From the company that pioneered the use of virtual car reskinning for video use, comes the newest innovation of film technology. The Mill, in partnership with JemFX, Performance Filmworks, and Keslow Camera, launched their new product onto the scene, dubbed "Blackbird." Resembling a mix of a Caterham 7, a dune buggy, and maybe some sort of Batman-esque type vehicle, the Blackbird is a small electric car that has pre-mapped tracking points on it to allow for easy replacement in post.
In addition to providing a physical presence on location, the Blackbird also helps capture and generate its own HDR mapping and laser constructed environment so that after the filming is complete, the car can be replaced with just about any car under the sun that matches the wheelbase. Oh and did I mention you can widen and lengthen the wheelbase with just a push of a button? It can effectively be morphed to match any modern car or SUV. Wheels can be changed out to the right wheels or more accurate wheels for the car. Additionally, the suspension and motor drive system is completely programmable allowing for the car to be programmed to react similarly to the real thing. Have a front wheel drive car that has softer suspension that needs to show a fair amount of body roll in turns? No problem. Have a rear wheel drive car that has stiff suspension and needs to have a firm ride and hug the ground around corners or even engage in a little oversteer? No problem at all.
So what does this all mean? Say the car you so desperately need for a project is unavailable, or whatever driving sequences you are doing are much too dangerous to use a real car for risk of damaging it. Effectively, you can use the Blackbird for the driving sequences and have a picture perfect recreation of the car. To top it off, and this will be especially useful for production companies shooting cars that are still in the prototype phase or undergoing cosmetic changes, filming once with the Blackbird will allow the user to update the physical model being used for the render as many times as needed without the need to re-film. This saves hours and hours of time and heaps of money in the process.
While this technology is impressive, some have also deemed it a threat to people currently heavily involved in the automotive filming industry. Similar in nature to those that worked for years perfecting their craft in the practical effects industry for cinema only to be replaced by CGI. What are your thoughts on this next-generation technology?