The Mill Blackbird Wins HPA Creativity and Innovation Award

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Mon, 08/29/2016 - 15:42 -- Nick Dager

The Hollywood Professional Association has awarded its prestigious Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation to The Mill Blackbird. Created by The Mill, the Blackbird is the first fully adjustable car rig that creates photorealistic CG cars. The coveted honor will be bestowed November 17, 2016 at the 11th annual HPA Awards gala at the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, California.

The HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation was conceived to recognize companies and individuals who have demonstrated excellence, whether in the development of workflow and process to support creative storytelling or in technical innovation. A jury of industry experts selected The Mill Blackbird during the recent presentation and judging session in Los Angeles.

Developed by The Mill over a three-year period, the Blackbird was designed to address problems faced by the advertising industry when creating content for automobile commercials: car availability, model revisions, limited access to locations, and footage that can quickly become outdated. The Mill Blackbird is a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car.

The length, width, wheels, and suspension of the rig can be adjusted or swapped to mimic almost any car in development or on the market. Its electric motor can be programmed to simulate various driving experiences, and The Mill Blackbird packs a camera array and 3D laser scanner to generate a virtual model of the surrounding environment for even more realistic CG renderings. Beyond its advertising applications, the Blackbird technology enables many design and creative disciplines to test concepts long before manufacture. 

Al Thompson, executive vice president of The Mill said, "We are thrilled to be awarded the highly sought after Creativity and Innovation honor at this year’s HPA Awards; being recognized and awarded for The Mill Blackbird's pioneering technological creativity is a huge achievement for us. The Mill Blackbird has taken about three years to concept, design and engineer and it really has been a wonderful example of what you can achieve when you get the best minds in the business together. 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.”  

Seth Hallen, HPA president said, “The Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation has opened the door for us to honor excellence in ideas and technologies that fall outside other HPA Awards categories. The Mill Blackbird a production and design solution, is a perfect entry for the Creativity and Innovation Award that illustrates why the category was conceived. The Mill has developed an incredibly exciting technology that serves creatives as well as automotive designers that empowers the creative process. This year, the entries for Creativity and Innovation were highly competitive, and we applaud all who entered.”

In addition to the Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation, the HPA Awards will recognize excellence in 12 craft categories including color grading, editing, sound and visual effects. Other special awards will be presented to Michelle Munson who has been named as recipient of the Charles S. Swartz Award, Herb Dow, 2016 HPA Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, and winners of the Engineering Excellence Award. 

Tickets for the 11th annual HPA Awards are on sale now and can be purchased online at