Archive for January, 2014

SweetFX – Border

002The SweetFX Border effect places a border around the image. This can be used to place black borders at the top and bottom of the image to produce a letterbox appearance similar to that seen in 2.35:1 aspect ratio movies when viewed on a 16:9 aspect ratio HDTV.

Border does not change the resolution of the game. It merely “chops off” a portion of the image and fills it with a specified border color, so any vital game information display within the border area will be covered up by the border itself.

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SweetFX – Bloom

002Some SweetFX effects might make the resulting image too dark overall. The Bloom effect counteracts this by making whites whiter without affecting darker areas much.

SweetFX Bloom does not add a soft, illuminating glow around light sources as its name might suggest. This is simply an overall “whitening” effect.

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SweetFX – Monochrome

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Monochrome converts an image into black and white. The Monochrome_conversion_values setting provides fine-tuning of the highlights that will produce different brightness levels once converted to black and white.

Enable monochrome with #define USE_MONOCHROME 1 and experience the image without color. Monochrome is best used with other effects, such as vignette, since it appears rather bland on its own.

Monochrome is not simply a black and white conversion effect. Adjusting Monochrome_conversion_values will create slightly different resulting images that emphasize or reduce highlights, so monochrome can adjust the brightness levels as well, which can reduce the need for a separate brightness adjustment effect.

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SweetFX – Technicolor

028SweetFX Technicolor attempts to recreate a pseudo-Technicolor effect by modifying the colors of the image enough to emulate the three-strip film process used by movie studios to produce color movies during the 1930s through 1950s.

After researching the history of Technicolor and the processing procedures, the actual SweetFX colors, when applied to video game post-processing, do not seem to resemble true Technicolor, and the Technicolor effect tends to fade and manipulate colors in a way that seem less realistic. Had movie audiences seen the results of SweetFX Technicolor, they probably would have preferred black and white films.

After experimentation and trial and error, it is uncertain whether the SweetFX Technicolor effect is rooted in a true Technicolor process or if the name was assigned arbitrarily. Regardless, the Technicolor effect is an interesting, useful addition that adds special coloring effects to the image, and it can be used as a base for further processing.

From a dark, gritty, dystopian world of muted color palettes to overexposed highlights, SweetFX Technicolor provides a range of effects that give games an altered appearance to best reflect their moods.

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SweetFX – Cartoon

📅 January 20, 2014
004Some video games render their graphics in a way that produces a cel-shaded, cartoon effect noted for its thick, black borders and flat-style surfaces. This effect is possible with SweetFX using the cartoon effect, and it can give games somewhat of a Borderlands 2 style.

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SweetFX – Splitscreen

006Let’s begin our look at the SweetFX 1.5.1 effects by beginning with an effect so simple to use that it is impossible to mess up and yet obvious enough to see that the effect is being applied.

That effect is splitscreen, and it divides the image into unprocessed and processed output for comparison. This effect is introduced first because it can be a useful debugging tool later on.

There is no single, comprehensive repository of SweetFX documentation with screenshots available (at least not found yet), so as these articles attempt to describe and show the various effects and settings, keep in mind that much of this information was researched through hours of trial and error and tedious experimentation with only the provided SweetFX files available for reference. Therefore, some settings might be incomplete or lacking in detail. Despite the theory behind how these effects operate, some results are obtained from guesswork and by examining the code files to make even more guesses.

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SweetFX Shader Suite

📅 July 16, 2014
SweetFX - SplitscreenThe SweetFX Shader Suite is a vendor-neutral program that provides post-processing effects to Windows DirectX 9, 10, and 11 games. Are the default game colors a little on the bland side? Need to sharpen the image? Wish for improved anti-aliasing using SMAA? SweetFX will provide those features — and more — to improve the visual quality of those dark and gritty pixels. Best of all, SweetFX introduces almost no performance lag, so if a game runs fluidly at 60fps before SweetFX, it will also run close to or at 60fps after SweetFX effects are applied — including SMAA anti-aliasing.

A sufficient number of individually customizable effects are provided by default, but if additional effects are desired, anyone is free to create his own using the proprietary high-level shader language (HLSL).

Despite the benefits and popularity of SweetFX, detailed documentation is sparse and without screenshots that demonstrate the effects. So, SweetFX learning is still a trial and error process in the dark. A few articles provided here will help show what SweetFX can do and how to configure the various effects. This is not a tutorial about how to make SweetFX operate in Linux, so we will be using Windows games on a Windows machine to ensure proper DirectX functionality.

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