30 Years of The Mill | CG Lead, Naotaka Minami

To celebrate ‘30 Years Of The Mill’ we are turning our focus to the extraordinary people behind our creativity. We asked a snapshot of 30 Makers from across The Mill to share their most inspiring projects from the past, alongside their future-facing insights on the advertising industry and evolution of creative technology. Check out why CG Lead and former Mill runner, Naotaka Minami thinks Chevrolet's 'The Human Race' was so pioneering and how he believes that by 2030, we could be directing movies from the comfort of our own living room.
Community December 10, 2020

What piece of Mill work do you see as the most pioneering & why?

For the last 12 years, I have seen numerous projects come through the collective Mill studios, and they’ve evolved into outstanding and innovative masterpieces that have inspired many audiences and prospective artists around the globe. It would be a massive challenge to select only one project from The Mill’s last 30 years. However, if I had to name one it would be The Mill ‘BLACKBIRD’ which was originally released in 2016. 

In a project called ‘The Human Race’, The Mill worked with Epic Games and Arraiy to successfully produce a photoreal Chevrolet CG car in real-time AR, while they shot live-action footage of the ‘BLACKBIRD’ on set. It was amazing, it was innovative, it was nothing like the way we usually produce an automotive commercial. Our clients didn’t have to wait a few weeks to see a car on footage anymore. Everything was happening in real-time, from tracking to compositing in front of our client. It was unreal, and it was beautiful.

The ‘BLACKBIRD’ is like a batmobile for CG artists! This dream car with a fully adjustable car rig, programmable driving technology and capturing capability of the environmental information allows us to shoot an automotive commercial at any time, in any place, without the presence of a physical car on set.

In your opinion, what will be the most defining change in the creative industry over the next decade?

It would be very hard to predict what will happen in our lives in the creative industry tomorrow. But one thing I can say is that our working environment will be changed forever because of this year’s pandemic. I believe our WFH situation has encouraged us to change the way we used to work, it’s forced us to improve or develop our communication skills or methods throughout our offices and teams and it’s helped us figure out how we can work remotely with artists in different time-zones and locations.

We’ve now proven that we can work on a CG project and be on set remotely from anywhere in the world using the most current technologies. I believe that this will lead to more virtual productions using technology such as Unreal Engine, AR, live-feed video and more. I would not be surprised if we are directing entire commercials or movies from our own living rooms in 2030!


Discover more about 30 Years of The Mill here. We would like to thank everyone who has been part of our history – our clients, our partners, our collaborators and our staff past and present. All of you have been central to making our first 30 years so extraordinary.

CG Lead | Naotaka Minami