Car commercials and movies showcase the vehicles in their most perfect looking form, but did you know that the cars in those scenes are not really working cars?
Presenting the Blackbird.
The multi-purpose stand-in used for car advertisements and movies.
It is amazing how much can be shown on TV shows, movies, and advertisements through CGI, or Computer Generated Imagery. If photos can be edited and manipulated using Photoshop or other similar software, videos, TV shows, and commercials can be filled with CGI. From the surroundings, clothes, shampoo commercials or something similar, to even cars.
With the exception of some movies (like the Batman ones, for example), there are a lot of cars and other vehicles that are actually made up of stand-ins. The jets used in The Avengers and X-Men films are made up of stand-ins, and the interior (minus the technology) is built on a set. The video effects artists just layer on the CGI during post production to make the cars look perfect.
Introducing the Blackbird
The Blackbird is a VFX stand-in used by visual effect artists in car commercials and movies. Without the visual effects, it may look like something that came out of Mad Max. It looks cool, but what it can do makes it even cooler.
This CGI car rig was created by a visual effects company The Mill. They are based in New York and are becoming total game-changers in the world of automotive advertising. This innovative car rig took two years to develop and was handmade by technicians from another visual effects company JemFX.
It was also made in the same place the Blackbird SR-71 supersonic jet was created, which was where the car rig took its name from, due to its legacy of stealth design.
The Blackbird is a fully adjustable electric car rig that can help recreate very realistic CGI cars. You can adjust the wheelbase, width, engine response, and suspension action to match virtually any kind of vehicle. It also has 360-degree cameras that can be used to create perfect reflections when artists overlay the real car body during post-production.
Too Good to Be True
It makes sense to think that nothing in those car commercials is real, now that we know the magic that happens behind the scenes in the editing room. Commercials take just as much work to film and produce because each aspect of the production has to be perfect.
Even the CGI on a car has to be flawless to be able to successfully advertise the product. That is something the Blackbird can also do.
It can capture high-quality footage because of its camera array and stabilization unit, specially engineered by award-winning technician Lev Yevstratov. The camera in the Blackbird uses 3D-mapping technology to the environment it is being filmed in, which makes it more impressive.
How It Works
If you are going to film a car scene with a Blackbird, all you have to do is adjust the settings to the car you will be replacing it with. Its wheelbase can be changed up to 4 feet, while the width can be changed by up to 10 feet.
Change the suspension on how you want it, as well as the power curve of the rig’s electric drive, and place the appropriate tires and wheels onto the rig, then you are good to go!
When everything has been done in post-production, the footage will show real surroundings, as will the wheels and tires that were placed on the rig.
But wait, the Blackbird is not limited to that either. The car rig can be replaced completely with a photo-realistic model as well, with real reflections created by what the rig’s cameras filmed.
Why Use a CGI Rig? Three Reasons
Of course, this now poses a question as to why such an invention was made. Well, the reasons may depend on where the cars will be advertised.But one such reason is that these commercials are mostly filmed before the cars are even made. Final details may not have been finalized just yet, and the cars that are already available in the market might not include the same features as the ones used in the commercials.
But one such reason is that these commercials are mostly filmed before the cars are even made. Final details may not have been finalized just yet, and the cars that are already available in the market might not include the same features as the ones used in the commercials. This is why there is a small disclaimer placed at the bottom of the commercial, saying that the car may not match the actual model.
Another reason is that car models are often made under secrecy. This is perhaps to avoid competing companies from taking their design. When companies test their new models, they are often disguised to hide the final look. So, when there are snooping photographers trying to catch a glimpse of the newest cars from the auto manufacturing companies, they will only be able to see a set of rims with the help of the Blackbird.
The location of these commercials is also another issue that the Blackbird CGI car rig can solve. With the CGI car setup, it will no longer be necessary to transport cars to the filming locations. This means that filmmakers can shoot car scenes and/or commercials anywhere and anytime.
The final product reveals absolute perfection. The shots are flawless, no issue of the production crew’s reflection on the windows, nothing. It will showcase the desired car perfectly. This gives filmmakers and visual effect artists an opportunity to experiment with beautiful shots and composites.
So with the Blackbird CGI car rig, filming car scenes have never been made easier at this point.
Photo Source: millchannel at YouTube (screengrab)