Unity 2018.3 released

Press release 2018-12-14 14:59 article  > All

Many features that can be interested for arch-viz artists, like GPU light baking, better reflections, antialiasing and shadows.

First new feature that will interest anyone who wants to use Unity for architectural visualization is GPU Lightmapper. It works on all modern GPUs with more than 2GB of dedicated memory, but more memory is recommended for larger lightmaps. On machines with powerful GPUs, lightmap baking with the GPU Progressive Lightmapper will be significantly faster. It is built on pure path-tracing-based algorithm on top of Radeon Rays and OpenCL for baking lightmaps in Unity, bringing performance improvements that are over 10x the CPU version. Since it’s a Preview, it has a limited feature set and will eventually support all of the lighting features in Unity.



Scene lightmapped with GPU lightmapper.


Unity 2018.3 also ships with an update to the Terrain system, which marks the beginning of a larger overhaul. In this update, focus has been not only to set the foundation for further improvements with a few tweaks to the UI and tools but also to improve performance. 



Old per-vertex normals (left) and new per-pixel normals (right) – with identical triangle counts


2018.3 also brings Screen Space Reflections (SSR). With this, you can enable reflection on every smooth surface. Rough surfaces fall back to regular Reflection Probe / Planar Reflection. You can tag Materials to not receive SSR.




This version also introduces Planar Reflection, which you can use to get high-quality reflections on planar surfaces. The planar probe component behaves exactly as the reflection probe component, except it is rendered in real-time. 



HDRP now supports Shader Graph, which will become the main solution for future development. The Lit master node is available as a Shader Graph version, and as a built-in shader version (Lit, LayeredLit, TerrainLit). All other shaders are available only as Shader Graph versions. Future shaders will also be built using Shader Graph.



Volumetric fog rendering has been improved with a technique called “deep compositing.”  This technique enables you to better compose density volumes that overlap each other with the global fog. In addition, volumetric fog can now fall back with an exponential fog at far distances and support activation of Height Fog. Parametrization and control of volumetric and density volume have become more artist-friendly. Lastly, lighting of the volumetric voxels performance has been improved.




Contact shadows can now be enabled independently of the shadow map. Contact shadows are supported for directional, point or spot light, but you can currently only use one at a time. We have also improved quality and performance.

Developers have also added a Fabric shader to Shader Graph. With it, you can author fabric material with a soft look, and fake the scattering of fibers. The Fabric master node supports two lighting models: CottonWool and Silk. Use these to create a wide variety of cloth. The implementation of CottonWool is based on recent research from Sony Pictures Imageworks, presented at Siggraph 2017. The Silk version is based on GGX anisotropic.




2018.3 introduces Configurable Falloff for punctual lights. Baked lights can be configured via script to use physically correct “inverse square falloff.” The result is that baked lighting will more closely resemble real-world lighting, with bright hotspots and long, slowly attenuating falloff. This means more realistic lighting and improves the overall believability of your lightmapped scenes.




Disc area lights have been introduced as a feature specific to the CPU and GPU Progressive lightmappers in 2018.3. This area light shape is useful in architectural visualizations and other applications where you might need to add round light apertures. For these cases, a rectangular light shape would not be a suitable fit. Disc lights offer other interesting characteristics such as a smaller hotspot and softer penumbra towards the edges of the light, which is another useful addition to the lighting artist’s tool bag.




Unity 2018.3 includes a number of improvements to the HDRP (preview). This version adds preliminary support for VR and multisample anti-aliasing and improves support for PC, Mac, XBox One and PS4. The UI of various Inspectors of HDRP elements is now updated: Camera, Lights, Reflections Probe, and Material. there is also a new lighting model, so you can author more complex materials.



New Visual Effect Graph, which ships in Preview as a package, enables you to create beautiful effects using a node-based system that is both easy to use and flexible. Inspired by leading VFX software tools for films, it empowers artists to create stand-out visual effects for games and other projects with millions of particles running on the GPU.



Unity 2018.3 also includes several new features for the existing Particle System. For example, there are Particle Meshes that can now be flipped just like with billboards, Particle Lights that now support Real-time Global Illumination.

More: unity3d.com

Author: Press release Editor: Michał Franczak
Tags: unity
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