Originally Posted by theta2
Seems like there's two issues here that people are getting mixed up.
One is the question of what makes CG photoreal? I think this is what the OP wants answers to. Things like dirt on your textures, photographic elements comped on top of your CG, etc.. Actual techniques to use to make something appear photoreal.
The other question, which I think is more important, is what makes a viewer suspend their disbelief, become immersed in what they're watching and believe it? This has nothing to do with photoreal CG and realistic textures. It has everything to do with story, characters, setting up the world they live in, and sticking to the rules of that world and connecting with the audience.
Look at how many live action films there are, can't get any more photoreal than that, and they're still not convincing.
Actually I am not necessarily interested in what makes cgi photorealistic, the second issue you mentioned is more important to me, which is why I mentioned about how a good story is important. But that is a valid point, I think the critical error many realistic films forget is the story telling part and focus too much on the look. But obviously there should be a balance between the two, you can't make something believable if you don't make it photorealistic if you're using a live action backplate for example. But even if you manage to make it realistic, it won't necessarily be convincing unless it's there as part of a great story.
Anyway just my thoughts, thanks for pointing that out.