Saturday, January 15, 2011

13 Fool Proof Ways to Make a Bad Real Estate Video Tour

1. Be sure to take advantage of the power of your zoom lens. Zoom in on details, then zoom out and zoom in tight on something else you want us to see.
If your goal is to make your audience throw up - go for it! Basic rule of thumb: You should almost never use your zoom except to move close in to establish your next shot - and THEN start shooting... or to pull out for the same purpose. Or better yet, just move closer to the subject (with your feet!) Zooming should be used very sparingly, if at all. There is almost nothing that will make your video look amateurish than to use that #$&*#$&# zoom lens! Watch any movie or TV show. You will never see zooming done with the actual LENS.

2. When panning from left to right or right to left, be sure to pan quickly so people won't get bored.
Again, your goal is not to make people nauseous. Additionally, if you're doing a property tour your viewers are interested in seeing the HOME. Pan slowly and deliberately. Additionally, most video is rendered in Flash format, and Flash is NOT good with fast motion.

3. Be sure to keep your auto focus ON so you don't have to worry about it.
Auto focus is great - sometimes. But if you're moving around inside a home with low light, you'll quickly realize that the auto focus gets 'confused' more often than not, and it takes quite a bit of time to get it properly focused - and in the meantime, we're looking at blurry video as it 'searches' for the proper focus. Always use MANUAL FOCUS to avoid problems.

4. Since your camera has something called "image stabilization" built in, it's perfectly OK to shoot handheld.
Again, back to the nausea factor. Nobody can hand hold a small consumer video camera and carry it off. It's just not possible. Here are some perfect examples!
The best way to make your video NOT look like Uncle Bob's bad home movies is utilize a tripod. They can be purchased for as little as $20 bucks or so, but most of those are so lightweight they're nearly worthless. You really want a sturdy tripod with a FLUID tripod head for smooth panning. Not all tripods are designed for video, and those that aren't will keep your video steady, but it won't really be of much help otherwise. Panning will be jerky.
Better yet, if you're serious about video, purchase and learn how to use a stabilizer. There are many cheap stabilizers out there (you can even make your own), but a good stabilizer or steadicam will start around $800 and go up from there. Warning: Obtaining the stabilizer is the easy part. Learning how to USE it is difficult. Balancing it properly is challenging and time consuming, and once you have that done, it takes many, many, many hours of practice to get it down. Of course, this is the one thing the manufacturer's of these devices "neglect to mention" in their promotional material! The result is worth it - you can replicate 'floating through the house'... smooth as glass!

5. The camera came with a microphone built in, so be sure to narrate your video as you're walking around.
Good audio is one of the most important aspects of a good video - don't go second rate with your audio! Built in microphones on a consumer camcorder are NEVER a good option. If you're going to use live audio, you need to purchase a wireless lavalier microphone. Live audio is great for interviews, testimonials or commentary by a realtor, homeowner, etc.
Walking around shooting video handheld while YOU'RE narrating from behind the camera using the bad built in microphone that's on the front of the camera - BAD IDEA. Remember, you're not shooting a stalker horror film. But that's exactly the way it will come across!  Audio is 60% of a good video. Viewers will put up with substandard video if the audio is good, but not the other way around!
[NOTE: Be careful if you use Sony equipment. Most of their accessories are proprietary, so you need to be absolutely sure your external microphone is compatible with your particular camera. Sony makes great equipment, but that is one of their main annoyances - you're forced to use their accessories, usually higher priced than they normally would be.]
Its much easier to write a script and overlay an audio track over your video that is recorded under controlled conditions. Get a good USB microphone for your computer. Don't forget a pop filter to get rid of annoying "pops" in your voice as you're recording! Don't think you sound good? Hire someoe from a voiceover website, such as

6. If you don't use an audio track, be sure to label each room with text overlays, such as "kitchen", "living room" so we're sure about which room we're looking at.
What's the best way to insult your viewer? We KNOW the room with the stove and refrigerator is the kitchen!! If you feel you must insert text overlays, sell BENEFITS. Sell a LIFESTYLE. Don't state the obvious.

7. Use background music from your favorite artist or band.
Do you enjoy the company of lawyers? This is a perfect way to get cozy with one. You CAN NOT use copyrighted music in your videos. EVER. It's against the law. There is nothing else I can say. I see this on real estate videos more often than not. People are pursuing their rights more than ever before. Photos. VIdeo. Text. You can't use other people's creative work!!!
Google "royalty free music" and find music that is free from royalties and copyright issues and you'll sleep well at night. Yes, it's expensive (sometimes you pay $20 - $60 + per song), but you can use it as often as you want anywhere you want. Some of it is even free (although, you DO get what you pay for! Rollerskating music anyone?)

