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Transcript of Coasts
« on: March 22, 2009, 02:32:47 PM »
MegaScenery Earth: Washington State
By Jon Silk
I remember back in nineteen-eighty-something, going to a computer show and being amazed at the sight of an aircraft taking off from a runway on the Microsoft (or was it Sublogic back then?) Flight Simulator. What impressed me so much was that the runway was grey. And it had a runway number painted on it! Now, twenty-five years later, with photographic scenery, I can fly over my house and see my car parked on the driveway. When I fly over an object in photographic scenery, I know it was there in real life and isn’t a construct designed by a graphics artist. I know that distinction isn't important to everyone, but to me it is
Megascenery Earth is developed by Aerosoft Australia (not, as I understand it, associated with the German company of the same name). Aerosoft’s stated aim is to cover as much of the world as possible with photographic scenery, as fast as possible, starting with the entire continental USA. Their product has 1.19 metre per pixel resolution, and is produced from a variety of free and purchased data.
Who said size isn’t everything?
Washington State is a groundbreaking product because it is the first entire state to have been modelled on the continental USA, totalling 71,303 square miles of terrain. Sights include the cities of Seattle and Spokane, Mounts Rainier, St. Helens, Adams and Baker, the Columbia River and the Grand Coulee Dam, plus many miles of Pacific coast. Washington State is mountainous and heavily wooded for the most part, making it great for the bush pilots out there, with agricultural land in the South East.
So, what do you get in this product? It includes summer photographic textures, night textures, and "improved and enhanced" autogen. What you don’t get is extra 3D objects, enhanced airports or mesh. In places, the default offerings may seem to have been moved slightly to line them up with the photographic textures, but, because of the amount of area covered, this will not always be the case as I’ll show later.
Tacoma at night
Running away from the sunrise over the Columbia River
The Makah Indian Reservation
Megascenery Earth can be bought in a variety of ways, as the state weighs in at around 57 Gigabytes of files. You can buy the entire state on a refundable hard drive or by download. If you opt for download, you have a further choice between regular and premium download speeds. If you prefer not to order the entire state you can order separate tiles. These tiles are not to be confused with standard FSX terrain tiles, as they typically cover around 1300 square miles and are between 400 and 1500 megabytes in size. A discounting system reduces the cost as you buy more tiles, but of course the cheapest option, per square mile, is to order the entire state in one package.
However you buy it, the scenery has to be installed tile by tile. That’s 57 tiles. Although you can run the installers concurrently, there is no method to install all of them in one process.
What you see in photographic scenery depends on several factors: The time of year the photograph was taken, the cloud cover and lighting at the time, the resolution of the image, and how consistent the mesh and the water masking are with the textures. Every now and then a ‘magic moment’ will appear where it all works together and from a pretty low altitude it will appear to be a fully 3D scene despite there being no 3D objects, and every now and then something not so good will happen and shatter the illusion…
So here are some magic moments: Coasts can be rocky,
Icy or even Sandy! A precice line
that can be called
Coastline cannot be
determined due to
the dynamic nature
of tides. The term "Coastal Zone"
can be used instead, wich is a
spatial zone where interaction
of the sea and land prosesses
occur. Both Terms Coast
and Coastal are often
used to describe a
geographic location or
region; for example,
new zelands west Coast,
or the East and West Coasts of
the united states.