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Thread: Model Converter X Question and Help

  1. #1

    Model Converter X Question and Help

    Hiroshi, the very talented modeler of POSKY, SkySpirit and now TDS made a nice FS9 model of the 767-100 series, a plane that was initially ordered by an airline but was then cancelled. Not a huge tube liner fan but I like the model and think it would make a great ultra long range BBJ that could also access medium length fields. I tried using Model Converter X to change it to a native FSX model, so it can be merged with a decent VC (default 737 or JF Freemium 757 vc) however I am not sure what to do and the output I exported did not appear in the sim. I have successfully created a scenery bgl from the USS Oriskany model, but that is a different process. I see Lazarus and other members here have started converting a growing number of freeware FS9 models successfully. Any suggestions?

    Model (with winglets) is here:

    Well I've been to one World Fair a picnic and a rodeo and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard come over a set of earphones.

  2. #2
    OK, I'll bite- bearing in mind I don't know what I'm doing on a good day...
    I also don't know what you're doing, so...

    I'm presuming you've Henk's mdl definitions installed? That's first off, you have to have the updated animation definitions, or your're dead in the water at the jetty. The other utility needed is RADitor to re-set the model radius.
    If you've got the animation definitions updated, and a export with functioning animations showing up in MDLX but no model in sim, you've probably missed re-setting the model radius, and the model viewing distance is ten miles plus, you won't see it in the selection window.

    Radius being the external eye point distance from centroid...I suppose
    X, Y and Z radius- X being span left/right from centroid, Y being length fore/aft from centroid, Z being height below/above the model center.
    Typically in a converted FS9 model, you will see a radius like 1845.235, or some huge number, similar values in the X,Y,Z.
    I'm bloody lazy, so I'll grab a rough eye-ball radius of 8-15 for a small-medium fighter sized model, 20+ for larger models. I suppose the X,Y,Z should conform to the dimensions of the aircraft, plus some fudge factor. I usually just blork in the radius number for X and Y, half the value for Z, 70% of the value on the up side, 30% below.
    A Essex pointed out, the interior model radius should be the same as the external model radius.
    For a 767 try a radius of 33, X= -33+33, Y= -33, +33, Z= -10, +23

    That seems to work for radius, and nobody's complaining...yet.

    I'm down for a C check and a TX'd fan, so I'll keep an eye on the thread, get some turn around on this.

  3. #3
    Lazarus, appreciate very much your taking the time to respond and explain what is involved in detail. Sadly, this is going to be way above my skill level!
    Well I've been to one World Fair a picnic and a rodeo and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard come over a set of earphones.

  4. #4
    No, it's not. It's just poking buttons. Though I'm almost violently opposed to riding in the back of a tube - a dreadful chore, as uncomfortable and un-enjoyable as an iron maiden, sans whimsy- I'm going to load that one up and were going to go through it step by step. Like the fat kid from north korea, building a bomb is easy if somebody else has done the skull sweat first!
    Attachment 36597

  5. #5
    Lazarus, could be so kind as to point out where to obtain the new mdl defs? I would be super interested....I'm like you just poking around, but I would love to understand a bit more how to use MCX as well. I thought I understood it well enough, but recently started getting animation linkage errors during obviously I'm missing something!
    Commercial AS/MEL & Instrument
    Certified Airplane Nut

  6. #6
    Let me set up a few things and top off the generator. We'll do a tutorial, provided the model doesn't have some weird ground equipment on visibility conditions- still have not been able to wrap the skullbone around that...see monkey picture.

    This is native TDS 767, but a -200. I guess the difference is tube length?

  7. #7
    Monkey looks super-glued to one of the 1960's Estes Rockets kits I used to drool over in their catalogue!

    OK, will try to keep up widge ya but some of it sounds a bit out of my band width.
    Well I've been to one World Fair a picnic and a rodeo and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard come over a set of earphones.

  8. #8
    Gonna follow along with this as well. I have a low-level working knowledge of MCX as I use it for converting 3D scenery objects for use in my scenery. I would enjoy being able to "Nativize" some aircraft of my own too, so we'll see how long it takes me to cry "Uncle", lol

  9. #9

    Okay...lets get hacking....

