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This Week In Real Estate Video #61 - Subtle Island and French Broad Place

Published: 08/06/2013
By: larry

SubtleIslandBCSubtle Island, BC - By Jacob and Jamie McNeil, PlatinumHD Propvid Canada: Jacob and Jamie shot this nice little video of Subtle Island, a private Island in the Discovery Islands region just off the Campbell River, for Mark Lester at Sotheby's in Vancouver.

Jacob said that platinumHD was recently announced as the preferred video supplier for Sotheby's International which is doing a big push to encourage their agents to use video.

French Broad Place Condos, Brevard, NC by Heath Cowart, Residential Photography and Video: Heath sent me a link this week to his most recent project in downtown Brevard, a 20+ condominium  project. Heath described the background as follows:

We looked at this from as many angles as we could and found that focusing on what this building could eventually become, (a community) was a great foundational message. Next, we had to address the most important concerns and turn perceived negatives into positives. We anticipated that some people would be unsure about living downtown, some buyers agents thought that the units were previously overpriced so we had to let them know about the price drop, and we wanted to to balance buyers fears about buying real estate in general by reminding them that our real estate market is coming back and the timing is actually very good to buy real estate.

Both great property videos! As usual creators always like your feedback so don't be bashful!

18 comments on “This Week In Real Estate Video #61 - Subtle Island and French Broad Place”

  1. Larry
    Thanks for posting these. What a great contrast in video styles. Platinum's with it amazing beauty and high production value and mine with shaky handheld street interviews and an urban setting.
    As a film maker the first thing I asked myself was, is the Platinum video better? If the criteria is production quality then yes. Platinum really delivers on that.
    What about the goal of selling the property? Is one approach better than the other? Can there be advantages to adding some handheld motion, people speaking in a "off the cuff" way, and a grittier style?
    We started out in this business wanting to produce the dreamy colors and beauty of Platinum's videos and then, last year, we brought in an editor who had worked for some big name television shows including some reality style shows and as well as formal training from film schools. She influenced us in surprising ways and improved our ability to create visual story's. One of the first things we noticed is that she was using outakes more than the perfect shots. She would use shots were I decided to readjust the focus or when I zoomed and refocused rather than the smooth shot that followed and shots of talent when they thought the camera was off. I find that moving away from dollys, jibs, and all the tools that give us dream like shots and adding some planned chaos to a video harder to do well so it is a refreshing new challenge for us that we are just beginning to explore but when it works it can produce a video that you can't stop watching.
    Is one of these video styles better than the other? I don't think so but I also will say that if I had been offered the chance to produce a video for Subtle Island my approach would have been very similar to Platinums. Show the breathtaking beauty and big features. I think they used the right style for that property and it is an amazing piece of work. And our style was right for the condominiums in Brevard NC where we needed to persuade and overcome objections to show what could be.
    One style does not fit all and the most fascinating part of this business is creating a communication with the right message to the right demographic that delivers results.

  2. Those are both great videos for totally different purposes and I agree that the styles fit the listings perfectly. Heath your video is more about the lifestyle and surrounding area which is extremely important for out of town buyers which these videos are mostly geared towards. I love how you involved the town like that. Very time consuming but a great added touch! I'm not sure what you charge but it's probably not as much as Platinum but it's still a very effective video. The trick with video is to make money doing it. Realtors don't want to part with money and making videos at a high quality level is very time consuming. Each one of those clips had to be staged and fully set up which takes a lot of time. So you can charge a boat load of money for cinema quality and maybe do 2-3 videos a month if your lucky, or you can charge a more reasonable price and shoot 2-3 per week which ultimately probably makes the same income but it also makes you a better film maker as you're constantly learning new techniques and styles. The more you work, the more people talk about you and therefore your business grows faster. I am having that happening right now. I just launched video production in March and have done almost 70 real estate videos since that time. I am a one man show that shoots, edits, script writes and voice overs each video. Needless to say, I don't do much sleeping these days. Even this post has taken away some valuable editing time! ha ha. Anyways great job on both videos guys!! I'm loving seeing the different styles out there!

  3. Matt
    I agree with everything you said. I am also a 3-4 video per week with 6 or 7 photo shoots mixed in and an occasional larger project. We are getting more larger projects these days as clients gain confidence in the effectiveness of video. I shoot everyday and your right, I see it like a sport and I just get faster and better with practice. I have an assistant and we have 2 full time editors and can barely keep up.

  4. Heath

    That's great I too am doing anywhere from 2-7 per week and about 15 photo shoots, the difference is I have no help. I am curious how you found good help that knows what they are doing. I am at the point where I cannot find anyone qualified but really need the help so am curious to hear how you went about doing it and also how you can afford to pay with the small margins in real estate photography?

