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answered Why Orbx does not offer ZL18/19 or uncompressed imagery?


John Venema
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I don't do YouTube, Facebook, or most of the other forums (except for support) so I realise that I'm preaching to the converted here, but I'd just like to offer my thanks and ongoing support, to JV and the ORBX team for this TrueEarth effort. I had already created a full UK XP environment using the freeware ortho tools, and although it was good, I dropped it the instant TrueEarth became available. For me, the colour matching, and more importantly the quality of the POI and autogen (or whatever the correct term should be) makes this a grade 1, triple-A rated product. I realise it could be even higher res (at a large storage cost), but I don't feel the extra res buys that much without the built environment that works with it. I'm really looking forward to the rest of the package, and then the porting of the UK airports.

 

And I can't really begin to imagine how some of the other regions might look, but I anticipate them being the best scenery available when they do arrive.

 

Plus, I've still got the option of using the freeware tools to create my own little "true earth lite" areas wherever I choose. It's a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

 

Just one punter's opinion.

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  • 2 weeks later...
On ‎10‎/‎16‎/‎2018 at 3:48 PM, andy1252 said:

 

Plus, I've still got the option of using the freeware tools to create my own little "true earth lite" areas wherever I choose. It's a win-win as far as I'm concerned.

 

Just one punter's opinion.

 

Interested to know how you can do that.  Same walk through/ advice much appreciated.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Thanks for making this post.

 

And just so you know, I am one of those folks who tends to build my own photoscenery on XP11 -- but I have to say: once I installed this product, I immediately went back and disabled *all* my custom-built photoscenery for the areas covered, and have not looked back once!

 

In other words, I'm very pleased with the quality, and the work you've put into not only the *absolutely amazing* coastlines, but also the clearly painstaking color matching (and probably other tweaks) to make it look absolutely real.

 

The only thing that I'm still hoping you can address is the fact that all the custom overlay assets (e.g., custom objects such as skyscrapers and/or just general building facades, etc.) all seem to be highly compressed, and it doesn't seem you offer any way to get those uncompressed or at higher-quality compression levels.

 

I'm sure this is because you can much better control the FPS impact (and the overall texture cache impact) by keeping things at a certain compression level through and through.

 

But for me, it can really lead to some disappointing screen shots, for example.  I often end up with amazingly photorealistic images that most people probably would think was a real photo, but then I'll notice in the foreground, the buildings or other objects will be so pixelated (or more accurately, will have JPG or JPG-like artifacts throughout), thus putting a pretty big damper on the realism. :-(

 

I understand it may not be smart or even safe to run totally uncompressed just given the incredibly massive number of objects you have (and the correctly and obviously higher LoD values -- something I really love, by the way, about your scenery) -- but if I could somehow get higher compression when I wanted it, just in cases like that, I would be happy. (Or happier, I should say, since I'm *very* happy with the TrueEarth product for X-Plane 11!)

 

Thanks again.

 

   Steve

 

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Have to say using g2xpl with an UHD mesh and recent Openstreet maps gives me really good results, yet will be getting all the True Earth releases because of all the extra work that goes into them.

When flying VFR using Skydemon for Nav everything on the map is outside, outstanding.

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  • 4 months later...
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One compromise, as demonstrated by Ortho4xp, is to use ZL 18 or 19 within say 5 miles of each airport. That way you do obtain the sharper images when you need it - when flying at lower altitudes.

 

I have spent weeks and weeks downloading, cleaning and installing Ortho4XP terrain for the UK over the past year or so, but I have just bought the three GB sets today for the extra work that has gone into colour correction (not always good in Ortho4XP jpegs, especially in Scotland) and landmarks..

 

I am still installing the ORBX sceneries as I write this, but yes, for future updates, adding zl18 tiles around (even selected/major?) airports would be very welcome, if that would be commercially viable for ORBX?

 

Looking forward to Ireland.. :)

Edited by martinlest
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  • 3 months later...

Hello John and chat,

 

Thanks for venturing into the X-Plane product line!

