How to Prepare your Venue for a Virtual Tour
21st May 2021
Hiring a production company to make a 360˚ Virtual Tour of your venue? This is a guide to what you can do in advance (and during the photoshoot) to make sure your virtual tour is the best it can be, and how you can keep costs down by avoiding a re-shoot or project extension.
Make sure your venue is how you want it to be seen by prospective clients and visitors
An obvious point, but if you’ve got short-term, upcoming renovations you’re planning for your venue, why not wait until they’re done and looking great before you immortalise your space with a 3D digital replica? Some softwares allow for photo replacements later down the line if you need your tour soon and want to upgrade it after a while, but this can create visible differences in lighting throughout the tour and will cost you a second shoot. So, if there are small fixes you’ve been meaning to complete, now is the perfect time. For really small details, it is possible for the production company to edit the photos and blur them out, but this is time consuming and will likely incur extra charges.
Know which rooms you do and don’t want to capture
It’s a good idea to walk around your venue and really think about which rooms you want your virtual visitors to see. What are the goals of your tour? Are you trying to sell a particular service? Where would you like the tour to start? These are all things your production company can help you decide, but ultimately, you know your business best. It helps to think about the customer journey; when you’re showing someone round in real life - what is your route? Do you want to give them lots of choice of routes to take, or do you want a one way system to ensure they see everything in a certain order? Remember, you can skip to specific areas within a virtual tour, so you can capture as much or as little as you want. This is also helpful to think about when you’re asking for a quote for the tour, as it’ll minimise the chances of a surprise when the final bill comes through.
Make sure it’s tidy
There’s nothing worse for the photographer than turning up to a messy venue that isn’t ready to be shot. It delays the shoot, takes up valuable time and is likely to cost you. A Virtual Tour is going to live on your website for a long time and is shot in 4K and 3D - so a mess will be noticeable. If there’s rooms you’re not shooting and you put the mess in there, make sure the door is shut and it won’t be visible to the guests within the tour.
Minimise the number of people in your venue
360˚ cameras used to shoot Virtual Tours are omnidirectional, and therefore capture everything visible in the environment - and you don’t want people appearing and disappearing with each photo! Even the photographer has to hide while the camera is in use, so staff wandering in and out can be really frustrating. Ensure your staff are working in an area that’s not being shot, and explain to them to not come into the venue for a period of time. The goal of the photographer is to shoot any outdoor areas (or rooms with windows / natural lighting) as fast as possible to ensure the lighting remains even as the tour user navigates their way around. Whilst this isn’t as important in rooms with artificial lighting, every delay to the tour - like people walking in and out - will delay a shot and impact the consistency of lighting in the Virtual Tour. It’s a simple measure to take to get the best results for your tour.
Make sure you have a photographer liaison
It’s important that when the photographer arrives there is someone who knows about the tour there to show them around and detail exactly what is to be captured (and omitted). This is especially important if there are specific features you want to focus on - or add hotspots to - as the photographer can take dedicated traditional photos of them to integrate into the tour with any added media. Eg. there might be a piece of equipment you want to show off, and it’s nice to have extra photos that can sit with the text within the tour. Once this has been discussed, everyone’s questions are answered, and the crew knows exactly where they’re shooting, you can leave them to get on with things. Always give the photographer a phone number to contact you if they have any questions.
Make sure all the lights work and the photographer knows where the switches are
Small things - like faulty bulbs and hidden switches - can really delay the shooting of your Virtual Tour. As previously mentioned, you want your space looking its very best and it's key to have consistent lighting throughout your Virtual Tour. We understand that you don’t want to leave the lights on the whole time, so make sure you tell the crew where all of the light switches are. If your venue is darkly lit - don’t worry - most production crews have monopod lighting (lighting that doesn’t show up in the photos as it is below the camera and in the ‘nadir’ where your logo will go). It's just one of those small things that makes everyone's life a lot easier.
Once your venue has been successfully captured, the production crew will return to their office and remotely stitch, orientate and grade the photos to create a navigational tour that people can virtually wander around. If you have decided to integrate media into your tour, it’s really helpful for the crew to have it all ready to go to put into the tour. Videos, audio files and any existing media you have in your archive can all be put into the tour as a ‘hotspot’ so why not get that ready now to save time further down the line?
We hope you found this article helpful. If you have any questions about your upcoming project, then feel free to get in touch with us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to help you prepare to get the most out of your virtual tour!