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360 Video And VR is Coming To Real Estate Marketing

Published: 16/11/2015
By: larry

360YTvideoI can remember a year ago when I saw the first 360 video. My reaction was that it was a solution looking for a problem. I couldn't imagine why anyone would use 360 video.

There have been some developments since then that have caught my attention:

  1. In the last year or so there are a bunch of relatively inexpensive cameras that shoot 360 video. For example 360fly, Ricoh ThetaGoPro and Kodak SP360.
  2. In the beginning of 2015 YouTube started supporting 360 video. You can look at 360 video on anything that plays YouTube videos but on mobile devices moving the device around changes the direction you are looking in the 360 video. This makes 360 video on smartphones and tablets very interesting.
  3. This month the New York times started publishing 360 video in their to their digital subscribers. This means this technology is quickly moving into mainstream use. It's not just techies that are going to be using it. I showed by 6-year-old granddaughter how to do it on her iPad and she likes it!

So what does all this have to do with real estate? These recent developments mean you can shoot 360 video of a listing, upload it to YouTube and then viewers that view it on mobile devices can have a pretty compelling viewing experience that I think is better viewing experience provided by ordinary spherical 360s.

Try it out. This YouTube video is a 360 video of Toronto Realtor Siu Ta giving a tour of the neighborhood and one of her listings in the Toronto Riverdale neighborhood. Watch the video on your mobile device (smartphone or tablet) and then rotate in different directions and the video automatically rotates with your body movement up, down left or right. You can also move the video around on a laptop or desktop screen by dragging the mouse in the direction you want to move, but I find this more awkward than viewing on a mobile device.

OK, I'm sure you can find faults with Siu Ta's video but the 360 video cameras are  just barely on the market. The quality will only get better and the prices will come down. I think that even though this technology many not be fully refined it won't be long before 360 video will be able to replace the 360 spherical images with this more compelling, lower-cost alternative that takes less time to create.  I don't expect this to replace the beautiful cinematic style property videos. It's a different medium. It's a cross between traditional 360 images and traditional video. I think it will certainly replace the old style 360 spherical still images. But not traditional video.

What do you think?

19 comments on “360 Video And VR is Coming To Real Estate Marketing”

  1. Quite the immersive experience on a smartphone/tablet - definitely interesting and something to ponder over.
    Timing of the video taken could be crucial, as to give the viewer enough time to inspect the property thoroughly - yet not too sluggish a pace as to be boring to work through.

    (Ps. Arms were getting tired towards the end - so not sure how many properties I'll be able to view in 1 go : )

  2. I have mixed feelings on this. I am one that started my business 12 years ago with 360 panoramas. Since then I have focused on bettering my photography skills. I believe that still photography with proper lighting techniques is simply the best way to portray properties. Video has been around for quite a while and while there are some very talented videographers out there I find that videos are lacking in their abilities to handle the disparate light sources. My choice is to provide better photography with a variety of lighting techniques and to deliver a video slideshow with pan & zoom (Ken Burns) effects. Here is an example:

    Another downside of the 360 panoramas is in the lack of control of the viewer. I want to control where the viewer is looking to keep focus on the highlights of the property.

    While the 360 videos will provide a novelty of sorts, I can't see it replcacing good solid still photography. I think 360 videos will linger behind with standard video... at least untill technology can solve the problem of different light sources.

  3. What am I missing on this? All I see is an absurdly wide, poorly exposed video. I've tried on both the iPad and Windows phone and nothing happens when I move the device.

    I'm with Walt Simpson. I've spent a lot of time perfecting my "real" photography skills. So I personally prefer doing well-composed, well-lit still photos.

    This seems like it could be cool, but perhaps is a little gimmicky. Of course, for whatever reason, I don't seem to be getting the full experience of it.


  4. @Colley - In the YouTube description it says that Siu Ta's video is done with a GoPro but doesn't say which one... there are several configurations depending on the number of GoPros used.

    @Walt - No, of course, this is not going to replace still photography. Video or historical 360s didn't replace stills either. The point is there is and will be many variations in different medias.

    @Jesse - not sure why it's not working for you. When I look at the video with my iPhone 6 Plus or iPad Retina it works fine without doing anything special.

  5. I did get it to work on my desktop.

    I imagine people will be asking for this. I already get requests for standard video, which I don't do. I'm in this biz because I like photography and architecture, in addition to making a living. Doing these kinds of videos with poor lighting and exposure doesn't really interest me.

  6. better yet, take this video, or any 360 degree video, and open it with an app like in360tube then play it on your smart phone in a pair of VR goggles like goggle cardboard ($10). Put the goggles on now you can actually be immersed int the video and view everything around you buy turning your head. It is a full on virtual experience and will get even better with time. In my opinion, this will eventually be a very powerful real estate marketing tool. These are not spin off 360 companies like ipix creating this technology. We are talking about google/youtube, Facebook, gopro, samsung, and other giants all competing for their stake in the virtual world. Its also worth checking these apps out.

    littlstar (360 video social network kind of like instagram, but for virtual videos anybody can upload and share their virtual videos)
    cardboard by google
    VolvoVR (take a virtual dive in a Volvo)
    Vrse (has some beautiful virtual videos along with some journalistic documentary type short films all shot in 360 degree video)

    For best viewing, use a virtual headset like google cardboard

    for those of you have have big collection 360 still images, they can also be viewed in these headsets.

