Some specific questions about the upcoming GeoConvert tool

  • Hi folks,


    I'm excited by the information that I have read so far about this tool. If I can find some appropriate, legal data, I'm going to start making some .bmp and .inf files in preparation for the GeoConvert's release.


    A couple of things I'd like to know - from anyone who has tested this tool - so I get this right:


    Question: What size areas can the IPACS tool work with? Is it happy with a group of .bmp files making up a 1 degree by 1 degree block?


    Question: What resolution can the IPACS tool work with? In FSET, I usually turn the compression off, and use download level 0 where possible, which is 25 cm per pixel.


    Question: What resolution (cm/pixel) is the highest resolution scenery that is already in AF2 (Utah, for example)? I'm guessing that its not as good as 25 cm per pixel (based on download sizes), but would be interested to know.


    Question: There are two main 'artistic' settings in FS Earth Tiles - brightness and contrast. Default is:
    Brightness = -6,
    Contrast = +12


    I find that with high-resolution, high quality source material, changing the settings in the .ini file to 0 and 0 work best in FSX and P3D. Does anyone have any experience with this AF2? Particularly in terrain with natural shadows, such as mountains, the contrast increase can lead to very black areas (which are of course baked in to the photoscenery). With high-res data, I also think these manipulations lower the quality.


    Question: Is there any way to convert .bgls that have already been constructed to the IPACS format? I'm guessing not, but I havent kept most of my bmps and inf files from previous projects, so a way of converting the .bgls would save me a year of work! :)


    Final comment: water masking. With FS earth tiles, a good way to do this is by drawing paths in Google Earth. This is a pretty good project to collaborate on, as it is easy to share a google earth .kml file. I've spent a lot of hours drawing water mask lines, but this is time consuming and I've still only covered fairly small areas. So, when IPACS adds water, it would be great if the scenery tool could be made to work with the water masks produced by FS Earth tiles.


    Kudos to IPACS for moving to provide us with some tools that I'm sure will add enjoyment to our simulation sessions.

  • Hi Rob,


    i'll try to answer some of this for you. The GeoConvert tool can handle just about anything that you can throw at it. Your limitations will be how much virtual memory you have in your computer, and of course the amount of available HD space you have to build your project. I have already converted sceneries that were over 120GB and though it takes a while for the conversion process to complete, it completed just fine with no errors.
    In general, i'm getting the best graphical results using the following method: Use BMP files that are 0.50m (0 in FSET), and only go to level 14 in the GeoConvert tool (this will be explained once the tool and tutorials are released). The outcome will be like you see in the images that I posted in the other GeoConvert thread.


    I don't believe that there are any ways to reverse already converted BGL files and this tool will not support that.


    The elevation mesh of Aerofly FS 2 is already there so there is no need to worry about elevation during the conversion. The result of the scenery that you get once the files are converted is outstanding. The trees will populate onto your scenery as well, and it looks really realistic.


    I have experimented with some water masks by using a specular layer technique in Gimp and by creating an alpha layer where you can erase the "ugly" water seen in some photoscenery and add in your own, then shine it up using the specular layers. The result is really nice however, it takes some time to carve it all out.


    There will be a couple of stand-alone tools once this is released. The one tool will take all of the inf files that are associated with the BMP images and make the tfw files that are needed. You then just run the tool and there you have it, perfect scenery for Aerofly FS2 with very little work.

    IPACS Development Team Member

    I'm just a cook, I don't own the restaurant.
    On behalf of Torsten, Marc, and the rest of the IPACS team, we would all like to thank you for your continued support.


    Regards,


    Jeff

  • Thanks for the details. Looking forward to giving it a try.


    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.

  • Have you already learned the basics of FS Earth Tiles (FSET) and downloaded the area of interest at maybe 1 meter per pixel. Getting the imagery ready and maybe fiddling with the brightness/color using GIMP or equivalent is a large part of the effort. Once you have the imagery and their associated INF files, the rest of the effort using Geo_Convert is the easy part - although it will take 100% of your PC for several hours. Also, to let you know, I had to break up my beta test effort into strips (instead of a large square area) because I only have 12 gb of RAM.

