Crazy computerized effects? Back in Back To The Future's day, they didn't have those. Only pluck and spirit (and time travel). That means that with a few lights and some clever camera work, you can make a toy car look like its blasting through the barriers of space-time at 88 mph.
This video comes from the same people who did that Ghostbusters explanation, and it relies on some similar principles. Photography that uses multiple exposures, smart placement of multiple light sources, etc. Also a miniature replica of Back To The Future's iconic DeLorean, because the real thing is expensive. And big.
The remarkable thing, however, is that with a decent camera, a fair amount of time, and decent editing software, this is pretty doable for just about anybody—well, assuming they're prolific collectors of colored laser pointers, that is. No, it's not the exact method the creators of Back To The Future used, but the resulting effect is still damn cool.
Watch and gawk or give it a try yourself. Regardless, I want an entire tiny, action-figure-based version of Back To The Future now.
Thanks for the heads-up, Jared G.