CONVERTING FS2004 AIRCRAFT TO FSX TUTORIAL

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Introduction and Downloads
Part 1:  Setup
Part 2:  FS2004 Import
Part 3:  Setting Up Landing and Taxi Lights
Part 4:  Conversion to FSX
Part 5:  Saving, Merging, and Animating the Props
Part 6:  Editing Materials and Textures
Part 7:  VC & Appendix
Part 8:  Quick Reference

PART FIVE - SAVING THE OTHER PROP PARTS, MERGING, AND ANIMATING THEM

NOTE:  I have found that this process can easily lead to displaced parts, so be sure to do these steps in the following order, including Exporting the model after each step.  If you still get displaced parts, refer to Part 4, Step 16.

IMPORT FS2004 AIRCRAFT, DISPLAY SLOW PROPS, AND CREATE THE TEMPORARY FSX AIRCRAFT

1.  Props in FS consist of three separate parts - prop_still, prop_slow, and prop_blurred. Most jet fan disks use the same system, but are called N1_still/slow/blurred.   There are several different ways people deal with this; in my planes the prop_still parts are detailed propellers used for stopped and very slow rotation, the prop_blurred parts are solid round disks, and the prop_slow parts are wedges cut out of the blurred prop disk (the number of wedges is the number of prop blades).  When we imported our plane with the engine0/1/2/3 variables set to 0, the plane displayed the prop_still parts.  This is what we exported in Part Three.  Now we need to Isolate the prop_slow and prop_blurred parts from a  temporary FSX model, export them as FSX files, and merge them into our FSX converted plane.  We do this one prop type at a time.
2.  In the MCX Options/ModelObject Settings, change the CollapseNodes to FALSE. This will often avoid other parts being combined with the prop parts.  This does lead to lots of extra SceneGraphNodes in the Hierarchy Editor, but that's fine.
3.  Import the FS2004 *backup* MDL file you made.  It was suggested to use the original MDL file name plus - FS9 at the end of the name (not after the MDL extension). The DC-6B example would be dc6b - FS9.mdl.
4.  When the Set Condition Variables box pops up, set the prop0/1/2/3_still variables to 5000.  Upon import this will display the slow props.  You can leave the rest of the numbers unchanged.

set variable slow

5.  NOTE:  Do NOT worry that there are no textures on the plane, just a black and white checkerboard.  This is normal.

ASSIGNING THE PROP PART ANIMATION AND VISIBILITY DEFINITIONS

6.  Now we get to assign proper animations and visibility conditions for each of the slow props.  The animations can be assigned from either the Animation Editor or the Hierarchy Editor, the visibility conditions only from the Hierarchy Editor..  Since it's easier to do the animations in the Animation Editor we'll start there.  Close the Hierarchy Editor and open the Animation Editor.
7.  Type in prop0 into the box to the right of the Select Name Containing button and press that button.  Now all the entries for the prop0_still animation should be checked, and the rest unchecked.  In my DC-6B example, there should be 1.
8.  Choose prop0_slow from the drop down box, and click the Assign Animation Type button.  

animation assign 1

The prop0_still line should change to prop0_slow.  Repeat steps 6 and 7 for any other engine variables in the list - prop1_stil to prop1_slow, prop2_still to prop2_slow, and prop3_still to prop3_slow.  With the DC-6B it should look like the following when finished.  Close the Animation Editor.

assign slow props

9.  Open the Hierarchy Editor.  Type in prop in the search box.  The slow prop parts should be selected - click on one and make sure the slow prop turns red.  Click on the SceneGraphNode and check the animation name.

animation 2

10.  Click on the first ModelPart below the SceneGraphNode.  The slow prop should turn red.  Click the word None under the words Visibility Condition and choose the same visibility condition from the drop down box as the animation in the SceneGraphNode above it..  For example, if a SceneGraphNode has an animation name of prop0_slow, then all ModelParts under that SceneGraphNode (and still within that node) should receive a visibility condition of prop0_slow.  Typically for slow and blurred props there will be only one ModelPart for each engine, but there could be more on complex aircraft.

