Way back, when we introduced 360-degree cameras in India, some folks said there was no market for such equipment and that the VR industry was bleak. Bootstrapped, we went ahead with the imports and started listing on Amazon. Within a few days, we received calls from potential customers who’d already done in-depth research and were ready to buy. We were blown away by the overwhelming response from this awesome Indian market.
Taking it forward, we now focus on Virtual Tours, using professional equipment (Matterport Pro2) and have moved on from dealing with consumer 360-degree cameras. We are humbled by the fact that there are so many Indian sellers (for Insta360) now who would not have considered VR about five years back.
Apart from sponsored advertising, we feel obligated to educate clients on what the 3D scan is about and how a Virtual Tour will help them. India is a large market and the sooner the “digital twins” are created, the better it is to market them effectively.
What Happens in a Shoot:
Assuming the place is clean, organized, and ready to be shot, we step in for a quick look. Using the Leica DISTO laser measurement device, we get an idea of the distances and the points where the scans have to be made. This may not be necessary for smaller areas such as a two-bedroom house that’s up for sale or rent. Curtains will be drawn back to allow maximum sunlight – the lighting effect can be vital for a virtual walkthrough or a YouTube upload.
Then comes the heavy lifting – we place the camera at strategic points, depending on many factors that enable a natural walk-through for viewers. Once it is placed, we go behind a wall (within WiFi range to control the camera) and start shooting. The camera rotates 360 degrees to record cloud points, and the RGB lenses capture details using IR. This technology is unique because it allows a viewer to measure distances from within the virtual tour. This is not possible in a typical photo or video.
When the iOS app gives the go-ahead, we move the camera to the next scanning point, which is typically a few feet away. The Manfrotto tripod legs are checked, with the bubble at the center. The level is double checked with the Desmond D-Sac Arca-Swiss quick release clamp’s green bubble. Satisfied, we move again behind a wall for the next scan. Note that the Pro2 has built-in leveling motors, but we make it easy for the device upfront.
Now, we check the Matterport Capture app to be sure both scans are aligned, error-free and with no extra sprays (caused when a mirror or window makes the AI think there is an extension to the room). After marking mirrors and cropping extras, we are now ready for the third scan.
Similarly, we complete scanning the rooms and entire floors. Bathrooms, staircases and balconies are important, so we take multiple scans next to each other. Post-processing, we will have the option to remove an unnecessary scan. Reshoots are avoided, because the next day there might be a guest (if it’s a hotel) or a patient (if it’s a hospital).
Scanning and documenting in the app is just the beginning. After necessary markings and adjustments, the entire space is uploaded to Matterport servers. It would take about 24 hours (for a large space) for the virtual tour to be ready for presentation.
When we receive an email from Matterport saying the Virtual Tour is ready, we check and make further edits. This could be the starting point of the tour, VR walkthrough and the viewpoints. At this stage, there are also low-res videos made available by Matterport, but we use Adobe Premiere and our own methods to create custom videos (if needed) with royalty-free music, tags and other information.
Within the Virtual Tour, you can add Mattertags so your client or customer can click on the tag to learn more about something specific. For instance, a real estate agent may want to show specs of a plasma TV or a jacuzzi. Another example would be a hospital that wants to give more information about the state-of-the-art equipment they have for their patients. These tags are added post-scan.
Without overcomplicating things, a Virtual Tour is best presented without items that would require a significant amount of bandwidth. Fast-loading tours are more exciting. Tags, if necessary, can be shown with limited content along with a hyperlink to your website. In the case of a retail store, it would make sense to list (tag) the top 5-10 items for sale, as opposed to the entire inventory, so that the tour is clutter-free.
We wear masks, Nitrite gloves, boot covers, and carry along a Beurer thermometer to show clients our temperature before entering the premises. We do not touch anything unless absolutely necessary (such as doorknobs) and carry doorstops (some hotels have policies where the doors do not have a stopper attached).
Precautions aside, we are busier than ever during the pandemic because the typical customer may not want to venture outside. Send them a Matterport link over SMS, email or WhatsApp so they can experience your property virtually. A potential customer can show their family the size of the kitchen slab because Matterport tours allow them to measure distances from any device.
– Kids enjoying a virtual tour of a museum.
– A car buyer experiencing a VT of the showroom.
– A parent seeing the VT of a school or college.
– Managers seeing the warehouse virtually and submitting to insurance companies.
Now that you have a fair idea of what a typical Matterport scan is, feel free to contact us for any questions at all. We speak multiple Indian languages and can travel ASAP, depending on the priority and previous appointments. We do not charge for travel, hosting or other expenses. We do not write Google Maps reviews for paying clients, but we may upload images and videos independently as a Local Guide. Certain businesses and nonprofits may also be featured on our blog for free.
If you refer someone (like a commercial real estate developer), we would shoot the first model for free. If the builder likes it and wants further paid shoots, you may receive a referral bonus of 25% from the invoiced amount. We’ll also be happy to shoot government schools, hospitals, police stations, village buildings, etc., for free – if it could help some BPL folks to virtually experience the place upfront. If you can think of such places, feel free to click on the blue button in the bottom left corner of the Contact Us page to let us know. It’s easy to play a role in documenting India in 3D!