Siena Reed, scanner at The Net Gallery, offers a fascinating insight into what her work entails and the remarkable results it delivers. 


“I’m usually up bright and early for work since it’s quite common for us to carry out the scanning process we offer before a venue opens to the public. We’re always happy to oblige when this request is made, since we understand that our clients are running a business and want to minimise disruption. Sometimes we’ll work in the evening after hours for the same reason and even through the night for a large-scale project, like we did when scanning the huge Christian Dior Retrospective at the Louvre last year, which was incredibly exciting.

That said, the scanning process is actually much quicker than many clients expect and not in the least invasive.

Small equipment, big results

I think that when we meet potential clients and show them the incredible results that a 3D scanning system delivers, they assume it must involve a lengthy, complicated process using bulky equipment. In fact, when I arrive on site, people are always surprised at how light I’m travelling; the scanning camera is about the same size as a new iPad Pro, while the tripod is smaller than me when fully extended, and I’m only 5ft 3”! Plus, all the capturing is done through the WiFi, which keeps things simple and means there are no wires or leads getting in the way as we work.

We also carry out a survey on location a few days before any job, which is a really important part of ensuring we’re fully prepared for the main appointment. Aside from familiarising ourselves with the venue, we’ll spend the initial visit looking for anything that might be an issue on the day, such as reflective surfaces, like mirrors and windows, and sorting these things out ahead of the scan.

Putting clients in the picture

 This appointment also provides the perfect opportunity for us to explain to a client what we’ll be doing and demonstrate the process. It can be quite tricky for people to get their heads round the concept of a 360-capture, so sometimes it’s easier for them to see it in action. I think clients then find it easier to give their input, which is really valuable to us.

We’ll also plan the itinerary while there, since the aim is to create a walk-through that flows and replicates the route taken by someone physically visiting the location, to make the experience as realistic as possible. For example, if a location has more than one storey, we’ll move through the building from the ground-floor upwards.

On the day of the scan, once we’re set up in the first spot and good to go, I click ‘catcher’ on the camera and it then performs a 360-degree rotation, which takes about 30 seconds, after which we gradually move through the space in separate stretches of about 2.5 metres.

As soon as we’ve completed the scanning, we’re able to pack up and go, since all editing and stitching work is completed back of house. We’re happy to take instruction from clients and keen for them to share their ideas again at this stage on issues like whether they’d prefer us to stitch two rooms together seamlessly in the scan or feature them separately. We always return to visit a client and show them the scans personally at this stage, since we think it’s important to guide them through how the process works firsthand and answer any questions they may have.

Time to get creative

 Once the editing is finalised, we share the link by email or embed it onto a website, depending on the client’s preference.

As soon as we have the client’s approval, we can upload the scan – usually within 48 hours of receiving an OK for an average-sized project – at which point the client can view it and begin thinking about what features they’d like to add. This is a great opportunity to really maximise the scan’s potential and make the most of the added value it offers, by inserting add-ons, such as tags, text for photos, behind-the-scenes videos and weblinks, for example. These details really bring a project like a show or exhibition to life, since we can zoom in on details like plaques, artefacts and newspaper cuttings with great clarity. This tool was hugely effective at the Christian Dior show, where we were able to ensure fascinating information about costumes and artefacts of historical significance was shared with viewers by zooming in on the plaques.

Wow factor

I find that the reaction is almost always the same when clients view the finished result; they are invariably blown away at the quality of the scan and how sharply it captures their space and what’s in it.

We always go to great lengths to explain that what we’re giving them is essentially an excellent navigational tool with a wow factor that can serve a multitude of purposes. Whether they plan to use it as part of a promotional campaign, for archiving purposes or for bringing something special to a social media platform, a scan offers so much more than 2D or 1D visuals. It’s also highly accurate, providing specs to within 1 or 2 percent, so is great for planning purposes.

Another advantage is that once the space or exhibition is captured and the walkthrough completed, it’s not going anywhere; that particular show or space has been encapsulated in time and will exist indefinitely, for a client to share with anyone, anywhere, giving them worldwide networking opportunities and a truly global reach.”