Chris Hickman is Metroplex360’s primary photographer and has been providing photography services throughout Texas since 2008.
Chris purchased his first Matterport camera in September 2015 and has created over 4,000 Matterport Spaces. He founded Metroplex 360 in 2006 as a subsidiary of his web development company. In 2019, he partnered with Hayley Davidson and formed Metroplex 360 Reality Capture Services and the company quickly grew into the leading provider of Matterport 3D tours and one of the fastest growing photography agencies in North Texas.
Chris was a nominee for ‘Matterport Service Partner of the Year’ (2018) and the winner of the 2018 Matterport Community Leader Award.
He communicates frequently with the amazing staff at Matterport, participating in software testing, field testing and has made contributions to the Matterport Software Development Kit (SDK).
He is the author of:
MPEmbed – An Overlay for Matterport Showcase – https://mpembed.com
Matterport SDK ‘Kitchen Sink’ Debugger – metroplex360.com/sdkdebug
WP Matterport Shortcode – https://wordpress.org/plugins/shortcode-gallery-for-matterport-showcase/
WP Google Streetview Shortcode - https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-google-street-view-shortcode/
Showcasing your property with 3D Walkthough tours and high quality photography do an amazing job of presenting your properties, but only aerial photography and videography can explain the context of where your property is in relation to local highways, shopping and attractions.
We’ve heard it a thousand times — location, location, location. It’s the reason that real estate values soar and the reason that potential home buyers, apartment renters or businesses are seeking real estate in your community.
Getting an aerial photos and video for your website couldn’t be easier! Schedule Metroplex 360 RCS to come to your property. We’ll capture dramatic views of your community, fly-overs and cinematic point of interest shots that circle your community or amenities center. Professionally edited videos are presented to our clients within a week and can be uploaded to your website or streamed via YouTube!
Matterport 3D scans are an amazing tool for custom home builders that can be used for creating useful documentation at all phases of construction. We capture 3D models during the framing stage to provide a comprehensive reference guide that documents the locations of framing, wiring, plumbing before the sheet rock. This information saves massive amounts of time for the home owner and architect in determining relevant cut and do not cut locations for future renovations or insurance related repair projects.
A 3D scan of the completed home provides documentation of the home in condition of delivery. This valuable asset can be used to mitigate any insurance claims related to unexpected damage that may occur between completion and occupancy. The completed 3D scan, in this scenario, also will serve as a marketing piece to showcase the home to interested buyers or investors.
Located in Dallas’ Premier Preston Hollow Neighborhood, 6825 Stichter is a modern take on a classic design. At 7,800 square feet, the house features 3 living areas, 6 bedrooms, 6 full baths, 2 half baths, 2 laundry rooms, 2 bars, and a his and her master bathroom with dedicated closets. Smooth white drywall, sleek white trim and inset cabinetry, European oiled wood floors, quartzite countertops, and high-end modern hardware make this house truly one of a kind. Perfect time to pick out all selections including cabinetry, tiles, countertops, paint colors, hardware, etc.
Living Spaces, a nationwide 135,000 sqft home furnishings retailer, commissioned Metroplex360 RCS to create a massive Matterport 3D model of their new showroom. The newly opened Frisco store is the second location in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex and the 26th total for the company. The Frisco location offers collections in living rooms, dining rooms, bedrooms, home offices, outdoor and youth.
Capturing this massive commercial real estate project required pushing the Matterport Capture ecosystem to its limits. Capture was done over a period of 6 days, beginning with a structural scan with the LEICA BLK 360. We used a true LIDAR capture device to ensure accuracy and create a framework for filling in additional 3D scans with the Matterport Pro-2.
Due to the extensive size, the tour was split into 2 separate models. The larger model encompasses the main sales floor and features 1,352 individual scan points. The smaller model is an additional 268 scans and features the Revive Sleep Center, bedding and youth sections. The two models flow together naturally through a dividing wall where Mattertags were used to link the two models.
During the initial capture, the Matterport Capture software began to crash and stop performing due to memory restrictions. We reached out to technical support and it was confirmed that this may be the largest tour captured and they could not even guarantee that it would process to a completed model!
