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John Venema

announcement TrueEarth Washington - Reduction in size by 75% using a ZL16/17 combo

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3 hours ago, BobT said:

what does ZL 17 look like with the unsharpen filter applied?  Haven't seen an answer to that yet but if ZL 16 can look like ZL 17 - can ZL 17 look like ZL 18? I would gladly pay extra for that!

I would like to know this as well.

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Looks ok from a distance but at lower altitudes it's still blurry and no amount of sharpening is going to fix that at ZL16.  Seems the decision has been made.

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I am interested to know at what ZL level those of you who use Orth4XP use? I have 90% of Western Europe and West coast USA in ortho and it is in ZL16 (from Google and Bing) with some areas ( the same parts as proposed by Orbx, i.e. urban/city etc) at ZL17. So what is the big difference that is being seen by those who are observing "unsatisfactory" elements of the sample ZL16 pics by JV?

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On 7/18/2019 at 10:13 AM, Tony Wroblewski said:

 

If the file sizes are smaller then it becomes less relevant to have the conversion stage, this is why we are reviewing the process and what people would like

@Tony Wroblewski Sorry to bother you again Tony, but would request clarification. You replied that the Conversion stage would become less relevant with smaller files. My question (being a non techy!) is does it also mean you would not need to use Compression, where I am led to believe that this compression reduces the quality of the image.

 Does this also mean that Orbx could have non compressed dds files in the download rather that compressed jpegs, which would need converting to dds? Sorry to sound dumb but tech is not my strongest point and your answer would help expand in detail exactly what we could expect in a ZL16 version. People are commenting on the pics submitted but there is no indication as to how the pics were achieved. Were they original Photoshopped dds pics( the ZL 16 ones) or were they originally  compressed jpegs that were then converted? If we would get downloads with no compression and therefore no conversion required, are the sample pics an exact replica of what we would see in our sim?

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Yes a ZL16 product would not require any compression/decompression stage in our installers at all. Instead we will ship the DDS files without converting to JPG then back to DDS again. This saves another quality degradation step.

 

Unless I am mistaken, aren’t the very popular Forkboy orthos for the USA at ZL16?

 

We don’t have a general problem with shipping both ZL17 and ZL16 products, as long as this is not abused by customers who then download both ‘just to compare’. Bandwidth is not free.

 

We will also look into a sharpen pass on ZL17 to see if there is some improvement. Just internal experiments at this stage.

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18 minutes ago, John Venema said:

Yes a ZL16 product would not require any compression/decompression stage in our installers at all. Instead we will ship the DDS files without converting to JPG then back to DDS again. This saves another quality degradation step.

 

Unless I am mistaken, aren’t the very popular Forkboy orthos for the USA at ZL16?

 

We don’t have a general problem with shipping both ZL17 and ZL16 products, as long as this is not abused by customers who then download both ‘just to compare’. Bandwidth is not free.

 

We will also look into a sharpen pass on ZL17 to see if there is some improvement. Just internal experiments at this stage.

 

This would be amazing.

Edited by Daan

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Excellent news! I think it's a super wise solution. Though I own large drives, it would be great not only to gain spare space but, more important than that, to have faster loading times (nowadays, even with an SSD, I need to grab a coffee while waiting for the scenery to load). 

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My XP11 scenery load times rarely take more than 90 seconds, no matter the flight location in the sim. You need to ensure you don’t have a lot of IO processes running, including anti-virus etc.

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1 hour ago, John Venema said:

 

Unless I am mistaken, aren’t the very popular Forkboy orthos for the USA at ZL16?

Yes they are, with areas like urban/city/ airport surround in ZL17. Just like what you are suggesting in the ZL16 option.

 

We don’t have a general problem with shipping both ZL17 and ZL16 products, as long as this is not abused by customers who then download both ‘just to compare’. Bandwidth is not free.

Could Orbx not offer a choice of download i.e. ZL17 or ZL16 and offer the alternative from the initial chosen option at a for example 40% discount? That way the the 2 options would generate income for Orbx and if someone wants to download both for comparison, then they will be paying for that option/choice.

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, John Venema said:

Just internal experiments at this stage.

 

keep up this important work - thank you Orbx team!

 

best thing I did was deploy 4TB Samsung Evo SSD - just chews up the GBs required...

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Hi everyone

Sorry this is from my phone as I had a major hardware malfunction today and can't show any images 

 

Wrt Tony's comment on the texture slider my understanding is as follows. 

 

Maximum and Maximum (with compression) are both 4K settings. There is no pixel difference between the two. With compression is still a .dds format, but one interesting aspect of compressed .dds is that they can be loaded and held in vram in a compressed state and only decompressed when it is needed.  All modern GPU's do this decompression in hardware so it is a very efficient process & saves a ton of vram. But the image quality is identical. 