animation 4

11.  Repeat this for all prop nodes in this listing, which should be the number of props on your plane.  All such ModelParts should end up with a visibility condition.  Only ModelParts get visibility conditions, not SceneGraphNodes.  Close the Hierarchy Editor.
12.  Choose Export Object (menu) and check the drop down box is set to FSX MDL Object (or another MDL format if exporting to another sim).  Change the filename by adding - FSX_Temp to the name.  In our example it would be dc6b - FSX_Termp.mdl.  Click the Save button.
13.  Choose Import and load your new FSX_Temp aircraft.  In our example that is dc6b - FSX_Temp.  No textures will be loaded, that's fine.

FIND THE SLOW PROPS

14.  Open the Hierarchy Editor and type in prop into the search box at the top middle.  The slow prop parts will be listed.  Check the Highlight Selected box if not checked.  Click on them and confirm all slow props are there (it will turn red).  Prop0 is the leftmost prop, when you are sitting in the cockpit looking forward.  Now select all of them, using a left click on the top part and a Shift click on the bottom part.

find engine

15.  With all the parts selected in the list above, click the pencil to the right of the search box (Clear Search) and the entire list will re-appear.  Your parts will still be selected.  As we discussed earlier, a node consists of one or more SceneGraphNodes and one or more ModelParts.  Normally, all these parts will be together.  If not, we will deal with that below.

find engine 2


ISOLATING PROPS

16.  While there are several different ways of isolating props, most depend on a specific arrangement of SceneGraphNodes and ModelParts in the nodes.  I'll describe a single procedure that should work for most planes - we will Remove everything that is not the prop parts.  Let's go back to the image of our prop parts (the image above).  The first job is to remove everything BELOW the node that is highlighted.  Do not remove any portion of the last prop node, including any SceneGraphNodes or ModelParts, just the nodes below them.  Start by clicking the SceneGraphNode below the bottom prop part:

multiselect start

17.  Now scroll down to near the bottom of the file and  while holding down the Shift key, click the bottom ModelPart or SceneGraphNode attached to the same vertical line as the SceneGraphNode you click on in the image above.  All nodes between the prop part and the bottom of the file should be highlighted (if there is a Crash Tree at the bottom of the file, do not highlight it).    If the slow props ever turn red STOP!  You have selected something wrong.  Once you're sure, press the Remove button.  Repeat this for each vertical line of  parts below your slow prop parts.  There is often a list of ModelParts at the bottom of the file, remove those too.  Do NOT remove the Crash Tree.  

multiselect bottom

Your bottom prop node should now be at the bottom of the listing, except for the crash tree:

select parts

18.  Click on the SceneGraphNode above our bottom prop part, because we need to delete nodes until we find the next slow prop node above that.  Luckily they are often listed together, so click on the SceneGraphNode directly above the bottom prop part, and see if this is a slow prop part.  In the case of the DC-6B all 4 are together, so that's easy and we can move on.  If they are not all together, remove any SceneGraphNodes between the slow prop parts.  Do this one by one - click on the SceneGraphNode of a given node.  If it is not a slow prop part (i.e. it doesn't turn red), then press the Remove button.  If it is a slow prop part, skip it and keep moving upward until you have all of  the slow prop parts together.

Here is a part that is not a slow prop part - press the Remove button:

remove part

Here is a slow prop part - skip it and continue moving up:

keep part

Here is a demonstration of how it should look when you have all 4 slow prop parts at the bottom of the file - The selection is just for the demonstration, you do not need to do this.  Other models may appears slightly different, but should have the same basic structure.