We perservered, upgraded our iPads to the latest generation model and waited while it took 5 days to process the final product. We were thrilled to provide the final product to Spaces, which will debut on their website soon (we’ll update this article with a link when it’s live!)
We also had the opportunity to create a set of showroom imagery showcasing the different mini-model homes located in the store as well as aerial photography of the exterior.
Since 2000, Fort Worth Magazine has showcased “Dream Homes” that blend the latest in architecture, design and fashion. The first home featured was a Mediterranean-styled villa in Fort Worth’s Mira Vista. In 2020, Fort Worth Magazine expanded the concept to include three neighboring homes on a “Dream Street” in Southlake, TX.
The Dream Street is a one-of-a-kind, highly targeted collaboration for subcontractors to team with new luxury builders, or do a special project with a builder they already know and respect.
Metroplex 360 RCS captured a 3D Walkthrough tour of each of the three featured homes, which was featured on Fort Worth Magazine’s website:
When we met with Fort Worth Magazine, we learned that they were facing a tricky problem! High Court existed in real life, but could not be found on Google Maps because the street was newly developed! No problem for our “Google Street View Car-for-Hire!”
VariSpace is designed to elevate the way businesses approach the office. This innovative workspace brings first-class amenities and flexible space solutions together in a multi-tenant campus ideal for enterprise-level tenants. Tenantslexible lease terms of three years or longer; opportunities are available from 10,000 square feet and above.
Vari created the original VariDesk®, the world’s leading standing desk solution, and in just a few years sold millions worldwide. By combining their strength in office furnishings with bold investments in commercial real-estate, Vari was able to create VariSpace — a fully furnished solution for businesses looking for flexible workspace.
Vari partnered with Metroplex360 RCS to create Virtual Tours of their Las Colinas facility located minutes from the Dallas / Fort Worth International Airport at 901 W Walnut Hill Ln, Irving, TX 75038. The tour is posted prominently on their website and allows prospective tenants to take a 3D walkthrough from their lobby and into multiple workspaces, the cafeteria and amenities using Mattertags to connect the spaces.
Dallas / Fort Worth based W3 Luxury Living has introduced the Mansions at Lake Ridge in Grand Prairie, TX. their latest concept in l Mansions at Lake Ridge. With red title roofing and stucco exteriors, the Mansions at Lake Ridge is inspired by Mediterranean architecture and boasts incredible views of Joe Pool Lake.
The pet-friendly community features an infinity-edge Olympic-Size swimming pool with tanning deck and private cabanas. The adjacent, two story amenities building features a state-of-the-art fitness center on the ground floor and a business center, conference room and arcade games and pool table upstairs. Unit interiors include washer/dryer hookups in all units, high ceilings, hardwood floors, private balconies/patios, programmable thermostats, energy-efficient insulation and contemporary track lighting and designer pendants.
We used our Street View Car-for-Hire service to add the internal streets and create updated imagery for Google Maps. The combined length of streets added was 5.5 miles and spanned a large stretch of Lake Ridge Parkway as it bridges Joe Pool Lake and becomes Mansfield Road.
W3 has owned, developed and managed more than 30,000 apartment homes that are operating in Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, New Braunfels, San Antonio and Houston, Texas. Their goal is to develop luxury showcase rental communities that host highly-desirable exclusive lifestyles. Every community is designed to be “The Best Place in the City,” and it’s easy to see why. W3 takes pride in elegantly integrating interiors, architecture and high-end comforts into our cutting-edge designs. Residents become part of a members-only club with premier fitness facilities and pools, gracious gathering areas and business centers, billiard rooms, tanning beds and so much more.
Farmer’s Branch based APEX Renovation and Construction reached out to Metroplex 360 to capture immersive documentation of renovations for two of multi-family leasing centers in the Dallas area. Professionally managed by City Gate Property Group, Tesoro at 12 and 4060 Preferred Place were captured during the preliminary demolition stage and after completion. The tours showcase the excellent attention to detail in each modern touch that transformed aging leasing centers into trendy, stylish modern clubhouses.
