - zoomed out


    19 vs 20 - zoomed in


    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

  • I think the image you showed me was from the stitched image file. That doesn't equate to better quality in FS2 as GeoConvert compresses the image. My images were of the converted files ready for FS2.


    Below are the 2 source images that generated the FS2 tiles. Once again 19 on the left and 20 on the right. In my post above the FS2 tiles showed no difference between source image quality or 19 and 20. However in the source image data below used to generate those tiles, there is a noticeable difference between 19 and 20. Its really what appears in FS2 that is important.


    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

    Edited once, last by crispy136 ().

  • I am currently doing some comparisons of what gives the best image quality in FS2. Looks like image download level 20 need never be used. And it could be we are using download images way too detailed for the various levels in FS2. Below are few shots of a GeoConvert level 9 run at both 15 and 16 download image quality. Once again source images are different but the output is not. Hopefully after a few extracts and comparisons I'll be able to work out what the max download image quality is required for a particular GeoConvert level. Once we know that then we might be able to create larger areas in less time.


    Its the stats for the level 9/11 grids that are most interesting:-

    - level 15 quality downloaded 4225 images and required 782mb of disk space (804mb free required)

    - level 16 quality downloaded 16641 images and required 2606mb of disk space (2697mb free required) and all this for no improvement in FS2.


    In both cases both the output ttf files were about 35mb. Don't forget a level 9 tiles is only 30nm x 30nm, relatively small in the FS2 world. So extrapolate that out for the HD space required for a bigger area and you'll see that using the optimal download image quality becomes important. While storage is cheap, all that has to move through your PC memory as its created.


    FS2 level 11 tiles - 15 on left 16 on right



    Stitched source files - 15 on left 16 on right


    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

  • (...) Looks like image download level 20 need never be used. And it could be we are using download images way too detailed for the various levels in FS2. Below are few shots of a GeoConvert level 9 run at both 15 and 16 download image quality. (...)

    It is obvious that converting images in say approx 5m/pixel (AFS2 Level 12) won't give better resolution if the source images are 20cm/pixel or 1m/pixel.


    What you have to take into account however is what is featured on the source image itself: orthophotos usually come from different databases depending on the zoom level.


    The low res images you may be tempted to choose for Level 9-only scenery have good chances to be issued from satellite pictures, while higher zoom level pictures are generally issued from aerial pictures campaigns.


    Depending on the place, you may see the difference when zooming in and out in Google, Bing, Virtual Earth, etc.


    So, if you only intend to cover a large place in a very low but fast and light quality like Level 9, it's ok to use low resolution source files (just ensure your source is still slightly better than the end resolution).


    If you intend to cover a place with variable resolution, it should be all based on the same source resolution, unless you are pretty confident that the source images show the same thing whatever the resolution.


    Otherwise, you will have oddities when overflying the zone, with suddenly a new road popping up where there was none, or ugly colour changes below your aircraft.


    End resolution is not the sole parameter.


    Cheers

    Antoine

    Config : i7 6900K - 20MB currently set at 4.00GHz, Cooling Noctua NH-U14S, Motherboard ASUS Rampage V Extreme U3.1, RAM HyperX Savage Black Edition 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz, Graphic Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 8GB, Power supply Corsair RM Series 850W, Windows 10 64 bit.

    Edited 3 times, last by Trespassers ().

  • I am currently doing some comparisons of what gives the best image quality in FS2. Looks like image download level 20 need never be used. And it could be we are using download images way too detailed for the various levels in FS2.

    Hi Chris,


    This is part of the reason why I posted those graphs of AeroFly tile resolution vs. latitude yesterday in this same thread. When we create orthoscenery in AeroFly, there are 2 values of spatial resolution that matter: the spatial resolution of your downloaded imagery (aka the 'zoom level' in Nick's tool), and the spatial resolution of the AeroFly tile level you're converting it to (even with a given tile level, this still varies a bit with the latitude of the tile--again, see those plots I posted).


    I'm curious what the actual source imagery resolution was in your experiments above. If there is something of a known size in one of your original downloaded images, you can figure this out yourself by seeing how many pixels it spans, and then divide the real size of the object by the number of pixels. Regardless of how you get to it, every downloaded image you've got has a certain characteristic meter per pixel (m/pixel) spatial resolution.


    If those plots I posted are correct (and I believe they are unless someone from IPACS pipes in and says otherwise), then at the equator a level 15 AeroFly tile has a spatial resolution of 0.6m/pixel, and at +/-45 degrees latitude it has a resolution of 0.42m/pixel. If your downloaded imagery that you converted was a lot better than that --say 0.25 m/pixel, then it's not surprising you saw no difference when compared to converted scenery that started with a lower 'zoom level' (again, zoom level is actually spatial resolution).

