Special Effects, SFX, or in camera/on set effects are also subject to development. Over the years, or rather decades, techniques and materials (resources) have developed, become more realistic, less card board. On top of this technical developments and computer developments increased quality of the reality in regards of the use of back projection for instance.
Before the CGI era matte paintings formed an essential part of cinema. Matte Paintings are projections or paintings placed behind the foreground characters or objects to make the viewer believe the actors were in a different location. Until the 1990s Matte paintings were commonly used and film studios housed their own Matte Departments. From the 1990s Digital Matting took over.
“In digital matting, a foreground element is extracted from a background image by estimating a color and opacity for the foreground element at each pixel.” According to: Study and Implementation of Image and Video Matting Techniques http://vixra.org/pdf/1308.0085v1.pdf
Powerful in camera, or on set (SFX) techniques that have developed over time and are still commonly used are lighting, shadow, lenses, scale modelling, claymation, prosthetic make up, stop motion, optical illusion. Often SFX techniques are used in combination with VFX techniques, as becomes clear in films like Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, Jurassic Park.
An American Werewolf in London, is a really good example of the use of prosthetic make up. The metamorphosis of man into wolf was made completely visible for the viewer, instead of hiding it in bushes and shadows. Rick Baker, an FX make up artist created the prosthetics and robotic limbs for the transformation from man into werewolf. And this looks quite impressive.
Even in films like Lord of the Rings, techniques like Forced Perspective will never become outdated.