May 2nd, 2014
I’ve been getting many questions about getting started in property video. Probably stirred up by the video contest. Many folks want to get started but don’t know where to start in video or how to expand from shooting stills. So I thought a discussion about how to get started shooting property video would be appropriate. Here is a list that Allan MacKenzie helped me put together for a post on this subject several years ago. Here is the updated list from that old post:
- Wide angle lens: When shooting real estate video lens considerations are the same as when shooting stills. A wide angle lens is one of the most important pieces of gear. You need a wide angle lens that has an effective focal length between 14 and 24mm. See the PFRE lenses page for all the options. Unless you are using a full frame DSLR the Sigma 10-20mm is a good choice. It has good quality for a very reasonable price and it’s available for Canon, Nikon, Pentax, Samsung and Sony. Note that the Sigma 10-20mm is only appropriate for use on cropped sensor DSLRs. If you are using a full frame DSLR check out the PFRE lens page for appropriate lenses.
- DSLR: When shooting video aDSLR that shoots high ISO (3200 or 6400) is essential. Two recent DSLRs that work nicely for video are the Canon D70 and the Nikon D7100. You’ll find that many people shooting DSLR video are using Canon 5DMKIIs or 5DMKIIIs because they have good high ISO performance but a 5d is not essential if you are just getting started.
- Fluid video tripod/Head: When shooting video you need a tripod with a fluid head. Something like a Manfroto 504HD,546BK Video Tripos with 504HD head. This kind of fluid head allows you to do nice smooth pans. Regular still tripods are just not made to do those nice smooth movements you want to do when shooting video.
- Slider: When shooting video you want to be able to make the camera movements that are different than and pan and zooms. You do this with either a slider that mounts on your tripod or a dolly that slides along the floor. Allan recommends a simple slider bar that mount on you tripod.
Something like the Glidetrack 39 inch HD Simple Slider. Another alternative is to build your own dolly. Update: this is the 1/2 meter Glidetrack that I believe Malia recommends.
- Variable ND filter: Something like this – variable ND filter.
Allan says, “I shoot all my real estate video using available light and do some tweaking in post if required. Lighting would be nice however you need to be able to acquire the budgets to equal the setup time for lighting. This is not to say we are not on the lookout all the time for what lighting products that are coming into the market to make the use of lighting to be productive, efficient and cost effective for day to day bread and butter real estate video and I’m sure the day will come if it’s not already here now.”
If you are just going to use a music track or drop in a professional narration you don’t need an special audio gear but if you are going to have the people in the video do the talking, like agents and home owners you’ll get best results if you record the audio independently with something like a Zoom H4n using lavalier lapel mics and then sync the audio with the video during editing.
Post Processing Software
Allan suggests that Premiere Elements (Win/Mac) or iMovie (comes with all Macs) are a good video editing applications to start with and then move up to Adobe Premiere Pro CC or Final Cut Pro X (Mac) as your skills and needs increase.
Learning The Craft
This will take some work. There are many resources around to just learn shooting video but a very few focused on property video. Malia Campbell has had workshops in the past and may have more in the future. A great way to learn would be to convince an experienced property videographer to let you come along on a shoot to help out. Editing video is a subject unto itself. There are pretty good tutorials at lynda.com.