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PHOTOS: Union Station Is Canvas For Centennial Celebration

In the middle of the night, a grid of light slowly pans across the darkened facade of Union Station. It's 3 a.m. on Thursday, and a team from Quixotic Fusion is methodically lining up 12 digital projectors to create 3-D images using the station as a movie screen. It's part of the promised spectacle -- which also includes a concert, Chiefs pep rally, and fireworks display -- marking the 100th anniversary of Union Station on Friday night.

Quixotic Fusion has partnered with Bazillion Pictures and BIC Media to create the sound and special effects that will help bring the history of the station to life.

“We’re telling a story,” says Anthony Magliano, Quixotic Fusion's founder and artistic director. “The building is our canvas. Sometimes we want the audience to look inside the building and look at history and time. We get creative with the unique architecture of Union Station, the chandeliers, all the archways, that big clock, we are bringing all the cool components together.”

After four months of research, programming and collaboration, the pressure is on to create a spectacular show and Gregory Casparian, Quixotic Fusion's lighting designer, does not want to disappoint.

“One shot, ten minutes, for one of the biggest shows Kansas City has ever seen,” says Casparian. “We just want to make sure everything is perfect. We have tomorrow to double-check that everything is perfect. And then we’re gonna be here early on Friday to triple-check that everything is perfect.”

Sitting on a curb under a street light, Quixotic Fusion’s project producer Mica Thomas is watching the process unfold on the building. “Basically, we are trying to take one hundred years of history and condense it into ten minutes,” Thomas says. “The challenging part was to figure out how we could relate all this historical information, but also keep it fairly abstract in a way that it could be really entertaining and have that big wow factor.”

If all goes as planned, the show should appear as it does in Union Station's teaser:

Each outdoor digital show Quixotic Fusion tackles -- such as night projections on the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts -- poses different challenges. For visual producer Stephen Goldblatt, it's the surfaces. “People like us who do projection mapping on buildings, we all deal with the same thing,” Goldblatt says. “There’s windows and there’s metal, and there’s concrete. You have to make sure they close the shades on all the windows, so you can see what’s being projected. We deal with ambient lighting. Lighting can kill a projection — just a simple street light. So we work with people to coordinate to get every light turned off.”

For the team at Union Station, it'll be another couple of days of intense technical rehearsals. Thomas says he was undaunted by the long hours ahead. “You want to make it look easy,” Thomas says. “If it looks easy, you’ve done your job well. You don’t want people to think about how hard it is, you want people to think about how cool it is.”

Union Station Kansas City presents “KC Celebrates at Union Station,”  Friday, Sept. 5, 5-9:30 p.m., at Union Station, 30 W. Pershing Rd., Kansas City, Mo., 816-460-2020.

Julie Denesha is the arts reporter for KCUR. Contact her at julie@kcur.org.
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