Winterfest Transforms Michigan Central Station with Charm, Nostalgia and Magical Bliss

Winterfest Transforms Michigan Central Station with Charm, Nostalgia and Magical Bliss
29 January 2019

A once derelict and abandoned building steeped with history, Ford tasked the Imagination team with creating an experience to celebrate the revival of Michigan Central Station.  The tallest train station in the world when it was constructed in 1913, it had mainly laid derelict, unused and highly susceptible to vandalism since 1988 - a far cry from its former glory days.  Having recently acquired the 18 story building, Ford desired to signal a bright new era for the iconic landmark with a unique immersive experience that would bring local communities together in celebration.

In just over a month, our teams pulled off this unique 10 day winter experience for our Ford clients as part of our ongoing collaboration spanning over 40 years.  To bring Ford’s vision to life, we tapped into advanced 3D projection mapping technology and imagined a beautifully narrated light show that would cover the building’s facade for the first time ever.  To create a full scan of the enormous structure, our teams initially flew drones around the building which a large number of our animators used to create moving images that were custom made to precisely fit the station’s curves and edges.  As part of complex projection mapping we crafted a narrative that showcased the station at its peak, celebrated its revitalisation and promising future ahead with a light show played three times an hour for audiences to enjoy.  Between shows, the building became a charming backdrop for local artists to display their work.  The entire experience was complemented by a night market with music by Detroit-area musicians and DJs, food and activities for all ages to enjoy and a first of its kind exhibition of nostalgic train station artifacts.

Ford’s Global Autoshow and Events Manager, Garett Carr explained “We’ve planned the festival to coincide with NAIAS so we can give auto show guests and local residents a unique and unforgettable brand experience.  We’re using Detroit’s most famous landmark to captivate an audience through dramatic storytelling. Whether it’s sitting behind the wheel of one of our vehicles or inviting people to see where we are going as a company, high-touch, personalized experiences like this are critical to cut through to customers in a noisy marketplace.”
A shuttle service transported attendees from the immersive experiences we created for Ford’s Explorer reveal at Ford Field, the Shelby Mustang reveal during NAIAS press day and Michigan Central Station’s magical Winterfest

If scenes from the recently concluded winter festival experience look familiar, this is in part due to the iconic Michigan Central Station having played the backdrop in key scenes for popular movies including The Island by Michael Bay and the climactic fight scene in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.  

Before closing weekend, Crains Business Detroit reported an audience of 8500 so far with hundreds more having looked on from nearby Michigan Avenue.
Host and Tech CEO Yvonne Pilon exclaimed via Twitter ‘Highly recommend checking out the @ford light show as part of #Detroit’s Winter Festival’ 

Congrats, Imagination and Ford!