A Brief History of Movie Special Effects

Everett Collection

Metropolis — Miniatures
In his landmark 1927 film, director Fritz Lang created the dystopian world of Metropolis using intricately detailed miniature models. Full-scale cityscapes were used alongside perspective techniques to create otherwise nonexistent environments. George Méliès' Trip to the Moon (1902) was the first to use miniatures — including a model spaceship — a technique that would continue in classic sci-fi franchises like Star Wars and Star Trek until digitally created counterparts were thrown into the mix. Unlike most effects of films past, miniatures are still used in modern cinema. While filming his Lord of the Rings trilogy, director Peter Jackson created miniature buildings and cities shot with digital backgrounds to create J.R.R. Tolkien's Middle Earth.

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