Myths and Mysteries: Car Commercial Stunts are Largely CGI

Drooling over the latest skidding, screaming 30-second salute to powerslides that airs between scenes of your favorite TV series? Hit up your DVR and enjoy today’s car commercials one last time before we burst your bubble. That’s right: in the imminent future, even the raciest spots will be synthesized using computer-generated skins cast over adjustable 3D camera rigs.

Meet The Mill Blackbird, a bare chassis that morphs to match the exact track and wheelbase of its digitally created muse. Photorealistic skins digitally cloak the rig in realtime, allowing the production crew to remotely monitor a virtual representation of the actual car. The Blackbird’s electric motor can be calibrated to match the torque and acceleration curves of real vehicles, including simulated shift points. HDR cameras and 3D laser scanning technology capture the environment exactly as it would reflect on the surface of a real car. The end footage, as demonstrated below, is imperceptible.

Production companies face serious challenges when capturing live imagery of vehicles that have not yet been released to the public. Often, design details change at the last second, and spy photographers hover over shoot sites to spoil the surprise. Prototype vehicles, hand-built years before formal release, can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to create, only to be destroyed during a shoot. The Mill Blackbird erases security and logistics challenges at the cost of authenticity — except, most viewers will never know.

Dystopian as The Blackbird car rig may be, we’ll always have the good ol’ days when nimble economy cars and deft drivers did their own stunts. It’s still possible to find the Isuzu Gemini (sold in the USA as the Isuzu I-Mark, Chevrolet Spectrum and Geo Spectrum) at Pull-A-Part. Notify Me is the best way to get first access to hard-to-find parts for rare vehicles — let us email or text you when your rare car arrives in our salvage yard. Until then, enjoy a two-wheeled dance through Paris filmed with no special effects.

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