Interview: Gabriele Cripezzi of VERO Simulations

The definition of a “simulation” is to imitate something real. VERO (“real” in Italian) has just began producing what we believe to be one of the most significant developments in flight simulation for the years to come: photo-realistic sceneries of unprecedented detail.

They decided to start with photo-real ground textures to then start producing 3D environment like buildings and trees. It’s a big project but they seem well skilled, organized and prepared to face all it takes to become an important name in the industry.

No more compromises here. We are talking about a great FSX enhancement as it will not be necessary to give up on snow coverage and seasonal variations, simulated by default in FSX.  Here follow’s an interview with Gabriele Cripezzi, founder and head developer at VERO.

Gabriele, you said you are involved in the real estate and touri50sm business. What made you interested in the Flight Simulation business?

Well, before that I’ve been involved in multimedia productions for quite few years, including an in-depth knowledge of Photoshop and imagery optimization in general. Ortho-photo imagery is digital photography. Plus, I’ve been flying with FSX for the last 4 years and so, I am not new even to the sim world.

We have compared your screenshots to those from other ground textures and sceneries producers and it’s clear there’s something unseen before. The fullscreen pictures look like real aerial photography. How can that happen, since they are based on the same source the other guys use?

Well.. the difference is in the luma/chroma optimization. What you have seen so far is just the orthophoto compiled to make it FSX compatible (bgl files) without any kind of optimization work.

Luma/Chroma Optimization images:

[imagebrowser id=30]

What about the night variations? We saw few different versions on your website.

We have published all the variations we made since the first tests. We figured some people would like one version instead of the other one. But the bottom line is that we ended up with two standard versions: one version is more realistic and it’s better if used together with autogen (buildings are bright at night), while the second one, a brighter version (more FSX default style), is good if you don’t have any 3D environment.

Night Variation: INTENSENight Variation: INTENSE

Night Variation: REALISTICNight Variation: REALISTIC

And  the seasonal variations?

Again, it’a all about making it as real as possible and seasonal variations (together with the hard winter snow ground coverage) is something I wouldn’t, as a sim pilot, give up on. We color correct the vegetation (grass and trees) according to the fall, winter and spring/summer foliage color hue.  All this, leaving roads and roofs perfectly untouched.

HardWinter Variation images:

[imagebrowser id=31]

The hard winter variation looks incredible. How did u come up with that result?

I knew FSX had an Hard Winter scenery I started to make some tests back in December but then when I realized that HW is not a real FSX variations as instead seasons are, I decided not to invest time on it. Then, one day in Skype, Arno from FSDeveloper.com told me “hey… it’s just matter of enabling the hard winter textures in the scenery library. People won’t have problem doing it.” — So I decided to restart working at it.

And you made two different versions of the hard winter variation as you did for the night.

Yes. It’s all about the realism so I thought to make two different snow coverage versions.

HardWinter Variation: LIGHTHardWinter Variation: LIGHT

HardWinter Variation: HEAVYHardWinter Variation: HEAVY

Some people out there don’t like photo-realistic ground textures as when you fly below 3000 feet the texture looks really bad.

  1. our textures look ok just above 2000” agl as they are not satellite images but hi-res aerial digital photography at 1meter/pixel resolution. Plus, we have developed a details enhancement technique that we called “VERO HI-FI” that really makes a difference and it improves the textures details in a way that you need to see to understand.
  2. If  you fly on virtual cockpit view (as serious sim pilots fly) with a low wing aircraft then when you are at 1300” agl you will not complain about what you see. If instead you fly with a high-wing plane like a C172 or a Maule and you look down below, then you will need 800 feet more to be a happy boy.
  3. By the way, if you are below 1300” you are either in final approach or initial climb. If you are in final, you will not have time to look too much around while if you are in take-off, at the time you are ready to look out side you are above 1500” if not higher. This doesn’t apply to helicopters of course.
  4. We will add autogen on top of the textures so during a low level flight you will not see the textures but the buildings and trees instead.

At 1300'' AGLAt 1300” AGL

Some of your competitors produce 30cm/pixels ground textures…

No way! FSX with today’s hardware is not able to load the textures fast enough for you to see everything crisp an clear not even at 40 knots. Some out there say they use 30cm/pixel resolution imagery and then they re-sample at 1mt/pix just to impress people. The reality is that there is not difference between using a 1mt/pix imagery and a a 30cm/pix re-sampled to 1mt/px for FSX. It’s just doesn’t make a single difference. Anyway, we also use 30cm/px resolution imagery but that is only because the 1mt/px imagery in some areas (like Redding California, for instance) is not good.