  7. I feel this is very well suited for Real estate applications. We have shot at least 500 real HD video walkthrough tours. Not VT slideshows or 360 panos. Now the viewer relies on our logical walkthrough of the home. This technology takes it to the next level it seems. The viewer can pause the tour at any room and look all around and learn the flow or floorplan. you can probably add chapters... "kitchen"," Master bedroom" and Fast forward to which ever rooms the want to see.

    Will this technology replace great photos? No, but it isn't meant to. It's meant to supplement the photos. Grab their attention with the photos and then the next step is for the viewer to tour the home virtually.

  8. @Anders - Yes. I just got my google cardboard this morning and I'm anxious to try them out... I'm still playing catchup on VR but so far it looks pretty cool!

  9. I think it will sell, but for the Realtor, its a mistake.

    The point of real estate photography is to pique the buyers curiosity; to initiate an emotion that causes the buyer to turn off the computer and go to the home. It's a preview.

    When you introduce floor plans, 360 virtual tours, and extended drone flyovers, what's left? If someone shows me 20 minutes of the movie in the preview, why am I paying for the film?

    Again, from our point of view, its a selling tool and I am sure it will be successful. but I think it is hastening the demise of the Real Estate Agent.

  10. I am surprised by all the pushback on these new 3d and 360 technologies. I think 360 video will most definitely have a place in real estate marketing. I thoroughly enjoyed this video and experience (and in the hands of a professional it could have been done better). But like anything it will come down to how it is implemented to be successful and beneficial to the end viewer. 360 or 3d will never replace great photography, it is simply another way for agents to say to sellers, "I'm a cutting edge agent and I utilize every marketing tool at my disposal." I see it now with my video clients, they repeatedly win listings over and over again from agents that only have photography done.

    Most realtors know that all this can have little impact on whether or not a home will actually sell. Homes with crappy cell phone pictures sell every day if they are priced right. Overpriced homes with amazing photography and video can sit on the market for years. This is all about winning listings. The more listings they get, the busier they keep me.

    I can imagine in a couple years, it will be the agents offering it all - from great photos to 3d to 360 video - that will be winning the listing race. Of course agents will not be seeing a raise in commission to provide this, it will be up to us to find a way to offer it all at a reasonable price.

    I don't see this is as optional for me, just a matter of when it will become necessary and how I will elegantly implement it at a reasonable price.

    Thank you for the blog post!

  11. "I see it now with my video clients, they repeatedly win listings over and over again from agents that only have photography done."

    Same here we hear this all the time. Even if it does not help sell the property( not likely) it helps the agents procure the listing. makes the listing presentation a slam dunk for a relatively small investment ( great photos/video). spend $250-$300 for a $5000 commission , that is a great ROI

  12. Totally agree with the comments above about using all of these options to get more listings. THAT is really what it's all about, and honestly, that's the big secret of video that successful agents that use video "get" and the others just don't. It's not about the house... it' about the NEXT house.

    Is this ready for prime time? Not really, but it will be for sure. Richo makes a cheap 360 camera right now for under $300 that's very cool (

    The quality is obviously not there (yet) for professional use, but it will be. Soon. The support is not 100%, which I feel is necessary for it to succeed (for example the video Larry referenced is visible on a mobile device, but NOT on Safari on the desktop. That's an issue. People don't want to WORK to view these things! They need to work on everything - simply!)

    But it all comes down to $$. Can this be provided at a cost that is reasonable to the agent AND to me? If it takes me 3 hours to create something like this, the price charged to the agent will have to reflect that. This is why Matterport for me is a no go. Takes way too long, doesn't work outside (only interiors... weird), and I can't charge the customer enough to cover that huge amount of extra time involved on my end to make it profitable. And most importantly, I've had ZERO interest from agents. Not one person has even asked about it.

  13. I am using the Theta S to create VR Modo tour in It is great camera within its price range. The one issue we have is the bright outside light (e.g. window) easily get too much exposure (become totally white) when interior lighting is darker. If Ricoh or any vendor could solve this issue by making it dummy proof, it would be awesome. Would anyone know if Ricoh or any vendor is working on a new 360 camera that would produce higher resolution image? I am dying to find a higher quality 360 camera for great spherical photos.

  14. Bill: I would feel very guilty charging a client for a video like that. It's not there yet (and this post was started two years ago!) What problem does something like that solve? None. It's not an enjoyable experience... I would even call it painful. On Safari, which IS used by a large number of people, it's a no go.... Until support is easy and seamless on EVERY platform, it's a non starter for me. Most importantly, it needs to solve a problem or present a tour in a better way. This does neither.

  15. Fred, I to would feel guilty charging for a 360 video tour unless that was what the client wanted, had viewed a sample of and had cash in hand. On my web site I actually provide the pros and cons of using video over other solutions. The pros are basically the ability to have the realtor play a part and the sound embedded into the video, also the ability to post directly to social media sites and utilize their search engines. The cons are the quality. This is a tool the client can use to sell themselves.

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