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Review: Flight 1′s EZdok Camera Addon

Our hobby, flightsimming, is constantly expanding. Developers throw at us; a new aircraft here, an airport there, and every one of them, better than the last one you thought was the best. The awe can sometimes become a little tedious, as it can seem to be just more of the same. A new high in detail, in graphics, or in sound, but still just a plane, or an airport. Even excellence can become average if you are exposed to it too often.
And then, out of the blue, suddenly, without any warning, comes a little gizmo that just seem to blow all those “seen this, done that” feelings out of the water. Something different, something – that looks like it was just the thing the Flightsimulator world was missing — and it didn’t even know it.

This was the feeling I got when I first saw Flight1´s EZdok camera utility add-on. The video of the shaking cockpit blew me away. I knew at once that this was the difference between videos of real world flights, and FS flights. That the pilot´s eyes are not welded onto the plane´s structure, but moves differently than the planes reaction to external influence.

I knew at once that this was one item I could not live without in my FS environment. So when I got a chance to review it, I was as giddy as Indiana Jones´s father.

I got a download version of the utility, and it turned out to be the smallest, in size, add-on I have ever reviewed. 6.4 mb. That didn’t take long to download.

Installation:

Flight1 has a different copy protection system than most Flight simulator product providers. Instead of you buying a product, then getting a download link, and the keys needed to open it, you go to Flight1´s site, find the item you want to buy — and download it. Totally free! It won´t do you no good though, if you don’t have money. When you click the installer, you get the buy now, or re-install, if you already bought it, and it’s a re-download.  You choose the way to buy/get the key, and you get a file downloaded, and a key file also. Those things in combination, will unlock the program you bought, and you can install it. Not the easiest system, but it works, and the copy protection actually seems to work better than many other developer´s systems do.

When installed you get a EZCA folder in the startup menu, with the following items in it.

  • Change list
  • Manual
  • Config.exe
  • Uninstaller

The EZCA program installs to its own directory — default c:\program files\EZCA, but this can vary.

On your desktop there is a shortcut to the config tool. Press it and you get this picture up. You then press “Configure FSX” and the item does its magic. When it has installed the EZdok camera, in all the planes it could, you get a list of them, plus a pop-up box, stating that the aircraft configuration has passed successfully.

Unfortunately I wasent able to see if any planes did NOT make it into the list, as I couldn’t scroll down through the list with the pop-up box up. And when pressing the OK button, the entire configurator closed. But the developers say that its very rare that a plane is not included, and if so, it can be manually amended, None of the planes in my hanger was excluded, so please use the manual if you experience problems with a plane.

Manual:

The Download version I got was 1.15, and the manual provided stated v.1.13 on top of the .pdf document, and IN the actual .pdf document it stated v.1.14. This proves one thing — not that the developers are sleeping too much here, but that the development of EZdok camera is actually work in process. More about this later.

The manual is 32 pages long, and I set it up on my laptop, so I could read it, while fiddling with all the options on my main FSX computer. You could print it out, but for once I wouldn’t recommend this, as the versions are changing rapidly, as I just said.

The first thing you find in the manual, is gruesome! It is a list of what to do, preliminary to using EZdok camera. To delete all sorts of view settings in FSX keyboard settings. Settings that I have used for years and years, and that I know by heart. They wanted me to delete it all. I admit that it took me 5 tries, and two days, before I had deleted it all. (And before that, I had made a list of all the settings deleted, and the keys it belonged to.) But don’t worry. Nothing is wrong here. You get it all back. It´s just a shock to make so harsh changes to the system.

After this hard task, the manual takes you gently by the hand, and leads you through all the endless features of this little program. If a “normal” program in FSX is gunpowder, then this one is a nuclear bomb. Small but with enormous potential.
Use the manual! You will never find out all the options if you don’t, so read it, and try out the features, while you read. This way you get tons of “eureka” experiences. Things you didn’t think possible, just waits for you to grasp it and set it. A fabulous manual. But a word of warning; always get the newest manual, or you could miss out on important features added in newer versions of EZdok camera. I did, by looking in the v1.13 manual I had downloaded previous to downloading the actual EZdok camera.

