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Setting/Modifying the Alpha of the Back Buffer for Post Processing

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Hey everyone, I'm currently attempting to teach myself how shaders and post processing work. Right now I am specifically teaching myself a simple glow post processor. To do this, all i want to do is change the alpha value of the backbuffer for areas that will glow, but I'm not sure how to accomplish this. Is this something that must be done with a vertex/pixel shader? For example, I have a white ball that i want to glow in the center of the screen. When this renders, I want to set the alpha of the back buffer to on to represent the glow. I would use the alpha of the ball texture to determine both the translucency and the area that should glow. So, how would I convert this information to the backbuffer? Can anyone explain how I would go about doing this? Thanks!

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