by Diego Orofino, Real Virtual Zone
Being a part of the VR industry has always been a vision of mine, a fascination that captured my attention for decades. As a young man, I often found myself at the Seaport Mall in New York City where they featured an early virtual reality prototype, the Virtuality 1000CS Virtual Reality Pod. Following my early experience with VR, I began imagining the endless applications for such technology. That pivotal moment cemented my desire to be part of the growth and development of the virtual reality industry.
Fast-forward several years and I now run a company called Real Virtual Zone and have been a Matterport Service Partner for over a year and a half, offering 3D scanning and virtual reality as a service. This year, in particular, has been an exciting year for business. Demand for VR has continued to build and VR headsets are more accessible than ever. I was faced with the challenge of understanding how VR would affect, benefit, and transform businesses - including my own.
Figuring this out meant I had to rely heavily on my innovator mentality. Working with new technology had its challenges, but overcoming the obstacles was deeply rewarding. Given that Matterport is a 3D rendering technology that can be used in a variety of applications, I decided to test it out in several different industries.
At first, I focused on learning how to use the camera in the most efficient way, while also creating the best 3D models possible. Matterport's camera is revolutionary; however, I immediately learned that it would take more than a great camera to get an accurate model. A sharp eye and solid comprehension of the equipment is helpful for optimizing the rendering quality and final user experience.
Once I developed a firm grasp on how to use the camera, I set my sights on creating a unique portfolio of 3D models. I took the time to identify key places and locations that I wanted to include in my gallery. Every city has a unique identity and so I turned my attention to bringing New York City - the city which first introduced me to virtual reality - to life in 3D and VR.
Capturing the essence of New York
The NYC Wall Street Subway Station
One of the first models I scanned was the NYC Wall Street Subway Station. The NYC Subway Station is a bustling place which can make scanning hard at times, to say the least. I had to visit the site a couple of times to decide the best time to complete the scan. Often, I scanned at odd hours when there was limited activity on the platform. Like photography, timing is essential when planning to capture a 3D model.
Since I set a late time to scan the Wall Street Subway Station, I knew there was a chance that I may encounter complications with security. With that being said, I made sure I was prepared, just in case I had to explain myself to the authorities. “I'm just a harmless guy exploring new technology with an unusual machine in the middle of the night - don't mind me!” I'll admit it, the thought that I would be tackled to the floor by a police officer crossed my mind a few times.
Just in case the “harmless guy with a peculiar device” explanation did not suffice, I decided to preload a couple of models on my iPad. Perhaps if they saw what my camera was capable of, they would allow me to finish the scan. I had also brought business cards with me, just in case they knew someone who might be interested in a 3D model. Hey, you never know!
Forty-five minutes into scanning, I noticed two cops heading towards me. I could tell they were suspicious. I turned on the ‘nerdy guy’ charm, and after a quick explanation, they understood I was not there to cause any trouble. Despite my efforts, I still got the boot. I was told that I would need a permit to use a tripod in the station. Oh, well! I had the satisfaction of knowing I had completed most of the scan thanks to showing up prepared.
The New Yorker: A Wyndham Hotel
Another key location that taught me valuable lessons is the New Yorker Hotel. My scan of this historical site showcased my talent and has helped me develop a reputation as a top MSP in New York City. The challenge for this model was similar to that of the Wall Street Subway Station. The New Yorker is one of the busiest hotels in New York City so, I had to start the job late at night. The hotel is a large, intricate space, so I had to experiment with placing the camera in various locations to get the best scan. Also, I experimented with people posing in the scan to create feeling of presence. It was quite the learning experience!
The Charging Bull and the Brooklyn Bridge
Next on my list was the NYC Charging Bull and the Brooklyn Bridge. These two locations are outdoors so they posed a whole new set of difficulties. There was a time when outside scans were not an option, but I decided that I would experiment to see if I could generate a 3D model nonetheless. It was quite challenging in the beginning. I had to work with precise timing and the orientation of the sun in order to be effective. After some trial and error, I was able to produce accurate models.
Being an MSP is a challenging and exciting career. However, every project is unique, and that puts the onus on the MSP to be ready and able to improvise.
The breadth of projects I worked on this year has taught me so many lessons:
Master the equipment and tools before setting out to create scans. I continually experiment with the camera and challenge myself to acquire new techniques.
Present your models and showcase them in a good light. As MSPs, we work hard to create good models and want people to experience our work. Creating a beautiful website with a gallery containing my models has helped me win business!
Lastly, no matter what, always make sure you have enough time to complete a job. If I assess that there will not be sufficient time to do a great scan, I push for another date to make sure the scan is complete. Sloppy models are not acceptable in my book!
As Matterport's technology continues to evolve, I look forward to growing with the company and learning! To see more of