Faraday Future sued by visual effects studio for $1.8 million

There’s a chance some of Faraday Future’s videos and photos feature special effects instead of images of the real vehicles. And now the company known for creating such promos for other automakers is suing Faraday Future for $1.8 million alleging the car company skipped out on the check.

According to the lawsuit documents on Jalopnik, Faraday Future contracted The Mill Group in August 2016 to construct a graphical presentation, complete with virtual reality, augmented reality and holographic components, for promotion of its first production vehicle, which launched earlier this month at CES. The documents show Faraday Future agreed to pay $1,822,750 for this work, but The Mill Group alleges only $20,000 was paid.

The Mill Group is the auto industry’s secret weapon. The visual effects studio is known for turning out photo realistic renderings of automobiles, and it recently unveiled car-like rig that when used in conjunction with the right software, can produce a virtual replica of nearly any car. Ever wonder how carmakers can capture perfect footage of a car sweeping down a mountain? Visual effects. The Mill Group’s website lists among others Audi, Honda, Lincoln and Subaru as clients.

It’s unclear from the lawsuit documents exactly what was produced by The Mill Group for Faraday Future. And that ambiguity is part of the problem. How many of the videos and images Faraday Future’s products are real or computer generated?

Faraday Future is not the first company to use The Mill Group for promotions but there are differences. Other auto makers have built trust with consumers, and earned the right to use visual effect stand-ins. Faraday Future doing so is akin to a drone company overselling its products with a faked Kickstarter video — ask the folks behind the Lily Drone how that worked out.

Ever since unveiling its concept vehicle a year ago, Faraday has been struck with controversy. Just this year the company has battled over a trademark and waged a PR war over how many people actually paid to reserve its first production car. Even the construction of its Nevada-based manufacturing facility has faced roadblocks including missed payments with contractors and pushback from local lawmakers which granted the company massive tax breaks.