Multiple monitors/projectors and terminology

Any issues, problems or troubleshooting topics related to computer hardware and the Prepar3D client application
zahry
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:32 pm

Postby zahry » Sat Oct 01, 2011 12:47 am

Hi everybody, my first post here :) ,



The Question number One to which I can’t find answer anywhere:



“Is P3D supporting Wide Field of View from one single PC”

- i.e. can I get FoV about 220 -270 degrees without significant distortion and without using the old 3 over 1 window view cheat?



When I had a look through the forum here I found there is quite a lot of confusion what the terminology is and what the p3d can do. “Multichannel support” is bit ambiguous and misleading name to me (I have to admit it fooled me pretty well) as this feature is usually called either “Spanning view across multiple PCs” or “Networked View” and it is for long time provided by Wideview (The program is absolutely fantastic and incredibly easy to use). I hope it won’t sound offensive but it seems to me LM is trying to reinvent the wheel and barking on a wrong tree :). To my best knowledge the problem with FSX/ESP was always the limited FoV of one View and lack of multiple monitor support.



I think for effective communication there should be established some terminology everybody would understand and agree on. In example here is the reason why I’ve got confused with the “Multichannel Support” name.



To me means:

View = window with some view in it (VC, locked spot and so on)

Channel = ONE output/view (same as TV channel) across one or more Monitors/Projectors

Multiple Channels = Multiple outputs/views across multiple Monitor/Projectors

NETWORKED Multiple Channels = multiple outputs via network of computers to multiple Monitors/Projectors (aka WideView)

Single Large Screen – one group of monitors/projectors acting as a single large screen - aka Eyefinity, aka TH2G, SoftTH,

Multiple monitor support – correctly spanning view and FOV across multiple monitors or single large screen on Single PC



I would like to ask if somebody could clarify and make a uniform terminology to be used here in forum and THEN answer my Question number ONE. Many thanks :D


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Beau Hollis
Lockheed Martin
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Postby Beau Hollis » Sun Oct 02, 2011 10:06 am

"Image Generator" (IG) and "Multichannel", are terms that are very commonly used in the government and military simulation market. They terms were coined long before dedicated graphics hardware even existed. In the past, it wasn't feasible to output two full sized views from one PC, so high end sims would have a big rack of computers to drive the visuals. These are refereed to as multichannel IGs, and because there is generally a 1:1 relationship between PCs and video outputs, the term "channel" often is used to describe both the output and the PC that is generating it.



Note that the actual simulation of the world and any physics is calculated on another PC call the "Host". The AI and scenario scripting are handled on yet another computer running a Semi-Automated Force (SAF) or some other constructive sim. Using SimConnect, you could technically configure Prepar3D to be a Host, SAF, or an IG. In it's standard configuration, it does the job of all three, while also supporting multiple views across multiple monitors.



If a government or military customer hears "multichannel", they assume "NETWORKED Multiple Channels" as you stated above, which is why we simply called the feature "multichannel", and also why the associated configuration files are riddled with the term "IG". Wideview is great, but its too limited for use with mid-to-high-end simulations or dome projection systems. We're trying to provide software to two different communities with different needs terminologies, and there will be growing pains for both user bases as a result.



Sorry for that ramble. Here is what you really asked for:

View: As you described

Channel: Networked PC

Multi-Channel: Configuration of 1 Master PC and Some number of Slave PCs (Master is doing simulation and synchronization's)

Multi-Monitor: Multiple views spanning multiple monitors.

Single Large Screen - As you described. Note: From a software perspective, this is a single-monitor scenario which relies on special graphics cards and drivers to trick the OS into seeing one super-wide monitor.



We can handle wide views. The renderer will detect the width and height in pixels and adjust accordingly. To control which way it zooms, set WideViewAspect=True/False in your Prepar3D.cfg. Note that if your single large screen is not flat, you will get distortions. If your monitors are at different angles, you would need to set up 3 views with the properly adjusted view angle offsets to get the desired visual effect. You can also use one of the 3rd party perspective correction libraries that we support to project one view onto complex curved surfaces.



