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PhotoField Page

Important Note: The technology and techniques presented in this page have been made obsolete by the new Photoreal Technology.

The new Photoreal technology features:

  • Full 180 degrees vertical and 360 degrees horizontal views (older Photofield views are cut off at the top and bottom)
  • No distortions (the older Photofield technology suffers from cylindrical distortions).
  • Faster simulation speed due to lower resource requirements.
  • Allows thousands of free images of actual places in the internet to be used as flying fields.
  • Click on this link for more info on Photoreal Sceneries.

    Thinking of flying today but can't get to the field? Maybe the weather isn't too good. Or maybe you just want to fly but don't feel like loading up the car, driving to the field and back, cleaning up, etc.

    Why not just bring the entire flying field to your PC?

    Why not put your entire flying field in PRE-Flight so you can fly at a moments notice. And why be greedy - let the other members of the club fly with you in a virtual flying session. Why restrict yourself to flying in winter when you can fly in summertime, in daylight, whenever you want.

    Putting your own flying field in PRE-Flight has several advantages:

    -Get the same familiar "feel" of flying in your own field. This puts practicing and instructing up to a new level of effectiveness.
    -Share the same flying field with your other club members in a virtual flying session with up to 32 fliers and/or spectators (via the internet)
    -Fly in a different season or time of day - anytime
    -Customize wind conditions to suit your field
    -Share your flying field as a scenery - downloadable from your website. Introduce your new members to a virtual copy of the club's flying field(s)

    The contents of this page and it's associated links will enable you to put your flying field in PRE-Flight with a minimum of effort and cost (and maximum fun).

    In brief, the objective is to string pictures together into a scenery which will show a 360-degree panorama of the flying field when flying in PRE-Flight.

    The scenery will show correctly in all possible dirrections, the aircraft shadows will show correctly as well. The completed scenery can be zipped and distributed as webpage downloads or on other media.


    -camera - preferrably digital but conventional pics can be scanned into the required format. If you're thinking of buying a digital camera, buy one with panoramic capability (like Olympus).

    -panorama creator/stitching program - I recommend Olympus' Camedia Master Pro or similar.

    If you don't have access to stitching programs, you can send your digitized photos to me and I'll stitch them for you. Contact me by email. Do not email them to me! Send them on CD via snail mail, or I can download them from your website. You can download the finished file from my website.

    Please note that I can't do a good job with poorly taken photos. Read the section below on taking good pictures.

    -photo editing program - like Photoshop or Paintshop Pro. You can get Paintshop as a fully-functional program(30 days) - free download from www.jasc.com.

    -tripod - will help to get really good quality panoramic pics

    -field - not necessarily a real flying field but it has to be flat and level and clear of obstacles for a radius of at least 30 meters.

    The scene should ideally not contain anything taller than the camera can see. If you camera has zoom, set this to the widest possible field to include tall objects.

    Also, the flying field must not contain too many moving objects (blurring or "cloning" may occur)

    -good weather for pictures - not absolutely necessary, but since we are trying to take good-quality pictures, it does help to have enough light for your camera (although night scenes are not impossible).

    Too much wind can produce blurring and moving clouds can produce troublesome shadows. The best would be in daytime, little winds, with the sun as high as possible, consistent sky (absolutely clear or totally clouded), and sufficient lighting.


    Take the Pictures:

    Make sure the tripod is absolutely level. Mount the camera on the tripod. Make sure the camera is steady and absolutely level at all times, for all pictures.

    Center the tallest object visible and frame the first picture (the reason for this is ease, see below).

    If your camera has panoramic capability, turn this on and follow the instructions that came with the camera.

    If you don't have panoramic capability, focus and adjust exposure manually. The same focus and exposure setting must be used with all suceeding pictures.

    Take the first picture.

    Take succesive pictures rightwards, swiveling the tripod, making sure the camera is level. Make sure the pictures overlap by about 15-20%

    Continue to take the pictures until at least 360 degrees is covered. Make sure there is a big end overlap - the last picture must overlap over 90% of the first picture.

    Use the same settings for all the shots (don't zoom, or alter ANY setting).

