Video Projection Mapping Project Planned on Ray-Carroll Grain Silo

Ray-Carroll grain silo illuminated during Radiant Studio Works video projection mapping proof of concept testing. By Emily Hood/NextSTL

Last Tuesday the towering urban grain elevator in the heart of the central corridor was partially lit up as a proof of concept and technical test for a larger installation that organizers hope will eventually run nightly and cover the entire structure.

Immersive visual artist Raven Fox of Radiant Studio Works is providing creative and technical consulting to The Sarah Street St. Louis Project, an organization working to strengthen connections between Cortex and The Grove. The planned installation combines art and technology into a dynamic display that can be seen from miles aways. The test on Tuesday illuminated 3 of the 16 silos on the east-facing facade.

Fox has illuminated other well-known structures in St. Louis including the James S. McDonnell Planetarium at the Science Center, the Cinderella building on Cherokee Street, and public art installations at the City Museum and Forest Park. “This will be the biggest project I’ve ever done.” Said Fox,  “At 140’ by 400’, a 56,000 sqft canvas is a lot of area to cover.”

Raven Fox of Radiant Studio Works

To execute his vision for the grain silo Fox uses a variety of lighting technology, methods and products. First the surface of the silo is laser scanned to create a 3-D model. Video projection mapping software is then used to adapt the video to the 3-D model, adjusting for lighting levels and distortion caused by the rounded surface before being projected by high output laser-based video projectors. In addition to video projection, an array of Phillips Color Kinetics fixtures are mounted to each silo (4 on top and two 2 at the bottom) to provide up and downlighting, the inside crevices of the silos are filled with 5 pixel wide low resolution video strips custom created by a company in Chicago specifically for this project, and four Philips Vari-Lite LED moving heads are used to overlay static images and patterns.

The grain silo known as Elevator-D, was built in 1953 and remains in use today to store soft red wheat sourced from up to 150 miles away before being transported to area flour mills. Ray-Carroll County Grain Growers, which owns and operates the silo has been supportive of the video projection project and will provide access to mount fixtures and run communication and power lines.

Pending MoDOT approval the project will also include illuminating the Sarah Street highway underpass with columns of light on the girders activated with IR sensors to respond to cars and pedestrians as they pass under the highway.

The project is privately funded and the timeline has not yet been determined.

  • CandyCaneFlavouredSmokes

    I like candy cane.

  • John

    Excellent! Creative and innovative design enhancement.

  • Ryan

    Awesome. Seconded on Kiener Garage idea.

  • Chad Garrison

    This is great. Kiener Plaza parking garages next, please.

  • jhoff1257

    Love this! Especially the candy cane ones. I also think it’d be cool to light up the underside of the 64/40 viaduct through here too. Similar to those highways in Shanghai or something like that.

    • Daniel Schmidt

      This is a great idea!

  • RJ

    At least its an effort to do something with an eyesore, however it may just be putting lipstick on a pig. The light visual is very appealing at night but what about during the day? Can’t they paint the silos and clean up the exterior so it looks better in the day and spectacular at night. There are possibilities.

    • RyleyinSTL

      My thoughts exactly.

      I’m guessing the light show is acceptable to the owner because it doesn’t cost them anything. They haven’t been interested in the visual appeal of the property up to this point. Why now?

    • jhoff1257

      I’m sure the owner would gladly accept a donation for that. Painting something that size and maintaining said paint job would be very expensive. At the end of the day, it’s a grain silo. It looks and functions exactly as it’s supposed to. I work outside sales around Central Kansas and have seen thousands of these. This one actually looks halfway decent compared to many of them. There are probably 10-15 of these within a few miles of Downtown Wichita and they are all crumbling, some are abandoned, and most are covered in graffiti. Many of them are much larger and more disruptive then this one. This is not an eyesore and I think the lighting idea is a fantastic improvement and one that is significantly cheaper to the owner then a massive paint job.

      • RJ

        This is one of the problems you encounter when you try to transform an old industrial/warehouse area into a technology center; what to do with structures that no longer go with the neighborhood. Ray Carroll is a viable business that no longer fits into the scope of what is happening in CORTEX. I’m not sure the lighting features are being paid for by the owners and I hope it includes both sides of the silos. Something needs to be done with the silos during the day. If cost is the determining issue of what gets done, then as a community we should consider something better than what exists, such as trompe-L’oeil that was done to the Edison Brothers Warehouse downtown which was done by Richard Haas of New York in 1983. That was nearly 35 years ago and is holding up well but eventually will need some touch ups. If you want it to look good you need to ante up the money. Like I said the lighting feature is a start and looks great but what are we looking at during the day? I hope something better than silos.

        • jhoff1257

          What this looks like to me is a bunch of young tech minded folks moved into an old industrial area and are now demanding a long standing business change just because they don’t like the way it looks. Ray Carroll has been there for a very long time and hasn’t done a single thing to bring the area down. Improvements to the silo are fair, forcing them to leave or take on significant expenses just to pretty up a building for some new people isn’t fair.

      • Daniel Schmidt

        Its hard to imagine a larger grain silo than this one.

  • Gabe

    This is such an amazing idea! Will definitely make the silo stick out but in a much better way.

  • Presbyterian

    This is fantastic!