    To summarize: if you use downloaded imagery that is a lot better in spatial resolution than the corresponding spatial resolution of the AeroFly tiles you're converting it to, you are wasting your time and drive space.

    Lastly, there is one additional twist here. This twist applied to FSET and probably applies to Nick's tool as well: with certain imagery sources, when you get to the highest 'zoom levels', they don't actually increase in true resolved spatial resolution. They are literally just the same imagery that has been stretched over more pixels, which technically gives them a "better" spatial resolution (since the imagery has less real-world length per pixel), but in terms of actual resolved detail it's no better than the step before it. I know for sure this was true with the Google server imagery in a number of locations -- you could download all the way up to a level of -2 in FSET, and it used up a ton of space, but the actual detail present in the -2 images (which should have been 0.25m/pixel) was no better than the -1 images, because the -2 images were the exact same image as -1 but stretched over twice as many pixels. In other words: a bigger picture, but no more detail, and a lot more download time & size. This is something you have to be careful of when downloading near the maximum quality levels because even though you're getting a bigger picture, that bigger picture might not contain any more detail than the step below it.

  • Just tried 0.5.

    Selected one tile, checked settings match recommendations from post.

    Processes got to 'Working on AFS Grid Square 1 of 1'. 'Generating AFS Metadata Files'

    Progress bar almost complete.

    Got the attached exception.


    Last log entry said:

    2018-07-27 19:47:18 (INFO) Writing AID file C:\Users\Name\Documents\AeroScenery\working\map_09_ec80_6c00\g\17-stitched\g_17_stitch_8_8.aid


    Many thanks Nick. Looking forward to using this tool.

  • Just tried 0.5.

    Got the attached exception.

    Hi Greg,


    Thanks for the bug report, I was able to replicate this in 0.5.


    In short I need to lock every setting in the UI until the generation process is done.


    If you re-run the "Generate TMC Files" and "Run GeoConvert" processes again, but don't touch the UI while it's running, it should work.


    (AeroScenery shouldn't let you change anything that breaks it of course, I'm not blaming the user here :))

  • Lastly, there is one additional twist here. This twist applied to FSET and probably applies to Nick's tool as well: with certain imagery sources, when you get to the highest 'zoom levels', they don't actually increase in true resolved spatial resolution.

    Yep I noticed this issue myself using Bing data. I first noticed in FSET as it cycles through the images as it downloads them. When I redid an area using a supposedly better quality I noticed that the images cycling through the screen were more grainy. It is likely also that some areas have higher quality images than others, even though both areas have the same download resolutions available. I found that in the area of Australia I was extracting, there was no quality difference between FSET levels 0 and -1, just bigger downloads.

    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

  • If you intend to cover a place with variable resolution, it should be all based on the same source resolution, unless you are pretty confident that the source images show the same thing whatever the resolution.

    That's a good point. But even using one image quality source you still get some quite noticeable imagery contrasts from place to place. This is just the limitation of using available imagery.


    It seems that when using tool like AeroScenery, or FSET for that matter, you want to minimise your effort while maximising your quality of output. What I want form FS2 scenery is less detailed imagery everywhere for flying above 5,000ft, then more detailed as you near an airport area and the finally the most detailed imagery when you are on final approach. I thought those 3 requirements neatly dovetailed with GeoConvert level groups of levels 9 &11, levels 12&13 and levels 14 &15. You would also use an image source that maximises quality for the higher level of the pair and then let GeoConvert dumb it down for the lower level of the pair.


    I think we will always have to live with the possibility of levels 9 & 11 will sometimes have different textures to others, as using imagery quality higher than level 15 simply generates huge amounts of data for little benefit. However if we can find a quality sweet spot that would let us generate levels 12 to 15 using the same source data that would be a bonus, but I'm not confident this is possible. The beauty of AeroScenery is that anyone can generate all levels using one image quality source if the have the time and computer resources to do so.


    I understood AeroScenery is a tool for everyone, not just for the experts. In order to make it usable for those with less computer skills (and computer resources) we have to make it easy enough to be worthwhile. To do this we just need a set of rules we can apply to an "easy mode" in AeroScenery. This is what I was trying to achieve. However if that is not the purpose I still want to know the sweet spot for my own scenery design.


    So I still think FS2 final image quality is what should drive the image source quality levels used, but maybe we can do it for more levels at a time to avoid the problem you mentioned. I'll keep working on finding the sweet spot. For level 9 & 11, I already have found image quality level 15 is it, as you lose quality using level 14 but gain nothing using level 16 on level 11 FS2 grid. I happened to pick New Orleans for my testing and found no source image variations between 14, 15 or 16, but this may not be the case everywhere. I think we'll go crazy if we think about this too long.

