Brand

The Mill

Capabilities

Ideation / Direction / Design / Animation / VFX / Creative Technology / AR / Real-time

Brief

Automotive content is often dictated or hampered by car availability, model revisions, limited access to locations and footage that can quickly become irrelevant.

Approach

Create the world’s first fully adjustable car rig that creates photoreal CG cars in real-time.

Impact

The Mill Blackbird® revolutionized automotive advertising and went on to win some of the most prestigious awards in the innovation space, including a Cannes Lion.

“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 advertising clients that made this happen and their constant support and input has shaped its design and made it the game changing innovation that it has become.”
Alistair Thompson, Head of Innovation Labs at Epic Games

The Mill Blackbird® is a ground-breaking car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car. It is able to quickly transform its chassis to match the exact length and width of almost any car.

Powered by an electric motor, it can be programmed to imitate acceleration curves and gearing shifts and the adjustable suspension alters ride height, rigidity and dampening to replicate typical driving characteristics.

The rig took over two years to develop and 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 tailor-made 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® AR application 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.