By its very nature Photographic Scenery involves large amounts of data. The greater the resolution the more data is involved.
An example of this can be seen in Volume 7. To fit the data for this area onto DVD for distribution as an FSX product requires 5 dual layer discs holding approximately 8GB per disc to produce a resolution of 60cm. The same area produced at the maximum resolution FS9 can handle, 2.4m, requires a single, standard 4GB DVD.
Actual Photo data now exists that allowed production of Photo Scenery at a resolution of 30cm. The producers were Earth Simulations who had to deliver the data to customers via portable 500GB hard drives.
As that is unfortunately no longer available with the demise of Earth Simulations, let's look at what we have now and the problems people may have installing the software.
Firstly we have a DVD, which consists of a fine metal layer, stamped with the data needed for the laser to read, encased in plastic. These DVDs are not the same as the ones on public sale for 'burning' your music collection on.
Second we have the DVD/CD Reader which is in fact one of the cheapest components in a modern computer system. Put simply it spins the DVD so the laser can pick up the data.
The disc need to be reasonably well balanced in the drive and the laser needs clean optics to get a good reading. If either is slightly 'off' then problems begin to emerge.
It is very rare these days for brand new DVDs to be off balance which leaves the DVD Reader/Player as the main source of problems. They pick up dust from inside and outside the computer case and are not always treated with respect when the drawer is closed. Who hasn't pushed the drawer instead of using the Open/Close button?
In the vast majority of discs returned 'faulty' there is actually nothing wrong with the disc.
When this happens there is a very good chance that dispatching a replacement set will have exactly the same result, a failed installation!
No one likes having to wait for replacement goods when they have eagerly sought to use their new purchase. Fortunately in most cases the 'failed install' can be overcome by not installing from the DVD.
When the Install/Setup process is run from the disc the timing of data transfer is critical to the file order being moved to the hard drive. If the processor moves on before the DVD drive has supplied the information the install will fail. If, however, you copy the data from all the discs in the set to a single temporary file location it is not a time critical process. Once all files are copied to the temporary location simple 'Run' the Setup.exe file.
Having taken the DVD drive out of the equation should give a clean install. Once you are happy that the install is correct simply delete the temporary file you saved the disc data to.
Conflicts: Volumes 1 -10.
1. These Volumes do not conflict with any other scenery. Installing them only adds entries to the scenery library, they make no changes to any of the files in your Autogen folder within FSX.
2. I should point out that Volume 8 whilst not conflicting with its sister volumes does have certain Install parameters which look for the existence or otherwise of Volume 3. This is because it contains a 'transition' layer between the two Volumes so that the change in resolution is not prominent. Please remember that Volume 8 has a resolution of 0.6m set against Volume 3 at 1.2m. If Volume 3 is detected the installer acts to blend the files. If for some reason, i.e Custom Folder location or lack of Registry entry it doesn't find Volume 3 it will install to match default FSX scenery.
If Volume 8's installer does not detect Volume 3 then you can manually make the changes by following the 'manual install' procedure on Disc 1 of Volume 8.
3. Earth Simulations released their version of the Isle of Man by download early in July 2013. It is known that the Terrain files for this Volume extend their influence into the Volume 8 area causing sections of the Mull of Galloway to become flat. To correct this problem simple move the Earth Simulations IOM terrain folder below that of Volume 8 in your Scenery Library.
4. Having installed any of the Volumes you will find that the internal GPS map no longer functions in that area in respect of terrain display. Airports, Beacons etc still appear. This is not a fault created by the photo scenery which fully complies with the requirements of the FSX Software Developer Kit issued by Microsoft. There is a bug within FSX that prevents coastlines with the accuracy of this photo scenery from displaying correctly. It was one of a number of 'problems' not resolved before support work was terminated by the developer of FSX.
All is not lost in respect of the above as a replacement, far superior, mapping system has been developed by TA Software, a member of our Flight Simulation community. It is called 'Plan-G' and is available for free from: http://www.tasoftware.co.uk/ The simplest and greatest advantage of this product over the default map is that it is constantly update-able and is not fixed in time at the date FSX was released.
5. Third Party Airfields. If you are using VFR Airfields from Scotflight or UK2000 you should disable the airfields folder that came with the photo scenery, where applicable. The simplest way to do this is to untick the folder in the Scenery Library.
6. "When I install photo scenery the airfields are on raised land or sunk into the ground." This comment is often made by new users to photo scenery.
It has a simple cause, Flight Simulators prior to FSX always assumed that the Earth was flat. A flat Earth made it easy for AI aircraft to take off and land on a flat runway. When Aces Studios were given the task of producing FSX they took the runways from FS9 and ported them into a round world FSX. When you get a runway that is long and flat and bolt it to a round world you get curvature of the Earth effect and that is what you see.
The default Landclass tiles are somewhat elasticated to allow for the effect so it doesn't show up as much. Married to a less than accurate terrain mesh means for most people it isn't a problem.
Photo scenery usually comes with a high resolution topography underlay. A mile high mountain may well register a mile heigh compared to 8/10ths of a mile in default. It makes the curvature stand out more.
This curvature problem can be overcome by 'blending' the height of the flat runway to the surrounding land height. Many Freeware and Payware airfields made for FSX include files to mask this height mismatch to give a pleasing and seamless blend from flat to another height.
Installation & Conflicts: VFR Volume 12 onward
Volumes 12 onward are produced by Earth Simulations. They contain extensive autogen in the form of buildings, trees and other objects together with seasonal textures and sound files.
Unlike Volumes 1 - 10, to achieve all this extra detail requires the implementation of modifications to the default "Autogen" folder files.
In a standard install of FSX this places the folder in a 'protected location' partly controlled by the Operating System, User Access Control. To ensure that the Installer can modify the default autogen files the Setup.exe file should be run with Administrator Authority.
If the Autogen files are not correctly updated then large areas of scenery will not appear in the simulator and you may experience failures to load when you start FSX. To correct this requires manually placing the supplied Autogendescription.spb, RoofDescription.spb and default.xml in the FSX\Autogen folder. You should backup the existing files in case you wish to remove the new scenery.
Please be aware that Earth Simulations were not the only developer to modify the previously mentioned files. ORBX, Germany VFR and France VFR also modify them. This can result in a new scenery from any of these producers breaking a previous install from another producer.
Please ensure that if you have Orbx FTX installed that it is set to "Default" before you commence installation of any scenery produced by Earth Simulations.
Volumes produced by Earth Simulations contain their own highly detailed Airfields, as such they are not compatible with Airfields from other Vendors.
If you have Volume 1 of UK2000's Airfields installed you MUST inhibit St Mary's using the UK2000 installer. Failure to do so will leave you with many 'floating' buildings as the base layer of scenery will be disrupted. If you have UK2000 airfields for the Isle of Man, Ronaldsway, Jurby or Andreas these too should be inhibited using the UK2000 installer.
Freeware or other payware airfields designed to replace the default versions of the above airfields should also be inhibited.
Earth Simulations Isle of Man
If you install the ES version of the Isle of Man after installing Volumes 7 & 8, Scotland South and Central you will have a conflict whereby water will appear over sections of land along the Scottish coast.
To correct this problem simply move the ES Terrain folder down the Scenery Library listing until it is below the Scottish ones. At the same time making sure it is above the files for Volume 3, if installed.