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Old 7th December 2021, 06:52 PM   #1
WPOSTMA
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Default Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

Right now most XPlane users wanting to make airplanes or scenery are told to use Blender, but it seems Ac3d has a historical track record of heavy use in XPlane and unlike blender it seems Ac3d has round-trip obj8 format read/write, whereas Blender has only a one way (export) and an experimental import that doesn't quite work at all.

However, on the other hand AC3D is a very old-school 3d drawing program that reminds me of using maya 1.0 circa 1998.

A bit of an orientation for people who have at least used Blender would be useful, as would a tutorial on how this program differs from other programs.

My biggest complaint so far is with the hiearchy and object properties.

1. Open a large airplane (XPlane) obj8 format file, and it imports, which is something you can't say about Blender, but then open the Hierarchy and Object properties. There's no scroll bar in the hierarchy view, the hierarchy does not scroll to where the selected group or object is, no way is provided to sync the content of the hierarchy view to the selected objects, verticies, polys in the model views. The selection mode does some odd things that I don't understand that don't seem to be covered in the manual.

2. There are selection modes (group, object, surface etc) but the hierarchy model does not show the surfaces on a poly. I see a world, group, and poly level only. So the hiearchy doesn't let me see the polys, textures, or anything. The hierarchy view that doesn't scroll and doesn't even have a visible scroll bar seems useful for a 4 poly drawing of a flower pot, but not for the 20k poly world of airplane models.

3. Selecting an item inside the group does not update the Object properties.

4. You can't dock the object properties or the hierarchy to the main window. Serious apps started using docking even in the late 1990s. The lack of docking and of docked hierarch or object inspectors is really quite shocking to me.

5. I can't see any find feature.Suppose I want to find bits of a model that use bits of a texture, or somehow, want to find among 10k unnamed objects/groups, the particular one I want. The reverse is not even possible. Clicking a surface or poly with the texture co-ordinate editor window open, does not show me where the texture is mapped. Not only is this a super old school way of UV mapping (with no previews on my model), I need a second program to render me a preview with the texture in it? Very odd.

6. For reasons that make no sense to me, every single object is named 'ANIMATION' with data 'animated=1', or named POLY_OS=0 HARD= BLEND=yes with data similar to it. This was probably something due to the workflow of the person who had the original airplane model, which I do not know about. All I see in an obj8 formatted .obj file is text vertices in this form plus some uv map data, and animation data at the end.

I
800
OBJ

TEXTURE fuselage.png
TEXTURE_LIT fuselage_LIT.png
ATTR_shiny_rat 0.3000
POINT_COUNTS 11316 0 0 31842
VT 1.464127 1.364792 9.604584 -0.000046 0.053757 -0.998550 0.133621 0.950287
VT ... (11315 more times)

I must admit the program has me lost and the manual is no help on this.
"Clicking on one of the items in the list can select or unselect objects. This selection is sensitive to the current select mode being used. In Group- select mode, for example, it is only possible to select top-level groups. To select individual objects, switch to Object -select mode (using the main AC3D control panel)."

One probable good idea is to get the original model (in whatever program the original XPlane author was using before they exported to obj8).

ONe question I have is how are the object names/data related to the obj file and are they exported again, and thus they matter when exporting to obj, or only the data area of the object/name data important, that is, could you save your work in an .ac file and export to obj8 (xplane) format, and use the name to organize your own modelling work (Cessna_Fusellage_Side_Spar_1_of_8)?

If the names are auto-assigned during import, an auto-naming system like poly_30surf_90vert_material3 would be much friendlier.


UPDATE:

This video is pretty useful for XPlane
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ADoQ...nnel=SimVRlabs

Last edited by WPOSTMA; 10th December 2021 at 01:03 PM.
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Old 11th December 2021, 07:41 AM   #2
Andy
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

Thanks for your feedback.

Providing documentation for Blender users is an interesting concept .

