The RICOH THETA 360-degree camera is helpful for a variety of professions including construction! We connected with architect and owner of Albarran Architects, Franco Albarran, on how he uses THETA for building and designing new projects.

Thanks for speaking with us! Can you please introduce yourself?

My name is Franco Albarran and I’m an architect and founder of Albarran Architects. We’re a Houston based Architectural Firm with a focus on custom residential projects. Specifically we provide Design + Build services to our clients, which means we manage both the design and construction of the project. We can best provide value to our clients through our unique Architect Led Design + Build process where the same design professional is the single point of contact from beginning to end. This allows for seamless transitions through all phases of the design and construction process, thus simplifies and streamlines the client experience.

How do you use 360-degree photography as an architect and business owner?

We use 360 degree photography to document our construction phase, specifically before we cover the walls with drywall. In the past, ​​we had been looking for a great alternative to using our phones to document our pre-drywall process, specifically a camera that would capture the floor, walls and ceiling in one continuous scene. We had used other 360-degree cameras in the past, but none met our expectations like RICOH THETA’s.

What were your first impressions of THETA? Did you find it easy to use?

First, let me say everything about the THETA SC2 for Business design and packaging was great! One of my first thoughts when I first saw and held the camera was its clean design and quality.

The THETA was easy and intuitive to use – the software integrated seamlessly with our phones and Google Photos. One of the best features was the ability of the THETA to capture a 360 degree scene with dim lighting. The construction phase when we used the THETA typically has no lighting installed, so the ability to capture crisp high resolution 360 degree images with dim lighting was extremely important.

That’s great to hear! What specific scenes is THETA useful for the construction phase? How did you capture these scenes before THETA?

For our workflow, the THETA SC2 for Business was most useful during our construction “pre-drywall cover phase”, when all the mechanical components in the walls and ceilings are exposed. Our process is to fully document these mechanical components (HVAC ducts, plumbing lines, and electrical wiring) in case we need to service them in the future after the homeowner moves in. With the 360-degree photograph captured by the THETA SC2 for Business, we know where these mechanical components are located and are not cutting drywall randomly. In addition, the 360 degree photograph helps the homeowner also know where major mechanical components are located and be careful when hanging pictures, TV’s, or artwork, thus avoiding these components they can’t see behind the wall.

In the past we used a digital camera or our phones to capture these images, but were extremely limited with how clear we were able to document. We have been researching a camera that would specifically capture the floor, walls and ceiling in one continuous scene and with high resolution – THETA was it!

What is your workflow like when using THETA?

Because the construction phase typically has no lighting installed, we used the THETA during the day with maximum sun exposure. Although, we found that THETA has a great ability to capture 360 degree photography with dim lighting.

In regards to transferring and sharing the images. Our firm uses Google Workspace and the images were immediately uploaded, shared, and accessible in Google Photos. We have a shared collaboration folder with the homeowner and the photos are also immediately transferred and shared with them.

What kind of reactions do you get from your customers when you share 360-degree images with them?

They think it’s AMAZING! To be able to share with them their project in a 360 photograph is very unique. Not many architects or builders are using this technology in their workflow.

As an architect, what do you think are the top three uses of the RICOH THETA SC2 for Business?

To me, the top three uses would be:

1.Photographing existing conditions of an existing building (for renovations/additions)

2.Photographing the construction process

3.Photographing the final built building/house

Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us! Is there anything else that you would like to add about your experience with THETA?

I think the RICOH THETA SC2 for Business is at a great price point and a tool I would definitely use to market my business. Outside of work, I definitely want to bring it out on the golf course with friends!

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You can follow Franco’s work at Albarran Architects on Facebook and Instagram.