Digital visual effects bridge art and science in ways that have expanded the expressive tools available to filmmakers. Digital imaging also has enlarged a domain for realism in cinema based on indexical and perceptual factors. Examining these factors, the article questions the visual skepticism that often surrounds discussion of visual effects in film studies. A conjunction of art and science has characterized cinema throughout its history, especially in the era of “philosophical toys” from which the medium originated. The article examines that era in light of what it suggests about digital imaging today and the aesthetic forms that it enables.