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How to simulate dirty lens effects?

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ted stuart
How to simulate dirty lens effects?
on Feb 6, 2016 at 9:47:03 pm

Hello guys!

I'm doing a 3D project and I was wondering how I can achieve a dynamic dirty lens effects in After, the same type as we can see in actual video games like this example:

I tried to find some solutions, and I think with a texture of lens dirt in alpha and a mask could do the thing, but in my project, the cam has a lot of shakes, and it'll be kinda boring to roto all the footage...

So I was wondering if I could have the same effect depending of the lights, exactly like the CC Light Rays where the intensity depends on the brightness of the area.

Many thanks in advance!

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John Cuevas
Re: How to simulate dirty lens effects?
on Feb 7, 2016 at 12:48:46 am

Optical Flares has dirty lens effects built in...pretty inexpensive plugin, totally worth the money.

Johnny Cuevas, Editor

"I have not failed 700 times. I have succeeded in proving that those 700 ways will not work. When I have eliminated the ways that will not work, I will find the way that will work."
---THOMAS EDISON on inventing the light bulb.

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Michael Foster
Re: How to simulate dirty lens effects?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 3:20:23 am

I'm new to after effects, but I'm not sure if it has the same power/tools that a high-class game-engine does.

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Kuljeet Singh
Re: How to simulate dirty lens effects?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 7:59:54 am


Video Copilot's optical flare plugin can do this trick for you, it's not that quite expensive but have really smashing lens effects, even various to choose from dirty lens type effects.

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Conrad Olson
Re: How to simulate dirty lens effects?
on Feb 12, 2016 at 11:02:02 pm

All the VFX companies that I work at have libraries textures like this that have been shot for real.

If you get a dirty lens and point your camera at a black surface, then shine some light in from the side you should be able to see the dirt on the lens and nothing else. If you move the light around you will get variations.

When we use the elements we usually just use a single frame of them and then just add or screen them over the final image. Because they are shot on black you don't really need an alpha. You can combine them with a luma key of other layers, add mask, or animate their opacity based on changes in brightness of the image.

Another trick is to just paint some small white dots on an empty layer and then use a convolve filter to create a nice bokeh shape from them. You can the add some colour and add this layer on top.

We do use Optical Flares too. It's much more flexible and is good when you need more movement to your flares but it never looks quite as organic as the real elements.


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