We Get Around 25 Tips for Using the Matterport Pro 3D Camera to Capture a Commercial Construction Site

The Leonards opens Fall 2014 in Atlanta. The four story building will feature 85 apartments and this restaurant/retail space. Architect/Engineer is Archetype Design, LLC. General Contractor is J.M. Wilkerson Construction. Matterport 3D Showcase experience by We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod.

Your first time shooting a commercial construction site with the Matterport 3D Pro Camera? Here are 25 tips from We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod.

  1. Think safety first!  From holes in floors to protruding pipes to cranes moving tons of construction materials, be alert to what's happening around you.
  2. While the Matterport Pro 3D Camera battery will last 8-11 hours of continuous shooting, your iPad will run out way sooner. From the moment you begin shooting, plug a battery into your iPad and place the battery in your pocket. (Please see We Get Around Matterport Pro 3D Camera Gear and Accessories shopping list.)  On a recent commercial construction site, our Matterport Pro 3D Camera battery still had 13 percent left after about 10 hours of continues capture time. Our iPad Air consumed three external batteries and still ended up near zero at the end of 10 hours of continuous shooting.
  3. Even with a super-fast internet upload speed – ours is 100 Mbps up – 100 sweeps in a job with multiple jobs takes us hours to upload to the Matterport Cloud. A recent 100 sweeps job took five hours for the Cloud to process the models.
  4. When you have a lot of sweeps near the same spot, zoom in within the Matterport 3D Capture app on your iPad. This will better help you visualize where you need/want additional spins.
  5. If you must carry stuff while shooting, you can place it between the tripod camera legs and it will not show up in the sweep.
  6. Allow three feet between the wall/furniture and a tripod leg so the "patch" does not blur things that may be important.
  7. Begin capturing spins where you want the Matterport 3D Showcase to begin a virtual tour.
  8. To help make the view outside of windows nice, shoot when the difference between the lighting outside and inside is not extreme. The Golden Hour iOS app may be helpful.
  9. When placing the tripod on stairs, a bubble or digital beeping level placed on top of the camera will help level the camera easily and quickly. For non-slopping floors, simply eye-ball the top of the camera to see that it's level enough. The tolerance for less-than-perfect leveling is huge. 
  10. It's unlikely that you will have the construction site to yourself. So, manage your client's expectations that there will be construction workers and stuff moving while you capture spins.
  11. Within the Matterport Capture app "Finish Job" step, use BOTH the "Windows" and "Trim" tools to outline the ENTIRE exterior of the floor plan. First, outline the floor plan with the "Windows" tool. In the "Doll-House and Floor Plan views, this step will make for a nice, clean contiguous plane along the lines and fill in window-like holes within those planes (especially important on a construction site that may not have walls to define the exterior!). Place the "Windows" on exactly the exterior line. "Window" will trim 40 CM behind the line. Next, "Trim" immediately OUTSIDE of the "Windows" trim. Careful. The "Trim" tool trims EXACTLY where you place these "Trim" lines so you do not want to cut off a wall! Trim lets you get rid of extraneous matter. [Clear as mud? Soon, we will devote a blog post to good and bad examples and link here to this post.] While using the "Trim" tool might be redundant in places, it's a great work-flow item.
  12. When sharing 3D Showcases, you have two options based on what's best for your client and for you: 3D Showcase itself "Link" and "Workshop" view.
  13. Close-out all apps on your iPad, except Matterport Capture. This may help you with few failed sweeps.
  14. If you delete older sweeps in your job, the sweep numbers will not re-sequence. While we like this, the only way to know your true sweep count is to back out of the job to see the sweep count in the menu. This will only be a challenge when Capture maxes out at 200 sweeps per job.
  15. Carefully about painting yourself into a corner. After hours of shooting, you may max out capturing sweeps. This means you may need to split a floor plan into two or more separate jobs. We recently did a job that we split into three jobs. So, we needed logical places to separate the three spaces: not leave a room or three!
  16. If you think you need to cancel a sweep, cancel it while capturing. Canceling then takes less time than waiting for processing (about 45 seconds in Capture Version 1.0.4) and then deleting the completed spin (60 seconds). When shooting large commercial construction sites with 100-200 sweeps you'll save iPad battery time and help complete the project faster without sacrificing quality. We've had construction workers move ladders close to the camera and pause. Cancel. Re-shoot the sweep. 
  17. Get a paper floor plan from your client so that you can color the boxes as you shoot rooms. When shooting at the framing stage, it may be confusing if you missed a room. Ask for a big print-out of the floor plan, when possible. An 8.5 x 11 1-sheet can be hard to read at the natural light framing stage.
  18. A ton of construction workers will be curious about the camera and what it does. If appropriate, offer to take an email address and forward a link the next day.
  19. If the space is dark, be prepared to do sweeps every three feet to avoid failed sweeps.
  20. If you're shooting near a window with bright light, you may experience sweep failures. Reduce the space between sweeps.
  21. Be prepared with a construction mask for dust, paint and fuel fumes.
  22. For helping estimating capture time, our rule-of-thumb is 10,000 sq. ft. = 1 shoot day (8 hours + breaks/meal). Variables include density of sweeps; sweeps that fail (light/dark/moving people and stuff; and breaks/meals.) Allow at least 30 minutes for safety training by the General Contractor. Log your shoot time – and battery time (Matterport, iPad) to help you estimate future commercial construction site projects.
  23. Bring the Matterport 3D User Guide and Tips for Successful Captures; and FAQs with you to help trouble-shoot.
  24. After you leave the construction job site, wipe down the Matterport Pro 3D Camera with a damp lens cloth (that has been spritzed with lens cleaner. Do not spray lens cleaner directly on the camera or lenses. Do not touch the lens. Use a blower on the lenses to blow off dust.)
  25. Make friends fast. Place Krispy Kreme Doughnuts in the break room.

Aerial 360º Photo Sphere • The Leonard opens October 2014 in Atlanta. The four story building will feature 85 apartments and a retail store. • Aerial 360º photo sphere by We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod. Special thanks to J.M. Wilkerson Construction Co., Inc. Rob McKinney, LEED AP BD + C and The Guy Who Knows Apps for Construction. The sphere was shot with the assistance of a crane capable of lifting 600 tons to lift the 3.35 ounce Ricoh Theta spherical camera. Duck Tape was used to attach the Theta to the "headache ball" via a selfie pole.

Dan Smigrod

Founder, CEO & Chief Photographer, 3527 Knollhaven Drive, NE, Atlanta, GA 30319-1908, USA