Video Tours: More Than Point-and-Shoot
Your video tours of listings should be more than a series of home pictures that zoom in or out. Here are a few ways you can make your movies a polished preview of a property.
August 17, 2011
When it comes to recording video, there’s plenty of good news there: High-definition (HD) video recording is now a standard feature of camcorders, digital cameras, and a growing selection of smartphones, making it easy to convey the appeal of properties in movies.
Recording quality alone does not make a compelling presentation, however. Building a video tour is a creative challenge that requires some combination of skills and resources, beyond the lens. With a little forethought and practice, you can tap this medium’s potential and make it into one of the most effective marketing resources at your disposal.
Let’s look at other considerations that should guide your videography efforts. (After reading this piece, consider investing in the DVD Real Estate Film School, a training program on video production developed especially for real estate professionals.)
A video tour is a virtual walk-through. For buyers, a well-made video tour is the next best thing to being there. For sellers, it’s a demonstration you’re a marketing maven.
You can minimize the work and production time by thinking things through before you hit the record button. If it helps, map out a storyboard of how you’ll move through the house, which features you want to highlight, and what you’ll say as you move from room to room.
Decide before you start filming which shots — and from what angles — will give viewers a realistic idea of that space. Think about where you’ll need to add more lighting or draw the blinds. For your first few tours, the better you plan ahead, the more time you’ll save and the more professional the results will be. After several video tours, the recording process will become almost intuitive.
When you want to pan the exterior or capture an entire room, a monopod or tripod ensures a steady image. Mount that to some type of dolly, and you can make a smooth transition from room to room as you lead viewers through the home.
Depending on your camera, you may also want to pack an accessory wide-angle lens adapter. Also, although many cameras will record serviceable video even in dimly lit interiors, extra lighting will always improve the results.
Most video cameras now include at least basic video-editing software for combining clips and optimizing them for the Web. That’s good enough for a quick video on the fly, but you’ll probably want something a bit more sophisticated for combining clips, adding transitions, and incorporating text and a soundtrack.
Look first at the editing software included with your device, then at the software available for your computer: MovieMaker for Windows and iMovie for Macs. Popular alternatives to these include Adobe Premiere Elements and Sony’s Vegas Movie Studio HD.
The picture is what they see, but audio helps tell the story. Use background music — something generic and preferably royalty-free — to set the mood. A spoken narrative presents an opportunity to introduce yourself as you talk up the listing and its surroundings.
Get the video right first, then add voiceover narration as you watch the clip and describe what you’re showing. Allow as many takes as required to explain what’s special about this listing, as if you were guiding them through the home.
Hosting and Syndication
You’ll need a hosting account for your video to be available online. YouTube is probably the first option that comes to mind, but there are many others as well: WellcomeMat, blipTV, Vimeo, and Yahoo Video, to name a few.
Also, with TubeMogul’s free OneLoad service, you can upload and distribute videos to a range of popular hosting and social networking sites in a few steps.
Remember, too, today’s buyers are just as likely to access the Web from a smartphone or tablet as a PC. You want to be sure that your video is properly formatted for viewing, whatever the device.
Links and Widgets
Take advantage of the links and widgets that hosting sites offer so you can highlight your tours on your Web site and property pages. Wherever you mention the listing, link back to the video tour. Use widgets to create a window for viewing your tours without leaving your site.
Video is one of the most powerful tools available to today’s real estate professional. Take every opportunity to let the world know you’re using it. Point visitors to your YouTube channel and video tours on flyers and mailings, and talk up your use of video throughout your Web site.
Go one step further by creating QR codes for your video tours and make them a fixture of yard signs and flyers. Many smartphone owners won’t be able to resist the opportunity to scan that code to instantly view the video.
Even if they decide they’re not interested in that home, your use of these tools might convince them you’re the most qualified real estate professional to represent their interests.