Here’s an effects sequence of the fantasy genre. Building a real physical set for this would not be cost-effective or efficient. Once again, virtual sets and 3d CG make a shot like this far more manageable and controllable.
The process begins in Photoshop, where the full environment is first designed and assembled in a 2d environment. In Photoshop, the scene is composed from various photographs, tweaked and colour corrected and painted over to create the final look. From there the 2d matte painting is used in Cinema 4d for camera projection to create a 3d camera move. This creates true depth and parallax that a simple pan and zoom on a still image cannot achieve.
The only true 3d element in the scene is the alien probe, which was modeled and animated in Cinema 4d and rendered out with an alpha channel for compositing.
In the painting stage, attention to detail is crucial in order to seamlessly marry all the visual components together into a single cohesive image. Subtle touches such as dirt and grime and weathering help to make the final shot believable.
This pic below shows the final 2d matte painting out of Photoshop.