 

Moving 1 texture setting to the left from Maximum (with compression) to high is 2K. (Compressed). Moving again to the left then is 1K(compressed) and the .512K(compressed).

 

From some recent experiments I did on the impact of AA settings on image quality I think the following perspective may be helpful 

 

ALL AA methods blur the underlying image - it's a byproduct of how they work.  In fact the worst is good old FXAA - it blurs a lot( it's the way the physics works in this method.

 

SS AA ( the method Xplane uses) which stands for Super Samplying AA works by a process of upscaling by taking the single pixel and replacing it with 2 pixels in both the X & Y directions. These pixels are then averaged to create a new single value. Simplified explanation and I hope I haven't missed anything but SSAA will blur during the process also .

 

So the simple experiment I did.  Pick an area in XPlane TE with Texture Quality at Max(with Compression) , set AA to FXAA and  look where there is fine detail. Now turn AA off and look at the scenery detail again.  I think you will be surprised at what is there. This is the ZL17 analogy.

 

Now set Texture Quality to high (ZL16 analogy) and look at the same exact area again. With FXAA on, it will look inferior and blurred but with FXAA off (all AA off) a great deal of the fine detail will be seen.  it will not be identical to the Maximum setting , (ZL17 analogy) with AA off but it will be much more detailed than was first thought 

 

So from my observations ( and to John's observation) that texture quality should be at Maximum(with compression) I think that not to be cognizant of the impact of AA blurring on fine scale image quality may cause one to reject a lower resolution image as being of much poorer quality than it is.  

 

There are many different methods for image sharpening as has been shown and I have every confidence that the skills & expertise shown   by the Orbx team in the excellent work they have produced in the TE series will be brought to making a ZL16 data set the best it can possibly be.

 

 I am not suggesting for a moment that at very low altitude that there will be no difference in image quality between ZL16/17. However with the team's expertise I feel very comfortable that this difference will be minimal as their work would be on the "raw" data before any AA would be applied. 

 

Shortly after Barton came out I experimented with orthophotoscenery quite a bit to learn about the technology. 

 

I resized that the only time I really noticed the image resolution was when I was coming in/leaving an airport.  Once I got up to about 1500 ft+ my ZL16 was just fine.

 

So what I did was to build an enhanced area grid around Barton with a few tiles close in at ZL18, then a few at ZL17 and then everything else at ZL16.

 

Worked like a charm.  It gave me the visual experience with a very small footprint overall.

 

So building on John's original proposal could this not be an option. I would propose that  possibly  one way to do this would be for Orbx specific airport products be distributed with an enhanced local transitioning grid which would then merge with the main ZL16 grid.

 

This would retain the benefits of the ZL16 grid resolution, while providing a visual experience at enhanced local resolution at Orbx airports where I suspect most users would most notice the benefit

 

Thank you

Pete

 

 

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14 hours ago, John Venema said:

My XP11 scenery load times rarely take more than 90 seconds, no matter the flight location in the sim. You need to ensure you don’t have a lot of IO processes running, including anti-virus etc.

Yes I am the same with a lower spec pc than JV

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Digressing slightly from the main topic, but surely loading times are completely subjective and relate to hardware specs including SSD or HDD, number of drives being used, symbolic linked content, and number of addons in the Custom Scenery folder. To state that my XP loads in xxxxx seconds/minutes is somewhat meaningless. 

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8 minutes ago, craigeaglefire said:

 

YMMV

Sorry, not understanding your response. Can you expand?

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TYN=Thank you Nick. Showing my age here. I remember the days we used to use words or should I say: IRTDWUTUW:rolleyes: I thought it was an Aussie airport Icao !

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Indeed Jon.

My children and indeed grand children have an entire vocabulary that is beyond me but wasn't it that way

when we were children and grand children, just no internet yet?

 

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Well my Xplane is on my bigger drive now 2tb as that is what I am using most now and my load times are no way near JV’s, more like 2-3 minutes. Like the load screen comes up pretty quick but by the time you select a flight or something it is a bit slow. Mind you I have never bothered checking it really. Derek.

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This is great and is a definite purchase for me when it's released, but only if OrbX update their FXCentral to incorporate the option to change drives for all future new scenery installations. I know one can do that now manually, but I'd rather wait for it to be done easily using FXCentral.

 

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I'd rather wait for it to be done easily using FXCentral.

 

Hello,

it's FTX Central and the new utility is named Orbx Central

Please read and act on this:

 

 

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Ah, ok - I didn't realsie that a beta version had come out. Thanks for the info/link. I'm not really keen on beta versions of anything, but I may give this one a go before my next download/installation.

 

Edited by orbmoke
Added text.

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On 7/24/2019 at 8:57 PM, Tony Wroblewski said:

A great summary Pete, thanks. You explained it better than I could :-)

 

 So can we now reach a conclusion on this topic?