    Finish all pictures for the panorama within a few minutes. Lighting and scenery may change and spoil the whole panorama. Moving objects may be caught within 2 or more frames and produce "cloning". "Cloning" can be a nice special effect in some cases. Say, for example you wanted the same car to appear several times, just move the car into the next picture.

    Repeat and create one or two backup panoramas - just in case.

    Stitch the Panorama:

    If you have a panoramic digital camera, follow instructions that came with it. Proceed to "Finishing Panorama".

    For normal cameras:

    Use a Panoramic photo stitcher (like Olympus' Camedia Master Pro). Hand stitching may be possible with simple scenes.

    The end result should be a very wide picture. If there are visible seams, edit these out with appropriate photo editing tools like Paintshop Pro or Photoshop.

    Here's a reduced pic of a typical panorama after stitching:

    Note the big overlap of the right end to the left (the left end is repeated at the right end). Also note that the whole pic seems slanted to the right - this will cause the major problem with the next step.

    Finishing Panorama:

    We now have to close the panorama into an endless loop. This simply means that the left edge of the panorama must blend seamlessly into the right edge. The joining operation is done by PRE-Flight itself.

    Examine the left part of the panorama. The tallest object is the logical place to locate the "seam" or the joining edge (because you have less sky to "fix").

    In a perfect world, if you cut the panorama off at the exact same point at both ends, the whole thing would be finished because the right edge would register perfectly with the left.

    However, in the real world, if you now take a copy of the left edge and compare it with the right, you will find a serious flaw:

    It gets even better - somehow the lighting has changed slightly between the time we took the first frame and the time we took the last and a subtle but noticeable color difference in the sky is apparent!

    To fix the misalignment, we will have to rotate the right section of the panorama by a slight amount counterclockwise so the right edge is raised to the height of the left edge.

    Keep the image of the left edge where it is as a reference.

    Select a section of the right part of the panorama to rotate. Choose an uncomplicated part of the panorama as the left edge of this section (hopefully it won't be noticeable).

    Rotate the section using the rotate function of your editor. You can do this by trial and error or by calculating the exact amount of rotation (this I leave as an exercise). The rotation will be in the order of 0.01 to 1 degrees.

    To fix the problem with the sky color, use the smudge tool of your editor. Smudge the whole line over the right edge into the image of the left edge that you copied over earlier. Do a good job and make sure the seam is no longer visible. Do the other parts of the seam as well (don't worry).

    And the final step - copy the smudged-over image of the left edge back to its place on the left of the panorama. Viola! A seamless join.

    Here's a reduced pic of the seamless panorama:

    Now we have to resize the panorama to the correct ratio. The width must be 3.14 times larger than the height. DO NOT STRETCH THE PANORAMA! Use the re-canvas function of the editor to add to the required height while keeping the original picture centered vertically:

    A bit of creative filling, painting and smudging is required to fill the new canvas:

    Hint: You may want to put some text where the original panorama ends (bottom for grass writing and/or top for sky writing) and maybe a straight line for a border.

    Then the image is mirrored left to right, then resized to 4096 width and 1304 height:

    Installing Panorama:

    Create a new folder under Scenes folder (give it a meaningful name) and unzip the contents of the Albert Park PhotoScene (phap.zip file - download from www.preflightsim.com/pfsaver.htm).

    Save the panorama as a 16-million color BMP file called "mypano.bmp", overwriting the original mypano.bmp in the new folder.

    Run PRE-Flight and go Menu Scene, Load and open the .sce file in the new folder.

    Running Panorama:

    Make sure that the Zoom Window is active. If the model seems to hit an invisible wall as you fly the model farther away, press the F10 key once to cycle the view into the Zoom Window mode then press F12 to reset the simulation.

    Disable both effects in the Effect Menu. Do not operate the View items in the View Menu while flying.

    Do not press F4 to F11 (the View keys).

    When properly set up, the illusion of "being there" should be apparent. The model shadow should appear on the ground as in a real flying field (except at extreme range).

    Using Panorama in Muliplayer (internet):

    Before you start, make sure all players have the same folder name (under Scenes) and the same files (especially the mypano.bmp). Configure AirShow with the new scenery then operate as normal.

    Note: Due to the large size of the panorama file, some PC's may have problems in running the photorealistic scenery.