You often read about how the software used by the visual effects industry has gotten so cheap and so ubiquitous that people can do it at home on their desktop computers.  What most people don’t realize is that desktop computers are precisely what the motion picture industry has been using to do these effects for more than 30 years now, starting very famously with the J. Michael Straczynksi television series Babylon 5, which did all of its visual effects using Lightwave 3D running on computers no more glamorous than a 486.  In the beginning, they weren’t even doing this on Pentium class machines, and those are so ancient now that most users don’t even know what they were.

Today’s offering has resurfaced since the first piece of it made its debut five years ago.  The producers at IGN filled out some more of it and it got posted a year ago, and now it’s making the rounds again – but we’re betting it’s the first time you’ve seen it.  This is too cool and too well done not to spend the two minutes to look at.

From a visual effects standpoint, this is nearly flawless.  Only one or two effects ring hollow, mostly having to do with transporter effects and whales in San Francisco Bay, and one particular explosion at the end fell a bit flat.  However, the quality is certainly well within the boundaries one would expect from a major theatrical motion picture, and the tracking, matchmoving, compositing and lighting on the models inserted into the scenes is as good as you’ll ever, ever see.

Unfortunately, information on exactly who did all this work is a bit on the thin side, which, given the magnitude of the achievement, we find very surprising.

We know that this is a work of fiction though.  Seriously.  The White House turned down the idea of building a real Deathstar, so there won’t be one to blast the Enterprise into smithereens.

We loved watching this.  We know you will too.

Enjoy.

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