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  • Writer's pictureRoman Vaulin

Cinematic Real Estate Videography: A Guide to Elevating Your Marketing Strategy

Selling Sunset, Property Brothers, Queer Eye, and Amazing Interiors. After food porn, you'd be hard-pressed to find a more binge-worthy, drooling-inducing genre of escapist television. These shows offer a glimpse into the high-end world of real estate and interior design, and they're changing the way your buyers view your listings, whether they realize it or not. Expertly-crafted real estate videography can make all the difference in attracting potential buyers and setting your listings apart from your competition.


What is Real Estate Videography?

Real estate videography is a type of video production that showcases a property and its surroundings in an engaging and informative way. Whether it's a virtual tour of a home or an aerial view of the neighborhood, real estate videography provides potential buyers with a deeper understanding of a property's unique features and benefits.


Most agents think, "Okay, I stood in the doorway with my iPhone, turned it to the left, and got a wide shot of the room.", but each house has a history and unique features. Are you sharing them with your prospective buyers? Include the little details, especially in a city like New Orleans. Did I show off the claw-foot tub? The gold-leaf pendant lamp? The built-in, hand-crafted oakwood headboard?


Instead of just opening a virtual door, you'll be immersing your audience in the house.


Why is Selling Sunset Visually Striking?

Shows like Selling Sunset and Amazing Interiors look visually stunning due to a combination of factors, including high-end production values, expert videography and cinematography, and attention to detail in the design and presentation of the properties.


1. Their Camera is Bigger Than Your Camera

High-end production values refer to high-quality equipment, crews with Hollywood credits, and a team of interior designers who focus on delivering a visually appealing product. This means using the latest cameras and lenses, lighting, and sound equipment to create a polished, professional-looking final product. Camera-wise, the most significant differentiating factor between what the crews on Selling Sunset use versus your iPhone, GoPro, or DSLR is the amount of light and color data their cameras capture. Film industry juggernauts like ARRI and Red feature cameras with large, 1-inch (roughly) data sensors that record 17 stops of dynamic range.


2. Dynamic Range and Lighting, AKA the "Sauce"

Dynamic range is how far the brightest spots of your video or photo can be from the darkest areas while maintaining proper exposure. Let's say you're taking a picture of a dining room for your listing on your iPhone or a larger DSLR like a Nikon, Canon, or Sony. You have a big window on the left side of the room and a single light fixture over the table with a regular, Home Depot-bought bulb. You snap the picture, and the window is blown out with ugly, white, radioactive light spilling all over the room. You think, "Oh, well, the person in the Apple commercial tapped the bright spot, and the camera app adjusted for it." Now the window is exposed correctly, but the room is dark.


"F*%$!"

The last couple of iPhone models boast a wide dynamic range to Apple's credit. That's where HDR photos come in. They're data-intensive and take up a lot of storage space, but you have more color data to play with. The iPhone's built-in editor can correct things like blown-out highlights and dark shadows. The iPhone includes an HDR setting for video, too. It's not dissimilar to "bracketing," which is how real estate photographers get evenly lit photos of rooms while capturing a properly exposed window.

They pop the camera on a tripod and take a series of three to five photos, all at different exposure settings:

Exposure 1: One to two stops under exposed. The room is dark, but you can see what's outside a window.


Exposure 2: Evenly exposed. What your eye sees when you look into a room.


Exposure 3: Overexposed. The windows are blown out, and most of the room is a little bright, but the shadows and darker features of the room look well-lit.

After your photographer gets their shot, they drop the sequence into Photoshop and blend them to make a single, evenly lit listing picture.

Ultimately, you want the room to be evenly lit. Turn. On. Every. Light. In television, if a room is poorly lit or has to compete with uncontrollable lighting elements like giant windows, they'll compensate by bringing in extra lighting. Dynamic range is excellent, and it gives the colorists a lot of leeway when it comes to boosting shadows and controlling highlights, but you're leaning on a toxic "fix it in post" mentality. Over-correcting shadows and highlights in the edit can introduce digital artifacts and ugly, grainy noise. You always want to shoot for proper exposure.


Thoughtful Movement

Expert videography and cinematography are also crucial to the visual appeal of these shows. This includes capturing the right angles, movements, and shot sequences to showcase the properties and their features in the best possible light. This can also involve creative camera movements, such as sweeping shots or tracking shots of unique elements of the room, to create a sense of excitement and dynamism.


Think of a room like a diorama box. You want to create layers of movement. Objects closer to the camera move through the frame more quickly than items in the back of the room, creating a satisfying "parallax" effect. It's handy for reveals, too. If you're in an empty room, you can use door frames or walls to hide the room, move forward and reveal the room.

