Real Estate Video 101 – What’s Essential For Someone Getting Started

April 10th, 2011

After doing the post last week on the essentials you need to get started in real estate photography, I got several requests to do a similar post on real estate video. So I asked Allan MacKenzie who teaches workshops on real estate video to help me put together the following list of essentials. Allan got started back in 2005 producing infomercials for websites and other commercial special projects including freelance work for television. Allan is very accomplished in shooting property video. Here is the list Allan and I put together:

Essential Gear

  • 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 a DSLR that shoots high ISO (3200 or 6400) is essential.  DSLRs that work nicely for video are the Canon D60 and the Nikon D7000. You’ll find that many people shooting DSLR video are using Canon 5DMKIIs but a 5d is not essential if you are just getting started.
  • Fluid video tripod: When shooting video you need a tripod with a fluid head. Something like a VariZoom VZ-TK75A Aluminum Video Tripod with 65mm Fluid 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.

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.”

Post Processing Software
Allan suggests that Premiere Elements 9 (Win/Mac) or iMovie 11 (Mac) are a good video editing applications to start with and then move up to Adobe Premiere Pro or Final Cut Studio (Mac) as your skills and needs increase.

Learning The Craft
A great way to learn how to shoot real estate video is to join and participate in the PFRE Video For Real Estate flickr group. Allan is the moderator of this group. Look at the work others are doing, post your work and get feedback from more experienced photographers.

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8 Responses to “Real Estate Video 101 – What’s Essential For Someone Getting Started”

  • Great post, Larry!

    Regarding lenses, I would think that a 10-20 on a full frame sensor would be too wide. Of course, everyone has their own aesthetic but I’ve found that I rarely shoot wider than 24mm – 28mm on a full frame sensor. Any wider than that your verticals become difficult to manage.

  • @Malia- Sigma 10-20mm is designed to work only on cropped sensor DSLRs. It’s image circle is too small to cover a full frame sensor.

  • @Larry – Oh! I misread what you wrote. I thought you were *suggesting* that lens for the full frame. 🙂

  • Larry. A variable ND is an essential tool to use when shooting real estate segments outdoors, in daylight. While there are a multitude of ND filters available, we have had good luck with the circular 8-stop ND filter from Singh-Ray. This filter is not inexpensive, but being able to shoot outdoors at 24fps, 1/50, f5.6 and at an ISO range of 320-640 in open daylight… is really nice.

  • @Brad- Excellent point! A ND filter should probably be on the essentials list.

  • View finder – Zacuto is good but expensive – knock offs are just as good and cheap – I have a Kessler pocket dolly and love it – Stay away from the super cheap sliders – They will make you mad and waist your time. Try to get one with ball bearings.
    I have a cobra crane back packer jib and love it – Kind of heavy but easy for a one man show

  • Ok I want to experience doing videos. when you shoot video, once you’ve done shooting a room how to you get to the next room without showing the walls in between? Do you just stop the video and record once again to shoot another room?? You don’t want everything in the video obviously.

    A Novice who doesn’t know where to start 😉

  • @joanne- Yup. When you are shooting you typically don’t shoot the whole video as one long video file… you shoot short clips (files) and then combine the clips together with a video editing program iMovie or Adobe Premier Elements. The video editing allows you to add a music background smooth transitions between clips, cut out sections completely, add a narration voice over etc. So a large part of a good video is how it’s edited (put together with a video editing application).

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