This page contains supplementary information for the Making believable visuals in Unity guide. While the general concepts in that guide still apply, this page contains updated guidance on converting a similar project to the Universal Render Pipeline (URP) and the High Definition Render Pipeline (HDRP), and highlights some key differences between Unity’s render pipelines.
Note that URP and HDRP are in active development, and new features are frequently added. See the latest versions of the URP documentation and the HDRP documentation for further information.
Here are example projects for each render pipeline. You can download these to understand how to create similar visual effects in the different render pipelines, and to explore the different settings:
Before you convert a project from the Built-in Render Pipeline, you should carefully read this page in full.
You should then perform these steps in order:
Make a backup of your existing project before upgrading.
It is risky to upgrade your version of Unity and change your project’s render pipeline at the same time. If you need to do both, upgrade your project to the new version of Unity first, and then switch to a new render pipeline. This allows you to fix any issues with the upgrade and ensure you have the correct package versions.
Plug-ins or Asset StoreA growing library of free and commercial assets created by Unity and members of the community. Offers a wide variety of assets, from textures, models and animations to whole project examples, tutorials and Editor extensions. More info
See in Glossary assets that relate to lit shaders or perform renderingThe process of drawing graphics to the screen (or to a render texture). By default, the main camera in Unity renders its view to the screen. More info
See in Glossary modifications in the Built-in Render Pipeline are not typically compatible with URP or HDRP out of the box, unless noted by the author. Remove any incompatible plug-ins and assets from your Project.
Materials that work with Unity’s Standard ShaderA built-in shader for rendering real-world objects such as stone, wood, glass, plastic and metal. Supports a wide range of shader types and combinations. More info
See in Glossary (or any shaders that are lit per pixel) do not work in URP or HDRP. They either render as pink, or not render at all.
You must replace these Materials with the equivalent shaders in the render pipeline you are using. The URP replacement for the Standard Shader is UniversalRP/Lit. The HDRP replacement for the Standard Shader is HDRP/Lit.
Alternatively, you can use the Render Pipeline Wizard to perform Material conversion:
Some unlit shaders might work in URP or HDRP, but this is not guaranteed and might not be consistent across render pipelines. For example, the SkyboxA special type of Material used to represent skies. Usually six-sided. More info
See in Glossary Material is transferable to URP but not HDRP. To ensure forward compatibility, it is best to replace these shaders with their unlit equivalent for your new render pipeline.
You must recreate custom Surface ShadersUnity’s code generation approach that makes it much easier to write lit shaders than using low level vertex/pixel shader programs. More info
See in Glossary and custom lit shaders in Shader Graph for them to work properly in URP or HDRP. For information on Shader Graph, see the Shader Graph documentation.
The Built-in Render Pipeline works with the Post Processing Stack V2 package, and the now-deprecated Post Processing V1 solution. URP and HDRP contain their own integrated post-processingA process that improves product visuals by applying filters and effects before the image appears on screen. You can use post-processing effects to simulate physical camera and film properties, for example Bloom and Depth of Field. More info post processing, postprocessing, postprocess
See in Glossary solutions.
To prepare to convert your post-processing solution from Post Processing Stack V1 to URP or HDRP:
To prepare to convert your post-processing solution from Post Processing Stack V2 to URP or HDRP:
To begin working with the integrated post-processing solution in URP or HDRP:
Configure the Volume Profile by adding overrides for the desired post-processing effects.
URP only: Select the Camera your application uses and make sure “Render Post Processing” is enabled. You can enable Anti-Aliasing for the in game camera without adding additional components.
Some post-processing effects are available in HDRP, but not URP. Some are in development while others are not suitable for the particular render pipeline. You should check which post-processing effects are available in the render pipeline that you are using, and determine how to recreate the visual effects in your project.
In Spotlight Tunnel, the most important post-processing effect is the Tonemapper. This effect works the same in URP and HDRP.
Key differences in post-processing between URP and HDRP that affect this update to the Spotlight Tunnel project:
Support for lighting features varies considerably between render pipelines. For example, the Built-in Render Pipeline supports Realtime Global Illumination, but URP and HDRP do not. The different render pipelines also support different Lighting Modes for Mixed Lights; for example, HDRP does not support Subtractive Lighting Mode, and URP does not support ShadowmaskA Texture that shares the same UV layout and resolution with its corresponding lightmap. More info
See in Glossary Lighting Mode. For full details of which render pipeline supports which lighting features, see Setting up the lighting pipeline.
Before you convert your project to a different render pipeline, you should choose a lighting strategy that is compatible with your desired render pipeline and works well on your target hardware. The different lighting strategies in the URP and HDRP versions of Spotlight Tunnel demonstrate this.
The URP version of Spotlight Tunnel focuses on runtime performance:
The HDRP version of Spotlight Tunnel focuses on high fidelity rendering:
Note that, depending on your hardware configuration, the GPU Progressive Lightmapper might result in faster lightmapA pre-rendered texture that contains the effects of light sources on static objects in the scene. Lightmaps are overlaid on top of scene geometry to create the effect of lighting. More info
See in Glossary baking than the CPU Progressive Lightmapper.
In addition to choosing an overall lighting strategy, you should be aware of the differences in Light types between different render pipelines.
Differences between the Built-in Render Pipeline and URP:
Differences between the Built-in Render Pipeline and HDRP:
Each render pipeline has slight differences in how they handle reflection capturing and reflection blending, and it is likely that you will have to change the position and distribution of the Reflection ProbesA rendering component that captures a spherical view of its surroundings in all directions, rather like a camera. The captured image is then stored as a Cubemap that can be used by objects with reflective materials. More info
See in Glossary in your Scene.
For comparison are the reflection systems used in the different versions of Spotlight Tunnel:
Converting from the Built-in Render Pipeline’s Deferred reflection to URP requires some manual work, as URP’s Forward Reflection Probe doesn’t blend. Converting from Built-in Render Pipeline’s Deferred reflection to HDRP reflection is straight forward as they both have equivalent blending methods.
Conversion from HDRP to URP and vice versa is possible, but it is not automatic and the manual process may be difficult. How difficult the process is mainly depends on how complex your project’s shaders are; if your project mostly uses the render pipeline’s built-in shaders, the process is much easier.
Spotlight Tunnel project was successfully converted from HDRP to URP, with these caveats: