Its handiwork first grabbed us in the massive, chaotic battle scenes in The Lord of the Rings. Since then, the four-time Academy Award-winning special-effects shop Weta Digital has deployed its technology in films from Wall-E to The Dark Knight (via a spin-off company called Massive that focuses on crowd creation).
For this winter's The Day the Earth Stood Still, two dozen Weta designers spent six months sculpting the film's real star (sorry, Keanu): the spaceship. "To get that sense of atmosphere," senior visual-effects supervisor Joe Letteri says, "we mimicked cloud motions. The light bounces and scatters. Start one of these rays on its path, and there are millions of calculations that go on."