How I learned to love stairs

beautiful-stairsOne big complaint I often see on Matterport support or on the matterport forums is how hard stairs are to scan. And I don’t disagree! But there are ways to make scanning stairs easier and more methodical. Here are some tricks I picked up along the way!

  1. Keep scans on the stairs, save landings for the end if at all possible. If you’re able to do this, which is sometimes impossible, you will save a good amount of time that you would normally use fiddling around with tripod leg length.
  2. Only adjust one leg to a different length at a time. I actually almost lost a camera to experimenting with different tripod leg length. Luckily I caught it and the crisis was averted.
  3. This one is kind of obvious and ties into the other two, but once you’ve found a good, stable base, you can just move that base up and down the stairs, and it should work perfectly.

 

Another big issue that I’ve seen extremely often is scanning spiral staircases with your Matterport Camera for virtual tours. I’m actually zero help here because I’ve never done it. But heres a cool picture of one!spiral hd

While you’re here, check out this cool bank space I shot

Matterport Nemesis: Mirrors

07.12.2017_11.09.03 Don’t be this guy. Who is me. I shouldn’t have to say this, but getting caught in reflective surfaces and thus being part of your scans is not a good look. Whether it be a mirror, glass surface, or just an oddly shiny wall, try to position yourself so that the camera does not catch you or itself when it does its scan. I got a little careless here, and thought I was out of line of sight. When in doubt, the capture app has a feature that allows you to preview your scan before you process it. This can help you make sure your scans are up to par.

Avoiding mirrors is all about geometry. I scanned a gym in Sterling with a huge wall mounted mirror which required a good deal of movement on my end to avoid being caught in the scans. Check out the tour here: The Regal Center Gym. It was actually a blast trying to stay out of the way if I must say so myself.

Another way that I’ve heard about from some residential real estate friends is using cheese cloth to cover mirrors for scans in bathrooms. I’ve personally not tried it myself, so take that with a grain of salt.

Whether you’re hiding, avoiding, or covering up mirrors, I hope you find these tips helpful!

Getting the most out of scans.

07.06.2017_15.23.00Sometimes you can get a little extra out of your scans if you’re crafty enough. In this building, we have one large suite with 14000 square feet. We’re thinking about dividing it up into 3 different spaces. We wanted to be able to visually look at the tours and the floor plans for each unique space. We were able to scan the whole thing in one go, and use the scans to divide it up amongst the 3 spaces. Once you have the entire floor plan, you can upload the big scan, and then delete scans as you see fit in order to shape the space to what you desire. I used this trick to carve out the other three spaces, along with the trim tool to clean up the borders. This was done at one of our properties.

Another trick which you can use to get the most out of you camera is using your 3D views for still photography. This is mostly pertinent for those of you with the Pro 2 camera with its higher resolution lens. Since 3D views aren’t tied to any scans or to GPS data, you can literally select any tour on the capture app, take 3D views, then capture screenshots to have print quality shots next time you upload.

Using Matterport to get floorplans

05.12.2017_09.41.07 copyOne fun aspect of commercial real estate versus residential real estate is using the scans from your commercial spaces to directly visualize changes to a space before you make them. Matterport has the ability to general floorplans using the same scanner that you use for your virtual tours. Take a look at 226 Maple Avenue, an Office Building that we are leasing in Vienna. Find it here: 226 Maple Avenue Suite 205

With the virtual tour, we can use the scans as a tool to help us lease Vienna office space on 123. Alternatively, we can visualize renovations before they happen, and use the before and after pictures in our targeted marketing and sales. We also take the floor plans Matterport gives us and place them in the lease. I hope you enjoyed these quick tips, and if you need a Vienna VA office, feel free to check out the link above and contact me!

The Role of VR in Virtual Tours

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Hello, and sorry about the break! Had a bit too much fun over the fourth! But boy am I excited to talk to you about Virtual Reality (side note, good company name and tongue twister: Virtual Realty Virtual Reality).

I know I harp on this all the time, but Virtual Reality in Matterport tours is ALL ABOUT IMMERSION. The more you can make it feel like the viewer is actually there, the better. If you’re focused on generating VR friendly tours, you want to keep a few things in mind:

  1. Scan Spacing: Unlike normal tours where you might be able to cheat your way out of a few scans in long hallways, you need to keep a particular cadence to your scans so that moving about doesn’t feel unnatural.
  2. Scan Pace: Sometimes, within a room such as a small office, you might take 2-3 scans and call it a day. With VR in mind, this may not be the best course of action. Think about the angles clients will want to see! Get those angles! Check out 2220 Cedar. Boom, Immersive.
  3. Ease of navigation: Sometimes, VR controls can be a little weird. Make it easier on the viewer by adding scans in “trouble areas” such as inside doors.
  4. Get a cool Headset: Yes, Google Cardboard does in fact function. But Daydream is much better looking! People are shallow. Especially people who don’t know as much about VR. Wow them with a cool Headset

Mattertags Uses: Get Creative!

Dollhouse ViewWhen you experiment with your Matterport 3D camera and its Cloud, one feature that can make a tour more special is Mattertags. Mattertags allow you to embed media and websites within the tour to enhance the tour experience.Here are a couple uses for Mattertags that I’ve used personally.