  • Have you already learned the basics of FS Earth Tiles (FSET) and downloaded the area of interest at maybe 1 meter per pixel. Getting the imagery ready and maybe fiddling with the brightness/color using GIMP or equivalent is a large part of the effort. Once you have the imagery and their associated INF files, the rest of the effort using Geo_Convert is the easy part - although it will take 100% of your PC for several hours. Also, to let you know, I had to break up my beta test effort into strips (instead of a large square area) because I only have 12 gb of RAM.


    several hours I can live with. I once put my computer outside - scared it would catch fire - and ran it for five weeks with a FSET project while I was away on holiday. Happy to spend some time on this project!


    I've got 16 gig of ram, sounds like the more the better, maybe an upgrade is required. I'll start with what I have, unless anyone tells me differently. I'm hoping to build 1 degree lat/long squares, as mentioned. I'm hoping you can have multiple squares activated in scenery at one time, so there would be no advantage in bigger areas?


    I haven't been modding the source imagery, but it would be pretty easy to batch it through photoshop to sharpen/contrast/brightness etc. anyone doing this? Any further comments on the best fset settings during the bmp creation stage (brightness and contrast, as per my question above - or are you guys just leaving it on the -6/12 defaults?)


    Downloaded area of interest: yes, that would be all of CONUS and Western Europe, just don't have the bmps, but I do keep the downloaded tiles so I'll recompile some new bmps and inf files from those.


    How big was your beta test area that you had to break up?


  • Thanks Jeff.


    HD space - New 6Tb drive on the way for the Af2 project :)
    120gb - how big is that lat/long?
    0.50cm = 0 in fset - that means youve got resampling/compression on (not sure if that's the right word, but I change the setting in the .ini so 0 is 0.25cm, a touch sharper but bigger files). Do you think that would work just as well at level 14 geoconvert? Priority is quality, don't care about space or time to build. Also, have you tried changing this setting?


    I don't fully understand what you're doing with water there, but it sounds impressive! I'll probably wait until aerofly 2 has water til I worry about what to do here.


    Ok, so I run tool 1 with a bunch of inf files, get a chance few file and then use that in a second program with the matching bmps, as many as I want. 1 degree lat/long square at 50cm (non resampled) is around 70 bmps, so 2 by 2 squares - a good size - would be 280ish bmps. Sound reasonable?


  • Your new HD= impressive.
    If your priority is quality, you can set the FSET resolution to -1 (0.25m) and use level(14) with the Geoconvert tool.


    If you have already begun to mess around with FSET, you will notice that the files generated are (BMP files, INF files, Txt files, and Thumbnail files). When you set your resolution, you rubberband the area that you want to make. You will see the squares in the selected area's grid; this is how many BMP files you will end up with in the end. To use the GeoConvert tool and make your scenery for FS2, you will need only the BMP files and the INF files from FSET. The new version of the tool will automatically take the BMP files and INF files and automatically convert them to be used in FS2. Once the tool completes its job, you will take the output files and move them into the Aerofly FS2 folder under your Documents folder.


    Depending on the area size you want to cover, will determine how many BMP and INF files are created. In one of my tests I made an area of around 32nm (nautical miles) by 28nm (nautical miles) which was at the following resolution levels (0 (0.50m) in FSET, and Level 14 processing in GeoConvert) and it was around 41 BMP images.


    The tool and step-by-step tutorials will be released shortly. Further updates are being made to add even more automation to make it very easy for just about anyone to make their own scenery. So, as I write this further improvements are being made to the tool.

    IPACS Development Team Member

    I'm just a cook, I don't own the restaurant.
    On behalf of Torsten, Marc, and the rest of the IPACS team, we would all like to thank you for your continued support.


