On the south edge of Kansas City, a multi-story commercial building has been lighting its windows in special colors and patterns for decades. ETC’s Mosaic system, a unique pixel-mapping and show control solution, recently gave them a 21st-century upgrade to heighten the graphics and even provide a new revenue stream for the building.
“The building is right near the interstate. For years, everybody drove past it and loved the decorative touch of the special lighting,” says Autumn Nieland, Business Development at Mercer Zimmerman. The patterns started with a holiday wreath, then expanded into other designs like the Kansas City Royals or Chiefs logo. But the building wanted something better. They wanted a system that could handle bigger designs but needed less time and people power to make happen.
“They were still just using fluorescent strips lights, figuring out by hand what colors would go into what window, and having maintenance personnel change the color of gel tubes. It was very labor intensive,” says Nieland. “The property manager came to me and said there’s got to be a better way. So of course, we introduced them to ETC’s Mosaic.”
ETC’s Mosaic makes it easy to paint with light on the world’s biggest canvases like buildings. With support for up to 1.5 million pixels, your designs can be as high- or low-res as you like. And it’s easy enough to use that the building staff have free rein to build and implement their own designs.
Mosaic’s design software has made their life much easier. “They used to plot out windows in Excel by shading the cells,” says Nieland. “We worked with them to get the scale and dimensions of the building and windows right in the program, and now they’re off to the races.” The building staff has inserted new designs into their repertoire, like a rainbow chase, and a waving American flag. Nieland continues, “They took a video of a flag, plugged it into Mosaic, and the software figured out all the pixel-mapping necessary to make it move across the front of their building.”
Data from Mosaic is distributed throughout the building over a network, then converted into DMX using ETC’s Response Mk2 DMX Gateways. The DMX is sent to RGBW LED strip lights from a local manufacturer that are placed in each of the windows. The installation went as smoothly as the animation.
“It’s simple to implement, because once one section of building is done, you’re just repeating it the same install on every floor,” adds Brad Hull, Controls Outside Sales Manager at Mercer Zimmerman. “It was really easy for the contractor to understand how it all went together.” And thanks to Mosaic’s capacity, it’s easy to add more fixtures and expand the system in the future. “The system is so flexible, it’s easy to augment the design based on needs of the project and the wants of the end user. It’s like Legos. You can just snap new pieces into place for whatever budget you have.”
In addition to the animated American flag waving across the front of the building, the crew has added sports team and company logos back into rotation and mapped rainbow color chases across the exterior. To keep the light show interesting, they use Mosaic’s scheduling features to ensure the shows don’t run every night, only on special occasions – or for a price. “They can start putting things up on the exterior and charge for it, turning it into a revenue stream if they’d like,” says Hull. “They have a taste of what they can do, and they know there’s so many more possibilities. It’s fun to watch them realize what they have with Mosaic and decide what they’ll do next.”