The Mill Blackbird brings photorealistic AR to car commercials
What if I told you the car you're seeing is not actually there.
In fact the car in this shot never even showed up on the set.
The acting was all done by this rig, the male blackbird and was performed live right onto the viewfinder of the camera using a video game engine.
The blackbird has been around for about a year, but until recently all the visual effects had to be added in after the fact.
Which required hours of rendering and editing.
Now all the magic happens in real time.
Epic's Unreal Engine, the same used in many video games, paints the Camaro onto the blackboard rig, allowing the director to feel what the car will look like in the environment, just by looking through the lens or tablet.
The rest is done by the blackboard.
The frame is customized to mimic the Camaro's driving motion and simultaneously collect data about its environment to make the final render look real, down to the last shadow.
Just switch out the wheels or extend the frame and the Mill Blackbird's body morphs into any vehicle at the push of a button.
And because it's electric, the suspension, torque And even the acceleration can all be modified to match the car of choice, whether it's a sick sports car or mid-size SUV.
Then it's off to tear up the pavement with a single driver at the wheel.
The Blackbird has a 360 degree camera setup on a stabilizer and a lighter laser tracking system to capture lighting and terrain details Which will then be projected onto the CGI overlay of whatever car it becomes.
This means car manufacturers don't need the finished version of the latest car in order to shoot a commercial.
And they don't risk competitors catching a glimpse of it before it launches.
Once the footage has been captured, the visual effects team can easily tweak or alter the virtual body and interior.
This also means you can reuse the same footage for newer models as they are released.
The Blackbird is already in use, so next time you see a shiny car on screen just remember, you may not be looking at the real thing.
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