Version: 2018.2 (switch to 2018.1 or 2017.4)
Custom Shader GUI
Camera's Depth Texture
Other Versions

Using Depth Textures

It is possible to create Render TexturesA special type of Texture that is created and updated at runtime. To use them, first create a new Render Texture and designate one of your Cameras to render into it. Then you can use the Render Texture in a Material just like a regular Texture. More info
See in Glossary
where each pixelThe smallest unit in a computer image. Pixel size depends on your screen resolution. Pixel lighting is calculated at every screen pixel. More info
See in Glossary
contains a high-precision Depth value. This is mostly used when some effects need the SceneA Scene contains the environments and menus of your game. Think of each unique Scene file as a unique level. In each Scene, you place your environments, obstacles, and decorations, essentially designing and building your game in pieces. More info
See in Glossary
’s Depth to be available (for example, soft particles, screen space ambient occlusion and translucency would all need the Scene’s Depth). Image Effects often use Depth Textures too.

Pixel values in the Depth Texture range between 0 and 1, with a non-linear distribution. Precision is usually 32 or 16 bits, depending on configuration and platform used. When reading from the Depth Texture, a high precision value in a range between 0 and 1 is returned. If you need to get distance from the CameraA component which creates an image of a particular viewpoint in your scene. The output is either drawn to the screen or captured as a texture. More info
See in Glossary
, or an otherwise linear 0–1 value, compute that manually using helper macros (see below).

Depth Textures are supported on most modern hardware and graphics APIs. Special requirements are listed below:

  • Direct3D 11+ (Windows), OpenGL 3+ (Mac/Linux), OpenGL ES 3.0+ (Android/iOS), Metal (iOS) and consoles like PS4Sony’s eighth generation video game console.
    See in Glossary
    /Xbox OneMicrosoft’s eighth generation video game console.
    See in Glossary
    all support depth textures.
  • OpenGL ES 2.0 (iOS/Android) requires GL_OES_depth_texture extension to be present.
  • WebGLA JavaScript API that renders 2D and 3D graphics in a web browser. The Unity WebGL build option allows Unity to publish content as JavaScript programs which use HTML5 technologies and the WebGL rendering API to run Unity content in a web browser. More info
    See in Glossary
    requires WEBGL_depth_texture extension.

Depth Texture Shader helper macros

Most of the time, Depth Texture are used to render Depth from the Camera. The UnityCG.cginc include file contains some macros to deal with the above complexity in this case:

  • UNITY_TRANSFER_DEPTH(o): computes eye space depth of the vertex and outputs it in o (which must be a float2). Use it in a vertex program when 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
    into a depth texture. On platforms with native depth textures this macro does nothing at all, because Z buffer value is rendered implicitly.
  • UNITY_OUTPUT_DEPTH(i): returns eye space depth from i (which must be a float2). Use it in a fragment program when rendering into a depth texture. On platforms with native depth textures this macro always returns zero, because Z buffer value is rendered implicitly.
  • COMPUTE_EYEDEPTH(i): computes eye space depth of the vertex and outputs it in o. Use it in a vertex program when not rendering into a depth texture.
  • DECODE_EYEDEPTH(i)/LinearEyeDepth(i): given high precision value from depth texture i, returns corresponding eye space depth.
  • Linear01Depth(i): given high precision value from depth texture i, returns corresponding linear depth in range between 0 and 1.

Note: On DX11/12, PS4, XboxOne and Metal, the Z buffer range is 1–0 and UNITY_REVERSED_Z is defined. On other platforms, the range is 0–1.

For example, this shaderA small script that contains the mathematical calculations and algorithms for calculating the Color of each pixel rendered, based on the lighting input and the Material configuration. More info
See in Glossary
would render depth of its GameObjectsThe fundamental object in Unity scenes, which can represent characters, props, scenery, cameras, waypoints, and more. A GameObject’s functionality is defined by the Components attached to it. More info
See in Glossary
:

Shader "Render Depth" {
    SubShader {
        Tags { "RenderType"="Opaque" }
        Pass {
            CGPROGRAM

            #pragma vertex vert
            #pragma fragment frag
            #include "UnityCG.cginc"

            struct v2f {
                float4 pos : SV_POSITION;
                float2 depth : TEXCOORD0;
            };

            v2f vert (appdata_base v) {
                v2f o;
                o.pos = UnityObjectToClipPos(v.vertex);
                UNITY_TRANSFER_DEPTH(o.depth);
                return o;
            }

            half4 frag(v2f i) : SV_Target {
                UNITY_OUTPUT_DEPTH(i.depth);
            }
            ENDCG
        }
    }
}

See also

Did you find this page useful? Please give it a rating:

Custom Shader GUI
Camera's Depth Texture