Maquettes are small scale models which illustrate in three dimensions a scale model of a model that is to appear in a movie. They can be filmed using special techniques, such as the Schüfftan Effect. It is mainly used to lower the budget of a movie and shot scenes in fantastic landscapes and imaginary buildings, without too much effort or expense.
Old school models, architectural or other types, were built from a variety of materials, all cut and assembled by hand. These were paper, cardboard of different thicknesses or colors, wood blocks, wood sheets, plastic sheets, foam, foam boards, polystyrene or other materials and composites. The architectural model types can imagine the exteriors, interior models, landscapes, urban models, space ships, planets, galaxies or other imaginary objects.
Models are built in rigorous scale, which may vary from 1:2500 for city maps or site plans, to 1:100 for house or office layouts, to 1:2 for details or even 1:1 for completely full size details. The scales used need to be respected each time, because maquette makers buy sometimes predefined parts for their models. These can be trees, cars or people of certain scales, and they would fit into the model and give a correct impression of the scale, but only if completed with the right scale parts.
One classic example from the cinematography history is the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey, released in 1968. Stanley Kubrick appointed the aircraft manufacturer Vickers Armstrong to build the whole Discovery interior set, inside a twelve by two metres design, which would rotate at the speed of 5 km per hour to give the impression of floating into space. The Star Wars Series were also using scale models for the costume of the Storm Troopers, Darth Vader, The Death Star, the light sabers or different aircrafts, such as the Millennium Falcon or the X-Wing Fighter Jet.