Saturday, November 23, 2013

FS Dreamteam And CYVR For Prepar3D v2
P3Dv2. FS Dreamteam's Vancouver International Airport (CYVR) has long been a personal favourite of mine. It is the first and only FSDT airport to feature their innovative lighting system through the use of their Dynamic Shadows Technology. On my system it was also their first airport that gave me almost constant OOMs when running FSX in DX9 and the only airport that would bring my system to a complete halt for a few seconds as all the airport imagery loaded when on final approach.

With the release of Prepar3d v2 less than 72 hours away now, and all the information that has trickled out from various sources in the past week, there is news that FSDT are considering updating their CYVR scenery for Prepar3d v2 with an option that would allow users to choose between using the FSDT Dynamic Shadows Technology or the new lighting and shadow mechanism that will be native to Prepar3d v2. A forum post by Umberto of FSDT lists the following differences between the two:

FSDT Custom Dynamic Shadows


- Slightly better looking (dependent on comparable shadow quality)
- Zero impact on performance since they are all pre-rendered
- Best for systems with powerful CPUs and not top of the line GPUs


- Higher VAS memory usage due to the an higher polygon count
- Limited number of transitions
- Difficult to develop

Prepar3d v2 Default Dynamic Shadows


- Rendered directly on the GPU
- Less VAS usage by the scenery
- Continuous smooth transitions through day/dusk/night
- More user control over quality and what can cast/receive shadows
- Much easier for developers (may cut months of development time)


- Quality may be less and not as good as the pre-rendered imagery
- More impact on the GPU
- Requires a more powerful video card

When asked about how FSDT airports that feature FSX required texture baking will look in Prepar3d v2 with the new native lighting technology, Umberto explained the following, and I quote:


The only airport where we really used proper directional lighting was CYVR, all other airports used a more generic approach with Ambient Occlusion only, because otherwise the scenery would look wrong along different times of the day.

It's important to note that, what makes the overall lighting system in a scenery, are several different components:

1) Directional shadows, depending on the sun's position

2) Ambient Occlusion, not depending on the sun position but only by surfaces touching/occluding other surfaces

3) Sunlight reflected back from the surfaces in the scenery.

4) Lights sources in the scenery casting shadows.

FSX gives basically just #3 with different end results depending how advanced shaders are used ( such as bump/specular mapping ) and by default gives a VERY limited implementation of #1, which is so basic that nobody use it anymore except for very simple things, like the shadows underneath your airplane.

It was still the developer's responsibility trying to achieve #2 and #4, by any means necessary, being pre-rendered Ambient Occlusion, Light sources, etc, or carefully hand-editing of textures. 

Many developers added pre-rendered STATIC textures for #1, but that had the shortcoming of the scenery being correct only for a specific time of the day, what we did in CYVR, was to overcome this limitation, and have the #1 component being more dynamic.

What P3D is doing for us now, is not having to manually create #1 anymore, but #2, #3 and #4 are still our responsibility. 

The good thing for us is, since we control everything from our Couatl scripting engine, it's shouldn't be very difficult to turn off the dynamic shadows logic if we run under P3D V2 and the user has chosen to use the default shadowing system, we'll simply go back rendering the "Overcast" variation, which still includes #2, #3 and #4, leaving #1 to be the sim's responsibility.


I personally think that an update of CYVR giving us both options would be tremendous, especially since this would cater best towards the wide spectrum of different PC setups that the software will be used on. On top of this an update will very likely improve performance with the GPU being able to render the scenery directly in Prepar3d v2. 

What do you think?

The above screenshot shows object shadowing with FSDT's GSX and JFK in the final Beta of Prepar3d v2.

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pico said...

wow thats great and free advertisement for P3D.

Sid said...

Now that's the best news I've heard out of FSDT for a while. Better performing scenery hopefully means I may be able to buy more of their sceneries than I currently own. Love their Zurich.

Sid said...

And the shadowing looks great. Hope the lighting in P3D does too.

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