The program:

As I said to begin with, my prime interest in this program was the shaking effect in the cockpit. This was what drew me to it, and the rest — the camera options was, not only secondary, but almost dismissed before I got the EZdok camera. I like the default views in FSX, and saw no purpose in changing them, or add new ones. I simply couldn’t imagine what I could benefit from it — and God punishes us for what we cannot imagine. That´s what Jerome Wireman says, in Stephen King´s novel “Duma Key”.

Let´s start with:

The shaking effects:

Have you ever seen a FSX movie on YouTube? I bet you have. Have you ever seen a real-life cockpit-view flight on YouTube? Bing again — right? Now — have you ever thought about what the difference was?
I admit that I hadn’t. I had even seen a video where a real plane was filmed and the same plane approaching the same landing strip was filmed. The movie clips were set besides each other, so show the reality of FSX. I have always liked that video. But after seeing EZdok camera, I can see the biggest difference. Not the scenery, but the effects in the cockpit. Dead steady view in FSX, and shaking view in real plane. This is what EZdok camera is all about.

This if of course very hard to show you in screenshots, so instead I recommend watching the 17 YouTube video clips you can go to, via shortcuts in the manual — last page!

The shaking effects are mindblowingly good. Every bit as good as the videos showed me, and even better than I hoped they would be. At first I thought that the shaking effects would only occur on ground and that I would get a steady view in the air, but the effects are, although of course much harder on ground, also present in flight, as reactions to exterior, environmentally effects. You feel so much more, that you are a real plane, than before. It´s one of those things that you (or I, at least) never knew I needed, but that I would never be able to live without now. They are here to stay. It´s like the days of black and white TV, not knowing color TV´s would ever be made, and then after seeing a nature program in color for the first time — there is no going back to B/W. Same thing here.

The shaking effects are divided into three areas. (The three red push buttons in the EZdok main window.)

  • RND (random)
  • DHM (Dynamic head movements)  and
  • CR (Camera resonance)

RND gives the visual effects from traveling on the ground, and turbulence.

DHM simulates the movements of the pilot´s head. Caused by maneuvers, speed, touchdown, and is affected by wind condition.

CR simulates the camera movements when attached to parts of the aircraft, at touchdown.

I´ll return to the effects, a little further on, in the “Everything is customizable” section.

New views:

Like to make a FSX video, but always felt limited by the camera angles in default FSX? Well EZdok camera is the thing.
In EZdok camera you can set up a totally unbelievingly 255 different views — for each plane you got. I think you have to be a very professional FSX video maker, so make use of so many views, but 5 — 10 — even 20 views could be made and used quicker than you think.

On the main EZdok camera picture, you have four green, and one bluish button. These are as follows.

  • PTP (point to point) allows you to switch from a view to another with camera panning ove there, instead of the instant shift — good for videos.
  • 360 (360 degrees view) gives you a full circle movement possibility, instead of “only”# 180 degrees.
  • POW (Point of view) press this one, and you will be able to move the camera around using keyboard buttons or joystick presets.
  • ML  (Mouse look) gives you mouse view (can also be brought up temporarily by clicki- and ng and holding the mouse scroll wheel)
  • Z (zoom) enables camera zoom function with mouse wheel

Using the POW function you can pan out of the plane if you want, unless if you click the little “L” left of the aircraft type. With the “L” pressed you have walls in the plane, and are limited in movements, to the space within the cabin.

Now why would you want to have different views than in default FSX? Well I thought about this a long time, not knowing the answer to this — until I sat in a plane — I cannot even remember which one — looking for some of the light switches. Some of them can be hard to get to, in VC mode, and so you might have to bring up a 2D panel to get to the switches. Now I used the pan/zoom function in EZdok camera, and got a clear view of the light switches. While clicking the right one, It came to me. I could set this view as a view in EZdok camera. This way I would be able to get here – exactly here, in a flash, and get back to pilots head view, equally fast. And this was all I needed. After that, the ideas of different views — aircraft specific views, that should be added to my view-list, came pouring into my head, faster than you could say “change view


One click and I was here, I flipped a switch, then one click and I was back to pilots view.