The scrollbar on the Hierarchy appears only when needed, i.e. when the contents become larger than the window. If this is not working, let me know. Docking the hierarchy – good idea.

It looks like you’ve worked out how selection functions. You need to be in Object selection mode to be able to select individual objects and Tools->Object-properties will only be active when a single object is selected. The hierarchy is object-level only, you can’t drill down to surfaces and vertices.

Object names: The X-Plane obj files are really a destination-only format. As you say, AC3D can import them, but no name data is stored in them. Use AC3D to name objects - select an object and change the name (bottom left of the control panel). Use Menu->Select/Unselect-by-name to find specific objects. Always save/maintain the .ac files and only export the .obj files when you need them. That way, all the name information (and lots of other stuff) is always recorded.

For large models, put geometry in groups and use the folding/unfolding to manage the large hierarchy.

To view the parts that are selected, use the main View menu to look at or fit the current selection.

Textures should appear on your model – you may have accidentally switched of viewing textures – press ‘t’ or tick the textures items in the main 2D/3D menus. To select object by texture, there is a plugin here: http://www.inivis.com/forum/showthread.php?t=7235

The best manual for the X-Plane plugin is here: http://www.inivis.com/forum/showthread.php?p=32892

Last edited by Andy; 11th December 2021 at 08:09 AM.
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Old 11th December 2021, 01:47 PM   #3
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

I am definitely unable to see the scrollbar, and the hiearchy window does not:
A. show a scrollbar when the entities do not fit.
B. Respond to mouse wheel events to scroll content.
C. Respond to page up/ page down keys.
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Old 11th December 2021, 03:31 PM   #4
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

Which version of AC3D are you using? and on which platform (Windows, Mac, Linux)?
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Old 14th December 2021, 09:51 PM   #5
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

Okay wow. It was because it draws it in gray, against a gray background and on the LEFT side of the window that I never noticed it existing. I expected it on the RIGHT side of the window, and I expected it not to be dark gray on dark gray and so I overlooked it.
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Old 14th December 2021, 09:55 PM   #6
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

> You are using panel manipulators on meshes without panel texture.

When I import some "panel" (cockpit) .obj files I notice that AC3D does not load the textures, even though they are textured when they are loaded in XPlane.

I can click the X-Plane menu and click "X-Plane panel properties" but the only thing in there is a checkbox "enable panel regions".

When I click that, I am assuming this is how XPlane gets the panel metadata?

Are there instructions for "X-Plane Panel Properties" and for the rest of the tasks necessary to make panels for X-Plane with AC3d and the plugin?

Is there something special about textures and .obj import? Why do some .obj files open in AC3D without error and yet without any texture information, and yet when that same .obj is opened in XPlane via plane maker (add the obj to the plane .acf as a reference) it is loaded and has textures?

Given the free status of Blender, I think AC3D's big bonus here is that there is a TONNE Of features in the X-Plane menu in AC3D. It's too bad it's not well documented, and I can't find much about how to do things with AC3D. If I could simply open a panel (cockpit) .obj and .png and edit and save it, it would really make AC3D into a killer tool for XPlane.

Half the things I try just don't work, and the other half of the time AC3D just crashes when you ask it to import, or export, or change texture. (I am trying to pack up a simple example of a crash, it seems that if I remove enough of a plane folder's assets and import an .obj, the crash may go away, which is strange. It suggests that XPlane plugin is following references to something which causes crashes. I am wondering if AC3D needs to catch exceptions and generate some call stacks and log files, instead of terminating, when something goes wrong during imports in the XPlane importer)

Last edited by WPOSTMA; 14th December 2021 at 11:05 PM.
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Old 15th December 2021, 08:14 AM   #7
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Default Re: Is there an "XPlane specifics" tutorial for AC3D?

Please send me a sample that causes a crash. Also, an X-Plane model plus texture so I can test that. There may be a problem with the texture location or texture-type.
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