Reality Capture Being Used on Notre Dame Rebuild

Those of us in the reality capture space have been capturing everything we found interesting from the moment we got our first scanners. I have scans of every place I’ve ever lived, several landmarks in my area and, of course, lots of historic structures. Thankfully, I’m far from alone in my desire to “scan it all!”

In this report from CBS news we get a chance to look at some of the work done by Prof. Andrew Tallon and video game developer Ubisoft, both of which have spent thousands of hours capturing and modeling the iconic cathedral.

RSA Assisting Donelson Plaza Revitalization

As an example of 1960’s commercial design, Donelson Plaza has long held a special place in the lives of many Nashvillians. Ragan-Smith (RSA) is excited to assist in the revitalization of this site for Centric Architecture and Holladay Properties. RSA provided Scan to BIM services of the existing structure so that many of the mid century design elements could be retained as the site was re-imagined as a town center for Donelson. The addition of mixed use buildings and a public library will continue the redevelopment that this part of Donelson has been experiencing over the last few years. For more on the plans and to keep up with the project’s progress, check out their Donelson Plaza website.


RSA Scans World’s Largest 3D Printed Structure

Nashville’s OneC1TY development saw the erection of the world’s largest 3D printed structure this summer. The 20 ft x 40 ft (6 m x 12 m) pavilion was built by Branch Technologies of Chattanooga, TN using a design that does not require steel/non-printed supports. RSA’s Reality Capture Group is working with Branch Technologies to monitor the first of its kind structure through periodic mapping via terrestrial laser scanners.

I’ve been watching 3D printing for a long time now and even have a small one that I use at home. Even with that experience, it’s still amazing to see a 3D structure “in the wild” much less one of this size and significance given its prominence at the OneC1TY campus. – Sam Billingsley -Director, Reality Capture Group


BLK360 Laser Scanner

Ragan-Smith Acquires New Leica BLK360

Our Reality Capture Group has once again expanded their capabilities through the acquisition of a new 3D imaging system. The Leica BLK360 system is a short range 3D laser scanning system that bridges the gap between our indoor only devices like the Matterport Pro2 and our long range scanners like the Leica C10.

The BLK360 also offers new capture capabilities via an integrated FLIR Thermal Camera that allows us to map heat deviation in 3D. Additionally, the BLK360 greatly expands both the accuracy  and the size of environments that are available in the Matterport ecosystem.

“I was contacted by Leica with a request to perform a hands-on review of the BLK360 for the SPAR Newsletter. After having it for a few weeks, I wrote my review and returned the unit to Leica. Over the following weeks as I was responding to RFPs I suddenly found myself in the position of thinking about how much more efficient I could be in the field if I still had that BLK360. Combined with the ability to capture large open areas for Matterport 3D Spaces, the BLK360 helps us expand our capabilities without having to increase the cost to our clients.”

– Sam Billingsley, Director – Reality Capture Group



Sam Billingsley Named “UAV Visionary” by Commercial UAV News

Commercial UAV News just named Sam Billingsley one of the “Top 7 Drone Visionaries” in the Surveying & Mapping Market. As the Director of the Reality Capture Group at Ragan-Smith, Sam is responsible for managing all Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) projects and the implementation of UAV collections within our Survey Department.

It’s always nice when others recognize you for your work. However, I’d be remiss if I didn’t recognize the fact that it took a team effort to get to where we are today. I owe more people thanks than I could possibly mention here; from UAV manufacturers, Re-sellers, other UAV operators, and of course, many in-house at Ragan-Smith. I’m just glad it’s paid off with production ready results. That’s more than I can say for most of my R&D projects!         -Sam Billingsley

For a full listing of all of UAV News’ 2018 Visionaries can be found here.

Passageways 2.0 Pro2 Mesh

RSA Helps Passageways 2.0 Competition

Ragan-Smith recently competed field data capture of an alleyway near our office in Chattanooga, TN to assist with Passageways 2.0. Passageways 2.0 is a design competition to “enhance a new downtown alleyway in the heart of Downtown Chattanooga’s City Center”.

The competition is presented by River City Company, Cogent Studios, and Public Art Chattanooga as an opportunity to recreate an existing alleyway into a destination for pedestrians in downtown Chattanooga. Through an open RFP process, they sought “unique, innovative design concepts with a cohesive artistic vision from multi-disciplinary design teams”. Forty-five proposals were submitted representing 11 countries including the United States, Italy, France, Canada, Malaysia, India and China.

Three semi-finalists have been selected to further develop site specific designs to permanently activate the proposed alleyway and create a vibrant pedestrian corridor that is habitable and can be adapted for use as a small public event space. Ragan-Smith assisted by capturing the existing conditions with our Matterport Pro2 for site visualization and with our Leica C10 laser scanner to capture more accurate dimensions on the entire site. This data was then used to create a Building Information Model (BIM) of the site in Revit that was sent to the three semi-finalists to aid in the development of their construction plans.

A winning team and concept will be announced in Spring 2018 and installed Fall of 2018. Passageways 2.0 is made possible by generous grants from the Benwood and Lyndhurst Foundations. Keep up with the project and see the submissions on the Passageways 2.0 Website. You can visit the 3D Space yourself or view it through the video below.

Ragan-Smith Acquires New Matterport Pro2 System

Our Reality Capture Group recently expanded their capabilities through the acquisition of a new 3D imaging system. The Matterport Pro2 system is a short range 3D camera system that can aid in creating virtual environments and Google Street-view like websites. This acquisition has also allowed us to beging working with Leica Geosystems and Matterport to integrate the Pro2 with Leica’s BLK360 laser scanner. This Beta program is designed to connect both sensors through a single control system for data capture. By combining the best of each system, Ragan-Smith will continue to push the boundaries of what is possible in capturing and modeling as-built environments at various levels of accuracy.

“We are really excited about this expansion of our capture capabilities. Since the inception of the Reality Capture Group here at Ragan-Smith, we have endeavored to continually add new sensors and mapping systems to the list of tools that we are able to leverage for the benefit of our clients. The Pro2 fits perfectly into this mission by enabling fast data capture and visual communication without requiring engineering grade services. We have also expanded our web services to host many of the 3D Spaces that we are now creating for our clients.”

– Sam Billingsley, Director – Reality Capture Group

Visit our 3D Space Page for sample data.

UAV Program Update – 2017 (End of Year)

Ragan-Smith began 2017 with the goal of determining whether or not Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) or drones in most peoples vocabulary, were ready for production work. We performed extensive tests in late Winter that were detailed in a post on UAV Accuracy and another on UAV Volumetric Surveying. To sum those tests up, we were not very happy with the results. To be sure, they demonstrated that there were some limited applications for which UAVs were well suited. However, we weren’t ready to take those services to market given the accuracy level that most clients expect when they come to Ragan-Smith for services.

However, technology is ever developing. While it’s been less than a year since those initial tests we felt compelled to revisit the subject. Despite the earlier results, we never quit testing UAV systems in-house. Between hard learned lessons in best-practices for data collection and improvements in the associated hardware and software systems Ragan-Smith is now using UAVs for data collection on an almost weekly basis. The point of launching a Reality Capture Group at Ragan-Smith was to be able to bring the most up to date technology to bear on every project so that we were always using the most efficient system available to capture the needed data to serve our client’s needs. Adding UAVs to our existing lineup of traditional survey technologies, laser scanning, and mobile LiDAR has made for an exciting 2017. I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store for us!

For a full review of our current UAV program’s accuracy and methodology check out this article on