What’s new for artists and designers in Unity 2021.2


New clouds and volumetrics for HDRP

To add clouds, you can now choose between procedural Cloud Layers (to use as background) or Volumetric Clouds (to use as background as well or to fly through). Both are easy to set up, and you can quickly tweak the default parameters to achieve different kinds of realistic clouds. Advanced users, you can access more settings and import your own map for finer artistic control. You can tweak lighting parameters for different atmospheric conditions and cloud moods such as ambient light probe dimmer, Scattering Tint, Powder Effect Intensity, multi-scattering, and shadows. You can also control wind direction and speed, as well as shape and erosion effects on clouds.

We have also updated Local Volumetric Fog formatting and blending, including colored volume masks, a RenderTexture optional input, higher-resolution volume masks, improved 3D Texture Atlas and various samples to download from the HDRP package.

Time to grow hair and fur with HDRP

Existing “Approximate” lighting model (left), new “Physical” option (right)

For realistic hair and fur, the HDRP hair shader offers a brand-new “Physical” mode, which uses a Marshner/Disney-based lighting model, in addition to the existing “Approximate” Kajiya/Kay one. This new parametrization is easier to set up and more appropriate for photoreal strand-based rendering, exposing the physical parameters of hair, while the Kajiya/Kay model offers greater artistic control and faster performance but is harder to set up and of slightly lower quality. 

This new model has been added as well to the Pathtracer, which was used as a ground truth reference for our real-time shader. 

As mentioned previously, rendering hair strands using Shader Graph is now possible using the new support for custom motion vector velocities.

Artist and designer highlight

While we’re on the subject, we recommend checking an amazing new plug-in on the Asset Store by Daniel Zeller called Fluffy Grooming. The tool leverages some improvements in Unity 2021.2 to allow you to directly groom dynamic hair, fur, and cards (for example in feathers) inside the Unity Editor.

Image courtesy of Daniel Zeller

HDRP performance boost

We’ve made many enhancements that respond directly to creators feedback, including improvements to HDRP.

Sometimes effects, shaders, or ray tracing are too heavy to run at 4K or even at 2K, and rendering two cameras at high resolution in VR is too constrained for high-end graphics. With dynamic resolution improvements and the support of three new cutting-edge upscalers – NVIDIA Deep Learning Super Sampling (DLSS), AMD FidelityFX Super Resolution (FSR), and our own Temporal Upscaler – you can boost your performance on PC, consoles, and desktop VR. 

NVIDIA DLSS offers fantastic visual quality thanks to advanced deep learning-based temporal upsampling that runs on a selection of NVIDIA GPUs. You can see it in action in hit titles such as LEGO Builder’s Journey and Naraka: Bladepoint.

AMD FSR and Unity’s Temporal Upscaler will run on all hardware supported by HDRP, including Mac and consoles (XBox One and Series X|S, PlayStation 4 and 5). These upscalers have a smaller performance footprint, while still producing beautiful results at  three-quarters of the final resolution.

Decals have been highly optimized using Burst (15 times faster on the HDRP template), a new internal system called Renderer Lists allows to automatically disable passes that are not used in a frame, and DirectX12 is now getting closer performance with DirectX 11 at all resolutions.

Finally, we now offer a dedicated custom pass to get a lightweight camera for all UI-related work in response to feedback about the expensiveness of additional cameras. 

Making cinematics and films with HDRP

To simplify camera animation, focus distance has been added to the physical camera parameters (as well as most other physical camera properties), and is now animatable.

Boost the quality of your offline videos when rendering trailers, cutscenes, or films, with Unity Recorder now supporting frame interpolation to get broadcast-quality motion blur or record path traced frames.

The HDRP Pathtracer now supports most HDRP shaders (fabric, stacklit, AxF, new hair lighting model), volumetric scattering, and increased max samples.

For more details on new features in HDRP, check the documentation page for what’s new in HDRP.



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