 

As you've likely seen, there are many X-Plane users that had built a lot of Ortho4XP before Orbx became an option. That being said, many of us are equipped with HD space to accommodate.

 

Taking this into consideration, it would be great if in the future you provide an option for say a base of ZL17, and then ZL18 within a selectable distance of an airport (Ortho4XP defaults this option at 5KM, but customizable), and then ZL19 within a closer distance of said airport.  This gives users a nice sharp low altitude visual experience when arriving and departing airports.

 

Understandable that this may come at a cost! Personally I'd have no issue paying a bit extra on top of the base scenery package.

 

Thanks!

 

Ned Torbin

Edited by Torbin
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Hello John,

 

you mentioned high compression for the source image as part of the delivery system.

Is there a comparison between the compressed and uncompressed image? 

I noticed some more blurry images (like a lower resolution image on a bigger canvas) in suburbs while flying low on TE Washington and i guess this is just because of a compressed source image since otherwise the product is perfect.

Did you consider offering a paid upgrade for the uncompressed images to accommodate the additional traffic costs?
Having the more crisp feeling you normally get with ZL17 as part of your excellent products would be the holy grail of flight sim scenery.

Edited by Morlun
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4 minutes ago, Morlun said:

I noticed some more washed out images in suburbs while flying low on TE Washington and i guess this is just because of a compressed source image since otherwise the product is perfect.

 

 

In my experience washed out looks are not the reult of compression, the source imagery is lie that, and it''s quite common in aerial imagery as the light changes and filters are applied to reduce haze etc.  Compression will normally show as lower resolution and more jpg artifacts etc.

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5 minutes ago, John Dow said:

 

In my experience washed out looks are not the reult of compression, the source imagery is lie that, and it''s quite common in aerial imagery as the light changes and filters are applied to reduce haze etc.  Compression will normally show as lower resolution and more jpg artifacts etc.

 

Sorry, maybe i missused the term washed out, corrected my first post. I meant it looks kind of blurry like a lower resolution picture than it actually is. 

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  • 3 weeks later...
On 10/17/2018 at 9:51 AM, jjaycee1 said:

 

1947645754_TEGBZL17.thumb.JPG.a924b8cb6bb23065a12d1f9d6b2eec68.JPG

 

There is no denying that TE looks good. But I see some really bad artifacts there in the textures. It looks like jpg compression when you move it past 90%.

 

noise.jpg.2cd21911a61e371830730568c4252fe7.jpg

 

It creates very nasty patterns that you cannot unsee.

 

Or is this just the jpg compression in your screenshot?

 

 

Edited by Burning Bridges
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  • 1 month later...
On 10/16/2018 at 2:48 PM, John Venema said:

There have been some murmurings around the net such as “my ZL18/19 is much crisper and better” and while we understand those sentiments, it misses the premise behind TrueEarth Great Britain. We have provided an easy to install solution that is fully colour corrected with millions of correctly placed trees, buildings and bespoke modelled POI 3D objects which is something which you cannot achieve using freeware tools.

 

Most importantly, creating this region has been very, very expensive; especially in terms of licensing the aerial imagery and other data from a commercial provider, acquiring the toolset used to create it and then paying numerous modellers and other developers contract fees for their work.

 

Also keep in mind we will provide free perpetual updates to TE GB for all customers, automatically delivered via FTX Central and simple to update without any file fiddling.  However, these hundreds of incoming 3D models need to be contracted out and paid for. You just don't get new castles, cathedrals, vertical obstructions, power stations, piers, marinas, bridges, important buildings and cityscapes appearing by magic.

 

We have in fact, established a bricks and mortar development centre in the South of England to house these modellers and we are hiring up to twenty of them over the coming year or so. That's a big investment without knowing the payback at this stage.

 

Our ZL17 source  imagery has been through numerous editing and processing iterations to clean it up and do colour balancing, and is also heavily compressed as part of our delivery system. We had to find a balance between quality and product size to best suit the needs of 99% of our customers. We also could not justify the cost of licensing higher resolution imagery.