    Attachment 36613
    Everybody has model converter installed and pointed at the SDK? Henk's mdl def XML there, it goes in the SDK, just as the file structure of the nested folders.
    Back up your existing XML, or move it to a spare folder, as you wish.
    Fire up mdl converter.
    Attachment 36614

    Lets try something simple that most folks here can get into, the Alphasim A-3B. One is floating in the library, but it's a bit of a mess.
    Click the import button top left...
    Attachment 36615
    Should look like this.
    Open the A-3B model, the converter will grind and smoke for a moment, and a dialogue window pops up and asks for your wallet...kidding.
    Attachment 36616
    the variables need to be set. The 'gen model' number tells the converter which model in the file to read. 1= reads the VC, 2= reads the external model. I don't know what difference 8000 makes, it still reads the external model (see monkey picture) Leave 'gen model' at 2.
    g_light_states tells the converter which attached lights and presumably, effects to read. For this model, 0=none, 1=nav lights, 2=VC landing light (?) 3= landing light, 4= I don't know (see monkey picture), 5= all attached lights. This one still goes by me- you have to set the conditions for the lights and I don't know how, so the damned things stay on all the time...Maybe we can smoke out a solution.
    Hit the 'set' button
    Attachment 36617
    The converter spins round like a fruit machine, some smoke comes out, don't be alarmed....then you should see this.
    Attachment 36618

  10. #10
    I forgot to mention, the little paper clip icon shows attached objects...
    By now you have noticed the opaque glass. A couple of the materials need editing in FS9 models.
    Click the material editor, the button highlighted in blue...
    Attachment 36619
    A window will come up...scroll down on the left and click on glass_t. You may have to edit the alpha channel of the bitmap or DDS in DXTBMP.
    Attachment 36620
    At the top right of the material editor is a selection window, pull that down and select 'default transparent'. There's a bunch of other stuff for all the reflections and this and that that needs a bunch of fiddling...that can be done latter. Lets keep it simple and leave it the way it was, the glass texture assigned as spec. On this one, it comes out nice and shiny.
    Attachment 36621
    One reason for using the A-3B is, I've already found most of the un-features. One odd one on some of the old Alpha-sims is the interiors read transparent through FSX glass, so you'll have to click on each of the interior textures for the cockpit and assign 'default opaque' to them, otherwise, you have a glass-bottom plane. (see monkey picture)
    Attachment 36622
    So you should end up here, clicking on the little clapper-board icon, highlighted in blue. This is where the new mdl def XML file comes in.
    I'm going to take a break for a few, let folks catch up a bit, make the Dog some breakfast (before his gut caves in on his backbone, from the expression he's giving me)

  11. #11
    We've clicked on the animation editor icon (the clapper board), and a menu window comes up
    Attachment 36624
    The long list at the top is the list of animations in the model. Now we have to go down the list, and change the FS9 animation definitions to the new MDL X definitions.
    First, you have to isolate the animations. We'll start at the top of the list with 'c_gear'. Beside the 'select name containing' button is a window with 'gear' in it. double left click to highlight that, and type in 'c_gear', then hit the 'select name containing' button. onlt the boxes for 'c_gear' should be checked. You can wiggle the slider or hit the 'play' button to see the animation.
    Attachment 36625
    To the right of the 'assign animation type' button is a window that says 'action 1'. Click the arrow to expand the list. These are the new animation definitions. Scroll down, and click on 'c_gear'- that's the nose gear retract and suspension sequence, bty. Now the window should read 'c_gear'.
    Attachment 36626
    Now click the 'assign animation type' button.
    Attachment 36627
    The converter does it's fruit machine thing, and the list comes back with 'c_gear' checked. Then to the next item on the list, 'lever_stick_l-r'. Type 'lever_stick_l-r' beside the'select name containing' button, hit the button to check off 'lever_stick_l-r', scroll down the list beside the 'assign animation button', select 'lever_stick_l-r', and assign.
    Always check you have the animations you want-watch the syntax. If you mess up, the yellow arrow icon pointing left will undo the last action once. A second goof will usually mean starting over, or sorting through animations by hand to unsnarl any untended changes.
    Attachment 36628
    And so on down the list. Another reason for using the Alpha A-3 is most of the animations are one for one swaps, with no guessing at which animation goes where.
    Usually, it goes like this. Some times, it's guess and test until it works. Some models have 600 listings of 'unknown', and you are going to go through one box at a time and wiggle the slider to identify which 'unknown' belongs to which part and animation.

