What’s the best part of living in the Hudson Valley?
For some, it’s the awe-inspiring panoramas that greet them every time they step outdoors. For others, it’s the rich culinary scene that delights the senses with farm-to-table flavors in every bite. And then there’s the history of the region, a saga of adventure, exploration, and new beginnings. From Albany to Westchester, history greets Hudson Valleyites at every turn. It whispers tales of the past inside resplendent estates and echoes back to the earliest settlements from cemeteries and historic sites.
Yet because of the COVID-19 crisis, that history is on lock inside the area’s temporarily closed libraries, museums, and landmark houses.
Lucky for you, we found a loophole.
Thanks to Hudson Reality Capture, the inner workings of some of the most beloved historic destinations in the Hudson Valley are only a click away. How, you ask? It’s all through the local company’s signature virtual tours.
“We’re huge history buffs,” says V Owen Bush, who co-owns Hudson Reality Capture with Chase Pierson. “We’re very connected to this area and learning more about it.”
A serial entrepreneur, Bush launched his Hudson Valley business in January 2018 after previously operating another virtual reality company. During that experience, he realized the “reality” side of virtual reality was exactly what he wanted to pursue with his next project. Along with Pierson, who is headquartered in Woodstock and covers the mid-Hudson Valley region, Bush bases himself in Troy and captures virtual tours for the Capital Region.
So what’s the deal with the tours?
They’re exactly what they sound like, Bush explains. As 100-percent online experiences, they take visitors inside 3D models of some of the most well-known and under-the-radar sites in the Hudson Valley. In each, visitors can explore the destinations room by room to see the spaces for themselves. For a select few tours, historic annotations accompany points of interest to allow visitors to learn more about the architecture or exhibits on display.
Thus far, Hudson Reality Capture has documented locations like the Albany Heritage Area Visitors Center, Burden Iron Works Museum, Troy Public Library, and Albany’s Cathedral of All Saints, to name a few. Each tour is rich in detail and involves time-intensive filming by Bush and Pierson to ensure as genuine of an experience as possible.
“Our focus has been on using the technology to share the beauty of the region,” Bush enthuses, adding that he and Pierson have captured “amazing places that people may not even know about,” like Oakwood Cemetery in Troy and the Van Ostrande-Radliff House in Albany. For the latter, which the oldest building in Albany, Hudson Reality Capture worked with Historic Albany Foundation’s preservationist to incorporate annotations of the rooms and their architecture, which dates back to the 1700s.
As far as creating the tours goes, Bush and Pierson rely upon their Matterport cameras to film spaces from every angle. Every circle spot on the tours corresponds with the point on the floor that the duo placed their tripod to film 30 seconds of the interior before moving to the next location. It’s a detailed process, and it takes them about 20 minutes per 1,000 square feet.
While historic tours are a signature for Hudson Reality Capture, they’re far from the only thing the Hudson Valley company offers. Across the region, Bush and Pierson film everything from virtual open houses and construction sites to hospitality venue tours and real estate scans for insurance and property claims. In all, Bush estimates they’ve scanned more than 750 residential properties and 50 tourism-focused venues.
So which one is his favorite?
“Oakwood Cemetery in Troy,” Bush admits. “I find it to be one of the most beautiful things I’ve done. There are like 300 points of interest and a combination of interiors and exteriors.”
While Hudson Reality Capture’s virtual field trips are the perfect way to “visit” top Hudson Valley locations during quarantine (and beyond), they’re not a replacement for in-person visits, Bush notes.
“They really encourage people to go there physically and see for themselves,” he says. “A lot of these places are places where people have heard the name but don’t know where it is. [The tours] generate an enormous amount of interest in a place.”
As sole proprietors, Bush and Pierson can continue to shoot tours during the self-isolation period. In adherence to their COVID-19 policy, they will not go into a space unless it’s been vacant for three days, and they request that the space remain vacant for three days after they complete filming. They wear full PPE at each location.
Curious about Hudson Reality Capture’s virtual field trips? Explore the Hudson Valley tours online here. In the future, keep an eye out for even more destination as well. Bush admits that Olana State Historic Site in Hudson and the Vanderbilt Estate in Hyde Park are just a few locations on his virtual filming bucket list.