Modern-day smartphones usually include mechanical or digital video stabilizers. The iPhone 14 (and I'm not shilling for Apple, I promise. It's simply the ecosystem that I'm most familiar with) features "Action mode," which utilizes the entire camera's sensor to produce super-smooth, gimbal-like camera movements. The drawback, however, is that the iPhone crops into the frame size to compensate for the movement. In plain terms, it crops the video in and makes it harder to shoot in small spaces.

If you want to use your smartphone's wide-angle mode to get smooth shots, you want to pair it with a gimbal. DJI makes a great one called the OM 4 for about a hundred bucks.

Finally, attention to detail in the design and presentation of the properties is critical. The use of expert staging and styling techniques, such as using the right colors, textures, and furnishings, creates visually appealing spaces. The focus is on showcasing the properties in their best light, highlighting their key features, and creating a sense of luxury and aspirational living for the viewer.

More often than not, you are your stager. Take the time to frame your shot, look at it, and clean up anything that seems out of place. Paper towels on the counter, old plastic soap dispensers, and even trash/recycling bins can be moved out of the frame with minimal effort.

Combined with creative editing and post-production techniques, these factors result in visually stunning and highly appealing shows that modern audiences love.

Let's Talk About Drones

IMPORTANT: YOU HAVE TO HAVE A LICENSE FROM THE FAA IF YOU GO TO USE A DRONE FOR ANY COMMERCIAL PURPOSE. I'm emphasizing this because you do not want to get penalized by a federal agency. If you are using a drone results in you making money in any capacity, including hosting drone photos on a real estate listing, you have to have passed the Part 107 exam. It's a little intense, and there's lots of time studying sectional charts and air traffic control terminology.


There are many other factors in conducting a safe drone flight, too. Are you close to an airport? You'll need approval from the FAA for the flight. Fortunately, the FAA makes it relatively easy to file a flight plan, and we often receive instant approval via "LAANC. "If you're flying close enough to an airport, you'll need to work through a more formal waiver process and coordinate with the airport's Air Traffic Control Center.


You must also register your drone with the FAA if it weighs over 0.55 pounds.

Drone shoots require careful planning. That said, I highly recommend getting a drone and a license. It's my favorite way to shoot because it's just so "Hollywood." A well-composed drone shot instantly increases your video's production value.


I'm going to write an entire article on how you can improve your drone videography and photography skills in a few weeks, but my biggest tip is simply to stop flying so damn high. I don't know what it is about new drone pilots, but more often than not, they start the motors and send the thing to 400' (the legal limit, barring certain exceptions). I was guilty of it, too. Staying low and close to objects gives you a wider variety of shot options as long as you do it safely and intentionally. My shots immediately improved when I studied my surroundings, helping me fly confidently at lower altitudes.

The Benefits of Real Estate Videography

There are many reasons why real estate videography is a valuable addition to your marketing efforts, including:

  • Increased engagement: Real estate videography provides a more interactive and immersive experience for potential buyers, helping to keep their attention and build interest in the property.

  • A better understanding of the property: With the ability to showcase a property's features and surroundings, real estate videography helps potential buyers better understand what a property has to offer.

  • Increased credibility: A well-made real estate videography can help establish your brand as a trusted and professional source of information, helping to build trust and credibility with potential buyers.

  • Higher search engine rankings: As video content continues to gain in popularity, incorporating real estate videography into your marketing efforts can help improve your search engine rankings and attract more organic traffic to your website.

Critical Components of Effective Real Estate Videography

To get the most out of your real estate videography, it's essential to focus on the following key components:

  • High-quality visuals: Make sure your real estate videography is visually stunning, with high-quality images and sharp, detailed footage.

  • Engaging storytelling: Your real estate videography should tell a compelling story about the property, highlighting its unique features and benefits.

  • Professional production values: To help establish your brand as a trusted and professional source of information, make sure your real estate videography is produced to the highest possible standards.

  • Strategic distribution: Once your real estate videography is complete, ensure it's distributed to the right audiences and platforms for maximum impact.

Tips for Making Your Real Estate Videography Stand Out

To make your real estate videography genuinely stand out, consider the following tips:

  • Showcase the neighborhood: In addition to showcasing the property, make sure your real estate videography includes footage of the surrounding community, highlighting its key features and amenities.

  • Use drone footage: Aerial footage captured with a drone can add a unique perspective to your real estate videography, providing potential buyers with a bird's-eye view of the property and its surroundings.

  • Invest in professional equipment: To achieve the highest possible production values, invest in professional-grade equipment, including cameras, lighting, and sound equipment.

  • Hire a professional videographer: For best results, consider hiring a professional videographer (like me!) who specializes in real estate videography. They'll have the skills, experience, and equipment needed to produce high-quality videos that truly stand out.

FAQs:


Q: What equipment do I need for real estate videography?