    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

  • That's a good point. But even using one image quality source you still get some quite noticeable imagery contrasts from place to place. This is just the limitation of using available imagery.

    Exactly ! all you can do to it is edit and balance your gathered orthopohotos before to geoconvert them.

    That's the real hard job of scenery making : preparing the material before geoconverting.

    All the rest is pretty much automated.


    What I want form FS2 scenery is less detailed imagery everywhere for flying above 5,000ft, then more detailed as you near an airport area and the finally the most detailed imagery when you are on final approach. I thought those 3 requirements neatly dovetailed with GeoConvert level groups of levels 9 &11, levels 12&13 and levels 14 &15. You would also use an image source that maximises quality for the higher level of the pair and then let GeoConvert dumb it down for the lower level of the pair.


    Yes, except that at 5'000ft AGL you wouldn't go any lower than AFS2 Level 11 or 12.

    Level 9 is ok seen from a cruising liner at FL300+, but not for VFR.


    TB HDs are cheap ;)


    Cheers

    Antoine

    Config : i7 6900K - 20MB currently set at 4.00GHz, Cooling Noctua NH-U14S, Motherboard ASUS Rampage V Extreme U3.1, RAM HyperX Savage Black Edition 16GB DDR4 3000 MHz, Graphic Card Gigabyte GeForce GTX 1080 8GB, Power supply Corsair RM Series 850W, Windows 10 64 bit.

  • Level 9 is ok seen from a cruising liner at FL300+, but not for VFR.

    If you create level 9 and 11 together using best image quality for level 11 area, you would see level 11 imagery below you. Level 11 tiles become visible at 40nm, so level 9 detail is only visible in the distance. At FL300 you would still be seeing level 11 tiles within 40nm. I have found that even level 15 tiles, if you have enough of them, are visible at FL600, as tile draw distance is not affected by altitude. You just have to be looking straight down. I did a quick test with level 9 & 11 scenery by itself and your right, it is not at its best under 3,000ft. It gets better as you climb and at 5,000ft is acceptably realistic. So if you wanted to do VFR flying below 5,000ft I guess you would need to create the area with a minimum of level 12/13 and depending how low you want to go, maybe even level 14. I not a pilot just a simmer, so have no real world experience of VFR.

    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970

  • I’m thinking we will be having a totally different conversation or at least totally different results once we have USGS hd scenery available for testing. IPACS may reduce the quality of the scenery when looking at it in FS2 but, the quality of the base images are far superior to most of the Bing and Google free images in the U.S.


    Regards,

    Ray

  • Hello,



    I followed the instructions for installing Aeroscenery but the process does not finished and I do not get all the ttc files. What can be my mistake ?

    Two possibilities:


    1) In settings, GeoConvert tab, you might have Write Images With Masks set to "No". If so, try it on "Yes" (There's a known bug in 0.5 where masks will be created when they don't need to be)


    2) GeoConvert does this sometimes. I've experienced it myself. It just gets "stuck" and fails to generate all the files you expect. Try it again and hope for the best.


    Above the AeroScenery map, click the "Open Folder" button. Take a look at the stitched images folder. Make sure everything you expect is in there. If it is, it's a GeoConvert issue.

  • Hi Nick, This sort of problem is definitely of GeoConvert feature. Try a different tile at the same settings and it works. Try a different zoom level and the same tile and it works. AeroScenery content is all present, but GeoConvert fails to produce any data. I have even had instances where I am running the extract for levels 14 and 15 but only level 14 is created. Same thing masks on or off. The GeoConvert screen says its doing level 15 tiles but produces none, and no errors appear in it log. It could be something to do with how close the source image is to the FS2 tile size. One tutorial for the GeoConvert helper tool mentioned that its "snap to lvl 9" option can fix these problems of missing output, although the snap to feature relates to level 9 tiles but when creating levels 9 and up together.

    I’m thinking we will be having a totally different conversation or at least totally different results once we have USGS hd scenery available for testing. IPACS may reduce the quality of the scenery when looking at it in FS2 but, the quality of the base images are far superior to most of the Bing and Google free images in the U.S.

    Unfortunately better source quality doesn't translate into better images in FS2. Also doesn't USGS map data just cover the USA? Their terrain data is USA only. There's a whole rest of the planet out there, even if some of us are standing upside down. ^^

    Thanks, Chris

    Win 10 64-bit, 20GB RAM, i7-3820 @ 4.2, 4GB Nvidia GTX 970