 

Why don't we offer a ZL18 or ZL19 alternative?

 

Whilst some people may have 4TB or even larger disk drives to store a huge amount of ortho on them, that is the exception rather than the rule. As a company we do aim to make a modest profit from our products and if we offered ZL18 or 19 versions of Great Britain it would firstly cost over half a million pounds in imagery license fees, and secondly about the same in hosting and internet bandwidth costs, completely defeating the purpose of making the product at all.

 

It is one thing to use freeware tools to scrape imagery off Bing or Google and not pay one cent for it. It is an entire different proposition when you are a business which wants to use licensed imagery to sell commercially. I’m sorry if this is not the answer some of you are perhaps looking for but that is the reality of the situation .

 

The feedback on TrueEarth Great Britain South on various forums, YouTube videos and Facebook groups is overwhelmingly positive and that the pros of the whole unified colour-corrected package outweighs the cons of our processed imagery.

 

Well people that reckon that their DiY Ortho is better, cannot be looking that closely.

 

You know me: I don't often don't mince my words if I'm not happy (and I HAVE been told off !), but from what I've seen of the Southampton demo in XP11, together with LOWI, I am VERY impressed. Once I get me a new 2TB SSD, to add to the mix in a couple of weeks, I'll be installing as much TE stuff as I can, in XP11.

 

It isn't about one feature such as "sharpness", it really is about how everything blends together - the Big Picture !

 

I can't wait to see the Lake District and the Scottish Highlands. And for the first time ever, may even go for the U.S lower 49 stuff.

 

 

Edited by Gabe777
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I don't usually pipe up in conversations like this but I'm so impressed with the Orbx scenery and work that I feel I have to.  It seems that every time someone ventures to do something new and offer something great to the community, there are more complaints than kudos.  I've also seen this discourage the further development of said fine products.  I think the answer is as simple as a tv set:  if you don't like what you see switch channels. (In other words, don't buy it if you don't like it.) You don't need to disparage the artist before you do so, though.  If you can do better, by all means, do so and then maybe you can sell your scenery (after all, a little competition never hurt anyone :) ).

 

Personally, I have a pretty high power system (not the best by any means) and when I do my own orthos, I have settled on ZL 17 as the fine point between performance and appearance.  It allows me to have a decent weather system installed that greatly improves the sky, and this amazing scenery to vastly improve the ground while running the more and more complex and resource intensive aircraft models being developed. (And do people love to complain about those :unsure:)  I have been incredibly disappointed in the results appearance wise not because of the imagery but because of the abnormalities that occur and no one is going to fix those.  I am new to Orbx products (relatively), downloaded Oregon, had a problem with Pearson and Oregon together, posted the photos to let the guys know, and they are going to fix it.  THAT's what having professional modelers and developers that care about what they are doing, is all about.

 

Finally, there is the cost to consider.  Not everyone has unlimited funds to spend on scenery for a flight simulator and I appreciate the effort to do something really nice and attempt to keep it somewhat affordable to the average person.

 

All I have to say to Orbx is THANK YOU A HUGE AMOUNT for venturing into the X-plane universe, please don't let the detractors influence your fine efforts, THANK You for the fantastic support and attention to updates, and I, for one, look forward to seeing more from you.  I do most of my flying in the New England area of the US and you have a couple of fine offerings that I grabbed from iBlueYonder before they became part of your offerings and look forward to the day that I have your amazing ZL 17 corrected scenery to put around them.

 

Blue skys Orbx team!

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  • 1 month later...

I am a great fan of ortho , and was a little disappointed when i installed trueearth as my ZL 17 images were much sharper than the orbx ones, However I do love the trueearth product and find it excellent value for money and it is very simple if one wants to disable the orbx ortho and replace it with your own. the downside as others have mentioned is you can get different coloured tiles, the up side is that the coasts in ortho are much more realistic, you pays yer money and you take your choice i use trueearth untouched for high flying and my own if i am  puddle jumping.

 

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