    Regards,


    Jeff

  • Q1 How are priorities managed in contiguous and overlapping zones?
    For instance the Swiss DLC is cut around the Swiss border, in some places exactly, approximately in other places. It looks pretty much difficult to attach a neighbouring zone without overlapping. Geneva area can be seen as a typical example of difficult integration without a clear priority setting.


    Q2 How is blending managed by the GeoConvert tool, is it similar to the FSX resample tool ?


    Thanks in advance for your replies
    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.

  • To use the GeoConvert tool and make your scenery for FS2, you will need only the BMP files and the INF files from FSET.


    That's good to hear. So I can stop worrying about all those other settings on the left (like mask, scenery, auto mode, what flight sim its for etc), and just start downloading.

  • That's good to hear. So I can stop worrying about all those other settings on the left (like mask, scenery, auto mode, what flight sim its for etc), and just start downloading.


    The main thing is to turn off resampling in FSET - will save you a bunch of time, and then your sim choice setting is irrelevant.


    Masks is only relevant if you are going to the trouble of drawing the guides they are based on - for P3d, I draw a coast and deepwater path in Google Eart, and export the KML file into FSET.


    This produces a mask file that is useful in FSX/P3D, as there is underlying vector water data to display. As this isn't present in AF2 (AFAIK, it certainly isnt visible) it is of no use to you now - BUT it would be useful to know if the mask files would be useful on the future for AF2 once water is added, in which case it would be worth brewing them with your .bmp and .inf files now.

  • Perfect timing on that info. A 4x increase in my broadband is being installed as I type, so all ready to start downloading.


    As for the earth service, I find Virtual Earth the only one that works. Is "Service2" a placeholder for your screenshot or something else?

  • Perfect timing on that info. A 4x increase in my broadband is being installed as I type, so all ready to start downloading.


    As for the earth service, I find Virtual Earth the only one that works. Is "Service2" a placeholder for your screenshot or something else?


    You can add as many services to the config file as you want, I have 6 services and around 3 working at the moment. "Service2" is just one of the ones i had open and use. I believe i have that service set to VES

    IPACS Development Team Member

    I'm just a cook, I don't own the restaurant.
    On behalf of Torsten, Marc, and the rest of the IPACS team, we would all like to thank you for your continued support.


    Regards,


    Jeff

  • Q1 How are priorities managed in contiguous and overlapping zones?
    For instance the Swiss DLC is cut around the Swiss border, in some places exactly, approximately in other places. It looks pretty much difficult to attach a neighbouring zone without overlapping. Geneva area can be seen as a typical example of difficult integration without a clear priority setting.


    Q2 How is blending managed by the GeoConvert tool, is it similar to the FSX resample tool ?


    Thanks in advance for your replies
    Cheers
    Antoine


    UP... any answer please?


    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.

  • UP... any answer please?


    Cheers
    Antoine


    More automation is being added to the tool, that's why i won't give you an absolute answer here but there is a function built in to handle the blending between the imported scenery from the tool and the other scenery. There is also a defined "total area" that will allow for you to specify exactly where you want your scenery to begin and end.


    One example here; i tested a Pennsylvania scenery made from the tool (see my images that i posted) that spread over to meet the NYC scenery, and it's flawless.

    IPACS Development Team Member

    I'm just a cook, I don't own the restaurant.
    On behalf of Torsten, Marc, and the rest of the IPACS team, we would all like to thank you for your continued support.


    Regards,


    Jeff

  • Blending is done by alpha channel.


    I open the BMP with GIMP, add an alpha channel to the image and use the eraser to mark the regions which should be faded out.
    Then I save the image as a TIF RGBA without compression.
    Geoconvert works with BMP and TIF.
    A tutorial will be available as soon as the tool becomes public.


    There exist several levels of priority, but I cannot exactly answer this topic. It will be clarified soon.


    Flying over Tubingen in SW Germany and visiting IPACS down there.
    This image is only resolution 2 (2m) and level 13, but this allows a fast conversion.


    Rodeo