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1.1.2. Types of Render Pipeline

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As you already know, there are three types of Render Pipeline in Unity. By default, there is the Built-in RP that corresponds to the oldest engine belonging to the software, in contrast, Universal RP and High-Definition RP belong to a type of Render Pipeline called Scriptable RP, which is more up-to-date and has been pre-optimized for better graphics performance.

(Fig. 1.1.2a. When you create a new project in Unity, you can choose between these three rendering engines. Your choice depends on the needs of the project at hand)

Regardless of the Render Pipeline , if you want to generate an image on the screen, you have to travel through the pipeline. 

A pipeline can have different processing paths, known as Render Paths; as if the example pipeline in section 1.0.7 had more than one way to reach its destination. 

A Render Path corresponds to a series of operations related to lighting and shading objects. This allows you to graphically process an illuminated scene (e.g., a scene with directional light and a sphere). 

Among them you can find:

  • Forward Rendering.
  • Deferred Shading.
  • Legacy deferred.
  • Legacy vertex lit.

Each of these has different capabilities and performance characteristics.

In Unity, the default Rendering Path corresponds to Forward Rendering; this is the initial path for the three types of Render Pipeline that are included in Unity (Built-in, Universal, and High-Definition). This is because it has greater graphics card compatibility and a lighting calculation limit, making it a more optimized process.

(Fig. 1.1.2b. To select a rendering path in Built-in Render Pipeline, we must go to our hierarchy, select the main camera and in the property “Rendering Path” we can change the configuration according to the needs of our project). 

To understand this concept, imagine an object and a direct light in a scene. The interaction between them is based on the following two fundamental concepts: 

  1. Lighting characteristics. 
  2. Object material characteristics. 

Such interaction is called the lighting model

The basic lighting model corresponds to the sum of three different properties:

  • Ambient color.
  • Diffuse reflection.
  • Specular reflection. 

The lighting calculation is carried out within the shader and can be done by vertex or fragment. When the illumination is calculated by vertex it is called Per-Vertex Lighting and performed in the Vertex Shader Stage. Likewise, when it is calculated by fragment it is called Per-Fragment or Per-Pixel Lighting and is performed in the Fragment Shader Stage.

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Jettelly Team

We are a team of indie developers with more than 9 years of experience in video games. As an independent studio, we have developed Nom Noms in which we published with Hyperbeard in 2019. We are currently developing The Unity Shader Bible.

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