December 29th, 2016

After kicking off the year with the launch of the multi award-winning Chemical Brothers ‘Wide Open’ music video, 2016 at The Mill was filled with a multitude of exciting new work for both traditional mediums as well the immersive and experiential. 2016 also saw the global launch of The Mill BLACKBIRD and The Mill in Chicago’s move to a new state-of-the-art studio to the landmark 1KFulton building in the West Loop.

Take a look back at many of the big projects, wins and news that made 2016 another fantastic year at The Mill:


Created in collaboration with award winning directing duo Dom&Nic, Chemical Brothers’ ‘Wide Open’ music promo uses a range of highly technical visual effects techniques, which are perfectly paired with the organic flow and movement of professional dancer Sonoya Mizuno; to produce a captivating story that perfectly entwines with the iconic Chemical Brothers sound.

Launched in January 2016, 'Wide Open' is one of the top music videos of the year with over 18 million views on YouTube and a collection of visual effects awards ranging from a D&AD Yellow Pencil and a Gold Lion at Cannes to the UKMVAs, Ciclope and LIAs. 

The Mill artists that helped turn the dancer into a fully 3D printed lattice take us through the key components of this complex project in our Behind the Project: How The Mill Brought The Chemical Brothers' 'Wide Open' To Life.


Super Bowl 50 Collection

Beginning with one of this biggest annual sporting and advertising events of the year, Super Bowl 50 kicked of 2016 with Mill artists contributing to many of the top ads from the event like Heinz 'Wiener Stampede', Snickers ‘Marilyn’, Audi 'Commander', Honda 'A New Truck to Love' and NFL ‘Super Bowl Babies Choir’. 

Mill+ also got in the game with Schick 'Hydro Robot', bringing the epic duel of razors to the Big Game using a range of visual techniques. Learn more about the big spots and trends from the game in our Post-Game Roundup.

Summer Sports Collection

The Summer of 2016 was filled with huge sporting events from the European Championships and Wimbledon to the Summer Olympics and Paralympics in Rio. Along with huge crowds of fans cheering on the world’s top athletes from all over the globe, these events are surrounded with impactful and inspiring spots that often feature crowds and stadiums recreated by Mill artists.

With this in mind, 2016 saw the launch of The Mill Crowd and Stadium Reel and Crowd and Stadium Toolkit Reel, which provides a complete framework for creating bespoke photo-real stadiums from scratch in the most efficient way possible.

To mark the start of the Summer Games, we joined forces with The New York Times to create 'The Modern Games' VR film, which takes viewers through time to some of the most unforgettable moments in Olympic history. Mill artists also helped create films like DFS ‘Great Brits’, Samsung ‘Chant’, Under Armour ‘Phelps’, Gatorade ‘Never Lose the Love’, Gillette ‘Perfect Isn’t Pretty’ and the Nike ‘Unlimited You’ campaign.


Before 2016, automotive content has often been dictated or hampered by car availability, model revisions, limited access to locations and footage that can quickly become irrelevant. In collaboration with JemFX, Performance Filmworks and Keslow Camera, The Mill launched The Mill BLACKBIRD which sets out to transform the way automotive advertising is made – it’s a car rig that can be shot at any time, in any location, without the need to rely on a physical car.

Beginning with a Gold Innovation Lion at the 2016 Cannes Lions Festival, the global launch of The Mill BLACKBIRD has been recognized with several awards including Gold Technology Development at the LIAs and HPA Judges Award for Creativity and Innovation.

Along with its success on the awards circuit, the first fully adjustable car rig that creates photo-real CG cars also made some high-profile appearances. Top Gear’s Pat Devereux demonstrated how the Blackbird is revolutionising cars on film in an exclusive feature, while Mill NY ECD Ben Smith took the stage at Advertising Week New York to discuss how their quest to refine, improve and innovate led to the creation of The Mill Blackbird. 

Most recently, WIRED 2016 attendees had the chance to get up close and personal with the rig through a brand new HTC Vive experience, alongside a hands-on workshop demo by The Mill’s Executive Vice President Alistair Thompson.


