Reading
blue-triangle-element

Articles

PFRE is the original online resource for real estate and interior photographers. Since 2006, it has been a community hub where like-minded professionals from around the world gather to share information with a common goal of improving their work and advancing their business. With thousands of articles, covering hundreds of topics, PFRE offers the most robust collection of educational material in our field. The history of real estate photography has been documented within these pages.
All Articles
blue-triangle-element

Latest

A girl using a Nikon camera with external flash

Check out our step-by-step guide on learning how to use external flash on Nikon to improve the exposure of real estate photos.

COMMUNITY
blue-triangle-element

Forum

The PFRE Community Forum is an online resource for discussing the art and business of Real Estate and Interior Photography.
Join The Discussion
blue-triangle-element

Latest

View Now
Contest
blue-triangle-element

OVERVIEW

For over a decade, photographers from around the world have participated in PFRE’s monthly photography contests, culminating in the year-end crowning of PFRE’s Photographer of the Year. With a new theme each month and commentary offered by some of the finest real estate & interior photographers anywhere, these contests offer a fun, competitive environment with rich learning opportunities. 

Contest Rules
blue-triangle-element

CURRENT CONTESTS

View / Submit
blue-triangle-element

PAST CONTESTS

View Archive
Resources
blue-triangle-element

Resources

PFRE prides itself on the depth and breadth of the information and professional development resources it makes available to our community. Our goal is to help real estate and interior photographers be successful while bringing the community together and elevating the industry as a whole.
blue-triangle-element

Conference News

No items found

How to Shoot Real Estate Video with a DSLR: The Basics

In: 
Published: 03/03/2021

Are you thinking of adding real estate video to your services, yet you don't know where to start? To better serve clients and earn more, we're going to discuss what you need to know when shooting a real estate video, including preparation, camera settings, composition tips, and shooting techniques.

How to Shoot Real Estate Video

Video marketing is an essential tool for homeowners and real estate agents when selling properties to potential buyers. To create a real estate video, you must develop a concept, use the proper equipment, and apply the appropriate camera settings. Likewise, you need to control lighting, manage compositions, and use transitions. 

Before you get all pumped up for post-production, we're going to give you the step-by-step process for a real estate video shoot.

Selective focus of camera lens

Determine Your Goals

Determining your goals is one way to help visualize what video clips to capture. In this way, you can plan how long it would take to shoot and prepare the necessary equipment.

  • Who is your target audience?
  • What's the message the video needs to convey?
  • Does the client want a simple walkthrough or a lifestyle vibe?
  • What setup would make the furnishing look great?
  • Do you need to incorporate voiceovers, music, or interviews?
  • Can you shoot at any time of the day or any season?

Prepare Equipment

The equipment is somehow similar to real estate photography, although there are certain tools that can record video content better.

  • Camera: Most DSLRs include image stabilization features that are perfect for ensuring sharply-focused footage. Similarly, make sure that your chosen DSLR can support the necessary frame rates.
  • Camcorder: This is a great backup, particularly if you need a longer maximum recording time. Most camcorders also have better built-in mic than DSLRs.
  • Drone: For aerial or wider footage of properties.
  • Lens: A wide-angle lens is a great tool to show the whole space without distortion. Additionally, you can use a wide-zoom or tilt-shift lens for a variety of broad perspectives.
  • Camera Microphone: If you're going to record audio, it's best to attach a mic on the camera and provide a lapel mic for the people speaking on the video.
  • Tripod: To keep your DSLR steady and at the right height. Ideally, use a tripod with a rotating ball head for even more flexibility.
  • Gimbal: Sliders are old and less flexible than gimbals. Gliding with the shoulders works best, as opposed to turning with the hands. 

Manage Lighting

Lighting is one of the most crucial elements to produce professional-looking real estate videos. The quality of illumination has a visual impact on how attractive or big the property looks on camera.

