The Mill Blackbird can mimic any car on the planet

Unassuming rig can alter itself in size, shape, wheelbase, and driving characteristics. It could be the future of car ads and movies.

This odd-looking rig may not look like much, but it could star as the lead car in nearly every movie and car commercial of the future. The Blackbird is the creation of London-based visual effects agency The Mill, and is set to revolutionise the hardest part about shooting a car on film – getting the car right in the first place.

Unveiled at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity, the Blackbird is a fully adjustable car rig which is able to mimic the driving characteristics of just about any car on the road. It can adjust its wheelbase by up to four feet and its track by ten inches, while altering its suspension settings at the same time.

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The electric drivetrain can also adapt to deliver the performance of any car engine on sale, changing how the Blackbird drives, corners and handles. It can do a passable impression of almost any car in existence but it still won’t look right – and that’s where the real magic comes in.

Through CGI, companies can project the bodywork of any vehicle onto the Blackbird. No longer do they need to worry about locating exactly the correct model or shooting several versions of cars for ads in different regions of the world, they can simply tweak the CGI rendering updating the vehicle as necessary. There's no need for manufacturers to bring specific cars to shoot locations or build outlandish one-off prototypes - the Blackbird can do it all.

The Mill claims that the Blackbird opens up a new world of creative opportunities - and could even save money, enabling advertisers to shoot multiple commercials with just a single vehicle.

With the Blackbird, the only non-CGI part of the car visible will be the wheels – and with universal fittings for all manufacturers, it should be simple to swap and change them for accuracy. The Blackbird can also help users build a virtual environment with a combination of laser scanning and 3D cameras.

The Mill Blackbird, then, could mark an end of the disclaimer underneath most car adverts – 'this model may not be available in all territories.' Look really carefully next time you see a car in an advert or movie – all may not be all it seems.

Do you think The Mill Blackbird could be the future of car ads? Let us know in the comments below...

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