Getting Started With Property Video?

June 21st, 2016

Caleb is thinking about adding property video to his services. He says:

I have been thinking about adding property videos. I have looked at all the information you have on the blog, but I was wondering what gear you and the amazing people here on the PFRE blog would recommend for someone just getting started. I am hoping to stay at about $1000, or is that even possible? Should I stick with sliders, and pan heads, or should I go the stabilizers route. With my budget I don’t know if I can afford both.

Most real estate videographers do either walk through video (with a stabilizer) or cinematic video (with sliders, jibs or cranes). There’s no right way, it’s more of a stylistic choice. So starting out doing one or the other makes good sense. You first need to decide which style you like best. I’ll let readers promote their favorite style.

One big factor that always comes up when we talk about getting started in video is to keep it very simple to begin with. Here is Fred Light’s great advice in this area:

Keep it very simple to begin with. The tools you can use for video can get VERY expensive VERY quickly. It’s FAR more involved than still photography. If you enjoy shooting video and you find that it’s a viable business option for you, THEN you can break the bank! (and it’s very easy, trust me! I feel like I funded the west wing of B & H Photo!)

You need to deal with shooting, editing, lighting, audio, compression, purchasing royalty free music, and a whole lot more – and that’s only the beginning. You’ll need more powerful computers, much larger storage devices (everything is moving to 4K pretty rapidly and the files are massive) and putting together a video can be very time-consuming, so establishing an efficient workflow is very important or you will spend hours and hours editing your project. If you’re not charging enough to cover that time, you’ll burn out pretty quickly!

As far as software, you can still get MovieMaker for Windows 10  which is free and I would assume fairly easy to use (probably similar to iMovie).

Some other great advice for getting started is from Charlie Dresen:

Gear does not matter. Captivating story telling trumps all.

Yes, a great camera, lens, slider, iMac with Premiere helps, but just because you have all that gear doesn’t mean you’ll make money in the real estate video arena. You have to tell a good story and make a video people want to watch. Then your business will grow.

So here are some resources for learning to shoot video with a DSLR/Mirrorless:

  1. Here’s a good book on the basics of shooting HD Video with Your DSLR. There are many others but this is one of my favorites.
  2. Malia Campbell has some posts on her blog about getting started in video.
  3. Here is an article on about royalty free music and sources for royalty free music.
  4. Update 6/29: In case you missed it, Lyndon Davey supplied a great link in his comment below for Dave Dwyer’s getting started in real estate video page and video.

Anyone else have any resources to recommend for people getting started in shooting property video?

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14 Responses to “Getting Started With Property Video?”

  • There’s also the option of keeping it very simple and low-budget. So far this year I’ve shot about 150 video walk-throughs, mostly of luxury apartments. Clients are happy with the results – which aren’t likely to impress photographers. Been shooting with a GoPro on a gimbal, mixing in stills from a Panasonic GH4, and recently began adding footage from a Galaxy S7 phone. Here’s a typical result:

  • I’ve actually been thinking of creating a series of video tutorials on this topic, but in short, I’ve been shooting for 8 years and my business continues to grow year over year, and I’ve added photography to my offerings.

    I shoot on a Canon 5DMK3 with 16-35mm and 24,70mm, a 3′ slider, with Manfrotto 028 legs and a Manfrotto 701 fluid head. As stated above, I also have a ton of other gear (stabilization, lighting, audio, drones, osmo, and two editing suites running adobe).

    Video is a beast on its own, but if I can assist anyone with getting started, please feel free to reach out.

  • I just picked up a 3-way electronic gimbal called Zhiyun Z1-Smooth-C on Amazon for $230. This with my Samsung Galaxy 7s creates very smooth videos that are plenty good enough for walkthroughs. I use Photoshop to edit them. Works really well.

  • I actually completed my first video 2 weeks ago, not counting the quick video scenes I included in tours. It was an experience and learned a lot from it. I wish the Flickr Video for Real Estate was more active as had several question never replied to and has been a couple months since the last post over there. Am tempted to throw into the Contest group just for feedback, but really don’t want to do that. The biggest takeaway I had was write down the script and scenes for checkoff. While typically don’t for photography, got home and I was missing a scene and unfortunately, it was a major room. Had to use a still with Ken Burns effect to cover. Essentially, the agent and broker were playing pool which took me out of sequence as I worked around them. OOPS!

