This image is a digital set created in Autodesk Maya by visual effects artist Eric Hanson. Above is a link to his personal website where you can view more of his work. I find this piece to be inspiring because through 3d geometry being properly created, rendered, and composited visual effects artists are able to create (although it may seem contradictory) realistic alternate realities.
This clip was created by John H. King. He used the software package Adobe After Effects CS5 with the plug-in Trapcode Particular 2.1 to create the effect. I find this clip to be inspiring because the makes use of the 3d particle plug-in a unique way.