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This Week In Real Estate Video #85 – Summer On Dewees Island

Published: 23/11/2013
By: larry

DeweesIslandThis week I ran across this lovely video shot by Yonder Blue Films. The video is of Dewees Island in South Carolina just East of Charleston.

Watching this video a few  times made me realize what a huge part of advertizing video the UAV has already become and will rapidly become in the future. This video, except for a few seconds is totally UAV footage and for the most part could not be created any other way. The shots are compelling! The compelling aspect of many of these shots is that the subject is viewed up close from various changing angles while the camera is over the water! Much like a bird carrying a video camera would create.

Surely Hollywood camera guys have ways of getting similar shots but they would spend thousands of dollars in a film studio get the shot. The time is quickly coming when real estate property videos will need this kind of UAV shots just to compete.

These shots are are captured with a relatively small investment in equipment and can be done anywhere. The investment in training, certification and licensing will probably become a much bigger investment than equipment.

I've had several discussions with readers about posting and commenting on real estate videos shot by UAVs and whether or not I should comment on them. Is the FAA reading this? I've decided to not refrain from commenting on anything I find posted publicly. My assumption is that none of the shots posted publicly have been done for hire, and if the owner of the video has any concerns, they would not be posted on the net.

20 comments on “This Week In Real Estate Video #85 – Summer On Dewees Island”

  1. This looks like it is a properly done UAV video where it takes two, one to fly and the other to control the camera. I wouldn't call the Cinestar 8 an inexpensive platform it's about $6,500.00 to get what you need. If you are already into the hobby or like to get your hands dirty there are lots of less expensive airframes, but a heavy lift multirotor will not be inexpensive. Good resources for this are and but be prepared for lots of nerd talk 🙂 You will not get this quality using a DJI Phantom with a GoPro attached.

    My disclaimer is I'm still learning proper flying technique so my opinion is not that of an expert, but based on personal experience going down this path. I do have a little previous RC experience and I must say these are incredible flying machines and the technology has actually made flying them easier. Now my radio even talks to me 🙂

  2. Thanks Christian, I should have noticed that, getting lazy in my old age. I'm glad you fixed it Larry, another well done video. Blue Yonder Films does great work.

    Good aerial is a like good special effects, if its done well, like this is, the viewer doesn't realize that its aerial videography. Its just a tool the cinematographer used to tell a story or convey a feeling. Some tools are better than others and aerial can provide a unique perspective that can really add to the creation of a story or feeling.

    Just as as with any other tool composition will determine, as Scott and Malia mentioned in the previous thread, "What the shot is about" You can't just put a GoPro on the bottom of a Phantom and expect to get effective shots like this. That's not to say that a Phantom and GoPro aren't capable, I guess it would be like shooting your interiors with a GoPro as compared to a DSLR, it can be done but the probability of getting this look and feel are low.

    I also guess it depends on how you define a "relatively small investment." I would guesstimate that the all up costs for the MR used for this video is approximately $15K. Part of the challenge with AP is not just the cost but also about mitigating risk. You know the likelihood of dropping a $6K Canon1DX while shooting interiors is fairly low but with aerial the likelihood of destroying a $6K MR and GH3 is much greater. The only real way to reduce the risk is through practice and lots of it. So not only can this be a bit pricey, but to get to the level of Blue Yonder Films its going to take a considerable amount of time.

    I know several DIY realtors/property photographers who purchased Phantoms, tried a couple of times to shoot aerial and found it more difficult and time consuming then they could justify spending and now the phantoms are relegating the the technological trash heap.

    I am a strong proponent for AP being used in context of property video, but realtors just don't seem to be willing to pay what it takes to get the job done at any price.
    I don't know the budget for this video but I think it should be around $1,500 and I don't know too many realtors prepared to spend that kind of money.