  • I also offer mentoring, both online and in person. 🙂

  • Larry Gray, interested to know whether you typically write the script yourself or get the write up from the agent in advance to use some of their buzzwords and descriptors. Do you do voiceover as you walk through or add narration afterwords in post?

    I am currently just doing photos and am interested to know what people charge for video elements – e.g. a few short clips added to virtual tours with Ken Burns stills, basic walk through video, tour with video, photos, and narration, etc.

    Can anyone recommend a gimbal that is compatible with the Sony A6000 and doesn’t break the bank?

  • I agree that you need to try to keep it simple when starting out.

    It does help to have nice gear that is solid. I started out with cheaper sticks and slider and quickly realized that heavier duty (and more expensive) would serve me better. After that I bought a drone, jib, Ronin-M, some lights, and a few other things. 90% of the time though, it is just a slider for me.

    When I started two years ago doing video, I probably did ten free videos for my regular photography clients to see how they would react. It was no pressure and I was able to get good feedback that way.

    Once I got comfortable with the process, I continued to tweak my workflow for the past year+ to get more efficient. I was intimidated to try different software like DaVinci, but because I shoot RAW video, it has helped tremendously with reducing time spent editing. There are a lot of resources out there. When I started, I actually watched a lot of Malia’s work (from above comments) as I thought it was a good primer for what I wanted to provide to people.

    I am also available to help if you have any more questions.


  • Caroline – this was a simple music only background. Interims of script, would absolutely have the agent write it, usually a derivative of what they write anyway for the narrative. It is just that you will be talking about the kitchen when they are looking at the kitchen, unlike those mechanical animoto voices that read the narrative as posted in MLS and describe the master bedroom while looking at the kitchen. If I wrote it, they would all be the same (at least that is what I would tell the Realtor if they argued) like on Tourbuzz they all start with “Welcome to your new home!” and the Realtor can change it if they want to. In Tourbuzz, I added video to transition from outside to inside. Initially just a door opening (fishing line pull to open), then a walk-up, open door, and walk-in sequence. The benefit is, it provided practice before I attempted full video. Not certain on a gimbal for the A6000 (will probably use my wife’s A6000 on tripod as second angle sequence on interviews, etc.) I had a cheap Flycam Nano which used with a Nikon D610 but “splurged” to a Ronin-m which use with my Sony A7rII.

    Here is a link to my first video. Drone sequence provided by owner. Don’t know how long the link will last as I may take down, revise credits and re-upload which would then have a different link.

  • What software are people using to do the editing?

  • @alan – the common video editors are: Moviemaker or Adobe Premiere Elements or Pro on Windows and iMovie, Adobe Premiere Elements or Pro or Final Cut Pro for the Mac.

  • Lots of good questions and answers on here.

    My typical setup is Canon 80D, shotgun mic, 10-18mm lens, manfrotto tripod and head, slider and additional head. I typically shoot photos first to give me a good idea of the layout and then go through and shoot video. Once I see the space I can formulate in my head a rough script and know what areas I want to highlight. Once the video is imported I write a formal script and record the voice over. I then pick background music and then I start laying out the footage to match the music. Once I have it matched I add the voice over into the timeline. I am editing in FCP X on a 15″ MacBook Pro.

    My main background is in video so I actually enjoy doing it more. I’m still learning how to shoot photos properly. Here is a link to my videos, unfortunately I’m working with a home flipper on most of the real estate videos so none of them are staged.

  • If you’re just getting started and are looking for some inspiration check out Dave Dwyer’s work from Brisbane Real Estate Video here in Oz.

    Dave has what I reckon is a pretty unique style and does a great job combining cool production values whilst still providing sufficient information about the home – a tough challenge.

    Here is a link to one of Dave’s blog posts (with a vid) where he shares his approach to RE videos.

  • Currently using GoPro Hero 4 mounted on Feiyu 3-axis motorized gimbal to create walk-thru residential video tours. Editing is Premiere Pro CC2015. Although I have processed 1080-60 medium clips thru GoPro Studio, I still get fisheye distortion. PP has presets for Hero 3, but not Hero 4.

    I am looking for recommendations on DSLR camera and gimbal as alternative to above setup. Have tried my Nikon D600 16-35 lens with another 3-axis motorized with not-so-great results. One of earlier comments mentioned using mirrorless DSLR….what brand?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Good example of current results is on our site

  • Have you checked the Remove Fisheye box in GoPro Studio’s Advanced settings? I’ve found that the program does a very creditable job of removing distortion.

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