Author: Tacey Jungmann
As Covid-19 forces most of us to reassess both our products and business models, 360/3D images and tours are definitely a hot topic. Should we jump in if we never have before? Should we upgrade our equipment? Or, should we just wait it out until things get back to normal?
The question has to be asked… is 360 here to stay? Will stills continue to be the primary viewing method in the future or will they be replaced with 360? Is 360 just a knee-jerk response to the current situation?
I believe there will be Realtors who thrive on more of a concierge model and will focus on 15-25 beautiful stills and cinematic video, combined with their expertise and willingness to do all the legwork for their clients. I don’t think the luxury market and high-end service expectations are going to change much. Video still works most effectively on social media and resonates with emotion.
But, for the mere mortals out there… What I believe will change is “the rest” of the market. 360 of some kind will be expected, at least initially, on every shoot. Sellers will want an option that keeps strangers out of their homes. They will look for agents who can provide all the possible media and strategies to market their homes. There will be some Realtors who only want to pay for the cheapest option, and others who value and are willing to pay for a more premium product (sound familiar?). Buyers will realize that they CAN view a home without all the work of previewing in-person. I also think we’re going to see a backlash against still images that distort and enhance the space so much that potential buyers feel frustration and disappointment when they actually visit the home. 360 may well be seen as more “honest”.
If you’ve already made the decision to go for it and are looking for some basic information to guide your decisions, I’ve tried to lay out the basics. For the sake of this article, I’m using the terms 360 and 3D interchangeably. I’m also aiming this specifically at real estate. My goal is to outline some options that are available at different price, quality, and effort points. This is by no means intended to be an all-inclusive list, but rather a starting point for those deciding to throw their hats into the 360 ring.
There are a myriad of choices and combinations for 360 shooting and delivery, but for the sake of simplicity I’ve bundled them into 3 different categories. BASIC, INTERMEDIATE, and ADVANCED.
ZILLOW 3D HOME: The absolute minimum is to use the Zillow 3D Home app with either an iPhone or a Theta V or Z1 camera. The cheapest option is to use your iPhone, but it takes longer; the stitching is inconsistent, and the overall quality is low. Next up the ladder is the Theta V: It’s fast, stitching is solid, and the overall quality is low-medium. The top-end option for shooting through Zillow 3D Home is with the Theta Z1; it’s fast, stitching is very good, and the overall the quality is medium. Zillow 3D Home allows for rearrangement of images, connections, and flow of the tour, but doesn’t allow you to edit or improve the fundamental quality of the images. It does embed into the listing immediately upon publication and provides a URL that can be used on other platforms as well as the MLS. Cost to upload/host is free. Major benefit: the Zillow “boost.” However--caveat emptor--you are feeding the Zillow beast and all your tours are now theirs. A common question that’s asked: "Does Zillow integrate any other 3D tours?" Yes, but they’re only embedded deep in the details of the listing.
MATTERPORT CAPTURE - Matterport Capture supports Insta ONE X, Theta Z1, and Theta V cameras using iPhone 6S or newer, or the iPad Pro 6th generation or newer. It’s easy to use. Quality output and time on site is similar to Zillow but creates a doll-house product as well as a 360 tour. Floor plans cannot be created through the app. Cost to upload/host is $9/month. Redfin integrates Matterport captures into their listings.
INTERMEDIATE: 360 TOUR PLATFORM COMBINED WITH YOUR “ONE-CLICK” 360 CAMERA OF CHOICE:
Once you step away from Apps, you now have the ability to edit the images and enhance their quality. But that adds time, perhaps not on-site, but definitely in post-production. These platforms can be simple or complex. You can integrate video, stills, lead generation, and branding. Floor plans aren’t created through these cameras, but most platforms support externally created floor plans such as those from CubiCasa. You’re also going to start paying subscriptions in order to host the tours you’ve created. Whether it’s $12/month for Kuula, or $787 for a lifetime subscription to CloudPano, there are lots of different price points and levels of commitment. As the 360 market heats up, many of these providers are adding features to make their platform the most attractive. Ultimately, you have to run the numbers for your business.
INTERMEDIATE: PROPRIETARY CAMERA AND PLATFORM COMBINED
Matterport and iGuide are the big guns here. Both are expensive initial investments and tied to proprietary systems. Matterport is subscription-based and can get very expensive month-to-month. Iguide is pay-per-tour. Quality is really good and both systems allow for the CREATION of floor plans and other features. Both have a smooth feel to navigation. Time on site is high, but post-processing is minimal. Iguide is much faster on-site than Matterport but Matterport has the distinctive “doll house” that many Realtors think of when they think of 360.
ADVANCED: 360 TOUR PLATFORM COMBINED WITH YOUR DSLR.
This option delivers the highest quality, and the most control over your images, but it can take a lot of time on site and in post. You can bracket multiple frames, and add flash for even higher quality imagery. If you’re efficient, it’s probably close to the same time investment on site as Matterport. DSLR is much higher resolution but this only matters if you host on a platform that can handle the higher resolution. For retailers and commercial real estate, the higher resolution and allowing the viewer to zoom in is important. A typical equipment set up could include: full frame DSLR with Nikon 8-15mm fisheye set at 12mm, or crop sensor DSLR with Nikon 8-15mm fisheye lens set at 8mm; or Sigma 8mm pano head, Nodal Ninja R1 OR R10/20 with lens ring; solid tripod with gear head or nodal ninja; EZ-leveler to get to a level setup; Yongnuo RF-603NII-N3 wireless flash trigger.
360 TOUR PLATFORMS ACCORDING TO BEN CLAREMONT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKkQQ0aHRSc
Beginner (Free): Google Tour Creator, Veer Experience, Marzipano, Orbix360, Theasys
Beginner: Matterport, CloudPano, Kuula
Intermediate: Cupix, Panoskin, Gothru, My360
Advanced: Pano2VR, KrPano, 3DVista
ARTICLE BY IGUIDE THAT COMPARES TECHNOLOGY: https://goiguide.com/3d-tour-technology
My take on this is that 360 is here to stay. I use Zillow 3D Home, shoot with the Z1, and have invested in CloudPano Lifetime to enable me to offer a higher end product. What’s your take on it? Should we all be jumping on this bandwagon? If you’re already “all-in”, what’s your recommendation for camera and platform?