    If the government would get out of the way and legalize commercial AP from RC's then the prices will come down, but it will still probably coast about $3K to $5K to get a safe, dependable MR with the stability that's capable with of flying an NEX sized camera to get these sorts of shots but that's only half the battle. The other half is getting the realtors to not only pay for it but to schedule enough time to get it done. Not only do realtors seem to be getting cheaper but they seem to be getting more impatient as well while the complexity of capturing the essence of a property is increasing.

    What I think was so good about that video was that for me it captured a moment of my childhood, it made me feel like I was there.

  3. @Greg - Yes, I understand that the Cinestar is more expensive than other UAVs that could get these same shots... I'm just saying that compared to any other method of swooping close around kids running in the surf with a video camera this is cheap! UAVs with video cameras really changes the game for all cinematography.

  4. I second Chuck's comments ...."the likelihood of destroying a $6K MR and GH3 is much greater. The only real way to reduce the risk is through practice and lots of it". I've done about ten hours flying the dji Phantom with a Nikon J1 and 10mm lens underneath for unusual aerial still pix, and a couple with a Sony action cam on a gimbal, and can say that PRACTICE is everything!! I've crashed it (lightly) three times without damage- they're very tough- (as is the Nikon) and have put two sets of props on it. I have nine batteries-- I get about three-four minutes with the Nikon and a lot more with the Sony. The featured video is LIGHT YEARS ahead of what I'm producing, and most estate agents here in Australia don't use video .. (yet!) .. except on very high end properties. A brilliant video to show how a place feels. That video would have taken many, many hours of production and post production to make. I still think a really great "hero shot" and a few really excellent still photos are best to attract a potential buyer to an inspection, then it's up to the agent. Phantoms don't like 30 knot winds. I found mine two km away surrounded by curious cows. Just my 2cents worth

  5. I have to agree with the diagnosis of the Dji. Based on my experience, the footage captured using GoPro requires a whole heap more work in post to get anywhere near a professional acceptable pass at best. Working in Australia the CASA approved pilot I contract in for corporate video gig's uses the Cinestar 8 with gymble controller etc! and the Sony a7R. Have shot a couple of higher end properties with this set-up but the uptake for real estate video to use this equipment most of the time is outside marketing budgets at this stage.

  6. The video came out very nice. The stability and smoothness of the UAV is amazing. It must have been an exceptionally calm day at the beach to get the footage.

    I'm in a battle to get RE agents to spend $100 on basic photography and I don't see them spending more in my area no matter what the quality is for aerial video. It's not just the flight, it's the post-production, music licensing, narration and a serious amount of computing horsepower to transcode video to upload to different platforms. Yonder's set-up also takes 2 people to operate. Twice the labor. The UAV is a moderately specialized platform. The business model has to be centered around getting aerial work or the ROI might be too slow to justify the investment. I have access to full size helicopters for aerial work, but I've never been asked. RC UAV's might be a tiny bit less expensive, but full size aircraft are not prohibitively expensive for upper-end projects.

    There is still the aspect of UAV's not being legal. Getting insurance and getting a claim approved might be tremendously difficult. Having $10k worth of hardware suffer a bout of rapid deceleration trauma and then have the insurance company deny coverage might be a business ender. If anybody was hurt, ......

    I remember the first time I tried to fly an RC helicopter. Good thing it was a cheap one! I've stayed away from RC flyers to protect myself from yet another hobby that's tugs at my wallet. My lens addiction is a big enough monkey on my back.

  7. Beautiful video. This is where I see a UAV as a real advantage - you really can't get that type of footage any other way.

    As I see more and more people using the Phantom (sadly, mine's in a tree somewhere.. ) I'm starting to rethink my getting back into this game again. I'm seeing a lot of ugly rooftops and trees or views that I would never have an opportunity to see if I purchased a particular property, and I'm starting to really question the value of these for helping to sell typical real estate properties. Just like with pole photography - it's rare you need to shoot from 20' off the ground unless it's a view house - otherwise it's all mostly ugly roof! A little elevation goes a long way for most properties….