  12. #12
    In this case, there are 3 'unknowns' in the external model, all for the nose gear steering. Select these, and assign 'Rudder_pct_25_reversed'.
    Attachment 36629
    the other guessing game tag is 'usrvar', or user variable- the rudder. Assign 'Rudder_FS9_360' to this one.
    The C_tire, l_tire and r_tire are assigned the C, l or r_tire_blurred_key.
    elevators and aileron seem to like elevator_pct_25 and l_ or r_aileron_percent_25.
    F-canopy is the crew door, 'door_0'. Bomb bay is 'visor', I changed it to 'door_1'
    Spoilers, tailhook , wing fold, leading and trailing flaps are apparent.
    When you get to the end of the list, check over the animations, make sure you have everything changed over.
    Last edited by lazarus; April 1st, 2016 at 20:23.

  13. #13
    OK. Almost ready to export. Next, we need to assign a new name and guid number to the model- you can skip this part, and the model will keep the original name and guid- possibly causing confusion latter.
    Attachment 36630
    Click on the magnifying glass icon, 'model information'.
    Attachment 36631
    Click 'edit', amend the file name, click the 'assign new guid' button, the converter does its thing, and a new guid pops up. The new name is now set, and the model reads as such.
    Attachment 36632
    Select the 'close' button in the 'model information' window. Now it's time to export. The export button top left, next to the import button. Hit it.
    Attachment 36633
    You get a window with the model name and type, all self explanatory. We want to export as an FSX MDL object. (*.MDL)
    Attachment 36633
    The converter grinds away, the little whirly thing in the lower left corner spin-cycles. When it stops, you should have a happy little light bulb down there (not there!)
    Attachment 36630
    Before you exit, manually go to the model folder and make sure you got a model file with something in it, but you should not have gotten any error messages. Should be about 5.4Mb. Then open the new model in the converter and see how it looks.
    Now, the VC...
    Last edited by lazarus; April 1st, 2016 at 20:30.

  14. #14

    Radius and VC

    Now we need to set the radius with RADitor. Dead easy. I guess everybody has RADitor installed- see top of thread, D/L and install. Run it, and a window comes up.
    Attachment 36646
    Point it to the newly converted file, hit the small select button, then the read button. You will see some huge number in the radius window and bounding box window. Double left click on each in turn and change to match the picture values. You can increase or decrease to suit your tastes, but the VC model should have the same radius and bounding box latter. Hit the the 'write' button. That's it. You should now have a basic MDL X A-3B ready to go.
    Now, the VC. Hit the import button on MDL converter,
    Attachment 36647
    select the FS9 A-3B. The model dialogue window will pop up.
    Attachment 36648
    You will want to set 'gen model' to 1, lights state to 5 for the VC landing light. (You can use the converter to remove or edit those latter by hitting the wrench icon for the attached object editor.) Select set, the converter fruit machines for a moment, and...
    Attachment 36649
    The VC come up. Select the material editor. Each of the $VPANEL place holders is selected and assigned 'default transparent' in turn.
    After those are adjusted, select the animation editor (clapper board) icon.
    Attachment 36650
    This is a short list, so start at the top again, you can manually select these. These are going to be changed to the lever commands. There is the lever stick fore and aft, lever stick left and right. The tail hook lever is on the left side of the pedestal- pilots right hand. The 'unknowns' are the throttles- left lever becomes 'lever_throttle_0', right becomes 'lever_throttle_1'. Two 'unknowns' are the rudder pedals, those have 'lever_pedals_l_r' assigned to both. The last two are 'lever_landing_gear' on the right pedestal, the lever that looks like a gear leg and wheel, and 'lever_flap' on the left corner of the pedestal, f_canopy -s 'door_0'. Select one at a time and wiggle the slider. This one is easy. A cockpit with zillions of switches is a major PTA.
    Select the 'object information' icon (magnifying glass) hit edit, change the name to A-3_interior_X or something, hit the 'set new guid' button, close the window, and export.
    Run RADitor again, set the radius and bounding box to the same values as the external model, hit the write button.
    Now, amend the model config file as you would for any FSX model- eg:
    Load up the sim, see if it works.
    This is the tedious part. Find any miss features, note those, exit, go back to model converter, adjust animation definitions, export a new model. Note. Export with a new name so you don't overwrite and loose your original. You must also reset the radius every time you export a new model.
    Test again.
    I'll save you some time. The one un-feature I found is the left main wheel refuses to rotate. It could be a contact point glitch, I'll have to look, or I might have screwed up. If not, try 'tire animation' assignment, or assign it to the 'right tire blurred'.

