Scanning Empty & Repetitive Spaces

Architecture, engineering, construction, and commercial real estate properties are often empty, open, and repetitive. For example, consider a very large warehouse or the hallways of an indoor storage business.

The empty and repetitive nature can make these properties difficult to scan. This is because the 3D data the Capture app sees from one scan looks very similar to the 3D data from another scan.

The result is called a misalignment — the Capture app thinks it aligned the scan correctly, but the scan's position within the 3D model data is different than its position in real life. This can cause problems later and can make some spaces unusable.

This article will help you overcome misalignments in empty and repetitive spaces and also offer guidance on scanning commercial real estate spaces. For example, see the space below:


Make a Plan

The Matterport camera excels in areas with non-repeating architecture, areas with furniture, and areas with unique 3D features. The larger a property is, the less likely it is to have these qualities and the more likely it is to be open and uniform.

Therefore, it’s even more necessary for you to make a plan and set expectations when you scan these places. 

Type of Space Approximate Area Preparation
Office and retail Up to 10,000 ft²
or 900 m²
Basic scanning preparation
Light industrial 10,000 to 25,000 ft²
or 900 to 2250 m²
Plan a rough path
and read this guide
Empty warehouses, convention centers, banquet halls, etc 25,000 to 50,000 ft²
or 2250 to 4500 m²
Plan a well-defined path
and be very systematic. See below for more about scanning large locations.
If you find that your model is taking several hundreds of scans to capture, then consider splitting the space into quadrants or regions. Then scan each region as a separate model. Learn how.


Scanning Large Open Spaces

New to Matterport? Read 10 steps to scan your first model. Want to up your game? Learn our best practices.

For example, consider a very large 50,000 ft² (4500 m²) empty warehouse.

Scanning this large space in a zigzag pattern is possible, but would take too long and is prone to misalignments in the center. Instead, scan along the perimeter. Then take 360º Views in the middle to get a sense of how big it is.


Zig-zag (not recommended)


Perimeter with 360º Views (recommended)

When you scan along the perimeter (and in areas that are empty or repetitive), print out alignment markers such as the one below and apply them to the site before scanning. Learn more about Visual Alignment.


Markers will appear in the visual 2D panorama (Inside View) of the finished Matterport Space. 


Make sure to keep the recommended distance between scans. About 8-10 feet. The more overlap you have to the previous scan, the more alignment you will have.



Scanning in the Middle

For large properties, the middle is usually empty. This is a great opportunity to switch to 360º View mode. 360º Views are not aligned the way 3D scans are — they are not connected to other scans and will not be a part of the 3D dollhouse, as a result. Learn more.

You may want to capture a room in a middle, such as a server room or a bathroom. For this, you have two options:

  1. Make a new model and scan this room
    • Only a small model with a few scans
    • Fast and easy to accomplish
    • You have two or more models to manage within your company’s system
  2. From the perimeter scan up and into the middle
    • Keeps everything within one model
    • Easier to track within your company’s internal system
    • Takes more time to scan

For example, consider the space below:



For repetitive, uniform, and long hallways (longer than 50 ft or 15 m) place an alignment marker at about every 15 ft (4.5 m). Also, add a unique marker at each end of the hallway and one at about 40% and 60% of the way through the hallway.

These objects assist alignment so that the Matterport Capture app will not “compress” the hallway and make it shorter than it actually is. 

Make sure the scans appear in the Capture app where the camera was standing. If they do not, this is a misalignment and the scan should be deleted, else all scans after will also be misaligned.



For very large buildings where every floor is empty and uniform (such as a skyscraper under construction), we recommend creating a new Matterport model for every floor.

If the building is not too big you can fit all the floors in one model, including the stairs. For example:

Generally, we recommend starting at the door to the stairwell, propping the door open, and scanning the entire floor first. You will end up back at the stairwell.


Then scan up the stairs. The stairs will belong to the floor you just completed. Once you get to the top of the stairs, start a new floor in the Capture app and continue scanning.

When scanning multiple floors, remember to:

  • Scan throughout the building using the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Don’t trigger the fire alarm by accident. Don’t disable the fire alarm in order to scan the stairs.
  • If the building has multiple stairwells, keep it simple and only scan the main stairs.


Commercial Real Estate Amenities

Amenities are the parts of your space that truly affect how a person feels while there. Ultimately they’re what defines a tenant company’s culture.

In addition to your normal scans, add an extra scan or two in front of important items where your visitors will want a closer look. For example:

  • Common areas such as the cafeteria and game rooms
  • Executive offices
  • Conference rooms
  • Lobbies
  • Electrical, telecom, and server rooms
  • Outdoors
    • Use 360º Views to capture outdoor amenities like gardens, eating areas, terraces, basketball courts, etc.
    • Capture a great Hero Image -- an amazing shot of the front door, building exterior, and any street signage.
Scan the bathrooms too. If you don’t scan there you will have holes in your Dollhouse and Floorplan Views.


Editing Tips

If you find that your model is taking several hundreds of scans to capture, then consider splitting the space into quadrants or regions. Then scan each region as a separate model. Learn how.

It’s very easy to embed multiple models on a given webpage — see the Matterport Gallery or Matterport Try-It pages.

If you only scanned along the perimeter, remember to go inside Matterport Workshop and turn off Dollhouse View so your visitors won’t see an incomplete 3D model.

Remember to turn on Highlight Reel and add your 360º Views so you can still navigate through the model.
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