http://www.fileplanet.com/files/140000/140731.shtml

I just watched this demo of the new Unreal game engine. There's some pretty impressive stuff. Normal displacements, soft shadows (softness based on distance), HDRI and more.

This all makes me wonder how long it will take for "real time" 3D to be usable for episodic TV shows or Movies. Of course, designing and building the assets as well as animating them will take just as long, but how long before a show with a relatively simple look (roughnecks, Rollie Pollie Ollie, tripping the rift) will be done with little to no rendering.

The soft shadows were made by generating a hard and soft shadow maps and interpolating between the two based on distance, thus faking an area light type effect. Can [should] this be done in lightwave (is that what that Evasion's shadow designer plug-in does)?