Saturday, October 15, 2005

What does it take?

What does it take to create an aircraft from scratch to being something simulated within Flight Simulator? A tremendous amount of patience!! A lot of people ask me often how I do what I do ... so I thought I would outline a bit of the workings of my favorite thing in the world, creating aircraft for MSFS.

First and foremost, an aircraft has to be selected ... duh. That sometimes isn't as easy as a task as one would think. There are many things to consider: Do I have access to this particular aircraft? Will the owner(s) be agreeable to the idea of having the aircraft picked apart and recreated? Will the buying public find it to be a worthy addition to their virtual hangars?

Okay, next is approaching the individual with the aircraft and explaining what you want to do with their aircraft. I consider this a fun challenge. I usually show him/her several screens of what a project looks like in Gmax to help explain how 3-D models are made. Often I'm asked if I work directly with Microsoft (I wish), but I quickly let them know that I'm working with Dreamfleet that does Add-On enhancement aircraft for Microsoft's shelf product.

Okay, so the owner is gung-ho on the idea ... great! Now, time to start picking apart the aircraft. No, not literally, but almost. On a typical project, I'll photograph every detail imaginable, and I mean everything! On my current project, I know I have taken at least 750+ photographs. Everything from nuts and bolts, rivets, to every instrment gauge. It takes several hours, and several memory cards to accomplish this.

Another important aspect for starting a project is to obtain technical drawings. To create something 3-D from nothing, at best you need 3-views. These offer a "guide" to getting the basic shape done correctly. I say guide because they are often inaccurate in the finer details, such as window shapes, etc. That's why I carry a trusty tape measure! Yes, I crawl over the entire aircraft with a tape measure ... and you can't get more accurate than that!!

Data ... Data ... Data! You can never obtain too much on the aircraft. The single best source of this is the POH (or Pilot Operation Handbook). Guys who do flight model work drool when they get their hands on the POH, or a copy of it. I do my best to get this info into the right hands as early into the project as possible.

Actually building the aircraft ... It's done piece by piece, just as if it were done in the real factory. Simple geometric shapes are "reshaped" into fuselages, wings, elevators, you name it! I comare it to molding clay. Patience is required! I learned the patience for this by assembling plastic aircraft models when I was young.

Well, almost time to head down to Augusta.


pixelpoke said...

Stop writing this blog and get back to commenting on mine.


Welcome to blogland.



Rob said...

G'day from a fellow 'polypusher'... nice to see your blog.

You've at least an audience of two. :)