[Edit] Also, while standard views don't have explicit FOV control, you can create observer views with a forced vertical and horizontal FOV of your choosing.



Beau
Beau Hollis
Prepar3D Software Architect

zahry
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:32 pm

Postby zahry » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:49 am

Hi Beau, thank you for the explanation, clarification of the terminology and the answer to my question :-).



Are you considering to add support for Curved Single Large Screen or would you consider to improve the 3 views support? i.e. I'm using 6x projectors out of single PC and I'm using Warpalizer for warping and blending. My setup is 270 hfov and 100 vfov. screen height is 2.4m and it is almost 7m wide with motion platform in the middle.



here is a sneak peak at the system - the view is slightly distorted due to fish eye lenses. the camera was strapped to my forehead and all the shakes are caused by the motion platform.



FSX

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmasFnkhKb8



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDZns-mUrgE



and with all features on with black shark (headtracking, dynamic head movement effect and clickable cockpit) example what I'm trying to achieve

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tOSzJd1vmG8



In FSX/ESP/P3D using the 3 different views requires rendering of 3 independent sceneries

The problems I'm currently fighting are:

1) inability to correctly synchronize the views (I can lock the 3 views together but to pan but even though it causes lots sorts of troubles when moving view)

2) inability to click on switches in VC when using the3 views cheat.

3) inability to use TIR

4) inability to use EZCA or the default dynamic head movements.

5) higher demand on processing power than necessary.




Legacy Support
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Postby Legacy Support » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:46 am

Hi zahry,



We have support for Omnimap and EasyBlend image correction and edge blending software applications, which is what Beau was referring to in his response. These require separate licenses from the companies that develop these applications, but will address image warping for large curved displays. More information can be found in the Prepar3D Learning Center. As far as I am aware, Warpalizer does not yet support Prepar3D, although I did make contact with them a few months ago to see if they would do so. I haven't heard back from them yet.



There are several disadvantages using the original source code base for what you are trying to do. It was never designed to be used in higher-end simulation systems, so you will run up against some obstacles as Beau indicates. It does an excellent job up to a point. Prepar3D does have the new features required for these higher-end applications. The multi-channel solution that is now built into Prepar3D is used to address performance issues in multi-screen systems such as yours. Hardware "gen-lock" synchronized graphics cards are also recommended. We have also included support for multi-touch on touch screens for cockpits.



Apparently EZCA works with Prepar3D and TrackIR works through EZCA right now. http://www.prepar3d.com/forum-5/?mingleforumaction=viewtopic&t=68



Regards,

John


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Beau Hollis
Lockheed Martin
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Postby Beau Hollis » Tue Oct 04, 2011 12:26 pm

Awesome setup. Keep us up to date on your progress.



We don't have native stand-alone support for curved surfaces but we do provide support via partner software (OmniMap and EasyBlend). The A.C.E.S. trade study shows off Prepar3D with OmniMap:

http://www.prepar3d.com/2011/06/14/a-c-e-s-flight-simulation-and-lockheed-martins-prepar3d/

For more information on how to use EasyBlend and OmniMap, check out the "Enabling Partner Software" section of the learning center.



DirectX doesn't allow sharing of general purpose resources like textures between monitor outputs (adapters), and requires a separate render for each. Thus, if you're not using a Single Large Screen (SLS) method to fake out Dx, you're going to have a pretty big pref hit. You'll still take a hit using SLS, but the hardware vender will optimize the resource handling in ways the app can't.

Also, Prepar3D/ESP/FSX does a bunch of extra CPU updates for each view, because it can't assume they're all in the same general location. Using the SLS approach is probably your best option. You could also leverage multichannel to offload the rendering performance to other machines. It can even be combined with SLS such that you run 3 projectors from each box.