I should have started by saying this, instead of this late, but better late than never. EZdok camera is not a program you install, start and forget. It takes a little ice in the stomach, and it requires that you go through the manual and/or the support forum. Learning curve? Yes! But led by the hand, by that excellent manual described above, so don’t worry. As Edgar Freemantle – still in “Duma Key” says: You can do this!
There are some settings that you simply need to set, before it works at all, but there are tons and tons of things you need to set, adjust and tune, before you can get the most out of EZdok camera. It comes with views for the default aircraft in FSX, both internal, and external views, but if you are considering buying this little add-on, I say the chance that you have add-on aircraft in your hanger, is close to 100% ( I have nothing to back that up, but I´m sure of it — if you want to change views, you have been though plane add-ons) When you load an add-on aircraft, and switch on EZdok camera you might be in for a disappointment.

Instead of this picture:   Lots of different views in default planes

you get this!:  None in add-on planes. That’s up to you

No camera views at all. And of course not. Add-on aircraft are so diverse, and so many, that it would be quite a performance to have pre-set views for all such. You have to set them yourself. All of them — for all your planes. Now if you have 100 add-on aircraft — then you are in for a task. But instead of looking at making 100 sets at once, then simply make the views for a plane — once you select that plane for the purpose of flying it. This will not only let you do the job in small bits, but will also give you an idea of which planes you never use… dust gatherers.

And when you get the views made (not that you will ever be done with that. You will constantly find new views to add, and settings that needs amending. You have a program that will keep you busy for a long, long time, but for the good. You will customize it for your own benefit. Every bit,
a little better than the previous)… you will begin to think — “but if only this feature was a little faster — this one a little weaker) – and so on, you will remember that you can change the settings. In the manual was a picture of a lot of buttons, and dials that could be turned up or down, set on or off.

World cameras:

Just today, I saw hat a company, specializing in making FSX videos, proclaimed that they are using “the new Flight1 EZdok Camera” for their videos. I can certainly understand that. Because all the things I have mentioned above, well that still isn’t enough. You can also go flying the globe in EZdok camera — without the use of an aircraft at all. You can walk. The solution is the world camera. You can make world views, just as plane views, but these function without the plane, and when loading a world view, you can use the panning, moving functions to simply move around in the world. This is perfect for a reviewer, looking at sceneries, and of course for someone making videos in FSX. Combined with TrackIR, you can make a very realistic first person view, walk, around a scenery, or walking towards a plane. The possibilities are endless. The world cameras are made in the same way as views/cameras inside the plane. But are not plane related.

Taking a stroll without my aircraft, with world camera views

Everything is customizable:

Little dude David killed giant Goliath, because he was smart, and had the tools. EZdok camera kills the default views in mighty FSX, even though it’s a very, very small program, because it is smart and it has the tools.
You see, not only can you make 255 views pr. Aircraft, set exactly where you want it, but you can change every single aspect in the utility, and in a genius way. A feature you don´t like? Try right-clicking it, and chance is you get a pop-up menu that allows you to customize it.

Remember the three red buttons, for selecting the shaking effects? Sure you do.

Now there is more to them than described above.

These three can be switched on or off separately, but by right clicking them, you pop up panels with   dial knobs, which can customize the settings.

In the pop up panels, you even get a “file” option you can click, that gives you access to export — or import of the settings you have made, to and from a location on your hard drive, for easy use in other aircraft.

Same with the green/blue button(s), the view control.

Right click PTP or ML, and you get to the pages where you can customize how fast the transition should go from one view to another, or how the mouse look is presented.

Even the “L” wall function, (see below) can be customized by right clicking.

TrackIR:

One feature that just made into the program before I got to it, version 1.15, that is, was support for TrackIR. If you are not familiar with TrackIR, then just skip this section, or Google TrackIR. Basically it’s a head movement tracking device that emulates your head movements, in the cockpit. You can move the screen so you look out the side window, with a small movement of the head. You can look up, down, left, right, and zoom in and out, all via head movements — and highly exaggerated of course, so you don’t have to move your head 180 degrees, and look behind yourself, to have the FSX view changed to backward view — this would do no good, as you probably can see.