    You can't (or shouldn't!) use these lightweight UAVs in heavily populated areas, areas with many electrical wires, areas with lots of traffic nearby, oceanfront (usually way too windy), etc. For the very few properties where it would make sense to actually get up that high…I'm not sure it's worth the time, hassle, expense, risk or effort. I can get a clear overhead shot from Bing that looks awesome if you want to show the location from the air, but seeing all of these videos of rooftops and treetops is starting to get a bit boring for me. The uniqueness is wearing off already.

    This type of production is where it totally makes sense, but as everyone says, you're not flying a plastic copter with a little GoPro to get this footage. These are some seriously expensive and heavy pieces of equipment, not to mention some great talent behind the joystick! I'm really starting to think it makes more sense to hire out to the big boys for the few properties I would shoot where this type of footage actually can add a lot of value, or just hire a real copter or plane like I have in the past.

  8. Like most tools it has its place. Many of the property videos I've seen that included aerial shots were almost exclusively aerial shots. I suspect the people producing them know a lot about RC's and little about production.

    Like in this example I think Aerial can be extremely effective if the producer knows how to use aerial effectively and shoot good property video. I think the bigger issue is producing property videos that actually mean something. They communicate a story of lifestyle. If all you want to do is show the rooms of a house use your iPhone. Its what many of the realtors around here do.

    The last sentence is obviously sarcasm. Aerial is very effective at establishing a location relative to open space, shopping, a view etc.. Like most things, once you become proficient with it you can get very creative. I saw one property video where they flew it through the living and family room out of the house, over the pool and ended on a high angle shot of the house. So it can be so much more than roof tops.

  9. Just like pole photography UAVs will become a nich marketing tool. Its not for everyone and if you limit your market to just using UAVs in photography for RE you may find it hard to get a decent return on investment. After researching what is required to get licensed and insured and to produce this quality of video I would not get out of bed for under 5K. You may scoff at my suggested pricing but when you find a market (I have) willing to pay 2.5K per day for pole shots why would you change.

  10. My Phantom cost $750 AUD . My Nikon J1 and 10mm cost $399 on close out. I charge $100 more for a phantom shot above my base of $175 for a shoot of an "ordinary" house. I'm in a semi-rural area. After my clients (real estate agents ) show the advantages to a potential client of an additional aerial Phantom- especially where it shows the location in a very favourable light, a lot come on board. I've paid for the Phantom and camera. And had a LOT of fun doing it!!!

  11. Forgot to add- those Phantom shots are still, not video. Nikon J1 gives more than enough quality for web and brochures. Has interval timer for sequence shooting.

  12. Bruce, are you CASA acrediated with the apriotate public libablity insurance (your normal insurance wont cover you with an aircraft) and if not have you explained to your agents the risks they take if you have a public incident ?

  13. Hi, Dave, it's a grey area, isn't it? I take a risk every time I go into a house with my tripod and potentially knock over a Ming Vase... my insurance may not cover that-- I haven't checked... maybe I should!! There are hundreds of Phantoms out there, and there is going to be a test case eventually when one crashes. .. One crashed into Sydney Harbour Bridge recently and created a bit of chaos. Is a Phantom an aircraft? - Are model plane enthusiasts in the same boat (figuratively speaking? ) What are their responsibilities? Interesting points you raise... I do have an aviation background, with six hundred hours in various aircraft.

  14. Bruce, I have spoken to my insurance provider and have been advised that I would need very specific public liability cover and also I would need to have aircraft insurance (their description) for UAV and any equipment it carried, otherwise you are not covered especially if you are not CASA approved. Once you use then for commercial gain you are taking a big risk.

  15. Thanks for sharing this highlight reel. It was a fun shoot with some great people. The video is only a highlight reel cut together from about an hour of footage we shot that day. We had so much fun shooting it that we decided to share some of our favorite shots. Some of the footage will likely be cut into a commercial at a later date.

    Thanks for the kind compliments.

    All the best,
    Benjamin Rowland
    Yonder Blue Films

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