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Old 1st July 2007, 07:47 AM   #1
0xdeadbeef
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Default Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

Hi there,

I currently take a look at several free/inexpensive 3D modelling tools to find an alternative to 3DSMax for creating models for RealFlight G3.x (RC flight simulator, see http://www.realflight.com/products/g3_main.html).

Indeed, AC3D looks very promising, since it has a stable 3DS export, support for a hierarchy and a very good texture map editor.

However, I also found some issues:

- Since the 3DS export of many tools (including 3DSMax itself) is flawed, it would be nice to have e.g. an ASE import/export (ASCII version of 3DS). ASE seems to be much more stable and well documented than 3DS. Indeed, I didn't manage to import anything from 3DSMax to AC3D directly without major problems.

- I didn't find any possibility to setup pivots, which are essential for RealFlight models since they are used to define the rotation axes for control surfaces. Did I overlook this or is this feature really not existing?

- I miss the "transformation gizmos" that more or less any other 3D modeller provides to move/scale/whatever only in one axial direction. Indeed the pivots are very closely related to the tranformation gizmos in 3DSMax/GMax so maybe the absence in AC3D is related as well.

- RealFlight uses uncompressed 24bit TGA images with an 8bit alpha channel for the textures. Unfortunately, the support for this images type seems to be somewhat flawed in AC3D. The whole texture has a blueish tint and the parts that should be black are transparent.

With the TGA alpha issues resolved and pivot support, I guess AC3D should be a pretty good tool for creating RealFlight models. Of course it would be much more convenient, if there was a KEX exporter for AC3D. Is there any chance that you get an agreement with Knife Edge Software (www.knifeedge.com), the creators of RealFlight, to provide AC3D with a KEX exporter? I guess this would make AC3D the #1 tool for RealFlight model creation as right now, the only hassle free model creation is possible with 3DSMax, which is too expensive for this purpose of course.
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Old 2nd July 2007, 05:25 AM   #2
lisa
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0xdeadbeef View Post
- I didn't find any possibility to setup pivots, which are essential for RealFlight models since they are used to define the rotation axes for control surfaces. Did I overlook this or is this feature really not existing?
AC3D does have support for pivots; it's under the "Tools" menu as "Adjust Object Centres". You can also set your pivot as center of rotation, etc., on the Options menu. AC3D also has a Hierarchy view--again, under "Tools"--that you can use to group and setup relationships between the parts. I don't use the 3DS exporter much, and I haven't used RealFlight at all, but assuming it works the same way as some of the other plug-ins you can use the hierarchy to setup a simple rig.

I have a few plug-ins that I've written which I've written that allow me to snap pivot points to a particular vertex, or copy pivots between objects. If you or anyone else thinks these would be useful, let me know and I'll see about posting them up.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0xdeadbeef View Post
- RealFlight uses uncompressed 24bit TGA images with an 8bit alpha channel for the textures. Unfortunately, the support for this images type seems to be somewhat flawed in AC3D. The whole texture has a blueish tint and the parts that should be black are transparent.
?? I use 32-bit w\ alpha channel TGA files all the time. Again, I haven't used RealFlight, so I'm not sure how it works, but in most game engines the alpha channel is used for transparencies. i.e. You can see through any part that has alpha. AC3D follows the standard behavior of other engines. How does RealFlight work?

AC3D depends on the hierarchy view for determining render order. Sometimes if you are using alpha channels and you haven't set up the hierarchy, the alpha channel will blend to the background instead of the object behind it, giving the image a blueish or grayish hue (assuming your background is the default gray). If you swap the order of the objects in the hierarchy, the objects will alpha blend correctly.
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Old 2nd July 2007, 02:52 PM   #3
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

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Originally Posted by lisa View Post
AC3D does have support for pivots; it's under the "Tools" menu as "Adjust Object Centres". You can also set your pivot as center of rotation, etc., on the Options menu.
Well, that's not quite the pivot functionality that e.g. 3DSMax/GMax provides and that is needed for RealFlight. As far as I can see, you can only set X/Y/Z to MIN/CENTER/MAX, while in 3DSMax, the Pivot is a fully 3dimensional vector.

Quote:
AC3D also has a Hierarchy view--again, under "Tools"--that you can use to group and setup relationships between the parts. I don't use the 3DS exporter much, and I haven't used RealFlight at all, but assuming it works the same way as some of the other plug-ins you can use the hierarchy to setup a simple rig.
I haven't really tried, but the hierarchy support looks sufficient for RealFlight.

