I love this breakdown clip from Ryan vs. Dorkman 2 (which, if you haven't seen it, is totally worth watching). Based of the so-simple-it's-brilliant notion of showing Star Wars Lightsabers doing things that "we personally think would be fun to see," these guys staged a Lightsaber battle in a factory between, well, two regular guys. The effects work is excellent, and one reason why is that they shot a lot of practical elements.
When you're just getting into effects, it's easy to get stuck thinking that you have to do everything with your computer. These guys wanted to create a realistic reflection, smoke, and sparks. So you know what they did? They shot something that would create a reflection. Then they filmed some smoke. Then they filmed some sparks.
Easy, right? Well, maybe not. To some people it's easier to sit in front of a computer for hours trying to get particles to look like smoke than it is to black out a space and heat up a metal rod with a blowtorch. But the latter is worth the extra effort, because the results will look better and ultimately take less time to create. Sometimes making something look photo-real is just as easy—and as difficult—as shooting something real.