The Mill Blackbird Is The Future Of Computer-Generated Cars: Video
The do-it-all car rig could change the face of TV, movie, and commercial productionsby Kirby, on
It may not look like an actual car, seeing as it doesn’t have a body, but if I were to tell you that the Mill Blackbird can replicate the driving characteristics of any car, past, present, and future, would you believe it? Well, you better because that’s what the Blackbird is all about. Officially, it’s described as the world’s first fully adjustable car rig that can alter its own chassis to match the precise dimensions of any car. Unofficially, it could become the saving grace for every TV, movie, and commercial production that will rely on automotive content in the future.
Ok, so how does the Blackbird work exactly? The basic principle of the extendable chassis has already been mentioned. Other than that, the Blackbird is also CGI-compatible, which means that it can be re-skinned to look like any car, be it a Ford Mustang Shelby GT350 or a Jaguar XF. The rig also comes with 3D laser-scanning and high-dynamic range imagery that allows users to build a virtual version of the environment the car is in. Just as important, it also comes with an electric motor that can be programmed to literally emulate the driving characteristics of the car being used. In other words, the Blackbird can go from doing burnouts and donuts like the Shelby GT350 to driving around gracefully about town like the XF.
The implications are far-reaching, especially in the TV, film, and commercial industries. If a TV show, movie, or a commercial client needs a car, it doesn’t need to actually have a physical car on set. The Mill Blackbird can do it by itself, potentially saving these companies a ton of money, time, headaches, and possible insurance and legal battles in the process.
The Blackbird is a product of The Mill, which worked in conjunction with partners JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow. It took two years to complete and its name - Blackbird - was thought of as an homage to the original Blackbird SR-71 supersonic jet. In a nice symmetry between the two, the Mill Blackbird was hand built in the same hangar as the more famous jet that it got its name from.