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Flight Sim Motion Enhancement - Demo Software

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Games Visual Motion Enhancement Software

Flight Sim Screen Motion Demonstration Software

ENHANCED SCREEN MOTION - METHOD DEMONSTRATION SOFTWARE

 

The ORB projector articulation method is interesting in its potential application with motion platforms. However I think it might also be of interest for simmers with stationary set ups and there may be an approach that produces the same screen movement effects but on a standard computer monitor. So I've been straining my modest coding skills to the limit to see if I can replicate the motion on a standard fixed computer display. To achieve this the flight sim display needs to have some room to move about in the monitor's display area and this can be achieved by reducing the size of the displayed sim window and then manipulating its position on the screen. As with my projector driver software the screen motion is derived from the live flight motion data using algorithms I've developed and is therefore closely matched to the aircraft motion.

 

LFS Screen Motion Effects

LFS Car Sim Clip 1

LFS Clip 2 - longer and with scaled down (tighter) movements

I've uploaded some demonstration software (link above) that works on my system with a dual monitor display - It should be treated as "proof of concept" software as it is intended to demonstrate the effect and is NOT provided as a fully functional and tested application.... see sections below for more info.

 

This approach of a software implementation of the motion enhancement method is not restricted to MS Flight Simulator or even to flight simulators in general but is also directly applicable to racing car sims for example. This will allow for some interesting motion enhancement effects without the need to build motion hardware - on the right are a couple of movie clips with the method applied to LFS racing sim.

 


 

WHAT IT DOES

 

The demonstration software generates a duplicate of the FS9/X Main Display window, reduces this in size to produce a smaller window on a black background and then induces movement of the duplicate display which induces an additional sense of motion for the flight sim user (at least it does for me)!
 

Flight Sim Screen Motion

Flight Sim Screen

Motion Clip

The display motion is generated in real-time from the flight motion of the aircraft.
 

SYSTEM REQUIREMENTS

 

The demonstration software is intended for use with MS FS9 or FSX running with a dual screen set up. Otherwise, to be honest, I don't really know what range of hardware it will run on. I've run the software on my Vista 32 bit Dual Core PC with a Nvidia 8000 series graphics card. It does need an OpenGL capable card. It should also run on XP SP2 machines as the bitmap handling functions it uses are supposed to be supported on XP SP2 - but I haven't tested this.

 

The dual monitor setup should be with the desktop extended across the two displays. The main FS window needs to be made active in order to keep your keyboard commands active and the sound output audible, however you also want the duplicate window to be visible at the same time - so they really need to be on separate monitors.

 

Flight Sim Screen Motion Demo Software

Screen Motion Enhancement Software

On my system the demonstration software runs better with FS9 than FSX probably because of the lighter CPU loading. Although the OpenGL element is hardware accelerated the bitmap handling uses the main CPU and will affect the sim frame rates. On my system both FS9 and FSX take a 5/6 fps hit when the display motion software is running. My best (crude) efforts produce a frame rate of roughly 13/14 fps in the moving display itself - not great but good enough for demonstration purposes. I have the sim frame rates capped at 25 fps and get a working rate of roughly 19 fps in the main sim window when the software is running.

You will need an up-to-date copy of FSIUPC installed as this is how the sim data is extracted.

I haven't tested compatibility with other FS addons at all, however there shouldn't in principal be a problem. There are a handful of hotkeys programmed (see below) and if these coincide with hotkeys for other active applications there might be some conflicts.

 


INSTALLATION


Unzip the zip archive contents into a dedicated directory and run the .exe from there. There are no registry settings etc so to uninstall just delete the files.

OPERATION


For best effects darken the room when you are flying so that it is the moving display that holds your visual attention and not your stationary surroundings. This is important. You may also find that the effects are strongest when you concentrate on your flying.

1. Do the unzipping.

2. Start a FS9/X flight in windowed mode. Move the main sim window onto the 2nd display and SIZE IT SO THAT IT COVERS ROUGHLY 75% OF THE SCREEN AREA (the duplicate moving display window will use this size to set the size of the bitmap it uses - making it bigger will increase the amount of pixel data that has to be processed and will slow things down, make it smaller and the performance will improve but the resolution of the moving display image will reduce).

3. Move the FS window back to the main (1st) monitor (can be done the other way around but the
always-visible task bar sort of mucks things up a bit). DO NOT RESIZE THE SIM WINDOW. Best to use a VC view. The current motion setup is for a light GA aircraft - eg Beech Baron.

4. Run the BFF_Screen_Motion exe. It should produce two new windows - a small UI and a bigger
OpenGL window containing the duplicate sim window.

5. Move the OpenGL Display Motion window to the 2nd monitor. Hit hotkey "M" and the Display Motion window should maximise on the 2nd monitor and the main sim window will become active on the 1st giving you flight control and audio. You can now take a flight using the 2nd monitor as your main display - try it in a darkened room with only this monitor visible to reduce the visual impact of the fixed monitor structure. This is an important element in tricking the brain about the motion.

6. To finish hit ESC to close, or hit hotkey "N" to de-maximise the motion window which can then be moved about as required.

NOTE When running with FSX I find I get smoother motion if I set the BFF_Screen_Motion process priority to "high". On my system the program does not increase its CPU usage but it does seem to get interrupted less by FSX. You can do this in Task Manager or by setting the Priority parameter in the vis_screen.cfg file. This may not work an all systems off course so you may need to experiment.

 

NOTE The sliders can be used to do a simple scaling on the window motion. Experiment with this... you may need to make adjustments if you are flying other than a light aircraft.

 

For use with MS FSX better results might be obtained if FSX's dynamic head movement effects are removed.

HOTKEYS


These are therefore:-
M - Maximise motion window and make FS active
N - De-maximise motion window
ESC Close Display Motion application
PageUp - Increase display motion window size
PageDown - Reduce display motion window size

...... sorry if these conflict with other apps - but this is just for demonstration.

EXPERIMENT


The GUI has some sliders that allow the horizontal, vertical, tilt and in/out components of the dynamic movement to be scaled.

Setting the capping frame rates in the sim seems to make a difference to smoothness etc but this is probably dependent on how powerful your machine is. Setting weather and traffic low so that the CPU load is reduced is probably sensible to get the best demo effects for now.

Try a flight in stormy weather.

What do you think about the touchdown effects? Try a one-wheel first landing.

Try an "off-road" excursion, or landing on a gravel runway.

Try a full stall.

The motion can be adjusted in several ways using the settings in the vis_screen.cfg file but you will need to read the relevant section in the BFF Motion Driver V2 manual where there is a lot more detail about the configuration parameters - see Appendix *.

APOLOGIES

I'll get these in first! My OpenGL programming is rough to say the least - sorry if the app falls over or misbehaves. It doesn't interfere with your FS settings - it just duplicates the image bitmaps from the sim window using standard Windows API calls - the only programming interaction with FS is through the usual calls to FSUIPC to pull the flight data.

Let me know how you get on...

 

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Page Published 19th January 2009

 
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