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What is the most efficient way to render a billboard in Unity?

In order to apply a texture to something must it be a GameObject with a Mesh component? In which case, is my best bet to create a prefab of a Plane with the given texture and Instantiate(...) it at runtime? Or is there some sort of "billboard" primitive I should use instead?

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Update

Unity version 4.3 now contains a new primitive type "Quad" which is the "2 triangle plane" described below.


You will want a 2 triangle plane ideally, generate the Mesh first then instantiate a new GameObject and supply the MeshFilter component with that programmatically generated mesh:

http://docs.unity3d.com/Documentation/Manual/Example-CreatingaBillboardPlane.html

This is a useful community script as well for camera facing billboards

http://wiki.unity3d.com/index.php?title=CameraFacingBillboard

Once you have generated the billboard as runtime drag it from the Hierarchy into the Assets panel to create a prefab for use in the future.

Alternatively use Blender or another external modelling software to create a 2 triangle billboard and use that... that would be the most efficient method.

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