From what i see there are 2 camps. The first camp wants the full ZL17 or even higher and uncompressed version as options.

The second camp would like to see a ZL16 (unsharpened/sharpenned?) option because of their file size/HDD footprint and the fact that they can observe no real difference in fidelity (especially if they follow the XP graphics settings advised)

 I propose 2 versions and those versions to be seperate addons at the same retail price each.

If you want the ZL17 you buy and install the ZL127 with whatever improvements are offered.

If you want ZL16, then you buy and install that version.

Should you also for some reason or other decide you would like both versions, then the other version would be offered at a 40% discount because you have already bought one version. A bit like the current Orbx policy of offering a 40% discount of a product you may have purchased for FSX/P3D and are purchasing now for XP.

These options should satisfy both camps and also hopefully introduce more sales from current customers who are reticent to buy the full ZL17 offering due to download size and required HDD space. A win-win as far as i can see.

 

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On 7/24/2019 at 4:20 AM, John Venema said:

 

...

We don’t have a general problem with shipping both ZL17 and ZL16 products, as long as this is not abused by customers who then download both ‘just to compare’. Bandwidth is not free. ...

 

 

 

release a demo version tile or two like I suggested and you won't have this problem.  make it only available to paying customers.

Edited by sightseer

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Are we waiting for 5G to stream mega sized content I wonder? 

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My two cents...keep the present resolution, offer a lower resolution as an option if you want.

To make it perfectly clear, despite how awesome all your scenery is, the resolution is NOT HIGH ENOUGH to suit me. Reducing it is out of the question.

Rank

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On 7/25/2019 at 10:01 AM, Nick Cooper said:

 

Hello,

it's FTX Central and the new utility is named Orbx Central

Please read and act on this:

 

 

 

I have done thanks and everything is working fine. I have used the new OrbX Central beta version to do the transfers to my 'D' drive.

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On 7/22/2019 at 9:42 AM, John Venema said:

Our conclusion is that from 2000FT and higher you can hardly tell any difference at all - in fact ZL16 looks crisper in most cases. Also as you cycle between screenshots notice that only a radius of a few thousand feet around the aircraft is affected. That is because XP11 already uses lower LOD versions of the orthos further out, and there is no difference at all a few miles away.

 

Below 2000FT it's a bit of a compromise but to be honest most flights would be above 2000FT for 99% of the time.

 

Please also remember that all Orbx payware airports come with all circuit areas in either 30cm or 60cm resolution, so the argument about final approaches needing to look as good as possible are not relevant.

 

Addressing the conclusion: I disagree. It just "looks" crisper, the black levels are vastly different, making it visually appealing in some instances, but it is not, in fact, crisper.

As for your assumption on flight levels, I guess I must fall into the one percent, as I suspect almost everyone who flies a bush plane does. Only tube pilots are routinely above 2,000 feet.

Rank

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On 7/17/2019 at 4:18 PM, Tony Wroblewski said:

 

There is a sharpening filter applied to the ZL16, and not to the ZL17. In effect, it's made the ZL16 look sharper than the ZL17 until you zoom right in.

I would be curious to see the same 17/16 comparison at 1500 feet  ok see it earlier !
Personally, I would like to be able to continue to have the choice between 16 and 17.

Edited by jlsaghaa

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The GB size reduction is definitely good news. My plans of a new build have temporarily been put on a short delay mainly wrt trying to sort out a dedicated sim only disk storage size which would be more future-proof, as well as performance and cost effective.  I personally never saw anything wrong with the OpenLC approach.  

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I personally like the idea of being able to select the higher resolution please keep the option available for those of us that want/paid for that level of detail.

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Having been concerned about a rapidly filling C drive I invested £80 in a 4TB external drive. With the new Orbx Central migrating stuff to the new drive was easy. And then I could buy Washington.

 

I'm not convinced that reducing quality is the way to go. Requiring more powerful processors, more memory and more storage just seems to be the way it's always been. It's how it all gets better.

 

Or so it seems to me.

 

Peter

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On ‎7‎/‎22‎/‎2019 at 3:42 PM, John Venema said:

Our conclusion is that from 2000FT and higher you can hardly tell any difference at all - in fact ZL16 looks crisper in most cases. Also as you cycle between screenshots notice that only a radius of a few thousand feet around the aircraft is affected. That is because XP11 already uses lower LOD versions of the orthos further out, and there is no difference at all a few miles away.

 

Below 2000FT it's a bit of a compromise but to be honest most flights would be above 2000FT for 99% of the time.

 

 

As I fly mostly helicopters, I'm also one of those who spend 99% of my time below 2000'. My main reason for using OrbX scenery is because of how good it looks low down. I'd prefer the better detail version.

