This is “The Blackbird,” a battery-powered automotive rig with a fully-adjustable wheelbase, track width, and suspension setup to mirror any car. With it, filmmakers can shoot an entire car commercial without an actual car.
It’s the product of London-based visual effects company called The Mill, and it shows just how insanely much of a car commercial could be faked with CGI.
The most critical aspects for making a CGI car look real, The Mill explains, are the vehicle’s driving sequences and its wheels. Both of those are malleable with the Blackbird. The Mill can physically change the wheels and tires, and the length can be adjusted up to four feet and the width up to 10 inches. The rig basically becomes the car’s physical footprint, and will interact with the road and the environment the way the real car would.
The rig provides video producers with integral raw footage, like how a car dynamically behaves and the shadows it throws over the ground. From there, it’s much easier to throw in a CGI body of the desired advertised car.
The company believes that this is a much cheaper way to create car footage. It cuts out the hassle of actually obtaining the car and scheduling reshoots if something goes wrong or doesn’t look right.
Who says you need a car for a car commercial anyway?