Beau
Beau Hollis
Prepar3D Software Architect

zahry
Posts: 4
Joined: Thu Sep 29, 2011 11:32 pm

Postby zahry » Tue Oct 04, 2011 10:16 pm

Hi guys, thank you for your time, effort and input - much appreciate it. I'm very happy you are happy to talk the things through.



I've noted we are still mixing few things together in the multimonitor support discussion so I'll try to separate those things apart.



- The blending/warping and camera output for flat/curved surface:



What we are mixing together is warping/blending and camera output for flat/curved surface



the way I understand things:



Camera output can be either for:

Flat surface (and will look funny on curved surface) - i.e. similar to fish eye lens photo of cockpit

or

Curved surface (and will look funny on flat surface). - i.e. panoramic photo of cockpit.



Warping and Blending is used to correct projector image for distortion caused by projection surface and to stretch flat surface output on slightly curved projection screen but because it is stretching the output instead of converting it there is loss of image quality (bigger curvature/higher FoV = higher quality loss).



In regards to blending and warping I think there is no need for P3D to do anything as there are programs exactly for that purpose. Personally - I'm not much keen on EasyBlend or Omnimap - the team and support is very good but to achieve the same what I'm doing with warpalizer would blow my budget out of the planet. I have to say I'm very happy with Warpalizer - the way how it performs, the price and the support.



Some good news - I can confirm the Warpalizer team is hard out working on the update and the version I've received a few days ago that seems like it got p3d support sorted.



- TIR and EZCA functionality

I'm aware TIR and EZCA works in the program itself but in very limited fashion - it works only with the main view and as far as I know it doesn't work with any additional views - hence if I'm using 3 Views (left, forward, right) there is no effect and I'm not aware of any workarounds.



- SLS support: Flat vs Curved screens, size and HFOV and VFOV

For now I'll leave the networked solutions completely out of equation - for various reasons it would severely limit what the simulator can do while making it very expensive at the same time (I'm trying to keep the whole system about $75k kiwi ($57k us)).



I've done a little bit of reading in learning center and testing and please correct me if I got it wrong

- P3D has very good support for multi-PC solutions and gaming/home users with single monitor but I can find virtually no support for SLS (i'll leave the 3 views on SLS workaround out of equation for now as it limits the functionality of the P3D in many ways and while it fixes one problem it creates bunch of others).



The way it looks to me P3D treats SLS in the same fashion as FSX/ESP. i.e. it treats SLS composed of 6 projectors/monitors as a single small monitor with very high res instead of treating it as a Single Large Screen with normal resolution.



Great example of SLS support and SLS on curved screen are DCS simulation programs and X-Plane

- In DCS you can have 3 cameras in single view (DCS) output which can be than corrected with warping/blending software for curved screen

- In X-Plane you can get direct output (single view) for curved SLS instead of flat screen and adjust HFoV and VFoV as required.



Would it be possible to add the same kind of support to P3D/ would it be possible to have panoramic view in P3D in single view?



Will be there any improvements to single view output limits from the original FSX/ESP limit of 90 degrees HFoV and flat surface only?



Best Regards



Tomas




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Beau Hollis
Lockheed Martin
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Postby Beau Hollis » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:16 am

Observer views allow you to independently control the HFOV and VFOV. Noromal cameras do not at this time, but likely will in future releases. If WideViewAspect is not set to 1 in your Prepar3D config, the camera will componsate by zooming in and effectively cropping out the top and bottom. If you do set it to 1, you should get a wider view which corresponds to the size of the actual SLS you are using. This will still be a flat projection. I guess the long and short of it is that you can have more than 90 in either hight or width but not both at the same time unless you're using observer views or multichannel configurations.
Beau Hollis
Prepar3D Software Architect

Legacy Support
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Joined: Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:22 pm

Postby Legacy Support » Wed Oct 05, 2011 9:22 am

Hi Tomas,



Suggest that you put the "SLS Support" item as a feature request in the Feature Request topic here in the forums. We will not be addressing it at the moment, but could put it on the list of items for future releases if the team believes it is something that would benefit the product and our customer base.



John



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