“The products that Metroplex360 produces has exceeded our expectations every time. Most importantly, their 3D walk throughs and mapping system has made it easier for us to help our customers visualize our product in real time snap shots and time lapses. Most importantly is has helped increase our footprint and revenue within the commercial and residential industries. Highly recommend.”
As an added service, we provided a timelapse video capture at 4060 Preferred Place, showing the project from start to completion!
Founded in 2018 by three like-minded visionaries with years of multifamily construction experience, Apex launched into the multifamily industry performing projects of all sizes throughout the Dallas/Fort Worth area. They are most notably recognized for their commitment to providing the best product, labor, and management practices within the commercial multifamily industry at affordable prices.
Apex aims to deliver precise proposals and exceed expectations while executing all projects with equal importance which has pushed the company even further than their initial expectations. The company has experienced steady growth thanks to the ideals of a hands-on approach, persistent competitiveness, fair pricing, and the DFW area’s ever-expanding multifamily market leading to opportunities for further business and development.
Metroplex360 RCS is North Texas’s leading provider of Matterport 3D services. We work directly with multi-family management companies, architects, construction and insurance companies to provide marketing and documentation services.
Image above is a 3D Model of a Large Estate shot by Metroplex360 with the Leica BLK 360 and Matterport Pro-2 Cameras.
As the real estate industry continues to catch up to the break-neck pace of technology, leading real estate professionals are building a veritable arsenal of technologically advanced tools. In order to create better efficiencies and sell properties quicker to discerning renters and buyers, 3D technology has become one of the go-to tools in the real estate tech arms race, helping to disseminate immersive imagery and information to all parties in the home-buying and renting process.
Cutting-edge technologies, once considered groundbreaking, are increasingly embraced by real estate agents, developers, and home-buyers alike as they become easier to use and less costly than ever before. At Matterport, we have done our best to bring the power of 3D technology to the early adopters of the real estate industry. Here are some of the reason that we have seen that 3D technology has become so prevalent in the real estate industry.
3D technology makes home showing easier and less expensive
Because physically showing a space is a difficult, time-consuming, and expensive process, agents and property managers are constantly looking for ways to cost-effectively show properties. Ultimately, using a 3D camera to create a virtual model can dramatically increase the comprehensiveness of home or apartment documentation, providing a level of dimensionality and detail that is paramount when it comes to managing the sale or lease of a property.
Clients have myriad considerations when choosing a place to lease and immersive 3D digital experiences solve for this by letting them virtually walk through potential homes at their own pace, as many times as they’d like. It’s more proficient than 2D photography, which limits a user’s ability to view a property holistically. Static 2D imagery lacks depth and detail, and often doesn’t allow for an accurate understanding of spatial relationship within a property, which can hamper a prospective buyer or renter’s ability to make important decisions. With immersive media, brokers and property managers can capture a 3D digital copy of a space, allowing remote viewers to move about and view that space from different perspectives and zoom into details. Instead of a limited gallery of 2D images that were selected only for their ability to show the best parts of a property, brokers can provide a guided experience in a 3D tour which can help increase conversions.
Our immersive media technology, True3D™ give the experience of real-world spaces where users can see properties as a high-definition digital “dollhouse,” allowing them to virtually walk through the space. Today’s most innovative real estate firm incorporate are using these technologies into their marketing programs to differentiate themselves to building owners and potential clients. By using technology to make the sales process more efficient and effective, agents and their clients can spend less time managing site visit logistics and can instead engage around important aspects of the bidding and negotiation process.
Easy come, easy go-go-go
Across both residential and commercial real estate, there already exists an ecosystem for capturing and distributing 2D media. You’re probably already familiar with it: most if not all of the apartment images you’ve seen on online portal sites are two-dimensional. 3D immersive media has been able to leverage these platforms to provide both immersive walkthroughs and a set of 2D media that’s more cost-effective than it would be to just capture the 2D photo gallery of a space with a DSLR camera.