  1. Equipment or furniture description: In the case of, say, a piece of specialized equipment that you want to highlight in the tour, you can add a description of what it is and what it does, and why it is special. In the case of furniture, I’ve seen rare antiques highlighted and a brief description given about its history. Fun facts like this are something that you’d go over in a regular tour, why should an online client miss out on them in a virtual one?
  2. Inserting amenities videos/ Links to virtual tours of other nearby spaces: This is a good way to keep a viewer engaged. Maybe the space isn’t big enough for them. Instead of losing their interest, you can offer a link to a larger space that the can tour, or a link to walkable amenities to increase the value of your space.
  3. Exterior photos: Everyone wants to see what the space looks like from the outside. Give them the full experience.

As you can see, the common thread is that you have been provided a tool to make your tours as immersive and as helpful as they can possibly be, you just need to utilize them!

Space Profile: Sterling Village Bakery

Matterport Dollhouse ViewToday I took on an interesting space: A Bakery located in Sterling, Virginia, at the Sterling Village Center (Check out the tours from here). This space was quick and fun to shoot, but always a bit challenging to stay out of the shot on. Almost everything in the right side was reflective somehow! I used was more geometry to stay out of line of sight than I would have preferred, and I may have missed a few “cameos” when I published the scans.

I’ve always liked this bakery space in our portfolio, and I really think it could be leveraged well if the right bakery were to take it. Its right in the middle of a couple restaurants that could definitely use their baked goods, and a nearby hotel that could leverage the whole “local” aspect of it. But enough about that, you’re here for the tips and tricks.

The only real trick to this space was positioning both scans and myself so that I wasn’t in them, due to all of the reflective surfaces. And that was some relatively basic geometry. Other than that it wasn’t a huge deal, just remembering pacing and such.

Today’s Thought: Tour Flow

Exterior Money Shot 2Today I’ll be talking about something that is the most important thing for immersion in tours. Immersion is important, because although you aren’t there to give the tour in person, you want to make the viewer feel like they are walking the space, and not just looking at a more detailed floor plan. Unfortunately, this mostly comes with practice and tweaking, but there are some simple steps to keep in mind. Check out 11751 Rockville Pike for a good example of the concepts below.

  1. Close scans: When you first start scanning, or at least when I did, you’re going to think, “I’m going to do more scans so that I get more detail, and viewers can get more angles!” This is a big rookie mistake. Sure, you’ll get more angles, and more detail, but it will be a chore to simply navigate your tour with the arrow keys.
  2. Uniformity: Think about walking. Most people walk at a certain pace, with equal stride length. To make the tour more immersive, I tend to stage the space, then walk it like I was touring it for the first time myself. After that, I think about where I would want to steer viewers to. From there, you can determine a sort of natural pace. As an added bonus, having a pace to your scans helps to avoid alignment and low overlap errors.
  3. Planning for Doors: Doors are, bar none, the #1 Matterport headache causer. If you don’t figure out doors early, you’re gonna be in for a rough ride. Try to pace your scans so that the camera is closer to the doorway as opposed to scans in the middle of a hallway. This will save you many alignment headaches.

Challenge: Occupied spaces

Interior 1.1One of the biggest challenges in commercial real estate is turnover. Sometimes, you’re trying to lease a space before a tenant has even moved out. Such was the case in a current scan I did for one of out properties: In-and-Out Market located at Sterling Village Center.

The biggest challenge was my timing. The only time I could get clearance to shoot from the tenant was during a relatively busy time of day for his spot. There was a lot of people moving in and out of the shop. The shop has two busy restaurants on either side of it as well. Not a great recipe for a tour, or so I thought at the time.

I really like to start my tours with a shot from just outside the front door, and to set that as the starting point so that the viewer gets the experience of walking n the door and then walking around as if they are there. Some tours that start in the middle of a space for example, kind of ruin my immersion for me. So it was important for me to get that shot. I ended up getting lucky and getting a full scan in before another wave of customers came in.

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As far as customers on the inside of the shop, someone in the scan doesn’t always kill the scan for you. It can actually be helpful to have someone in the shot, as long as they aren’t close enough to cause alignment issues or are being disruptive. A customer standing in line at the shop I was scanning actually helped bring some life to an otherwise underwhelming scan. My general Rule of thumb is I will throw out any scans with a person within 10 feet or so for alignment purposes.

As always, the preview tool is your friend. Use your judgement to determine whether having someone in the shot disrupts or helps. If all else fails, block entrance to the premises or scan at a time when it is less busy, or not open.

3D Views: When?

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3D views are often a misunderstood tool. There’s a common misconception that their only use is for lower resolution exterior photos for when you’ve forgotten your real camera. While that is a totally legitimate use (I’ve done it) there are plenty of other ways to leverage this tool to make your scans really stand out. Here are some of my favorites.

The 3D view I LOVE to get is the entrance in the sunlight view. Normally if I’m shooting on an overcast day, I will start my tour with my first scan outside looking into the door. But if its a beautiful day out, I’ll grab a quick 3D view outside to use as a kind of cover photo for the tour. See Suite 150 under Virtual Tours for a good example.

Another trick with 3D views is grabbing good shots of traffic counts in your parking lot. Pick a time when your parking lot is busy, and grab a shot with most of the spaces full. Little, subtle things like this can help you even if you don’t make it a point of emphasis. A client with a keen eye will notice.