Matterport Photographers: 11 Tips for Creating 3D Tours of Luxury Real Estate

WalkAround™ 3D Tour powered by Matterport: The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (38A) | Best viewed on an iPad or on a computer using Chrome Browser. To get started, click on the blue 3D Showcase bar (takes about 10 seconds to load); to 'walk around', use the arrow keys on your keyboard; check-out the dollhouse and floor plan views (lower left icons); click to fly-in and walk around | WalkAround 3D Tour by We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod

To help our client at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta sell $2+ million condos faster, We Get Around has created WalkAround 3D Tours – powered by Matterport – of two of their exquisitely decorated 3,000+ units (38A, 45A) as well as The Spa (16,000+ sf) and Indoor Pool.

We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (38A). The Matterport Pro 3D Camera is in background.

We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (38A). The Matterport Pro 3D Camera is in background.

For the following 11 Tips for Creating 3D Tours of Luxury Real Estate by We Get Around Chief Photographer Dan Smigrod, uses Cypress Residence 38A –decorated by Atlanta Interior Designer Barbara Westbrook of Westbrook Interiors. (This residence is featured in Atlanta Homes & Lifestyles starting on page 58)

  1. Arrive 45 Minutes Before Sunrise – to get the lighting "right" outside the windows, you need to shoot without direct sunlight and when the exterior lighting is somewhat dark outside. That's because the Matterport Pro 3D Camera does not enable the photographer to change the f-Stop, Shutter Speed or ISO settings. 
  2. Use a Compass – to decide which room to begin, I use the iPhone pre-installed Compass app to know where the sun will rise. For unit 38A, that meant starting in the second bedroom (furthest from the living room).
  3. Shoot Interior Spaces Last – I shot the interior spaces last since the exterior lighting does not affect these spaces. In 38A, that meant shooting the laundry, bedroom closets and hidden pantry after critical lighting window views were captured. I still need to leave a "hook" – a scan in the entrance way that I could return to to complete these spaces.
  4. Shoot Exteriors at Sunset (with no direct sun) – While I "completed" the 3D capture of 38A at 2 pm – including the 300 sf balcony –  I waited until about 30 minutes before sunset to reposition the camera on the 180-degree balcony to completely reshoot the spacious condo at sunset and again at night. (a total of 61 scans within 300 sf). (See tips 7 and 8 about Deleting and Deactivating scans) [During the 5-1/2 hour break waiting for the pre-sunset lighting, I enjoyed a bento box in The Cafe & Bar at the Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta; I did some unrelated work on my laptop; and used the hotel Wi-Fi to begin uploading the model. (Tip: when the 3D model is open on the iPad Air 2 and connected to WiFi, it is uploading even though you have not hit the "Upload" button. Same with 4G. without notice.)
  5. Over Shoot – I always overshoot to give myself options in post production. Options include: 1) best walking path; 2) best "Dollhouse" and "floor Plan" views; 3) options for (coming soon) Matterport Virtual Reality (VR); 4) opening/closing doors (kitchen looks "clean" with the hidden panty door closed. Step in front of the panty doors and they open; 5) outdoor lighting (I shot 38A's 300 sf patio three times: day, sunset and night); and 6) opportunities that are unique to the space. (For example, I lowered the camera into the Victoria + Albert bath tub for spectacular day and night views.)
  6. Preview Model – While most of our clients prefer 24 hour turnaround, our client at The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta is willing to wait until the model looks "just right." So, after marking the model (mirrors, window and trim), I upload the model to Matterport. In this model, I did 259 scans (which could have failed since Matterport supports up to 200 scans). The next day, I looked at all the balcony scans – day, sunset and night – and decide which scans to keep and which to Delete or Deactivate.
  7. Deleting – After duplicating the model, I deleted 65 scans from the mini-map: many on the patio, but also "baby step" scans that I needed to complete the shoot by going from bright light to darkness, or scans in front of mirrors that I needed to connect scans while capturing, for example.
  8. Deactivating – After deleting, I deactivated 65 scans. For example, I overshoot to see behind closet doors for the "Dollhouse" and "Floor Plan" views, but I only need one scan active to walk into a close.
  9. Deleting versus Deactivating – Ideally, the model should have no more than 200 scans. That's because the model is displayed in webGL which may crash if the model is greater than 200 scans. Any scans that you do not need for "walking" or for the "Dollhouse" and "Floor Plan" views should be Deleted. Any scans that you need for the "Dollhouse" and "Floor Plan" views should be Deactivated.
  10. Full-Length Mirrors versus Camera 'Selfie's – While it is not always possible to keep the Matterport Camera out-of-view, here's how I avoid Camera 'Selfie's' in mirrors: 1) enter the bathroom at an angle, for example (which out for tripod legs in the mirror); 2) scan in front of mirrors, and then either Delete or Deactivate these scans (must have a "path" to skip this scan; and 3) lower the camera below the mirror.
  11. Style The Space – Fortunately, our client meticulously stages the space. I did need to turn on all the lights (and adjust some dimmers before beginning the shoot. (Lights turned between scans can be distracting as you 'WalkAround' the space, so set the lighting before you begin the photo shoot.)

Gear and AccessoriesMatterport Gear and Accessories that were essential for this shoot: 1) bubble level (I use it on every scan); 2) Wedget-It door stops (for the patio doors to stay open despite the wind); 3) portable battery to keep my iPad fully charged; and Gripster for holding my iPad all day.

A Note About Workflow – While I only duplicated the 38A model once before I delivered the solution to the client, I use this naming style: 20150421-1 The Residences at Mandarin Oriental, Atlanta (38A). "20150421-1 is the date followed by the version. The balance of the name is what I will rename the model (once the model is ready for our client). The date is always the shoot date. When I update new versions, I change the version number (such as 20150421-2. Since you can not (easily) view the entire name in thumbnail view on the iPad Air 2, seeing just the date and version number is very helpful: especially when creating many duplicate models and/or uploading.

For more Matterport Pro 3D Camera photography tips, best practices and help, join the Matterport User Group Forum (free). If you would like a free referral of a Matterport photographer, please visit: We Get Around Referral Network of Matterport Pro 3D Camera Photographers. Experience a problem while shooting, call our 24/7 Emergency Support Hotline.

Dan Smigrod

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