Think of it this way: Capturing in 3D is just like capturing in 2D, with one extra dimension that makes the experience immersive. In order to turn this into reality we designed out Pro2 camera and Capture app that actually automates the process of capturing a space so that non-technical people without any photography background can complete the process quickly and reliably. And, once the content is captured, it can be embedded directly into agent/owner websites or mobile applications through the 3D Showcase application, allowing anyone to incorporate Matterport content into their existing feature sets.
This ease-of-use has made 3D media companies much more popular. We recently t reached the 500 million mark of virtual tours taken by unique users across the globe, and now has more than one million tours in its international digital tour library – the largest of its kind. Within the residential real estate industry alone, we saw over 100,000 immersive tours created between 2017 and 2018. Beyond this, our 3D database scans help professionals from industries as diverse as architecture to insurance create efficiencies through simple design and implementation. Architecture, engineering, and construction pros, for instance, can feature completed projects in their portfolios to drive more business, while also functioning as a workflow tool to document and collect measurements from in-progress build-outs and construction projects. Doing so can cut field-to-finish time by 50 percent. We think that there are many uses for 3D images that have not even been thought of yet.
Brands get it: “Seeing is believing”
Tastemakers are also beginning to see the value in 3D technology. In a recent GE Shopper research study, 81 percent of shoppers today said they research online before making big purchases, which is one reason why big brands are turning to 3D technology to make the biggest impact at first click and deliver a new shopping experience for consumers. Just recently, Walmart announced that it is using our technology to deliver a walkthrough of an apartment/dorm room where all of the furnishings, gadgets, and accoutrements are for sale within the space.
Celebrity brands are riding the 3D technology wave too. Rachael Ray’s home furnishing company also used Matterport 3D virtual tours to give online visitors the experience of walking through an expertly designed and decorated residence. On behalf of top celebrities like Kendall Jenner, Eddie Murphy and Denise Richards, real estate agents have incorporated our home touring capabilities to list their homes for sale and allow the discerning public an insider view on the lifestyles of the rich and famous.
Whether you’re looking for an apartment, an office, or a mansion, however, there’s no doubt that 3D virtual tours will continue to be adopted by professionals beyond real estate, including construction, architecture, engineering, insurance, and business listings. Be ready for the day when 3D will be as common as digital photography is today – it may be here sooner than you think.
Google announced at GSV Summit 2018 that they are now opening their Google Street View platform to Trusted Google Photographers using one of three certified capture devices, the Ricoh Theta V, the insta360 Pro and the NCTech iStar Pulsar.
The NCTech iStar Pulsar is a device developed specifically for capturing 7 11k panorama images per second. The device connects to the VR.World platform that automatically generates and delivers content directly to Google.
The Pulsar delivers exceptional imagery compared to the entry-level Theta V and the insta360 Pro, which is primarily a 360 Video capture device that has 8k @ 5fps panorama capture as a secondary feature.
NCTech developed the Open Spherical Camera standard that Google uses for submission of content to Google Street View. We were excited to pre-order the Pulsar based on NCTech’s experience in and relationship with Google. There is no better capture solution as the technical specs and capture method exceeds that of the other devices — and you’d expect no less from the company that pretty much wrote the book on Street View Pro Grade capture!
NCTech iStar Pulsar — Soft Launch
Metroplex360 was one of the first US companies to receive an iStar Pulsar. We began testing the device from a ‘Trekker’ configuration — and captured several miles of content within the Woodland Springs Home Owner’s Association in Fort Worth, TX.
The device had been tested in Scotland where it was developed, as well as in San Francisco during the winter months as a joint venture with NCTech and Google. These environments provided the ideal circumstances for image capture at the shutter speeds that were available on launch — but subsequent user tests, like ours, proved that more work needed to be done!
We quickly discovered that in the blazing Texas summer sun, the Pulsar produced over exposed imagery! We were itching to serve our clients, but we weren’t ready!
Testing in Apache Junction
In September 2018, NCTech’s Tehnical Sales Director, Andrew Baddeley, journeyed to Arizona where he and Bill Bailey, of Nodal Ninja – NCTech’s US Distributor, tested new Pulsar device firmware along the Apache Junction.
