What's with all the dust/dirt filters in games these days?

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haneybd87

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I see it all the time now. It's supposed to make the screen look dirty and gritty but I don't really understand the purpose. Are they trying to make the games look more theatrical? If that's the case then it really doesn't make sense to me considering keeping the lens clean is a very important part of cinematography.

Does anyone actually like these effects or is it just something forced onto the games by overzealous art directors? To me it just muddies up the image and takes me out of the game.

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tacobelmont

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I'm with you, same thing last gen with those film grain filters. It made Mass Effect look like garbage.

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nateandrews

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It's one of my least favorite visual effects, especially in third person games. I think The Witcher 3 had some pretty nasty lens grime if I remember correctly. That just doesn't make any sense to me.

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haneybd87

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@nateandrews: The most recent and particularly egregious offender has to be Gears 5. On XB1X it’s running at 4k60 with all these new graphical bells and whistles then they cover it all up with a layer of grime. It’s so dumb.

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Clapmaster

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I hate film grain. Always turned it off in Mass Effect.

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BladeOfCreation

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Is this the new version of the "turn down the brightness until you can barely see the symbol" thing? I hate that. It's just a way to hide what the game actually looks like.

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haneybd87

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#7  Edited By haneybd87

@bladeofcreation: Those don’t make much sense to me either. I had my TV professionally calibrated and the “darkest” symbols are very much not 1 step above true black. I don’t know why you’d want to crush the blacks and barely be able to see anything.

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Teddie

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Not sure why this in particular is becoming widespread, but I know Unreal Engine has a post-processing object that includes this (they call it a dirt mask). They also have film grain that you can implement in seconds, so I assume as far as the original Mass Effect goes it was ease of implementation and a way to mask some of the uglier art (and then became "tradition" in later entries).

It's probably just easy to implement for a quick "wow"-factor. Sort of like how every game has depth-of-field now, even though it's not used the way a photographer/film-maker would, and it doesn't match reality, but boy does it work for screenshots.

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nateandrews

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#9  Edited By nateandrews

@bladeofcreation: Gears 5 has a pretty cool version of that where it has screenshots from the game and explains what each scene should look like with the correct brightness setting. It was way more helpful than just a dark symbol.

@haneybd87: Ohh yeah, I’ve noticed it there too. So dumb!

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haneybd87

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@nateandrews: I can see that when using HDR considering the breadth of HDR brightness on various TV models but when not in HDR I don't understand why they don't just calibrate the image for true black and leave it at that.

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fisk0

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#11 fisk0  Moderator

Huh, I haven't really seen it that much recently, but it certainly was a thing around 2011 with Battlefield 3, Ace Combat: Assault Horizon and I think Crysis 2? Battlefield 3 in particular used it to a ridiculous degree where it could sometimes be hard to tell what was behind all that lens dirt:

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Rahf

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I suppose the idea is immersion, which either works or fails depending on how obstructive the mask is and what the player thinks about it.

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haneybd87

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@rahf: Because we all know how much dirt we get covering our eyeballs and obstructing our vision in real life.

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cikame

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haneybd87

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@cikame: Ok I guess goggles are the one exception to this. I’d still rather not have the filter in my game I’m playing for fun though.