Google Spotlight Story ‘HELP’ kicked off the week with two Gold Lions for Technological Achievement and VR in Digital Craft. Two Mill speakers also took the stage this year: CD Carl Addy spoke on 'SNAFU: Situation Normal all Fxxxxd Up’, while ECD Rama Allen and Creative Technologist Mike Mahn opened the Innovation Discovery stage with their live STRATA VR experiment using data visualization driven by biometrics.

In addition to The Mill BLACKBIRD and The Chemical Brothers 'Wide Open' wins, prominent projects like Hennessy 'The Piccards’, SSE 'Pier', and Sky 'Q' were also recognized for a total of ten awards across the Digital Craft, Entertainment, Film Craft and Innovation Lions.

Reeps One ‘Does Not Exist’ experimental VR music video also premiered at the YouTube Beach in Cannes this year. Created in partnership with Aurelia Soundworks, the spatial audio experience features a performance by beatbox phenomenon Reeps One and composed specifically for mixing in 3D sound, making it the first music video of its kind.


The Mill was represented at SXSW 2016 by ECD Rama Allen and Colourist Mikey Rossiter for ‘1 + 2 = Blue: The Science of Colour in Film’, alongside MIT neuroscientist Dr. Bevil Conway, to demonstrate the effect of colour on the human brain, and how filmmakers use colour to alter our perception, emotion, and cognition.

Mill Stitch, our on-set VR directorial tool, also made an appearance, winning the SXSW Interactive Innovation Award in the VR & AR category.

Make sure to catch our talks and panel when we return to Austin for SXSW 2017.


The team journeyed to Washington DC in October to participate as an exhibitor at the inaugural South by South Lawn: A White House Festival of Ideas, Art, and Action. ‘6X9: A Virtual Experience of Solitary Confinement’, a project conceived by The Guardian and created in collaboration with The Mill, was picked to demonstrate the power of immersive storytelling in educating and moving people to effect positive change.

The experience was also recognized with several awards: Gold in VR/360 at the British Arrows Craft Awards, a Silver in Virtual Reality at the LIAs, as well as being recognized in the multimedia category at the Amnesty International Media Awards and in the Digital Innovation category at the British Journalism Awards.


Ahead of the Fireflies West’s annual ride down the California coastline to support cancer research facility City of Hope, Mill+ created ‘A Journey to Hope’ to help raise awareness and funds for the annual charity cycling group. The original animated piece illustrates the six-day ride from San Francisco to Los Angeles using a combination of 3D and cel animation.

Learn more about the project in our Behind the Project blog.

Festive Holiday Collection

As always, the big holiday adverts did not disappoint with beautiful cinematic films like, H&M ‘Come Together’, M&S ‘Christmas with love from Mrs Claus’ and Burberry ‘The Tale of Thomas Burberry’.


Mill VFX artists also brought to life a range of characters to star in these films, including a fully CG dinosaur toy for Coach ‘Introducing Rexy’, the elderly teddy bear couple in Heathrow ‘Coming Home for Christmas’, the adorable ‘Gingerdeer’ for Lowes, a fully CG robin in Waitrose ‘Coming Home', and two new holiday spots featuring the Energizer Bunny with a new ‘Bigger, Better, Bunnier’ look by Mill+.



While 2016 was filled with great VFX work on project like Playstation ‘The King’, LG 'World of Play' and Opel Motorsport ‘Racing Faces’, it was also a year filled with Mill+ created title sequences across a range of films, television series, and industry festivals and award shows. 

In film, Mill artists created the Prologue for Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, The Huntsman: Winter's War Closing Titles, and Snowden Animation Sequence. Mill+ teams also created the opening sequences for several television series including the Hap & Leonard Season 1 Titles, ICE Main Titles, an update to the Vikings Titles for the epic 4th season of the series, and Netflix's docu-series Fearless. Mill artists also had the chance to flex their creative muscles to produce the D&AD 2016 Title Sequence and OFFF By Night 2016.

And finally, this year saw the launch of two additional reels. See a breakdown of the work featured in the reels on our blog: Character Animation Reel Breakdown and Design Reel 2016 Breakdown.

Thanks to all our clients, collaborators and artists for an amazing year at The Mill!