We’ve captured the heavenly countenance of a British icon

Matterport’s Kris Atkinson lives a stone’s throw from the Angel of the North, and he couldn’t wait to see it in a whole new light.

Back in 1998, the North East of England couldn’t agree on how it felt about one huge structure grazing the sky. With its 54-meter wingspan, enough steel for four tanks, and a pleasing rust patina across its surface, the Angel of the North caused a rift among communities, unsure of what should represent them in the New Millennium. 

That was then, though. Now, it’s an accepted and beloved regional treasure, spreading its wings wide for all travelers to see from the A1 motorway. The Angel is still the largest sculpture of its namesake in the world, seen by an estimated 90,000 people every day. And, no matter how far you live from its titanic feet, it’s hard to shake a feeling of awe at what artist Antony Gormley managed to build 25 years ago. 

One of our Matterpeeps, AEC specialist Kris Atkinson, is a local lad. He was incredibly keen to capture the Angel of the North with our latest Matterport PRO3 camera. Kris’ 3D model is now on our site as a testament to what Matterport can do for tourism and cultural tours. We spoke to him recently about the nuts and bolts of his passion project. 

Kris Atkinson

Q: What inspired you to capture this space in 3D? 

Since I live and work in the North East, I know the Angel is an iconic landmark. It welcomes anyone heading home or visiting the region. With the release of the new Matterport PRO3 camera, I wanted to put the LiDAR camera through its paces by capturing a large outdoor space. I was keen to test its suitability outdoors on a bright, sunny day and how far its LiDAR range had grown. This was also a chance to incorporate some of the latest Matterport toolbox features, such as Story Tour. 

Q: What are the ‘must sees’ you want visitors to explore, and why? 

While the Angel is now widely regarded as a landmark in the North East, this wasn’t always the case! It received a frosty reception from some corners of the region. So, I wanted to use our cameras to showcase the Angel’s story, from design through construction, and the impact that it has left on all of us. That’s why I included a number of “Did You Know?” facts scattered across the 3D model. 

Angel of the North blog image 1

Q: What’s the one thing you want visitors to take away after exploring your 3D tour? 

Well, it’s such a beautiful artwork and the area around the sculpture is stunning, too. I hope that anyone who tours my digital twin will seek out the real-life Angel for themselves! 

Q: What are the benefits of Matterport digital twins? 

Potential visitors can virtually and easily learn about the site before they make a trip to see it. Matterport is incredibly simple and intuitive; our captured environments can immerse anyone without any trouble. In the Angel’s case, I’ve aimed to showcase the North East as a whole rather than just one breathtaking aspect. 

Angel of the North blog image 2

Q: Do you have any plans to capture more 3D experiences? 

I'm always looking to capture more spaces. Honestly, I can’t count the number of times I’ve passed an interesting or beautiful environment and thought: that would make a great Matterport! That’s why I always have a camera in the car. I'm also lucky to live here — so many of the region’s cities, towns, and countryside are begging for a Matterport 3D capture. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to add? 

Generally, I loved my experience with the PRO3 on this project. It allowed me to scan almost 80 positions in about an hour and 15 minutes. The PRO3 is rapid! I was constantly positioning and repositioning the tripod at 15-18 meter jumps away from the sculpture, but stayed mindful of the path I wanted the visitor on with my digital twin. 

Angel of the North blog image 3

My work was a good test for Matterport’s scan alignments, too. Apart from the Angel itself, the rest of the site is a fairly open field with limited reference items to stitch the scans together. However, I was really impressed with how fast and accurate the alignment was. Sometimes, the Matterport App can advise you to redo a scan closer, providing guidance as you go, but this wasn’t the case here. Each scan was conducted flawlessly the first time. The PRO3’s LiDAR technology opens up a whole world of possibilities for Matterport capturing outdoor spaces effortlessly. I can't wait to see where people take it next.

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