So what is the max flight speed that your textures can handle?

You can perfectly see the textures at full LOD15  flying below 200 knots at 5000” agl on a 2.4Ghz Quadcore PC.

Tell me more about the VERO HI-FI

Well… that is something you better see yourself as sometimes an images worth millions of words :) — Click here to download the PDF with Fullscreen Images

Which areas are you working on?

We started with California as it is spread from north to south latitude allowing us to produce all from summer to Hard Winter. We are working on U.S.A. As all the imagery are available for free from the government. Hopefully we will be able to find imagery for Europe soon, at a reasonable price.

Let’s talk about product delivery… All this sound to be pretty big file size, isn’t it?

Yes sir. We are talking about huge amounts of data that needs to be processed. We will ship hard disks ready to plug and play. No installation needed. Just plug the HD and enable the sceneries included in the scenery library.

Oh that’s cool as many folks out there don’t like installers and stuff. It sounds the retail price will be kinda high.

Yes you’re right. At least for now. In the future, as HD cost will drop as normally hardware do, then it will become a product for low budgeted simmers. We are trying to keep the price as low as possible as our main market is full simulators more than desktop simulators. Anyway, as a desktop simmer, I’d love to have all this stuff in my FSX so I we  decided to offer an “entry pack” that will allow an entire state of US like California in a single 500GB external HD (USB 2.0 is enough as there’s not need for high transfer rate for the textures).

What will this “Entry Pack” be?

It will include one daylight version (summer) + one night version + one hard winter. People can choose between the 2 versions available for both night and hard winter. Then desktop simmers will be able to upgrade buying more seasons or the other night and hard winter, of course.

So this means all the BGL you will deliver will be separate files?

Yes all separate files so even “Entry Pack” customers can upgrade step-by-step to PRO, adding seasons later on.

Nice. So when will we be able to fly above VERO’s world?

You can do it right away as we have a couple of areas available for free download on our website at http://vero-fs.com/free-sceneries/ — regular sales at the end of May 2010.

What is your goal with VERO?

Our (as we are a team of five) goal is to become the number one scenery production companies for FSX but we would also like to become the one stop resource for quality FSX add-ons.

Thank you!

Vero: www.vero-fs.com


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Sunday, March 21, 2010 13:28

Exactly. You can do that only with small areas like the ones you make. Waiting for your email. G

Photo2FSX
Sunday, March 21, 2010 04:46

Hi Gabriele,

You’re doing a fine job, really like your effort!

My sceneries are about 1200sqaure miles each, yes, compiled as source=Lod all at 13cm/pix, no problem loading.

BTW -Those sceneries are flown at LOD 8.500000, no problem loading at all.

I have been doing highres since FS5 with backdoor tricks and whatever it takes.

I7-920@4Ghz 285GTX 1Gb-vram win7-64 FSX-Sp2

I accept the invitation and try to get a hold of you.

Saturday, March 20, 2010 15:36

Oh wait… maybe you have compiled at LOD 16 or 17 straight (no range)? If so, then of course you’ll get that result at that speed as you are forcing FSX to load full res but… that I don’t think is something you can do with large areas as there will be too much data to load since you start the flight. (I think 🙂 )

Saturday, March 20, 2010 15:32

Thanks guys!

@Photo2FSX – So maybe something wrong somewhere with my and other simmers hardware we made tests with. If it’s true that you are able to see that quality with 13cm/pixels sceneries (not imagery) then you may get in touch with me and help me out. It’s an official invitation, of course. 😉

Photo2FSX
Saturday, March 20, 2010 01:24

Nice project and great effort with the seasons!

Have been creating 13 cm/pix scenery for a long time and completely disagree with the “today’s hardware is not able to load the textures fast” statements. I can fly f16 down to the wire at 600knts at maintain sharpness.

If you care to peek at what well resolved 13cm/pix scenery looks like go here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/VpaT7GH4isOcvxq6Mwt9lQ?feat=directlink
Here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/v9GXvBEkixQ4Jf8zenPF-A?feat=directlink
and here:
http://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/y9_caGkvKoplB_FhtW6QUQ?feat=directlink