at bottom

19.  Now that we have all our props at the bottom of the file, we can select all the nodes to almost the top of the listing.  If the slow props ever turn red STOP!  You have selected something wrong.  Click the SceneGraphNode above your top prop part:

multselect top start

Use the scroll bar to move up the listing, keeping track of the vertical line that your prop parts are on..  Holding down the Shift key, click the ModelPart or SceneGraphNode indicated below (it's the top ModelPart or SceneGraphNode of the vertical line your prop parts are attached to).  Check that the prop parts are NOT RED.  Press the Remove button:

multiselect top end

20.  Now scroll up to the top of the file and select any parts above your prop parts, but DO NOT include any ModelParts or SceneGraphNodes that start a new vertical line to the right of the one it is on:

finish deleting

21.  When you are done it should look like something like this (the number of prop parts will vary with the aircraft):

multiselect 5

22.  Wait a minute, there are the cockpit windows included here, in addition to the 4 slow props!  Sometimes when selecting from an FSX converted aircraft you will get glitches like this.  But if we tried to use the FS2004 model to isolate the props, we would risk displacing all the animated parts when we merged these into our plane.  If you click on the cockpit windows ModelPart (the one above the highlighted SceneGraphNode above), you will see that the props turn red too so we can't remove this part.  We will just have to deal with this later on by deleting the part in the existing model before Merging the slow props into the plane.
23.  Choose Export Object and make sure the drop down box is still set to FSX MDL Object  (or other format if converting to another sim).  Give it a name that makes sense to you.  I will use dc6b_props_slow.mdl for the DC-6B example, and perhaps you would choose twin_props_slow.mdl for the generic twin example.  Save into the same folder as your converted aircraft MDL file.

ASSIGNING ANIMATIONS AND VISIBILITIES TO THE BLURRED  PROPS AND SAVING THEM

24.  Now we get to do this all over again for the prop_blurred parts.  Import your FS9 version again (in our tutorial it's dc6b_FS9.mdl)  into MCX.  When the Set Condition Variables box pops up, set the prop0/1/2/3_still variables to 10000.  When the plane loads, you should see the blurred props displayed.
25.  Set the animations and visibilities.  Follow Steps 6 through 13 except for the blurred props this time.    In the Animation Editor prop0_still is assigned to prop0_blurred, prop1_still to prop1_blurred, prop2_still to prop2_blurred, and prop3_still to prop3_blurred.  In the Hierarchy Editor the visibilities are also assigned prop0/1/2/3_blurred, but  to the ModelParts.
26.  Export to the FSX_Temp MDL file (overwrite), and Import this FSX_Temp file into MCX.
27.  Isolate the blurred props as we did the slow props in Steps 16 through 22.
28.  When you have the blurred props isolated choose Export Object, check the drop down box is FSX MDL Object (or your sim's format), and save as something like dc6b_props_blurred.mdl or twin_props_blurred.mdl.

MERGING THE PROPS INTO THE AIRCRAFT

29.  Import your converted aircraft MDL file into MCX, assuming it is the same as the one we Exported at the end of  Part 3 (and backed up as xxx_FSX1.mdl).  In our example, it's dc6b.mdl.  If it is not the same, delete the incorrect MDL file (i.e. you have played around with it), copy your xxx_FSX1.mdl file, paste into the same folder, and rename the copy  to the name of your aircraft's MDL file.  In our example, I would delete the dc6b.mdl file, copy the dc6b_FSX1.mdl file, paste it back in, and rename the copy to dc6b.mdl.
30.    If your isolated slow props file does not contain any extra parts you can skip to Step 32.   If there were any non-prop objects retained by the isolated slow props file, to avoid duplicate parts we will delete them from this model.  Find those part(s) in the Hierarchy Editor (they turn red).  Use Colored Rendered mode if the parts are very dark.

extra objects

31.  Now click the Remove button.  In the case of the DC-6B the cockpit windows will disappear (scary, but remember we have a backup MDL in case things go wrong).

