Ultimate Guide to Getting Started with Matterport
Matterport uses the latest 3D technology to let you create 3D virtual reality tours of a property. Gone are the days where potential visitors or buyers need to sift through random 2D images, struggling to make out a space’s layout. A Matterport virtual tour lets visitors view a 3D space as if they were seeing it in real life.
You don’t need to have a professional photographer to capture and generate a 3D tour. However, there are a few things you need and some things that you need to know to capture a professional-quality 3D walkthrough of a space.
Equipment You Will Need
In order to capture the best quality Matterport scans, you will need to invest in a few key pieces of equipment.
You will need a capturing device to capture your scans. You can use Matterport’s cameras (like the Matterport Pro or Matterport Pro2 3D cameras), 360 cameras, or even iOS devices like an iPhone or iPad.
A tripod is essential to get good quality 3D scans. Using a tripod while scanning will help you to keep the camera stable and steady at eye-level.
It is recommended that you have a tripod with a native 3/8″ – 16 post. Which means that the thread of the tripod post is 3/8″ in diameter. The thread size is 16 (based on the Universal Thread Standard set out by the American National Standards Institute). It should be able to hold 10lbs or more and allow the camera to rotate 360° while standing securely on different surfaces.
Ideally, the tripod you use to capture 3D scans should not have tripod handles, levelers, thread adapters, or ball-joint heads. These could all influence your scans’ quality, either by being captured in the image or being unstable or not secure enough to hold the camera while it is rotating.
You also need to consider the feet of the tripod. Metal spikes could be beneficial when capturing scans outside but could damage floors and other surfaces when you scan interiors.
A quick-release clamp is not a requirement for all cameras. However, they are worth the investment purely for the ease they provide when you need to mount or unmount your camera. Clamps should be compatible with the tripod’s native 3/8″- post and Arca-Swiss compatible.
The Arca-Swiss Quick Release System is a popular system used by professional photographers. It consists of two parts – one attached to your camera and another attached to the tripod. These two parts effortlessly connect so that you can quickly and easily mount your camera on your tripod.
Supported iOS device (iPhone or iPad).
Your iOS device, either an iPhone or iPad, connects to your camera. You will control the scanning process via your device. The better the iOS device you work with, the faster the scans. That means the time the camera takes to rotate, capture the data, transfer the data to your device, and aligning the data on the device is all done quicker.
MatterPort tried this out and found a 28-second difference in scan time between using an iPad Air (from early 2014) and iPad Pro 2nd Generations (mid-2017). While this might seem negligible when you do a few scans, when you do 150 scans, you could save around 1 hour and 10 minutes just by using a better iPad.
Matterport has divided iOS devices into three categories: recommended, supported, and unsupported. Recommended devices will give you the best overall experience. Supported devices would work, but the scanning and processing time could be much slower. Unsupported devices are not recommended.
You can find a complete list of supported devices here.
If you are planning on capturing multiple models (which you likely are), keep in mind that they will all be stored on your iOS device. That means you need a device that can store all of them. Matterport recommends a device that has at least 128 GB of total storage space. They also suggest that you aim at keeping around 8 GB of free space on your device to allow it to capture and process scans optimally. You also need to ensure that your device is running on the latest version of iOS.
When you upload a model to the Matterport Cloud, you are transferring a lot of data. This requires a connection to the internet. You can do this via mobile data, but that could become rather expensive. It is suggested that you do your uploads via WiFi instead to keep costs down.
How to Scan
Connecting your camera to WiFi.
When setting up your camera for scanning, you might notice a ‘No internet connection’ error message. Your camera does not need to be connected to the internet to scan. The main thing to ensure is that there is a WiFi connection between your camera and your iOS device. This connection should stay active and open during the entire scanning process.
You need to maintain a direct line-of-sight between your scan points to get the best scan of the space. This will ensure a smooth flow from one area to the next. Scan the property according to the path that you want the viewer to take through the property. To create a continuous flow throughout the property, place the camera 5-8 feet from the previous scan. You also need to keep it between 18-24 inches away from any walls and objects. This is to avoid any distortions, slices, and warps that may show up – especially in 2D panoramas.
Try to keep scans in line with each other, especially in narrow areas like hallways. Taking scans that do not line up will influence the flow of your 3D Matterport tour.
Marking features and highlighting the best ones.
You can create better alignment of your model if you mark specific points in your scans. These points include windows and mirrors. A camera sees a mirror as if it was a door. Similarly, it will see objects on the other side of a window as an extension of the space. By marking mirrors (or other reflective surfaces) and windows, you are essentially telling the Matterport Capture app to ignore the reflected images in the mirror or visible through the window. To get the best result, mark these features as soon as they are captured.
You can also take more scans of any area you want to highlight or where you want viewers to spend more time. It is always a good idea to have too many scans than too little. If you have too many, you can hide them in Workshop. If you have too few, you will need to go back to the property to create additional scans.
Recovering alignment errors.
While scanning, you might see an error message that says: ‘Could not align. Not enough 3D data’. To fix this, move the camera closer to your previous scan position and scan again. Alternatively, you could choose to just add this scan as a 360° View.
Adjusting the light.
Having consistent, proper lighting throughout the space will give your scans a more continuous feel and fluid flow.
Scans of ‘walking up stairs.’
Like with the rest of the scans, you need to follow the path that visitors are likely to take when visiting the property. For that reason, it is suggested that you start on the bottom floor and work your way up when scanning multiple floors. Move the tripod up a few steps at a time and ensure that the tripod is secure and stable when you place it to take a scan.
What to do with doors.
Consistency is key here. Choose whether you have the door open or closed in all of your scans. You want to avoid creating confusion that might happen if you have a door closed in one scan but open in another. If you keep a door open, aim to have it open at a 45° angle.
