Virtual copy
The Mill Blackbird car rig

While CG is part of every video or film production with a reasonable budget, the best CG is derived from actual clips to ensure the outcome is realistic. For most automobile advertising clips, for example, the standard practice to date is to wait for the completely built vehicle for the shoot. Unfortunately, that leads to certain limitations of options for both shooting location as well as lead-time. These issues are eliminated by The Mill’s Blackbird car rig.

Joint developed over two years by JemFX, Performance Filmworks, Keslow and The Mill; Blackbird is the first fully adjustable car rig that helps in the process of creating photoreal CG cars. The chassis of Blackbird is adjustable for length and width, and the electric motor can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shift. The suspension, too, is adjustable and able to simulate actual driving characteristics identical to the model Blackbird is rendering. There are also cameras on Blackbird for capturing 360-degree footage and showing what it would be like sitting in the simulated car.

In post-production, The Mill renders and maps the appearance of the car’s model, colour, and accessories. The Mill has also developed an augmented reality app for visualising the intended car on site. Not only does Blackbird contribute to automobile advertising or stunt scenes in movies, but it also adds to car design where designers can see which combination of colour and accessories looks best in action.