By: Rachel Teter

First things first, never assume you will have enough time to scan a space with the Matterport. The answer to that is simple—you won’t. The Renwick Gallery, located in Washington D.C., graciously let us have an hour and a half to scan Patrick Dougherty’s “Stick Work” on display in the modern art museum. Our goal was to make a 3D model of the intricate stick sculpture in the space.

The Matterport was already being finicky with the stick sculpture being similar and resembling tiny homes themselves. Then add in 50 or so different people caught in your shot every 30 seconds. Once the doors were open and the public was allowed in, our poor little Matterport began to cry. Even as some Renwick attendees ducked under the camera like many tourists do when seeing a nice camera, that was no match for the Matterport’s stubborn pursuit to say, “No alignment”. Ducking under a camera that picks up everything around itself is a pointless game to play. Put quite simply, the detail of the sticks gave the camera trouble and the movement of the people. The system is designed to make a 3D model of a house for real estate. Attempts to include people, not furniture can cause troubles.

The Matterport really hates when you try to be cool and break the rules. For example, thinking it will be okay with scanning a stick sculpture outside. Even with the cloudy skies, the Matterport was not listening to our pleas to align scans. Scan after scan the camera was unable to understand the space around it. Somedays scanning outside works and somedays the camera will be like a two-year-old throwing a tantrum. We were able to scan an outside sculpture in Hillsbourgh, North Carolina, whereas the Reston sculpture never sucessfully scanned. (The camera send an infrared pattern and then reads it in order to read the scene properly… sunlight, particularly bright sunlight, wreaks havoc with this system.)

Lastly, always bring a backup plan. We ended up with some really great 360 footage with the hero pro rig. Thankfully, though, we did manage to create a walkthrough of our Renwick Matterport. Even if you don’t complete an entire space with scans, a walkthrough can be a great way to show the reader what you did manage to scan. We ended on a shot that showed how big the gallery actually was so a viewer can infer that there was more to the gallery.

While there, I also met a 71-year-old woman named Deborah Blank, who became very excited when she saw our camera. She owned her own interaction multimedia company and was fascinated with the possibilities that VR could offer. That was the most memorable part of the trip because it was awesome to meet an older woman who was just as excited for the advancement of technology as a teenager.

Traveling for this project was the best experience I could have imagined. As a team, we went to spots in Washington, D.C., Virginia, North Carolina and Georgia. I was given a glimpse into the real world of travel journalism and what it takes to capture stories even if it’s not in your town. Traveling for a project means you run into more problems, eat a lot of fast food, and forget about sleep for a while. Although you also learn how to work with a team during a time crunch. I also learned that going for timely news stories is always a good idea, and how to micromanage a big scale project. I would never have thought before this class that I would have the chance to shoot in a gallery in Washington D.C.Lessoned leaned—always try to get the story you want before you move onto plan B.

See more about artist Patrick Dougherty in our full package at: wvuinno.atavist.com/stick-man. You’ll find a 360 video where you see the artist build his newest sculpture, a written story to learn even more about him, still photos and yes, a few 3D models that let you explore the space yourself.