  • Bright spaces look massive, whereas low-light areas appear smaller.
  • Before filming interiors, open all windows, curtains, and shades to allow as much natural light as possible into the home or commercial space. Some people prefer bright and sunny areas so this is a good way to capture that.
  • Shoot with the light source at your back, as facing direct lighting would form silhouettes inside.
  • Natural lighting can change depending on the time of the day. Similarly, walking from one room to the next can drastically affect exposure. To counter this, consider using a softbox for a controlled yet diffused effect.
  • Like photographing with a three-light setup, you can position your key lighting near the camera so that it can give the bulk of light to the scene. Set a fill light on the other side to eliminate shadows.
  • Use cheap clamp lights that you can mount in several ways. However, unlike softboxes, clamp lights lack diffusion and dim control.
  • When including people in the video, put a backlight behind the subject to separate the subject from the background.
  • Use the house's lights to create dimension. Turn on lamps to illuminate stairways or artworks.
  • Bring reflectors to bounce light into shadowed areas, so that you can amplify illumination and soften shadows.
  • Shoot during golden hours or twilight to use the sky as a beautiful background for exteriors.
Man holding a DSLR camera

DSLR Settings for Shooting Real Estate Videos

While the camera settings depend on the scene or your shooting style, you can follow these exposure settings tips to get an idea of how to adjust settings on manual mode for video.

Aperture

Photographer and filmmaker Malia Campbell says that with filmmaking, you don’t have to worry about keeping a tight aperture as you do with photography. You can get good results at f/5.6 because this allows enough light to keep the scene sharp without leaning on ISO too much.

For interiors, you can do well around f/4 to f/8 since you might use a larger aperture for low-light situations. If it's bright outside, it would be better to use f/8 to f/22.

Shutter Speed

A rule in taking a video is to use a shutter speed that is roughly double your frame rate (180-degree rule). This will help the video appear more natural with very slight motion blur between frames.

For example, when shooting a clip at 4k/30p, you would want a shutter speed of 1/60th of a second.

ISO

Like when taking photos, it's best to keep your ISO as low as possible, especially with video, to avoid introducing too much noise. When filming in a dark interior, increase the ISO to 1250 to illuminate the scene. For exteriors, you can go really low, about 100 to 320.

Photographer and videographer Zoltan Present notes that auto ISO is the most useful addition if the exposure changes within your video clip. However, while auto ISO can eliminate the visible jump in exposure stops and make your video clips smooth, it also has a limited usable range.

White Balance

Architecture and interior photographer Travis Rowan recommends setting the white balance according to the scene. You can mostly use Daylight settings except on some interiors that are predominantly lit by electric lights.

You can still choose whatever you think looks right and pleasing on the LCD. For instance, drop the color temperature to 2800K or so for bathrooms with no window light to create a cooler white balance.

Frame Rate

Even though you may have to deliver the final output in 1080p, some real estate agents won't need anything better than 1080p, so you're good with filming everything in 4k. Besides, scaling down from 4k to 1080p can produce sharper footage than directly shooting at 1080p.

Furthermore, typical frame rates include 24p and 30p for editing a full HD timeline at 30 frames per second. Shoot at 60p for slow-mo shots, like showing fireplaces.

Man setting up a camera

Focal Point

Everything in the room must be in focus, whether it's near or far. Set the lens to Auto, then AI Focus on the camera. Try to set the focus roughly 10 feet ahead of you before taking shots so that the camera doesn't auto-focus or readjust as you move.

There's no need to adjust the focal point between takes when filming multiple large-scale rooms. On the other hand, you may have to reset the focus when you want to emphasize smaller features of the space.

Composition

Composition in real estate video marketing really depends on each room. However, like in real estate photography, be sure to shoot wide as often as possible, so viewers can see the whole space and imagine what it's like walking inside.

Real estate photographer Andre Mckenzie suggests learning how to read a room's design to determine how to compose a shot correctly. 

  • Use windows and doors to frame your shot, then tweak from there.
  • Close-up shots of furniture or decor are unnecessary unless such elements come with the sale of the house. However, you need to position your camera at the right height, so it will be easier for viewers to know what they should be watching.
  • Make sure to position your tripod or gimbal at the proper level for compositions to retain straight lines, preventing rooms from looking distorted.
  • Get several angles of the main spaces, such as the living room and kitchen.
  • You can even shoot less-photogenic aspects of a home that potential buyers might want to see, such as garages or washer/dryer units.
  • For exteriors, get a full-view pan of the front of the home or commercial space, then show one or both sides of the structure.
  • You can also include some neighborhood shots, especially if there are nearby establishments that can boost the house's location value.
  • Like when taking pictures, you can include foreground by walking through doorways to make rooms look more prominent because you are filming outside the room.
  • Walk around the property and hide distractions or elements that might not look good on camera. Declutter countertops, close toilet seats, or smoothen wrinkles on bedsheets. 