remove nacelles

32. Click on the Merge Objects button.  A dialog box will appear.

merge

33.  Click on the Load Object... button.   Browse to your model folder (if needed), click on the slow props MDL file (in our example it's dc6b_props_slow.mdl), and click Open.
34.  The Merge button will become available.  Click it firmly.  The slow props should appear in their proper positions.  They will not be transparent, this is fine.  Close the Merge Objects box.  Any parts you Removed should reappear.
35.  Choose Export Object (menu) and check the drop down box is set to FSX MDL Object (or another MDL format if exporting to another sim).  Click your current aircraft file (i.e. dc6.mdl).  Click the Save button.  An overwrite warning will appear.  Click the Yes button.
36.  Import the plane we exported in step 35 back into MCX.  In our example, it's dc6b.mdl.
37.  If your isolated blurred props file does not contain any extra parts you can skip to Step 39  If they do, open the Hierarchy editor and find the long list of ModelParts attached to the vertical line at the far left.  These are the non-animated parts (like the nacelles).  Click on one until the extra part turns red:

select nacelles

38.  Now click the Remove button.  In the case of the DC-6B the cockpit windows will disappear (scary, but remember we have a backup MDL in case things go wrong) - for the DC-6B it will probably be the cockpit windows again:

remove nacelles

39.  Click the Merge Objects button.  Click the Load Object... button.  Click on the blurred props MDL file (for example dc6b_props_blurred.mdl) and click Open.
40.  Click the Merge button firmly.  The blurred props should appear.  Close the Merge Object box.  Any deleted parts should reappear.
41.  Choose Export Object (menu) and check that  the drop down box is FSX MDL Object (or another MDL format if exporting to another sim).  Click your current aircraft file (i.e. dc6.mdl).  Click the Save button.  An overwrite warning will appear. Click the Yes button.
42.  Import the MDL file again (i.e. dc6.mdl).

ADDING VISIBILITIES TO THE STILL PROPS

43.  Open the Hierarchy Editor.  Type in still into the search box.  The prop_still nodes should now be listed there.  Select all of them to highlight them and click the pencil to go back to the full list.  Your prop still nodes should still be highlighted.  Within those nodes, assign a visibility to all the ModelParts within that node.  The animation in a SceneGraphNode or ModelPart near the top of the node should read prop0/1/2/3_still.  Give the same visibility condition to all the ModelParts below it.  For example, if a SceneGraphNode has an animation name of prop0_still, then all ModelParts under that SceneGraphNode (and still within that node) should receive a visibility condition of prop0_still.  Remember, only ModelParts get a Visibility Condition.  NOTE:  Some of the ModelParts (or SceneGraphNodes) below the SceneGraphNode with the prop_still animation may have other animations.  In the DC-6B, that animation is lever_prop_pitch for the prop blade twisting.  All these ModelParts receive a prop_still  visibility condition since we want them to disappear at the appropriate RPM as well.  The DC-6B has 4 ModelParts per prop.
44.  Repeat step 43 until all still prop nodes have all ModelParts assigned a proper visibility.

EXPORT TO FSX FORMAT

45.  Choose Export Object (menu) and check that  the drop down box is FSX MDL Object (or another MDL format if exporting to another sim).  Click your current aircraft file (i.e. dc6.mdl).  Click the Save button.  An overwrite warning will appear. Click the Yes button.
46.  You can set the CollapseNodes setting back to TRUE now.
47.  You will often need to Import the MDL file you just made and Export it again to the same name (overwrite) to fix the displaced parts that often result from this procedure.  You may need to do it more than once.
48.  Reset the bounding box if needed using RADItor or MDL Tweaker.  Check out your plane in FSX or your sim - the props should now display properly, with the still, slow, and blurred props appearing and disappearing with RPM.  NOTE:  They will not be transparent, we will work on that later.  If they are not appearing and disappearing properly, you have made an error and (if the still props) rework their animation/visiblity (or if the slow or blurred props)  delete the bad aircraft MDL file, copy/paste the xxx_FSX1 backup file, rename the copy to the original filename, edit or re-create the problem file to merge (props_slow or props_blurred), and merge the files again.
49.  In Windows Explorer/My Computer copy the new mdl file, paste it back into the folder, and rename the file to something like xxx_FSX2.mdl.  In this tutorial, it  would be dc6b_FSX2.mdl.  This will provide a plane we know is good up to this point in case we need it.
50.  While there, you can delete the  - FSX_Temp.mdl file if you like.  The example's is dc6b - FSX_Termp.mdl.

Next:  PART SIX -SETTING UP THE MATERIALS AND TEXTURES