It's noticeable this year (2013) that we have reached some sort of
nirvana in terms of realism in architectural visualization. These images
here are to my mind indistinguishable from the real thing, and I guess a
collusion of factors has brought this about in 2013: Quad core CPUs and
Graphics processor (GPU) accelerated rendering; steps forward in the
accessibility of true photo-real quality assets (which is in part to do
with the rise of the DSLR); High Dynamic Range Image (HDRI) image based
lighting becoming well supported, available and commonplace; and Vray's
domination allowing for an emerging standard in rendering which I
suppose has allowed vRay and the vRay community to come on in leaps and
bounds. The fact that we have reached this stage raises a question for
me: Is realism the true goal in Arch-Viz, or a related but subtly
different factor -- suspension of disbelief?
Well done to all those shortlisted!