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I also vote for Orbx customer pixel detail choices (say ZL17 v ZL16) - however, what is being discussed here are valid techniques to get the ‘best bang per pixel’ - very valid for whatever resolution or download size - we happily pay for Orbx quality & the ‘handmade engineered overlay detail’ is best in class (rather than brute force generic Ortho tile mapping from currently available sources)...

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I had read somewhere that the ORBX ZL17 is in effect already looking like ZL16 due to the way the Compression/.Zip file process works, and I have to agree.  The current ZL17 stuff, does not look like the ZL17 stuff pulled straight from Ortho4XP.  It DOES however look like ZL16, but taking up the space of ZL17 once the installation is complete.  Maybe ORBX needs to look at its delivery system in order to refine the process?  I am actually a little bit dissapointed at the news of reduction in clarity for outlying areas.  According to Ami, I thought we had a HIGHER resolution "HD Washington" inbound on short final.  I would suggest maybe giving us an option checkbox in the TE installer to use "Lower Resolution Textures."  I almost feel like an update that took away resolution would be stealing away the product that I purchased.      

 

Please John and company, do not take my statements here as regret in my purchase.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE WASHINGTON TRUE EARTH!  THE BEST PRODUCT I HAVE PURCHASED IN THE LAST 5 YEARS!  I have a 3 TB hard drive dedicated to XP, and all the incoming TE goodness from ORBX.    Please keep up the good work.   

 

-Preston 

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18 minutes ago, Woogey said:

I had read somewhere that the ORBX ZL17 is in effect already looking like ZL16 due to the way the Compression/.Zip file process works, and I have to agree.  The current ZL17 stuff, does not look like the ZL17 stuff pulled straight from Ortho4XP.

 

I don't know where you read this, but it's not true, the compression does not reduce the zoomlevel to a noticeable level. When you are pulling sources from Ortho4XP using Bing/Google etc, you are able to take higher resolution imagery (without permission), whereas the imagery we use has a max 1.2m/px and the original source is not jpeg for tiffs directly from the provider. Bing is high resolution in the US but cannot be legally used or distributed or resold without permission from Microsoft and the providers.

 

When Ortho4XP downloads imagery, depending on the source, the imagery comes down as compressed jpegs before being converted to DDS, and the jpegs are just as compressed as what we used in the installer, so the difference you are seeing is that you are using source imagery at a higher zoom scaled down to ZL17 as opposed to 1.2m/px scaled up to ZL17, but the jpeg compression is somewhat the same.

 

Another statement I see often is that the free Forkboy aerial imagery has ZL18 (Approx 60cm/px) around airports, however the imagery source doesn't go higher than 1.0m/px in most areas, so this upscaling is just unnecessarily using more space per image with very little gain. The only way to get ZL18 or higher would be to use another source and blend it in nicely, and not lower resolution to higher.

 

..and finally, we will not just reduce the resolution of the imagery in an update to Washington, it will be optional if we decide to do it, and mainly for those people who are holding back because they don't have the disk-space. If you are enjoying the 1.2m/px imagery, then you'll continue to have it now and in future updates

 

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On 7/24/2019 at 2:20 AM, John Venema said:

Yes a ZL16 product would not require any compression/decompression stage in our installers at all. Instead we will ship the DDS files without converting to JPG then back to DDS again. This saves another quality degradation step.

 

Unless I am mistaken, aren’t the very popular Forkboy orthos for the USA at ZL16?

 

We don’t have a general problem with shipping both ZL17 and ZL16 products, as long as this is not abused by customers who then download both ‘just to compare’. Bandwidth is not free.

 

We will also look into a sharpen pass on ZL17 to see if there is some improvement. Just internal experiments at this stage.

 

Hopefully you all at Orbx can work out a method to keep bandwidth down, maybe limiting future ZL17 downloads if needed.  While normally I'd be fine with ZL16 regions, I am from Washington State so I'd like to keep the ZL17 quality.  I'm sure the majority would be satisfied with ZL16 going forward, but the option for both would be really appreciated for those that have dedicated storage drives for scenery.

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Speaking of "internal experiments", have you looked at other options than JPG for the lossy compression stage?

 

For example, WebP (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WebP) can produce similar quality to JPG at half the file size, and consequently better quality at anything over half the file size.

 

There's also pngcrush, that can optimize PNG images without losing any quality. The file size would still be larger than the current JPG's, but much smaller than raw DDS's.

Edited by JimmiG
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I personally would vote for ZL17 but I've got a good fast internet connection , 3TB hard drive and an 11GB memory graphics card so I would say that. :lol:

 

Having my career in the Reprographics industry, I always found the best way to sharpen in Photoshop was to use a Sharpen filter then a slight bit of Unsharp Mask to smooth out the edges.

Works a treat for lower-res images to make them look more high-res.

Used to get tiny wee images from design agencies who wanted them as a half page advert :rollmyeyes:

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