Scanning Empty and 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 in software 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 have these qualities and the more likely it is 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
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-pattern.png

Zig-zag (not recommended)

scan-perimeter-with-360-views.png

Perimeter with 360º Views (recommended)

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

marker-19.png

Markers will appear in the visual 2D panorama (Inside View) of the finished Matterport Space. If you don't like how they look or if you forgot to print the markers, you can also add unique 3D objects to the space while you scan.

15-feet-with-objects.png

Use a measuring tape and post-it notes to plan where each object and scan location will be. Objects do not require millimeter placement, but a grid-like scan path will make your finished space appear more professional.
Unique 3D Objects
These can be anything you have available. Choose items that are:
  • Lightweight and easy to move
  • Unique and different from each other
  • Company branded if possible as a “physical watermark”
Examples include:
  • Poster on easel
  • Folding chair
  • Sandwich board
  • Empty trashcan
  • Vase with flowers
  • Fabric folding storage boxes
  • Cardboard boxes (each box in a random orientation to be unique)
As you scan the space, gradually move the objects along with you. Do not move all the objects at once.

For example, in the picture below we just finished scan 67. Now we’ll move the trashcan ahead a spot. Place the camera in the right spot for scan 68 and scan. Repeat this process.

moving-an-object.png

If you don’t have unique objects, you can also scan directly along the wall. However, you will have to shorten the distance between scans. This will increase the total number of scans as well as the total scanning time.

scan-along-the-wall.png

 

Scanning in the Middle

For large properties, the middle is usually empty. This is a great opportunity to switch to 360º View mode and capture. 360º Views are just like 3D Scans, but they are not aligned — they are not connected to other scans. 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

If you choose the second technique, follow a pattern like this to move from the wall to the middle. Once inside the middle room, return to 5 to 8 feet (1.5 to 2.5 m) between scan positions.

going-up-the-middle.png

For example, consider the space below:

  

Hallways

For repetitive, uniform, and long hallways (longer than 50 ft or 15 m) place an alignment marker or unique object 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. 

 

Floors

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.

corn-exchange.png

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 Matterport Capture and continue scanning.

When scanning multiple floors, remember to:

  •  Move yourself around the building using the stairs, not the elevator.
  • Don’t trigger the fire alarm by accident. Don’t disable the fire alarm to scan 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.

Matterport cannot combine models together as a service. However, 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 you 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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