Answered

Mirror, mirror on the wall – my Matterport camera might be in them all

Some go to great lengths to keep mirrors from ‘seeing’ the camera. Scan to the left, scan to the right, scan way down low. Some specialized jobs may require this and I’ll keep the camera out of the mirror if I can.

But if the mirror is at the end of the hall at the entrance of two rooms, none of that works. The mirror will be staring the camera right in its 9 lens the full length of the hall. Many bathrooms have two walls with mirrors, or worse three or all four. In those cases, there is no hiding the camera. Plus, mirrors are often placed in key design focal points that call for a camera shot that is centered – say on a fireplace.

Same with reflections off glass windows and doors (or shadows of the camera). Can’t shoot after sunset due to all the reflections off the glass –unless the client is aware of the outcome. There are many camera images in the glass during the day that are also unavoidable. So, if I can’t keep all the mirrors from seeing the camera, then I’m not overly concerned with any of them.

Plus, I come at it from more of an interior design first, technical second, approach:

  • What are the key focal points and viewer ‘standing’ positions
  • What is the natural traffic pattern/flow
  • Where are the necessary scan positions for easiest navigation by the viewer
  • Where to place the scan positions that are critical for easily walking to another scan position.
  • Where is the best position for taking a still of the ‘starting view’
  • Can I keep the camera out of the mirror (my last consideration)

I’d also rather tell the agent so they are prepared to tell their client why the camera is in the mirror. I explain and demo the operation of the camera and then show them an example of positioning the camera in front of a mirror while in the house, or in a Space. I explain why I place it there- as with a key focal point - and/or show a position where it’s unavoidable to have the mirror see the camera.

I take the opportunity to explain there is no ‘photoshop’ available and it is What You See Is What You Get. Plus, this is very advanced technology not to shy away from. I let them know to tell their clients the camera will be seen, it can’t be cropped out and to be sure to look at the camera design because it’s like no camera they have ever seen. So far I haven’t had any complaints about it (hope I didn’t just jinx myself).

On my preliminary walk-through I take note of where mirrors are positioned and if I anticipate any problems. A couple helpful hints:

  • Mark mirrors as you scan. After enough experience you’ll be able to mark them before you enter the space (bathroom) and adjust the marking as you get more data
  • Mark beyond the edge of the mirror to assure it is fully covered so no artifacts appear
  • When possible, scan the wall on the ‘back’ side of the mirror, before you scan the mirrored wall. This will place data on the mini-map so when you scan the mirror, artifacts won’t bleed through as much on the mini-map.
  • When entering a room scan as many positions as you can away from the mirror to establish as much data for the ‘mirror’ scan(s) to stitch to.

The majority of the problems involving mirrors are bathrooms (scanning) and ‘marking’ properly (capture). While it doesn’t happen often, there are times when a bathroom has two or three walls covered with mirrors. Due to the reflections, the algorithm has a more difficult time to align properly. And the more uniform and ‘mirrored’ the opposite walls, the more difficult it can be.

Even when I know I’ll have a problem before I start a bathroom, I’ll still try to scan it normally. (I’ve experienced great improvement during the last 3+ years with the ability to scan mirrors). If I get a non-alignment message then I’ll go to my ‘Boy, I Sure Hope This Works’ process. (But if it does work then I just reenergized my ‘eternal optimism’ gene to keep functioning.)

If I get one scan inside a bathroom and a non-align on the second, then I’ll move the camera to the end of the bathroom opposite the first scan (if within 10-12 feet apart). Sometimes the 2nd scan will align and then do one or two fill-in scans between each end.

The BISHTW process starts with looking at the space to see if I can interject, remove, or change the configuration of accessories to reduce the symmetry (without reducing the aesthetics).

In the bathroom below look for what changed. This is an excellent example of too much symmetry, including the placement of the sponge jars.

In this case, the wooden standing mirror added to the problem so I swapped it out with a chair from a different room. It was just enough to allow me to get a scan just inside the door and then in front of the chair. I filled in with two scans in the middle.

Sometimes you need to lower the camera to its lowest level so the camera picks up less mirror, and more countertop, cabinet and floor. Once you get it aligned, move the camera from 6”-24” for the second scan at the lowest height. Do this until you get past the mirrors and then raise the camera to the standard height and re-scan the area. If it doesn’t align easily, reduce the distance between scans until it doe

s (to as little as 6” apart if necessary)

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Comments

5 comments
  • Wow, @Bill , this is a fantastic write-up!! Very, very well done, and well-documented!

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  • Hey Bill - very informative indeed. I would add that for some clients this is a real concern. In cases like this we'll shoot the space but hide all scans with camera reflections. In case like bathrooms with wall to wall to mirrors this might mean simply viewing the bathroom from the threshold. Make a copy of the model and present different versions for client to view.

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  • Hi Guys, This is what I put on my FAQ page:

    In the Matterport 3D Showcase, will I see the Matterport Pro 3D Camera Array in shadows, mirrors and other refractive surfaces?

    Yes. Every effort will be taken by the Matterport professional photographer to position the camera array so that it is not visible in the final Showcase rendering. That being said, it is paramount that all the data is collected to provide your clients and you with the best Immersive 3D experience possible. To do that the camera will be placed in front of those types of surfaces and will be visible. You may see shadows of the camera on floors and wall too. Based on the new and incredible technology used and the ROI, this is not an issue with most of our clients. It is viewed as a trademark of excellence by viewers of the 3D Showcase.

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  • Brilliant reply!

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  • Good solve!

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