  5. We got very lucky with a great intern who we hired for the season. He does not come on all shoots but most. I'd guess our average photo shoot is around 225-250.00 which I know is really low for what we deliver but averaged with videos over the long run it works.
    In Larry's post above he mentions that Sotheby's is making a big push to get their brokers doing video and Platinum is the preferred vendor. Platinum's rates are probably right where they need to be and mine are low, but our rates have gone up every year and I am seeing brokers who thought video was not a good investment coming back and proposing bigger videos with higher prices. So our method has been to start low and show everyone how it can work then move up the ladder to better margins. It is not easy but someone needs to get the ball rolling in our area and so far it is working.
    Matt, do you have a website? You should link it to all of your post. That is good SEO practice and people get a chance to see your work. I have made some great contacts through this site.

  6. Thanks very much Heath. I know the question of good help has been discussed on here numerous times and it's a difficult one to deal with. I know once you enter into the world of employees it can be a nightmare, but the right one and it can be bliss. I had hired a guy last year and spent all the time training him only to find out he was giving his personal business cards to my clients trying to slowly get the word out there that he was another option at lower price. Needless to say it's left a bad taste in my mouth.

    The prices in my area are quite a bit lower than in yours. I am charging on average $130 for daytime photo shoots and $249 for twilight shoots. Videos are additional $200 when combined with photos or $250+ on their own. I know that my pricing is much too low but completely agree when you say someone needed to get the ball rolling as I am the first and only one doing this level or style of video in my area and there is a lot of competition. I was recently flown to Victoria to create a video for a home for sale by owner there and it was a much larger project at a higher cost but I still came in more affordable than the competition there so that was great exposure for me too. You'll see the video here

    I think I may have to do what you did and get an intern and possibly have them sign a non disclosure agreement or something for peace of mind...
    Yes thanks for the tip Heath, my website is and you'll see the link to my vimeo channel in there under portfolio>HD video

    Thanks again Heath and keep up the good work! We're pioneers in the market and it's a great feeling to express our individual creativity in this way, during this time of marketing real estate!

  7. @Matt,
    Is there a local college with a photography program? Architecture? Interior design? That can be a good place to pick up some help if you can work with their class schedules. Do you need/want a second shooter or would having an assistant to lug gear around and help with set-up and tear-down help? I don't have enough business to think about an assistant, but if I did have somebody to move gear around, I could save a lot of time at a location.

    There is nothing wrong with having an employee or an intern sign a non-competition agreement. It doesn't have to be fancy or be blessed by a (blood sucking) lawyer. It just has to let them know that if they try to steal your clients, you will take action. In the US, Small Claims Court will often accept agreements and contracts that a higher court would throw out as they are more concerned with the spirit of the document rather than the exact wording. Just don't try to have somebody agree to not compete for the next 2 years.

    The running joke about Fry's Electronics is that they only hire people that have no clue about the products they are selling to keep pilferage down. For us, an enthusiastic intern with some basic knowledge and skill set is much better. We'll have to take the chance that we aren't creating our own competition.

  8. The use of a professional narrator and scripting really shows in the Subtle Island video. The French Broad Place video suffers a bit from the presenter. Both videos could have been improved with still photography augmented by the infamous "Ken Burns Effect" in one or two places.

    Maybe I am biased by being primarily a still shooter, but I do have video in my background and I work from time to time for a production company as a location sound engineer. The complexity of creating a video is much greater than stills. In an arena where getting real estate agents to pay for still photography is tough, selling video is going to be nearly impossible. For upscale homes and complexes like these productions are for the cost isn't going to be as much of a factor and may be a requirement for the listing agent. My concern would be that the return on equipment investment might not be justified with the amount of work that can be brought in. It also takes more people and time. It can be done with one person, but that puts a limit on how a video is conceived and shot.

  9. How do you deal with tight time constraints Realtors have? Agents have something like 48 hours to get a listing up with photos/ videos after a contract is signed. Most agents don't want to spend the money for pix and video before a contract is signed, so the window is very small. This time of year I'm shooting anywhere from 5-8 homes a day, most with photos and video and it's difficult to say the least... I'm going to Martha's Vineyard tomorrow for 2 1/2 days and shooting over 20 homes... !

    I'm working like a maniac getting everything processed by next day. Working out of my house I'm hesitant to hire someone for editing as that makes me slightly uncomfortable having them in my house, and transferring files to someone else at another location takes far more time than it takes to just do it myself! And if someone I hire drops the ball, I'm so busy that would kill my business trying to pick up the pieces in a timely fashion.

    Although business is ridiculously good, it's tiring doing this volume 6 days a week. They even want me in the rain.... It's a good problem to have for sure, and the phone rings off the hook every single day. I'm actually just about ready to raise my prices to slow business down a bit. Last time I did that business actually increased, so I'm not sure if that's the solution either! Getting interns or employees involved seems like a disaster to me.... been there, done that!

