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  • Writer's pictureConvirt 3D Virtual Tours

Another Grotto & an Idea

Since I scanned Attic Display's Grotto in Liverpool last month, the weather has got decidedly more Christmassy (as we say in our house). In fact on this cold December evening, the week before Christmas it's actually raining and Nicola at Attic Display requires me to capture both the inside and the outside of this Grotto in Bury which makes this a fairly unique virtual tour.

The Rock Shopping Centre Bury
A HDR still taken from the Matterport camera - I'm often surprised just how good these turn out.

The thing is . . . the Matterport camera does not like the rain at all. So the plan was to scan the inside first, get the capture done with Santa in residence and then film and photograph the animatronic elves and with a bit of luck the rain would've stopped by this time.

This is in fact how it played out although I grabbed one of the Santa hats from the Grotto to keep the light drizzle that was still falling on The Rock Shopping Centre from seeping into the electronics. It worked anyway.

I was pleasantly surprised by this retail development, a sort of mini Liverpool One with some big High Street names trading there. This must have revitalised the shopping experience in this town no end.

I've got to say the hat on the Camera drew a few sideways glances as I walked around behind its spinning frame capturing the image and 3D data simultaneously. From a casual observer's point of view it must have looked like I was playing hide and seek with a 3 legged robot Santa. All in a day's work!

This was somewhat of a test of the Matterport capture tech as exterior scans are not usually recommended. The reason being, the camera uses infra Red light to measure and make a mesh of the space/ venue so daytime exterior scanning is out. Sunlight effectively blinds the camera causing alignment issues. Scanning at dawn and dusk often gives us MSPs a small window of time in which to capture a terrace or link 2 buildings together on the same model. However at night it should work with all the artificial ambient light - right? Yes it did!

This allowed us to capture the detail that Attic display had put into the grotto on both interior and exterior in a full walk around user experience. Exterior shots are usually limited to static position 360 panoramas.

This is the bit where the idea comes in . . .

All of our virtual tours are VR enabled meaning you can pop your phone with the tour loaded on into some inexpensive VR Glasses or Google Cardboard and walk around the space. This got us thinking . . .

Both Gareth from Attic Display and I, saw huge potential in using the virtual tour’s VR capabilities to take the Grotto to children who are hospitalised over Christmas. Using a cheap VR Headset or even better an Oculus Go would allow these kids to virtually tour around the grotto which would hopefully bring a bit of Christmas cheer to these kids and their families at a time when smiles may be hard to come by. It is certainly something I will be seriously considering for next festive season. Click on the image below to view the Grotto virtually. If you're reading this on your phone you could even click on the glasses icon in the bottom right hand corner and pop your phone into your VR headset nd give it a go. Tell us what you think if you do.

All that is left to say is Merry Christmas, have a great festive break and I'll be back in the New Year with more of the same - Ian x

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