When scanning a path through a door, take a scan 2-3 feet before the door and another one the same distance after the door. Avoid taking a scan in the threshold. If this is impossible, you can hide this scan in Workshop afterward.
Scanning outdoors: porches, patios, and gardens.
Scanning outdoors in direct sunlight could be tricky. You could consider creating 360° scans of these spaces. 360° scans collect 2D visual data instead of generating a 3D scan of the area. If you want to scan outside pathways around the property, the best time to do this is dusk or dawn. This will create the best outside scans – without direct sunlight interfering with the camera’s sensors.
Combining indoor and outdoor scans.
The 3D scan modes for indoors and outdoors adjust the camera settings to capture the best scan under specific conditions. Switching back-and-forth between the two might create some alignment issues. It is recommended that you complete all your indoor scans before moving on to outdoor scans.
Taking test scans.
Taking one or two test scans or test models before you scan will give you an idea of whether you are doing it right and that the scan conditions are optimum. Once you have taken the test scans, you can upload the test model to the cloud. These will process quickly since they contain a small amount of data. Doing a test scan (or a couple) before conducting a full scan of the property will help you establish whether you need to adjust lighting or have other issues that you need to address. It saves you from doing an entire property scan, upload, and processing only to then find out that you could (or should) have made some adjustments.
Duplicate scans for testing.
You can create a duplicate scan in the Capture app. This duplicate scan can be used to make changes, add new scans or delete irrelevant ones, and change your markings. Once you have made your changes, you can upload the duplicate scan. This way, you don’t risk making irreversible changes to your original scans.
A duplicate model created in the Capture app and uploaded to the Matterport Cloud is a separate model from the original one. That means any changes that you make, either to the duplicate or the original, will not reflect on the other model. You will need to manually make the changes on each model if you want them to reflect on both.
Matterport Capture App and Uploading to the Matterport Cloud
You need a (free) account to use the Matterport Capture app and Matterport Cloud. You can set up your account and gain access to these features by visiting my.matterport.com or by downloading the Matterport Capture app from the app store.
Once you have signed in, the app will automatically download Cortex. Cortex is the program that converts 2D panoramas into a 3D model.
When you are ready to capture a scan, open the Capture app and sign in to your Matterport account. To start the scan, tap on the + symbol in the bottom right-hand corner of the screen. A New Job window will appear. Here you can enter the address of the property that you will be scanning. You can also give your model a name. Once you tap on Save, a new window will open.
The Capture Button is at the bottom center of this new window. Above the Capture Button is a button that says iPhone. You can tap on this button to enter a menu that will allow you to select your capturing device. You will do this if you are linking to a different camera instead of using your iPhone to capture the scans.
You can select the type of scan you want to capture in the Options section of this window. This button is located to the left of the Capture button.
Here you can choose between a 3D Scan and a 360 Capture. The 360 Capture will generate a 360° view of a space. A 3D Scan will generate the data needed to create a 3D model or virtual tour of a space.
You will also need to choose between a Simple Scan and a Complete Scan. A Simple Scan scans a space faster – doing only one 360° turn to capture the area. A Complete Scan does three 360° rotations and thus takes longer to capture the space. The three rotations made when you do a Complete Scan captures more of the vertical space, including ceilings and floors. With a Simple Scan, these areas may come out slightly blurry. An iPhone 11 or higher has ultra-wide field-of-view lenses. With these devices, you can capture the ceiling and floor areas by using the Simple Scan option.
If you are using a camera mounted on a tripod, the camera will rotate 360° once you tap the capture button. Make sure that you are not in the field-of-view of the camera. If using an iOS device, keep your elbows close to your body while holding your device. Then turn 360° using the device as a pivot point. Essentially you will walk in a small circle while holding the device in the same place.
The Capture app will display a preview of the space in the form of a dollhouse view. At this point, you can mark mirrors and windows. You can also select areas that you may want to trim from the model. Doing this in between scans (as opposed to after several scans) will help avoid alignment issues. Once this is done, you can move the capturing device to capture another scan. Continue doing this until you have scanned the entire property. You can track your progress in the mini-map generated in the app.
When you have completed the scan of the property, connect to a stable WiFi connection. Then select the Upload button in the Matterport Capture app. Once the scan is uploaded to your Matterport account, Cortex will start processing the data. This could take several hours, depending on the amount of data that needs to be processed.
How to Edit and Share Your 3D Models
Edit mode in Matterport 3D Showcase will give you access to various ways to improve your 3D models. This feature is called Workshop. Here you can use the 360° Views tool to add 360° scans to your 3D scan. This is an excellent way to showcase outdoor environments that are not part of your 3D model.
The Mattertags Tool allows you to label different areas of your scan. Here you can include information about special features and other things that make the space unique. You can also use the Mattertags tool to insert links that viewers can follow to other webpages.
The Highlight Reel tool creates a series of 2D images of the most significant areas of the space that you scanned. This creates an alternative virtual tour to the immersive 3D tour.
The Measurement tool allows you to measure certain features in the space, like the size of the area, doorways, windows, and ceiling heights. You can choose to keep these measurements private or share them with other users.
The Photos tool can capture still images or 360° images of the 3D model. You can then share these images with others.
You can edit the address (and other details of a space) in the app’s Showcase area. When you select the Details button, it will allow you to change public details, choose whether the address should be visible, and edit other internal details.
You can easily share your Matterport 3D model with other people via social media like Facebook, Google Street View, or some realtor websites. Free users can only upload and share one property at a time. If you want to share an additional property, you will need to archive the first 3D model to do so.
Matterport is a virtual tour platform that allows you to create a 3D home tour. Matterport 3D tours provide an immersive experience and are a powerful real estate marketing tool.