  10. Fred
    We have a small office. We also did not like having people work out of our home. My wife is our main employee and I trust he to do her part better than me. Nothing goes out the door unless at least 2 people have looked at it and critiqued it to catch mistakes. Now our product is more consistent than ever and we actually keep improving.
    We probably need to raise our prices. We are consistently booked out 2 weeks and we hate to have our clients wait but they do. We even were booked out a month for a while. This is our biggest problem right now. We turn photos usually in 48 hours and video rough drafts in 48 hours and final videos are usually less than a week. it seems like most of our clients sign papers when I show up to shoot and put the listing up when I deliver the images. Some get the video and photography before listing so it all goes up at once and others will do a video a few weeks or month into a listing to show the client that they are still working on the listing.
    We are considering seasonal rates. The vast majority of our business comes in the summer and fall and it would be really nice to slow the summer down and increase the winter work some.
    My goal is to get to the point where we can turn in a project that I never touched. Then we have a true business. I would be thrilled to take a week off and have my client rave about the work that happened while i was gone.
    Fred, I have a hard time understanding how you do so many projects per day. Just the logistics and the time required to shoot photography and video and edit 5-8 homes per day sort of blows my mind. Most people who do that kind of volume are run and gun but your work looks really good.

  11. Heath, I agree with you comments regarding exaggerated claims to how many shoots. There's no way it's logistically possible to do that many shoots a day delivered with good quality. I went to your site Fred and the video on your home page is very long. 9+ minutes is way too much and the footage would have taken you a long time to get it all not to mention how long it took to put together so I have a very hard time thinking you're doing 8 homes a day by yourself. That being said you are shooting HDR which is much easier to shoot and edit but still.

    If I told my clients they aren't going to get me shooting for a week out or a month, I would be out of business. What keeps me going in this industry is my turn around time, quality and level of service. I steal business from the guys that can't shoot for a week for that reason. I work a lot of long hours but realize how important it is to turn photos over very quickly. Heath my advice would be to work longer hours and at least get them photos right away. You mention draft for video? I don't offer proofs on videos. I write the scripts, send them for approval and then make the video. My clients trust me and accept the final product. That would drastically improve your workflow and time spent I'm sure and is an area you could cut time. If you give someone something saying you'll change it, they will most certainly change it. If you tell them changes will cost, they will be happy I assure you.

    Raising rates is a very fine line between acceptable and pissing off your clients opening the door for competition to come in the door so tread carefully. I too am considering a rate increase however will only apply to one off clients and new clients. I will use this as marketing to existing clients letting them know I've raised my rates but will hold theirs for a year to show appreciation for their business. I think that is a "soft" way of doing it.

  12. Matt: Not sure who you are since you have no links to a profile or website or anything, but I shoot about 650+ videos every single year, by myself. I've been doing real estate video exclusively longer than pretty much anyone out there (8+ years), so I have a pretty good handle on workflow, etc. So yes, it is logistically possible because I do it every day, and my repeat business is literally 99+%, so whatever I'm doing is obviously working quite well for my clients. And I am booked solid a week to ten days out from March through September, and people will wait for me.

  13. Matt
    I never said or suggested that Fred exaggerated anything.

    According to you you have been creating video for 3 months and Fred has been creating videos for 8 years so I think he has earned plenty of respect.

    The novelty forgoing sleep to turn real estate photography and video projects right away will wear off quickly and your best clients will understand that you have cost and need to make a living and have a life. If you treat them well then they will wait for you to be available. Maybe it just takes time to get great clients and weed out the ones who will get angry and dump you for raising your prices or not being available immediately for them.

    I am sure I had a few clients stolen in the past but the great thing is that if your good and deliver value, they come back.

    Give it some time and who knows, maybe your perspective may change. I had similar opinions when I started out and over time I realized that my assumptions were not always correct. I still work too hard and charge too little as well but I have raised my prices many times and actually gained business, and everyone waits for an opening this time of year without complaint.

  14. Hi Heath,

    Longtime reader but rarely comment, but I cant help but to notice that on your vimeo page you have done 8 videos in the last 3 months? I even looked on your youtube page and it shows around 28 videos in the last 3 months, with all the same ones from vimeo being there.

    Im not the greatest at math but a quick calculation using your youtube page (the higher of the 2) totals that you are doing like 2 videos a week? Are you hosting somewhere else?

    Just wondering because you say you are booked solid 2 weeks in advance and even have some booked a month out.

    How many days so you spend on 1 video (shooting and editing)? At 2 videos a week i couldnt imagine needing to hire help.

  15. Michael
    We do photography as well and we typically do 2 shoots a day 5 days a week. We temporarily got to the point where every week day was booked for a month but we are back to 1-2 weeks right now. I rarely do 2 videos in one day but we did to 6 videos in 4 days right before memorial day. A typical busy week is probably 3-4 videos and 4-5 photo shoots. This week I am doing 5 photo shoots and I had 4 video shoots but one postponed due to weather so only 3 videos and I gave myself an afternoon off.
    We also have had a lot more multi day shoots this year and they have longer deadlines so we probably have a few still in editing. When we get busy our website and video channels fall behind. Hope that helps.

  16. The fact that a guy like Fred Light that is 'doin' it' and is willing to share his wisdom with us is awesome.

    I for one admire his business model and his commitment to getting the job done i.e. SELL THE PROPERTY.

    Rather than questioning Fred's integrity, perhaps let's just learn from the guy.

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