An advertising solutions company has developed a new car rig that can stand in for just about any car on a film, TV or commercial set and, using CG effects, then be adapted to look on-screen like the vehicle it’s mimicking.

The Blackbird, by the Mill, is a four-wheeled rig with an adjustable chassis that can be stretched or shrunk along all axises to mimic most any modern car. On the set of a film or commercial, it can be used to take the place of a car that may not be available.

The programmable electric motor means the Blackbird can be configured to behave just like the car it’s imitating; after it’s done substituting for that vehicle on camera, technicians can edit the footage to add photo-realistic digital bodywork.

It can do this in part because the Blackbird – named after the well-known SR-71 Blackbird spy plane, because it was built in the same hangar the aircraft was – is equipped with an array of 360-degree cameras that map out its surroundings to create a virtual copy of its environment.

“We can unequivocally say that The Mill Blackbird is a tool to solve real problems for the advertising industry. It is no vanity project,” Alistair Thompson, international executive vice-president for The Mill says on the company’s website.

“It was the genuine needs of our advertising clients that made the Blackbird happen and their constant support and input has shaped its design and made it the game-changing innovation that it has become.”

The Blackbird has already taken home an innovation award for the way it will transform the advertising industry. The company hopes to evolve the technology as the rig sees more and more use.

(Mill on Vimeo)