    Attachment 36644

    Addendum-de-dum-dum. I ran the 767-100 through the gizmo, just to have a look at it. As I thought, its got all this yellow stuff glommed around it on visibility conditions. That can be done, Henk seems to have that by the face. It's just a bit more complicated. Say, like tying your outflow valve to your uvula the long way 'round.
    The nasty, lazy way I favour is to sand off the offending bit's with the material editor and hierarchy editor. You can isolate (sometimes!) parts, highlighted in red, and remove them.Attachment 36655 Easy.
    Attachment 36656

    So. This would be a (Sisyphean) labour of love(?). Then hope you don't get an aptly named 'main ARG string error' - which is when you scream ARRRRRRRRGGGGG!... And unload eight rounds of .45 ACP into the laptop...
    Last edited by lazarus; April 1st, 2016 at 22:08.

  15. #15
    The A3D_X in the demo zip works nicely.
    Attachment 36657Attachment 36658Attachment 36659

  16. #16
    Charter Member 2016
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    Jun 2005
    Somewhere in the South of England
    Thanks for this tutorial Lazarus.

    I often wondered what the steps were, I have dabbled a bit with MDLX but never managed to get the animations working.

    Looks like I need to go thru your tutorial in detail to help me understand.


  17. #17
    Senior Administrator Roger's Avatar
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    EGCD...they bulldozed it!
    This is a great tutorial. When the present subject is complete I'll add it to tutorials
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  18. #18
    "We'll do a tutorial, provided the model doesn't have some weird ground equipment on visibility conditions- still have not been able to wrap the skullbone around that..."

    OK, let me explain how visibility conditions work. Any part of the model (or attached object like a light effect) can have a visibility condition tag which controls the visibility of the part in the sim. The conditions under which the part is visible or hidden are xml coded in a similar way as animations. Visibility conditions types are also stored in the ModelDef.xml file, you can recognize them in the ModelDef.xml file by the tag "Visibility<visibility></visibility>" (vs. animations which are tagged "Animation"). The possibilities are endless, let me just mention a few:

    - Show drop tanks, missiles or bombs only when the correct weight is entered in the FSX Payload Mgr (see 2nd screenshot example).
    - Show/hide modeled vapor streaks or drag chute
    - Switch an aircraft light on/off
    - Hide AI aircraft crew figures when the engine is not running
    - Show/hide ground equipment

    This is how you assign a visibility condition - assuming you already have the MDL file opened in MCX:
    1. Click the Hierarchy Editor button on the top menu, this opens up the window as in the screenshots below.
    2. Find the ModelPart or AttachedEffect which you want to assign a visibility condition to and click on it. In the 1st screenshot example I chose a beacon light AttachedEffect, in the right pane you will see it's properties. If the ModelPart/AttachedEffect does not yet have a visibility condition, the condition type under the "Visibility Condition" node has value "None".
    3. Click on the "Visibility Condition" value to open the list box which shows all visibility condition types which are stored in your ModelDef.xml file.
    4. For the beacon light, I selected condition type "light_beacon_vis" (this links the beacon light effect to the FSX beacon light key command).
    5. Close the Hierarchy Editor.
    6. You now can export the MDL as FSX MDL object.
    7. Set the radius/boundaries with the MCX MDL Tweaker which is under menu item "Special tools" > "MDL Tweaker" (works the same as the Raditor tool).
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails mcx_he1.jpg   MCX_HE2.jpg  
    Last edited by hschuit; April 3rd, 2016 at 07:28.