Movement and Transitions

Real estate video marketing aims to present a property's layout as best as possible while minimizing walk time so that the footage doesn't get too long.

While you can shoot static clips, incorporating some movements is much better. Otherwise, your video would look like a series of photos. Remember that some camera movements or transitions work best for different scenarios.

  • Make sure to get at least 1 exterior facade shot, 2 exterior front shots, a few backyard clips, 2 per principal room, and 3 to 5 of the kitchen.
  • Start with the interiors facing the door. Walk toward the door as if you're a buyer visiting a house or commercial space. Try to make the transition from the outside view to the inside.
  • With a gimbal, compose the shot, adjust camera settings for the room, then back up into an adjacent room to reveal the room you're shooting by using the surroundings.
  • Pan your camera from left to right or vice-versa to show the space from the corner of a room and see entrance points. This can serve as your 'reveal' transitions from one room to another.
  • Unlike creative shots, real estate video marketing doesn't require too many tilts. However, you can take a few tilting shots to showcase the expansiveness of a tall room's ceiling height.
  • Straight push-in shots are the most natural perspectives from a real estate video storytelling standpoint. This is because you would want to give viewers a virtual experience of walking forward across a house or commercial space. Hence, try to make most ground shots moving forward.
  • When using a drone, you can take push-in shots that look straight in front or back of the house for your intro clips. Meanwhile, you can pull back for the outro.
  • Film with editing in mind. Don't overshoot.
Person editing a video using a laptop

Editing Real Estate Marketing Videos

Post-production is an essential part of real estate video marketing because this is where you can stitch everything together and create a cohesive narrative. As opposed to other kinds of videography where clients want aesthetic transitions and effects, real estate videos only require simple post-processing.

What's important is to connect all clips with a smooth flow as if an actual person is touring the property. Combine stills and transitions until you see which looks great. Moreover, ensure that all shots have even lighting and that the color grading matches the house or commercial property's mood.

Make sure to ask clients if they want you to add texts such as brand details, as well company name, email, or website. Double-check the creative brief for instructions regarding fonts, colors, music, voiceover, graphics, or animation.

FAQ Section

How Can I Improve My Filmmaking?

If you want to set your work apart from everyone else, think like a filmmaker. Also, read Uwe Steinmueller's Mastering HD Video with Your DSLR.

How Long Should a Real Estate Video Be?

About 2 to 6 minutes is the rule of thumb in real estate videos. While the length may vary depending on the client's requests, it's vital that the video isn't too short to lack details, yet not too long to draw away interest.

How Much Do You Charge for a Real Estate Video?

You can charge video production higher than your typical photography fees. A real estate video's average price can range anywhere between $1,000 to $10,000 per minute.

Conclusion

Now that you know the basics of shooting a real estate video, it's time to prepare a concept for your next client. As you apply these tips, you can grow your real estate photography services to get more clients and boost your income this year.

Brandon Cooper

8 comments on “How to Shoot Real Estate Video with a DSLR: The Basics”

  1. With video, you have far wider latitude for higher ISO, as long as you don't under-expose. Noise shows up in spades if you do underexpose. For indoors, sticking with 5.6 1/60th is a good general rule, and then use your histogram to raise the ISO until greatest mass falls into center, or even slightly right of center. It probably will be higher then you initially feel comfortable with, like 5000iso. But since your video is mostly likely destined for YouTube at 1080p, it will be fine. Some video noise is acceptable. Most of the Hollywood movies I watch have tons of noise in dimly lit scenes, it's a hazard of that situation.

    Learn to shoot in Log, or even RAW if your camera supports it. Of all the picture profiles, it has the most range. Both in high density, and in managing color. Keep in mind that using other profiles is like shooting baked jpegs at 30 frames a second, an irrecoverable mess to deal with. Also learn how to create LUTs do manage the Log files. It save a crap ton of work on the back end. If you can create a great LUT that matches your camera and your vision intent, that LUT will work for 90% of what you shoot, even when what's before you changes. You can then create a template in your editing program with that LUT already in place in an adjustment layer. To tweak for each clip, you just add an extra Lumetri into your clip, and compensate for differences.