Quote:
I have a few plug-ins that I've written which I've written that allow me to snap pivot points to a particular vertex, or copy pivots between objects. If you or anyone else thinks these would be useful, let me know and I'll see about posting them up.
As stated before, the pivots needes are 3d vectors, not points. Have a look here:
http://www.knifeedge.com/KEmax/tutorials.php


Quote:
?? I use 32-bit w\ alpha channel TGA files all the time. Again, I haven't used RealFlight, so I'm not sure how it works, but in most game engines the alpha channel is used for transparencies. i.e. You can see through any part that has alpha. AC3D follows the standard behavior of other engines. How does RealFlight work?
This is not really about RealFlight. Even if I load a TGA file via "Object->Texture->Load texture" and then use the texture coordinate editor, the colors are completely off:
http://home.arcor.de/0xdeadbeef/ac3d_tga.png

This is the same TGA in PatinShopPro and in AC3D. The alpha channel is completely "white" (opaque).

Quote:
AC3D depends on the hierarchy view for determining render order. Sometimes if you are using alpha channels and you haven't set up the hierarchy, the alpha channel will blend to the background instead of the object behind it, giving the image a blueish or grayish hue (assuming your background is the default gray). If you swap the order of the objects in the hierarchy, the objects will alpha blend correctly.
Well, this does not extend to the texture coordinate editor, does it? As shown above, the colors are off there as well.
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Old 2nd July 2007, 03:57 PM   #4
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

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Originally Posted by 0xdeadbeef View Post
As far as I can see, you can only set X/Y/Z to MIN/CENTER/MAX, while in 3DSMax, the Pivot is a fully 3dimensional vector.http://www.knifeedge.com/KEmax/tutorials.php
Ah. I see what you are after.

You are correct, AC3D does not store a locale orientation for the pivot; it actually does not store a local orientation for anything.

You could probably simulate this by using a piece of geometry if you wrote your own export filter. I do this with null pivots on a couple of exporters I wrote; I just use some geoemetry named "null" as a placeholder for the null, and have the filter ignore it when writing. I don't think there's a way to do that with the built-in exporter, however.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 0xdeadbeef View Post
This is the same TGA in PatinShopPro and in AC3D. The alpha channel is completely "white" (opaque).
Can you post your TGA file? I see what you mean, it looks like something isn't loading correctly. That's not normal.

I use Corel products also, although I use PhotoPaint instead of PaintShop Pro. All of my textures are 32-bit TGAs, but I haven't experienced what you're seeing. I clipped your screen shot and resaved it with PhotoPaint, and it seems to work fine. The file is attached if you want to try it--at least then you'll know if it's something wrong with AC3D, or something wrong with the way PSP is saving files. I had to add a single pixel of transparency to the top left corner, because PhotoPaint automatically converts images from 32-bit to 24-bit if the alpha channel is completely opaque. (and I assume that you need it 32-bit specifically?)
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File Type: zip airplane.zip (97.3 KB, 343 views)
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Old 2nd July 2007, 05:39 PM   #5
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

The original texture is indeed quite large and as neither PSP nor 3DSMax nor RealFlight have a problem with it, I would suspect that something's wrong with AC3D's import filter.

http://home.arcor.de/0xdeadbeef/zoombi.zip
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Old 3rd July 2007, 06:10 AM   #6
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

Hmmm. I tried your file, and it seems to work ok for me.

Perhaps it's a driver issue? Does it do the same thing if you use a different file format, or is it only targa files that have the problem? Which version of the software are you running?
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Old 3rd July 2007, 11:51 AM   #7
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

I tryed your tga file as well, and it works just fine. What color is your model? If its not white, then the underlying color will be showing. Here the cube are light blue and that shows on the texture. It gets a bluish tint.
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Old 3rd July 2007, 12:31 PM   #8
0xdeadbeef
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

Quote:
Originally Posted by lisa View Post
Hmmm. I tried your file, and it seems to work ok for me.

Perhaps it's a driver issue? Does it do the same thing if you use a different file format, or is it only targa files that have the problem? Which version of the software are you running?
I downloaded the current version 6.2.05 of AC3D as a trial.
My nvidia drivers are the most current one (GTS 8800, Forceware 158.22). No problems in games or other applications.
About the color of the object: the same thing happens if I add a new object (e.g. sphere) to an empty scene and assign a texture to it. So the object color seems to have no effect. I also doubt the object color should make a difference in the texture coordinate editor.
BTW: this happens when I assign the texture to a sphere:
http://home.arcor.de/0xdeadbeef/ac3d_alpha.png

Obviously the back parts are completely transparent as if AC3D would somehow mix/swap the alpha and color channels.

Last edited by 0xdeadbeef; 3rd July 2007 at 05:46 PM.
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Old 3rd July 2007, 08:29 PM   #9
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

Are you getting any error messages in the console window when you start up?
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Old 3rd July 2007, 08:31 PM   #10
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Default Re: Suggestions / TGA Bug / RealFlight G3.x (KEX) support

No, there's just a "starting up" message displayed...
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