But Head tracking along with the shaking effects. Well luckily I have a TrackIR 4, with vector clip as well as hat clip, so I was able to test this great feature as well.
I read on the forum that you need to have version 5 of the TrackIR Software. Not the TrackIR 5 itself, just the software.

I have both version 4 and 5 installed, and I can confirm that version 4 of TrackIR software, doesn’t work. But version 5 of the software works perfect, with my trackIR 4 hardware. All 6 degrees of freedom are supported.

In fact the EZdok camera add-on makes the TrackIR experience even better, as it can now be used along with the usual zoom, and pan possibilities from EZdok camera itself. The shaking effect, combined with TrackIR head tracking is simply stunningly lifelike. My TrackIR have been gathering some dust on top of my monitor, I admit that, but now — whoa, it´s just that little extra that makes the sublime, perfect.

Another new function in version 1.15 is the “Wall” limiter I mentioned above. (the “L”) This function keeps the panning, zooming and moving of the camera inside of the plane. The fuselage will stop your movement. As real as it gets? I say.

And on the forum, I read that next updated version of EZdok camera should be here around June 1. 2010, and is to support cycle view of the views you have created. Just like you are used to in FSX, change view category with one button, and views within that category with another button. This will find its way into EZdok camera pretty soon, and I will be on the lookout.

Conclusion:

First there was darkness. Then God made the Heavens, and the Earth. Then he made Man, and Man made Flight simulator. But there was still something missing. Finally Flight1 made EZdok camera utility for FSX, and we all saw that it was good.

The EZdok camera is a winner. It´s an amazing utility, and the only thing I can say about it that is really awful, is that it took three and a half year to bring it to life. It now sits in my FSX, and there it will remain, forever and ever.

The shaking part of EZdok camera is the one thing that was needed in FS to take it a giant leap forward, towards reality, and this alone would have made a perfect add-on. Nothing more needed.

But!

This is only half of the EZdok Camera utility. In addition to the shaking cockpit, you get the camera view settings part of the EZdok camera. This part I didn’t think I would use much, but boy have I gotten wiser. I am going to tamper with it, creating the perfect views to get the jobs in flying done, and I am going to smile ear to ear, while doing so.

It does take a little time learning, no doubt. You got to read the manual — about 17 times, (and keep it handy anyway) and I highly recommend visiting the site for updates, and the forum for reading about good ideas, getting camera angles made and uploaded by others, and to see just how much others like the EZdok camera.

Also take a look at the 17 YouTube videos, from the manual. Not only it is fun, and great videos, but you learn, and you get ideas of how to customize the program to suit you the most.

As I said above, it really is work in progress. It seems that the developers listen closely to the customers on the forum. I have seen several things people asked for, being replied to, that this would be put on the wish list, or even, will be added in the next update.

The possibility to turn EZdok Camera off (Num3 — or Shift-D) puzzles me a little though. As you have deleted all view changing options in FSX, turning off EZdok camera will render you completely lost, as you have no way of changing views. But in the end this is about the only thing I can find that is not logical and great.

One final thing to say would be: Why are you still reading this? Run and get your copy of EZdok camera. You cannot live without it.

Oles gold star rating: (1-10 stars) 10 stars!

Ole Andreasen

Developer/retailer: http://www.flight1.com
Homepage:
http://www.flight1.com/products.asp?product=ezdockcam
FS version: FSX
Price: $34.95/€28.41/£24.61

YouTube videos:

Shake effects with EZdok camera

VC navigation with EZdok camera

TrackIR with EZdok walk camera

About Miguel Blaufuks

2 comments to Review: Flight 1′s EZdok Camera Addon

  • Peter Hayes

    Ole
    Nice review – is it now stable as there are an awful lot of posts on Flight 1 with modifications and changes almost every hour!
    However, I have followed its developemnet over the last year or so and it does look good!!
    PeterH

  • Phil

    Peter Hayes:

    The latest version, 1.15 is extremely stable and works great!