Before Gravity, no one had attempted to make an entire movie in simulated microgravity. Among the 3-D thriller’s technological feats was a nine-foot cube for the actors, rigged with 1.8 million individually controllable LED bulbs.
While the actors remained upright, the lighting design replicated in stunningly realistic detail the motion of a person floating — or falling — in space.
But Gravity is just the latest in a long line of films that have pioneered new technology. Here are some of TIME’s favorite tech breakthroughs in cinema.