Swiss army knife car gets longer or shorter for TV ad­verts

The Witness - Wheels - - MOTORING -

UN­TIL now, car ad­verts were made us­ing real cars, a process of­ten ham­pered by car avail­abil­ity, model re­vi­sions, lim­ited ac­cess to lo­ca­tions and footage that can quickly be­come ir­rel­e­vant.

In col­lab­o­ra­tion with JemFX, Per­for­mance Film­works and Kes­low, pro­duc­tion com­pany The Mill has cre­ated The Mill Blackbird which sets out to trans­form the way au­to­mo­tive ad­ver­tis­ing is made — it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any lo­ca­tion, with­out the need to rely on a phys­i­cal car. The Mill Blackbird is able to quickly trans­form its chas­sis to match the ex­act length and width of al­most any car.

For en­thu­si­asts, the most ex­cit­ing thing about the Blackbird is its elec­tric mo­tor, “which can be pro­grammed to imi­tate ac­cel­er­a­tion curves and gear­ing shifts of al­most any car, past present and fu­ture”. At Wheels, we pre­dict this pro­gram­mable trait of elec­tric mo­tors will quickly catch on to give elec­tric car buy­ers a school taxi dur­ing the week and a track racer on week­ends.

The ad­justable sus­pen­sion can also al­ters ride height, rigid­ity and damp­en­ing to repli­cate typ­i­cal driv­ing char­ac­ter­is­tics.

Two years in de­vel­op­ment, The Mill Blackbird was hand-built by the world’s top tech­ni­cians from JemFX in the very same hanger that the Blackbird SR-71 su­per­sonic jet was once man­u­fac­tured — the car rig’s name is a nod to this legacy of stealth de­sign.

The Mill Blackbird is able to cap­ture qual­ity footage and data due to its cam­era ar­ray and tai­lor­made sta­bil­i­sa­tion unit, en­gi­neered in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Per­for­mance Film­works’ leg­endary, multi award-win­ning tech­ni­cian, Lev Yevs­tra­tov.

A com­bi­na­tion of high dy­namic range im­agery and 3D laser scan­ning gen­er­ates a vir­tual ver­sion of the en­vi­ron­ment, pro­duc­ing 100% re­al­is­tic CG ren­der­ings. The Mill has taken this a step fur­ther, de­vel­op­ing a be­spoke Blackbird aug­mented re­al­ity app that al­lows you to see the in­tended ve­hi­cle in CG, tracked live over the rig on lo­ca­tion.

Whether for au­to­mo­tive ad­ver­tis­ing con­tent or vi­su­al­is­ing the lat­est ad­vances in car de­sign, The Mill Blackbird in­spires and ex­pands cre­ative op­por­tu­ni­ties, of­fer­ing a truly flex­i­ble pro­duc­tion tool with­out sac­ri­fic­ing any qual­ity or di­rec­tion.

Alis­tair Thomp­son, in­ter­na­tional ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of The Mill, com­ments: “We can un­equiv­o­cally say that The Mill Blackbird is a tool to solve real prob­lems for the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try. It is no van­ity project.

“It was the gen­uine needs of our ad­ver­tis­ing clients that made the Blackbird hap­pen and their con­stant sup­port and in­put has shaped its de­sign and made it the game chang­ing in­no­va­tion that it has be­come. We hope it will con­tinue to pro­vide in­spi­ra­tion for the whole in­dus­try and most im­por­tantly, in turn, our clients will cre­ate ways of us­ing it that we have not even com­pre­hended yet. This is what ex­cites us the most.”

— Supplied.

‘The Blackbird can imi­tate ac­cel­er­a­tion curves and gear­ing shifts of al­most any car, past present and fu­ture’


The world’s first fully ad­justable car rig is the real wheels be­hind the com­puter-gen­er­ated im­agery of many an Amer­i­can car ad.

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