    I do shoot with one item on AUTO. Color balance. While I don't recommend it for any other kind of shooting, it's almost a necessity for video. And that's because you don't have a budget for gaffers who have gone in before you and matched the entire house's light bulbs to the same color, not to mention that incoming ambient from outdoors can be blue, green, or orange depending on time of day and what side of the house your shooting. If your doing a long take that walks through multiple rooms, each room may in fact have a different color balance that you can't adjust on-the-fly. Even the camera wont exactly keep up with that, but in post, you can make sense of it with Lumetri using the animation toggles. IF you dont know what any of that means, Google is your friend. And, you can always switch to manual color balancing at any time, in the unlikely event that your entire property is fitted with matching bulbs. In 300+ videos, I think I've come across that once. 😉

    Finally, getting comfortable with a hand-held gimbal will save an unbelievable amount of time shooting, because you can simulate almost any other piece of gear with a gimbal. (dolly track, slider, crane, and even a tripod sometimes) Extra gear = extra time.

  2. This is a great post! Thank you all for the insight.

    I was curious about music. Where are you getting it and how do you make sure that you’re licensed properly. Additionally how do you factor it into your cost and what if the realtor doesn’t like the track you chose?

    - Justin

  3. So many great tips here. This entire page is gold for people starting out. If someone starting out in video saw this page...they just skipped a ton of headaches. Nice write-up.

  4. In my take, this page is fool's gold - a harmful distraction from what should be the initial focus for starting out in real estate video.

    Technique and technical competence should be the focus only after you've developed a video product that works for buyers and for real estate agents. You can do that with a smartphone with a wide-angle adapter and an inexpensive gimbal. If you have a good mirrorless camera with a wide angle lens and a gimbal, shoot with those on auto settings for video.

    Shoot straight-through, narrated or captioned walk-throughs. Buyers like them and agents can use them both to get listings and to make their time more productive by sending them to buyers as a pre-qualifying tool.

    You'll find these take only a few minutes to shoot and not much time to edit and upload to your YouTube channel. They can be cost-effective for agents and profitable for you.

    Work on upgrading your quality after you're making money with video.

  5. The last comment by Joe Zekas is 100% opposite the approach we took. Maybe it works if you enjoy the crumbs of the industry.

    Creating a crap product, will create a crap brand, with crap clients, and continual crap work that will define you.

    Pushing yourself to do better for the start, even just to prove it to yourself, is how you move up in the industry.

    When we started (7-8 years ago), we charged $1,500 for our first interiors video. Never charged less...and never provided anything but our best work. Projects now sit $3K-$10K for an interiors/exteriors videos. Our music only tours start at $3K.

    If we would have used our steadicam to fast-track the shoots...we would not be where we are now.

    Reach for the stars...not the ceiling.

  6. Joe isn't necessarily wrong but his approach and end goal isn't necessarily mine or others'. I don't create videos for buyers. I don't do walk through videos or matterports or, really, videos. I'm creating branding for my clients and you can't do that by taking the cheap or easy route. If you want to run and gun video then, yeah, Joe is spot on but you're digging yourself in a hole when you do that - it'll be that much harder to ever get better jobs, higher paying clients, work outside of real estate... If that's your jam the cheers. I'd rather not run that race and those starting out in filmmaking should know that there are other options.

  7. Take a few minutes and look at my "crap clients."

    They're some of the largest, savviest, most sophisticated management companies in the country who oversee and market the most luxurious new apartment buildings in Chicago. In my niche, there are no "better jobs." As to "higher paying" - sure, on a per-video basis, but not likely on an hourly basis or in the aggregate.

  8. Camera
    Sony A7S 11 or any Sony mirrorless which shoots XAVC S Codec
    XAVC S Codec= Smaller than pro-rez and more latitude in Davinci for grading
    ISO= Can Crank ISO to 15k with no noise. Very useful on interiors / Real Estate in general

    Have not found any codec on a sub 30k camera to perform as well as XAVC S.

    Shoot Flat
    Profile: On Sony this is profile #6, or # 7. Flat contrast, Desaturated, no-sharpening
    Grading: Requires Grading in Davinci. Please learn to grade prior to using on a paid shoot.

    Shoot Light

    Sony Mirrorless
    DJI Ronin S
    Rode Wireless Mic

    post

    Davinci Resolve Light (Free) here: https://www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/davinciresolve/
    Premiere, FCP, or anything as long as you know the theory.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

magnifiercrossmenucross-circle