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Foliage shadows + Other performance issues

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    Foliage shadows + Other performance issues

    1). I am making a forest level for my game and I came across the issue of my dynamic lights not passing through the alpha'd planes of my leafs. Is there any way to get shadows from foliage other than using Translucency in the material? I currently just get pure black shadows under my trees haha.

    2). I have created a Master Material for most of my objects in my level so I could create MIC's from it and not have unique materials for every different asset. For my foliage, since it needs to be double-sided, should I create another master material JUST for use on double-sided objects? I currently have double-sided checked on my single master material, but I am using that on trees, metal and other things that don't need double-sided turned on. What should I do here?

    3). If you went to GDC 2010, you might have seen a talk by Naughty Dog that spoke about fading out small meshes in the world through the opacity of it. As the camera was farther away from an object, that object would start fading bit by bit. So how is this useful? Well you fade away objects that are not part of the silhouette of the overall structure the player sees and you keep the big objects visible. Since you are far away, you don't notice the change.
    Now, if we were to apply this concept to the opacity slot in the material editor of Unreal, it would bring up the instruction count. Would it create better performance though? Fading away objects biased on distance? Or would the object still be getting fully-rendered and the Fading mechanic would just be adding more stress on the system?
    What would be best in this situation...


    Come'on, lets not be shy now

    Someone....must...know! :0