  19. #19
    Excellent! Thanks Henk, that made sense. I've just sorted out glass and reflections, and am making up the next set of flashcards for that, then we'll tackle lights. Give me a year or so, I'll catch up!

  20. #20

  21. #21
    Well, it all is way above my skill level - but cool stuff! Think the Vertigo Panther VC will merge nicely with that Cougar . .
    Well I've been to one World Fair a picnic and a rodeo and that's the stupidest thing I've ever heard come over a set of earphones.

  22. #22
    Hi lazarus
    I have been following this and have a question for you. I have tried this on a couple of older models (Ju_Attacker, Fw200c6) and they export fine but the animations for ailerons and rudder are backwards. Both ailerons move in the same direction and the rudder moves in the opposite direction to anticipated but when in Model converter the animations appeared to be fine. Can you explain this for me and do you know how I fix it?

    thanks in advance

  23. #23
    Hi, Paul. Sometimes you just have to keep trying different animation definitions, export it, load it up, run the sim and try it. It can be time consuming, and frustrating.
    Expat, you're selling yourself short-it's just tedious digging through lists- in the case of the 767-100, it's a long, dull job, but doable. As you wish. Many times, I note 'how do I do this?' questions are semantically equal to 'would somebody else do this for me?'. It's not hard.

  24. #24

    Setting materials

    We want shiny glass, and reflections! I sat down with the box, a jumbo tin of Kirin, a combat hookah and a colt series 70, one of Henks explanations, and forced myself to figure out the material settings.
    So. Open up the A-3B in MDl converter, then open material editor, we'll start with glass from where we left it.
    Attachment 36711
    On the right side of that window, roll down to the bottom, and work your way up the list-it's easier. You will have to do some fiddling with some textures. Lets save some time.
    Attachment 36712 Dump these in your A-3B texture folder. Starting at the bottom of the list, you are going to change these values and make some new texture assignments.

    recipe for shiny glass, reflections and environment maps enabled.

    alpha test function never
    alpha test level 1
    Z-test alpha false

    allow bloom true
    specular bloom floor 0.89999997615814209

    ambient colour 255, 255, 255
    diffuse colour 64, 255, 255, 255
    specular colour 255, 255, 255

    no shadow true

    source blend SrcColor

    fresnel ramp
    diffuse true
    reflection true
    specular true

    blend environment
    by inverse diffuse alpha true

    reflection scale 0.800000011920929

    specular map scale 128
    use global environment map true

    diffuse texture GLASS_T.DDS

    fresnel texture CANOPY_FRESNEL_RAMP.DDS

    specular texture GLASS_S.DDS


    Now we're going to do the same thing for the external textures, a basic shine and enable reflections. Select one of the exterior textures. You'll want to do the same thing for glare panel, engine bullet and oleo. scroll down the right hand side list, make the following changes.
    Attachment 36713
    Remove the specular texture assignment- we'll cope with spec and bumps later. Change these values.

    recipe for shiny surfaces-reflections and environment maps enabled

    allow bloom true
    specular bloom floor 0.89999997615814209

    ambient colour 149, 149, 149
    diffuse colour 149, 149, 149
    specular colour 49, 49, 49

    reflection scale 0.10000000149011612
    specular map power scale 0
    use global environment map true

    Do this for all the external textures, update the model name in the object information editor and export.
    If faced with a long list of animations and textures to convert, you may want to export a back up X file periodically as you go along. If the converter eats all your memory and derps, you wont loose all your work.

    Now your A-3B has nice fsx glass and textures interacting with the environment. I forgot to grab a cap, so the B-66 will be illustrative.
    Attachment 36714

    I ran these processes on a selection of different models with consistent results.

    Next, those dastardly coded lights

  25. #25
    are you planning to release the B-66 fsx conversion?

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