London-based FX studio The Mill released a video this week showing off its latest creation: the Blackbird, an adjustable car rig that can mimic any model vehicle for advertisers. With the appearance of a murdered-out dune buggy, the Blackbird uses 360-degree cameras and an adjustable suspension to transform its chassis into any length or width required. And with an overlay of CGI, the vehicle can become any type of car it wants.
The Mill says it created the Blackbird to address the "biggest challenges in car advertising": car availability and subsequent model revisions. "For the first time ever, you can shoot and repurpose a car ad without needing the actual car," the firm says.
"emulate the characteristics of almost any vehicle"
Thanks to its adjustable chassis, the Blackbird can adjust its length by up to four feet, and width by up to 10 inches. It can also change wheels and alter its suspension to mimic nearly any design. And its electric motor is programable to "emulate the characteristics of almost any vehicle — past, present, or future," the Mill says.
Cameras mounted on the Blackbird map the surrounding environment in 3D, which allow advertisers to create realistic, computer graphic renderings of the car they want to sell. The Mill also offers a "bespoke, [augmented reality] application" so clients can see their vehicle tracked over the Blackbird.