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How Car Commercials are Actually Made

Did you know, most of the time you are watching a car commercial you are watching a CGI'd version of that vehicle, superimposed onto a car rig? That rig is made by a company called The Mill and is called Blackbird. We take a look at what this rig can do and how it's customizable to the commercial they are shooting. 

Amie-Lynn Mitchell

Content Creator

Blackbird-What it is

When watching a car television commercial or on a computer screen, the vehicle shown may not be the same as the one used during the production. This is because certain automotive advertisements feature Blackbird, a miniature car with no windows or side panels. The blackbird functions as a digital stunt car. You may be wondering how the Blackbird works and what technology it utilizes. Worry not. This article will shed light on this and many other features of the Blackbird.

This machine is a small digitalized stunt car used mainly in filming car commercials and films. This nascent electric machine appears to be enjoyable to drive, but it's a lot more remarkable than it seems. It is a fantastic creation of a company known as The Mill, which is a VFX creation production studio. When placing the actual bodywork during post-production, you can modify its width, wheelbase, suspension, and engine response. It has an onboard 360-degree camera to create the perfect projection of a real-life vehicle during production. Most vehicle commercials made in Canada that appear too good to be true most likely utilize this small machine.

It's Features

The Blackbird is a machine that may be used in various ways. It was designed to swiftly modify the chassis to practically any car's exact length and width. It also has an electric engine and can be set to simulate acceleration curves and gear shifts of every Chevrolet, Dodge, and Ram vehicle out there. It similarly has adjustable suspensions that alter the vehicle's height, stiffness, and damping. This is to replicate typical driving characteristics.

Because this machine is used to simulate an actual car, things like realistic ground contact, motion dynamics, and shadows are some things that it captures during production. How does it do this? A fully customized realistic CG vehicle is integrated into it with 100% photo-realistic HDR visuals reflecting the environment on the car's body. Models, styling, colors, and accessories for vehicles can be introduced afterward, obviating the need to retake commercials for each location or audience.


In post-production of commercials or films, the vehicle utilizes CGI to match the exterior look of any desired car model. The Mill recently created an augmented reality tool that allows commercial directors to get a glimpse of what Blackbird's CGI looks like during filming. This machine has been used in a number of ads for Chevrolet and GMC.

How It Works

CGI works by modifying the machine to match the parameters of the vehicle you're replacing. The wheelbase and breadth can be adjusted up to 4 feet. The suspension can be fine-tuned to mimic practically any chassis you want. Check out their video.
The output curve of the rig's electric engine may also be changed to fit the target vehicle, whether it's a rear-wheel-drive V8 or an all-wheel-drive Flat four. After that, put the proper wheels and tires on and go head out to shoot. As previously stated, this machine is equipped with remarkable camera gear, which is used to film the driving environment in 3D.
Directors evaluate if the actual surroundings of the tires, wheels, and shadows of the car match the shot in the final composition. If this fails, the vehicle can be replaced entirely by a photo-realistic replica that includes realistic reflections generated by the facility's cameras. You won't be able to tell that the director didn't use an actual car because the results are so convincing. You'll question why they used a computer-based vehicle instead of an actual vehicle in various scenes.

What Are The Benefits Of CGI In Car Commercials?

Computer-generated imagery is an effective tool for creating effective campaigns that empower and inspire more innovative marketing concepts in the automotive sector. It quickly adapts to various changes in markets and demographics. Marketers can avoid shooting in actual automobiles by using entirely seamless and photo-realistic computer-generated imagery work, reducing the time to market and the expense of traditional automotive shooting. Here are a few more compelling reasons why automobile rigs use computer-generated imagery.

Endless VR Options

Computer-generated imagery provides an infinite virtual environment. Automobile companies can choose any environment to display their vehicle and place a 3D model of the vehicle into it. To give your brand a fully distinct environment, you could shoot the vehicle from any angle in a specified place and modify it as you wish. With CGIO, there are no shot permits, light tracking, or site closures. A virtual environment is also more sustainable. Commercial shooting typically increases carbon dioxide emissions because cars must drive great distances, and many individuals fly to remote regions.

It Is More Than Just Marketing

Computer-generated imagery is excellent for marketing and advertising but also has other significant applications. In reality, computer-generated imagery can be used at any stage of the vehicle's development process from prototyping, concept, manufacturing, and even design. You can see a car "reanimate" with computer-generated imagery years before developing it. You may also use the CGI model to raise money from venture capitalists even before building your product. Using computer-generated imagery, product design, production, and manufacturing teams help you gain a significant competitive advantage. As a marketer, you have so many benefits. Before your product is released, you may display exactly how it will look and how customers will use it.


We can see from this post how the Blackbird has revolutionized car commercialization. As listed in this article, car dealerships in Canada are encouraged to employ it in advertising to enjoy its numerous benefits.