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The Blackbird®: fully adjustable car rig for automotive advertising

Via The Mill

Until now, automotive content has often been dictated or 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 Camera, 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. 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.

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 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.

Alistair Thompson, International Executive Vice President – 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. The Blackbird journey has only just begun though and the technology and the thinking behind it will evolve. 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!”

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