Car chases are some of the most fun moments in film and television. They're adrenaline-pounding set pieces that create tension and excitement for everyone in the audience. But if you work in production, you know that you need dozens of cars to capture one sequence. And the nicer the model, the more expensive it can be. 

Even worse? Sometimes the cars are moving so fast you cannot tell what kind they are anyway. 

Well, Top Gear covered this sleek driving machine called The Blackbird recently and we wanted to highlight it (again) here. 


How did CGI work before the Blackbird? 

Back in the day, like last week, CG cars were added by visual effects artists in post-production, requiring days of rendering to produce high-quality imagery. But The Mill wanted to change that. That's when they came up with The Blackbird. 

What is The Blackbird? 

A special effects company called The Mill made a technology that allows filmmakers to render any car by creating a CGI skin in post. The rig shoots in ultra-HD realism, giving you the ability to make it look like any vehicle in post.

The black bodywork and sensors work in tandem with the camera to make each visual angle. 

According to The Mill, "A combination of high dynamic range imagery and 3D laser scanning generates a virtual version of the environment, producing 100% realistic CG renderings. The Mill has taken this a step further, developing a bespoke BLACKBIRD® AR application that allows you to see the intended vehicle in CG, tracked live over the rig on location."

The car is electric and its wide wheelbase makes it applicable to any model car. All you have to do is bolt on the right wheels that reflect the model of vehicle you want, drive around, and computers render the car on top of the shell. They even match the reflections to the real-world surroundings.



Alistair Thompson, International Executive Vice President of The Mill, explains:

“We can unequivocally say that The Mill BLACKBIRD® is a tool to solve real problems for the advertising industry.  It is no vanity project.  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 journey has only just begun though and the technology and the thinking behind it will evolve. We hope it will continue to provide inspiration for the whole industry and most importantly, in turn, our clients will create ways of using it that we have not even comprehended yet. This is what excites us the most!”


What's next? How to Write a Car Chase

Learning how to write a chase scene in a screenplay is imperative to keep the action moving, and the reader invested. So what are some tips? 

Click to learn