A: To produce high-quality real estate videography, you'll need a high-quality camera, tripod, lighting equipment, and sound equipment. If you plan to include drone footage, you'll also need a drone and the necessary licenses and permits. Consider hiring a professional videographer with the equipment and expertise required to produce top-quality videos for best results.

Q: How long should my real estate videography be?

A: The length of your real estate videography will depend on several factors, including the size of the property and the amount of information you want to convey. Generally, real estate videography should be kept concise and to the point, focusing on showcasing the property's key features and benefits. Aim for a video between 1-2 minutes in length or up to 5 minutes for a more comprehensive virtual tour.

Q: How much does real estate videography cost?

A: The cost of real estate videography will vary depending on several factors, including the length of the video, the complexity of the production, market competition, location, and the level of expertise required. At SnaggleTooth Productions, our video tours start at $250 and scale based on square foot/property complexity.


What Do We Use at SnaggleTooth Productions?*

Reality shows have the benefit of months of production and post-production time. At SnaggleTooth, speed is the most important factor for real estate listings. We prioritize using high-end equipment that creates a cinematic experience while enabling a fast-paced and efficient workflow. I'll outline everything below and include a bulleted list of equipment at the end of the article.


Camera

Our camera of choice is a Canon C200. I adore this camera. It's a cinema-style camera included in Netflix's list of "approved" cameras because it shoots with 13 stops of dynamic range in Canon RAW Light. I have so much color information to play with, so I can precisely dial-in shadows, highlights, and even the color temperature of a shot.

Lenses

Sticking with Canon, I use an 18-55mm EF-S and a 10-18mm EF-S lens. I like to keep my focal length around 24-35mm because it looks more natural, but the 10-18mm is perfect for small rooms.

Stabilizer

For silky smooth shots, the DJI Ronin SC2 is a monster of a gimbal for its size. When I tilt or pan the shot, it can handle a heavy payload like the C200 without diminished motor response.


Drone

The DJI Mavic 2 Pro is a tried and true workhouse. We want to show the property from every angle and show off/contextualize hard-to-reach features. Solar panels, new roofs, decks, etc. This model shoots 4K, and includes obstacle avoidance allowing us to safely shoot cinematic video around more congested points of interest on the property and bracketed stills for evenly exposed photos.

Lights

If we need to fight external light sources like the sun, we'll bring in Neewer 300W LED Lights. These lights feature an industry-standard Bowen mount into which we clip a huge 55" Light Dome. The light dome helps equally spread soft, natural-looking light across a room. Depending on space limitations, we might point the light at the ceiling, which spreads and diffuses the light.


Editing

I custom-build all of my Windows-based computers because I want the flexibility to upgrade parts when I need more speed or if a part fries on me. I use a combo DaVinci Resolve for color correction and Adobe Premiere for editing. Although, if I had to start over, I would learn DaVinci Resolve Studio for color correction AND editing. Premiere's performance leaves a lot to be desired, and I've been experiencing more glitches and crashes in the last couple of years. It's infuriating, and I intend to switch to Resolve Studio this year.


*What was with the *?

I'm always scoping out new equipment and intend to upgrade my older pieces for sake of efficiency. For example, my next camera will likely be a Canon C70. It's got everything I love about the C200, but half the size and weight. The C200 on a gimbal is a gnarly arm and core workout.

Conclusion:

Real estate videography is a powerful marketing tool that can help attract more potential buyers and set your listings apart from the competition. With the ability to showcase a property's features and surroundings dynamically and engagingly, real estate videography can help you build credibility, increase engagement, and drive more traffic to your website. Whether you are a seasoned real estate professional or starting, incorporating real estate videography into your marketing strategy is a must-do. So why wait? Give us a call, and we'll discuss your options!


You can contact Roman at:

Phone: 251-604-0659


Equipment list:

If you want to learn more about my gear or buy it for yourself, please support our blog via these Amazon Affiliate links! If you buy a piece of equipment using these links, we get a small kickback that will enable us to post content more frequently.


There are newer iterations of the gear that I use and intend to upgrade to, so I'll split this list into "My Gear" and “Future Investments".


My Gear:

Camera: Canon C200


Lens: Canon EF-S 17-55mm


Drone: Mavic 2 Pro


Gimbal: DJI RS 2


Lights: These are not the lights I use. I can't find them anymore, BUT this is a much better equivalent:


Aputure Amaran 200D


Soft box light modifier


Editing Software: Davinci Resolve Studio with Speed Editor


Future Investments


Camera: Canon C70


Lens: Canon RF 24-70mm


Lens: Canon RF 15-35mm (get this if you can only get one and intend to shoot real estate all of the time)


Drone: Mavic 3 Cine (this is overkill for real estate, but if you intend to fly regularly, it’s a beast)


Less expensive and obscenely capable drone: Mavic Mini 3 Pro


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