Laminar Research: Can you provide a little background on yourself and your interest in aviation?
Jan Vogel: My interest in aviation started in childhood, probably when I clenched my fingers around the chainlink fence of the Kiel-Holtenau Airport at age 5. It culminated with getting my Airline Transport Pilots License at age 26, flying jet airliners for a major German airline ever since.
LR: Why did you decide to start making scenery & how long have you been creating X-Plane scenery?
JV: I have always had a vivid interest in personal computer based flight simulation, ever since flying FSII in 1984 on my Commodore 64. Back in those times, the flying areas were very limited, you often had a few airports to fly to. That always bothered me, and I guess it planted the seed for scenery design later on.
In the late 1980s we had “scenery disks” that would expand those areas, but still didn’t contain all airports in the enclosed area. I ended up marking the aiports on my flying maps with a coloured pen.
Needless to say that I still had to go to any airport I passed by, and I was intrigued by the special architecture and layouts of airports. The markings, lighting, the signs, terminals, airside and landside structures. All very clean and functional, yet every airport is different and has a special character!
LR: What’s the most challenging part about creating scenery?
JV:The hardest part is really just starting out with scenery design. A tool like WED is very powerful, but also hard to learn and there are a million little things to know and consider. The scenery and layering in X-Plane is also complicated, and it takes a while to understand why and how things do or don’t work out. Persistence and frustration tolerance are both required skills.
LR: What’s the best or most rewarding part?
JV: Definitely when I get feedback from other users. The biggest motivation for me is the idea that I am helping with something and that people enjoy my work. This used to work pretty good when I still posted my scenery on some public download pages, now with the Scenery Gateway I just have to believe that people have fun with my airports.
I also enjoy the part when I first fire up the sim to check my creation in 3D – it is a little bit like taking a sculpture out of the mold for the first time.
LR: Do you have a 3rd party program or tool you find invaluable?
JV: Just one word: WEDbing
LR: What’s your favorite scenery creation?
JV: I would have to limit my selection to scenery uploaded to the Scenery Gateway, not scenery that uses third-party libraries or photoscenery. I think it is easier to make great scenery with those tools, but to make good scenery with the hopelessly limited Laminar “Lego-Brick” library that we designers still have to suffer today is something entirely different and requires being inventive.
The best scenery I have seen on the Gateway is EDDN Nuernberg Intl by BEDA, he is a very good designer with patience and an eye for detail. Check it out!
LR: What’s the most important thing for new artists or people just getting started with scenery development to know?
JV: Where to get help at first! Don’t just dive in, watch the instructional videos, then start experimenting with a SMALL airport (not KDEN!). There are some great forums out there that cater to scenery design, and you can tap into the knowledge of more experienced designers there. Then again, real men never read instructions or ask for directions!