Using an A-frame mount, they captured 75 miles of car-mounted footage. The Pulsar passed with flying colors in the middle of the day while the drivers alternated their driving speeds. The resulting footage is stunning and eclipses footage from the same stretch that was captured by Google in 2015.
The firmware update is currently rolling out to NCTech Pulsar Google Pro-Grade providers.
We’re Pro Grade Street View Ready — is Google?
Pro Grade content that is captured and submitted to Google is immediately integrated into Google Maps.
The content can be accessed by dropping the pegman on the area where a blue line appears along the streets that data was captured on. It can also be accessed if it intersects with existing content in Google Street View.
Google stores multiple sets of captured data that can be accessed by the ‘Time Machine’ feature. For instance, for VR World’s demo, the imagery captured by Google on July 2015 is accessible from the top left corner:
Problem #1 – Blue Lines and Blue Dots
There is a bug where individual circles are appearing for the User Generated content alongside the blue line that has been created by Google.
At one point, this problem was resolved, however, this was also causing content of the inside of businesses from the Google Local Guides program to disappear.
They rolled back the fix, and we’re back to having parallel circles.
While most people will not see these circles – they are helpful to see that Google is considering their capture on ONE SIDE OF THE STREET as authoratative and that the data on the other side of the street has a GPS offset and is thus not forming a blue line.
The two should merge together, however, Google appears to have not figured out how to consistently solve the problem of capture from opposing sides of the street being considered the same thing..
Problem #2 – Updating the Infograph on Search
Each business that Google has indexed has an infograph that contains useful information, user reviews, imagery and a map powered by Google.
The ‘See Outside’ image is pulled from Google Maps from the Pro-Grade imagery captured by the Google Street View Cars.
Charles Armstrong, the product manager for Google Street View, indicated in the press release for the insta360 Pro that updating a store front on maps is one of the services that Street View Pro-Grade providers will be able to offer:
“The majority of 360 imagery on Google Maps was captured by Google’s fleet of camera-equipped vehicles, but the world changes quickly, so there’s always more to cover,” said Charles Armstrong, Street View product manager. “With the Insta360 Pro, [and any Pro-Grade device] it’s easy for anyone to extend Street View coverage on their own, whether it’s to document an updated storefront or share an immersive adventure across the globe.” – Charles Armstrong, February 14, 2018
Problem #3 – Access to imagery on Mobile
As Google has multiple product teams, there are many different ways that we access its content. Google Maps on Mobile works differently than it does on desktop. Presently, Pro-Grade imagery is not accessible in the Google Maps App or on Google Maps Mobile (web based).
If a client receives a link to Pro-Grade content on a mobile device, they will be placed in content gathered by a Google Street View car that is nearest to the GPS coordinates in the link that was sent.
Pro-Grade is Available Today.
It is early days for Google Pro-Grade, but I am confident that the time to capture data and is today.
I am optimistic that data published to Google will soon inherit improvements to the Maps and Infograph products. Google will solve today’s problems detailed above and when the product is stable, the mobile team and the infograph team will integrate the new content streams into their products.
Customers who have paid for captured data will enjoy their content being available immediately throughout Google’s platforms.
Fall is around the corner and it’s time to capture data before the leaves fall and winter approaches.
If you are interested in updating your store front on Google? Are you a developer with roads and land that is not accessible on Google Maps products? Are you a builder that has constructed new commercial real estate or residential multi-family communities that are invisible on Google Maps?
Call us today for service in North Texas — we’ll get you on Google Street View!
We love working with home builders to create extensive marketing photos and documentation. Unlike a Realtor shoot, we’re shooting high quality — magazine ready — HDR photos that document all features of a home for the primary purpose of the builder’s website. In addition, sales associates are able to use our imagery to show different interior finishes and features.
Matterport 3D tours add an additional level of immersion and are an incredible value as one tour will be used multiple times to sell the same floorplan for years! It’s a no brainer!