The Shapeshifting Car

An adjustable electric ride that sits at the crossroads of technology and advertising.

Visual effects sometimes need more than software and a computer screen. Sometimes, it needs a physical structure upon which to build. Like Blackbird, a shapeshifting “rig” that can be turned into any car with a little help from computer-generated imagery (CGI).

This creation is the brainchild of The Mill, a visual effects studio for the advertising, gaming and music industries. The Blackbird is designed for use in automotive commercials. According to an article in PetaPixel, the Blackbird can lengthen up to 4 feet and widen up to 10 inches, and can even be “re-skinned” and swapped out with wheels and a suspension system to mimic any chassis design.

Until now, in order to create a car commercial, you needed the actual car—which puts pressure on the engineers and manufacturers as it relates to availability and subsequent model revisions. Now, any car from the past, present or future can be created.

As it drives, the Blackbird captures high-quality environmental data of its surroundings. The combination of this imagery with laser scanners allows the team to build a virtual version of the environment around the car to build realistic CGI renderings. And the digital assets can be re-used, making the whole process extremely cost-effective. Now, with this stand-in car, advertisers have the ability to repurpose an automobile with the push of a button.

This is a very cool concept! And, I can’t wait until Blackbird is not just for commercials, but is commercially available so that I can turn my Jeep into a Jaguar.

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