The Mill’s Blackbird Virtual Production Vehicle – An Electric Augmented Reality VFX Powerhouse
I’m jealous of the geniuses that created this.
The BLACKBIRD, (yes…they write it in all caps) a rig created by The Mill is an adjustable car rig that allows crews to shoot and visualize a replacement car in real time. Incredible.
The chassis of the rig is able to adjust to the wheelbase of the target car, imitate acceleration, shifts, and suspension reactivity all through its electric powered motors. The rig can accept any standard wheel lug so that any wheel can be fitted.
The Mill’s custom software allows real time replacement of the target CG model over live footage on location. The positional data is interfaced directly with the Unreal Engine and rendered in realtime. Now on set the client can see the (almost) finished product.
The BLACKBIRD is also equipped with it’s own image acquisition camera array that combines laser scanning with HDR images to create it’s own environment maps so that there is less work to construct it in post.
With a range of 120 miles and max speed of about 80MPH, the electric motors make it a perfect vehicle to stand in for many performance cars. See this Chevy project from The Mill:
I do a lot of automotive work, and this excites and scares me. Now you can shoot commercials before the car is manufactured. Or shoot a chase scene with a BLACKBIRD and replace it with a $500,000 Ferrari. The robots are taking over.
The finished video:
For an extremely in-depth look, fxguide has an awesome write up on it with many technical details.