8. Use screen shots of Google Earth satellite flyovers to pinpoint the location of your property.
See #7 above. You're in violation of copyright again. If you want to incorporate Google Earth fly overs into your video, you need to purchase Google Earth Pro ($400 per year). Yup. Every single year.

9. Be sure to take clear video of the sofa and lamp in the living room.
Remember, you're filming a HOME for sale, not the furniture. Focus on the architecture and details that will be SOLD with the home, such as kitchen countertops, appliances, fireplaces, columns, jacuzzis, etc. If you're unable to do this, it's probably because you don't have a wide angle lens. This is a MUST and you will never be able to accurately film a home without one! If you're not using a wide angle lens, don't even bother. If you're "painting" the room with the camera in order to show it, you're wasting your time. Of course, Realtors take still photos all the time without a wide angle lens... but I digress....

10. Be sure to put the property address, your contact information, photo and website address on the video so customers can contact you.
This can be valuable if you produce TWO videos! Most MLS systems in this country do NOT permit any contact information whatsoever. In fact, many do not even permit an address to be mentioned - and this includes the audio track! If this information is contained in your video or audio track, you will be unable to use the video WHERE IT COUNTS THE MOST - your MLS! What's the point if your video can't be seen by the widest audience?
At Nashua Video Tours, we produce TWO versions of every video. One is branded with the agent's contact info, website, photo, logo, etc. We upload this version (for free) to a dozen or more video sites such as YouTube, etc. as well as The second one is completely unbranded for use on the MLS. If your video isn't on the MLS, where MOST people are searching for real estate... what's the point?

11. Be sure to shoot directly at that bright picture window in order to capture the view.
You will have hellish exposure issues if you don't do everything you can to avoid shooting directly into sunlit windows! If you want your video to be a nice dark mess, this is the perfect way to do it! You can remedy the problem with a great deal of lighting equipment, but for this type of video, hauling around a ton of lights is totally impractical. Most consumer camcorders have very little in the way of manual exposure controls, so this is just not easy (if not impossible) to control. If at all possible, make sure to have bright windows at your back. Oftentimes, it helps to crack the blinds a bit to cut the direct sunlight, but many times it's best just to close the blinds altogether to cut the sunlight (but be sure to always turn on ALL interior lighting). If you are able to lock your exposure to properly expose the interior, that's your best option. The windows will be blown out, but the interior will be properly exposed. Another option is to shoot during the "Golden Hour", about an hour before sunset. This is the best time of day to shoot interiors, but not practical all of the time.

12. Be sure to use as many transitions between scenes as possible - especially the 'cool' ones.
Ah, the sure signs of an amateur. Also see #1 and #2 nausea issues....
Just because you CAN doesn't mean you SHOULD. No video should have more than one or two different transitions, if any. And of course, the more subtle, the better! I've seen so many videos where EVERY transition is a different one - and one is more outlandish than the next. Nobody wants to see the variety of transitions that came with your editing software! Keep it simple. In fact, it's always best just use a simple jump cut or a dissolve. Everyone will be much happier and you won't look like a kid in a candy store with all his new 'toys'.

13. If you're uncomfortable being on camera, don't worry about it. It will look "natural" and viewers will be able to "connect" with a real person.
Yeah, right. If you're uncomfortable on camera, you will appear uncomfortable to everyone who views your video. Not everyone was meant to be speaking on camera! If you don't feel comfortable, don't do it! A video can still be effective without your personal participation. Why bring down the quality of your video as well as YOUR perception to the general public? It's really not worth it. Hey, you can't be good at everything, right? There is nothing wrong with admitting that appearing and talking on camera is just not your thing! Show off your strengths, not your weaknesses! And spare the audience that 'cringe' factor where all we can do is feel sorry for you!

And, (drumroll, please!) the best example EVER on how bad video can instantly remove any semblance of professionalism from your career...... This is the creme de la creme.... the best example ever in history..........

Video production is not for everyone. Not only is it frustrating, but it's time consuming and technical. Nobody expects your video to be a Hollywood blockbuster, but one does assume that your video will reflect your professionalism as a Realtor as well as a proper representation of the home for your sellers.

Nashua Video Tours has provided high definition real estate video tours of homes and communities in New England for almost 6 years. 

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