Its a new year and always a good time to reflect on the past year and set your goals for 2018.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing and I guess the best use of it is to apply what you learn’t from the past so that you can do more of what worked in the future. And of course less of what didn’t work as you move forward into the new year.
Don’t believe for a minute that I’m a super focused goal achiever or some sort of motivational expert. I just looked at my goals I made this time last year and managed to hit a few but also found that I did more of the same and got the same results! Funny that!
However its always a good time to stir things up and upon looking back at 2017 here are my Top 5 lessons learn’t specifically from shooting real estate video.
1. Find out what you are selling and show it!
I know I bang on about this and its one of the number one points I talk about in my online real estate video course.
By this I mean when you are contracted to produce a real estate video for a client (or any video for that matter) I always ask the real estate agent or vendor while we are at the property “what are we selling?” For example is it the location of the property? the views? or perhaps the architectural design? The agent or vendor should be able to answer this in one sentence and its then your job as a video producer to show it.
Thats it, thats all you have to do.
Once you know what you are selling, this should always make your job easier as it dictates your shot list and what you need to show in your video. It also serves as a guide as to what you don’t have to bother shooting as opposed to trying to show everything just in case.
This will also give you a focus for your edit and the added bonus of giving you a leg to stand on should the client come back to you and say you didn’t show this or that….. we are not mind readers! (Have been tempted to say that a few times to clients but haven’t yet!).
2. Its all about the drone…its not about the drone
The amount of work and enquiries I get just because I operate a drone continues to surprise me. When I first got a drone approximately 3 years ago (thats a life time in drone years) it was a bit of a gamble as to whether or not it would pay itself off.
I can safely say that it has and looking back on my invoices to clients in 2017 I would estimate that 75% involved drone work. I had quite a few clients that only used me because I offer drone as part of my services. This was for both real estate and sporting event work.
I sell myself as a professional video producer but have a number of clients who only use me for drone stills photography which has forced me to up my drone stills shot taking and post production editing. If thats all the client wants then I’m happy to oblige.
I consider myself to have more expertise in shooting traditional video cameras as opposed to drones but if I’m getting new clients and more work because of the drone then I’m more than happy to leverage that selling point for my business.
What I mean by “…its not about the drone” is to me the drone is just another camera or tool in my video production toolkit. There has definitely been a novelty or wow factor involved with drone imagery in the past but I see that fading now to its place amongst the many great tools you have available today.
I also see a lot of real estate video online and its just drone shots for about 1-2 minutes. To me I find this a tad boring and it is only showing you half the picture if you are producing a real estate video of a property for sale. Where are the interior shots? I’ve seen the wonderful outside pictures now show me whats in the house as thats where I’ll be living!
When I’m contracted to produce property videos that have both drone exterior and video interior shots, I would estimate that the interior shots (non drone) still make up about 60-70% of the video duration which I think is a good balance.
I have a very good client here and he uses me mainly just for exterior drone video and I struggle to get him to commit to shooting the interior video which brings me nicely to point number 3…..
3. The Customer is always right
Its an old cliche but like a lot of cliches they are often based on history and experience. If your customer tells you to focus on the pink flamingo in the yard and put ukulele music in the video…then thats what you do.
They are paying your bill.
I have two good clients here and every time I try and throw in a more modern feel to the video using speed ramps and cuts only editing they generally come back and say they don’t like the speed ramps and could I slow the shots down with some dissolves. Now I’m not a big fan of dissolves and think its a bit of an old fashioned style of video editing but if thats what they like then thats what I’ll do.
I am however trying to bring them up to speed with modern shooting and editing styles and will often use the first video draft with a few of these techniques sprinkled through to see if I can get one across the line.
I had a job late last year for Sothebys but the actual house vendor himself contacted me and was paying for the video. He was a fairly arty guy so I let rip with music and editing in a more modern style. I strongly suspect that the Sothebys Real Estate agent would not have liked it but the house vendor loved it so thats what they used. The client is always right and in this case the client was the house owner even thou the video was going to Sothebys.
Here’s the video…
The Sothebys agent also told me after that he really liked it but it wouldn’t have been how he would have envisaged the finished video. I do however now believe that this agent would be more open to new styles now.
4. My No.1 marketing technique for business was…..
Word of mouth and in second place was direct contact with potential clients.
Its not my website or instagram or clever facebook marketing.
I know social media and digital marketing have their place and work well for some but for me its still word of mouth and direct contact with people.
I would love to become better at digital marketing but bang for buck and time-wise I still get the best results by far using the above selling techniques. In this modern digital age with facebook and google tracking our every online move I actually believe good old face to face time is more effective than ever.
5. The hardest thing to shoot!
I still find the hardest thing to shoot is bare land. I got asked by a number of clients last year to shoot bare land or sections for sale and always found these the most difficult.
When you show up at a beautifully presented multi million dollar house with amazing furniture and fittings and breath taking views your job is certainly made a lot easier. Its pretty hard not to get it looking good.
However when you turn up at a nondescript piece of bare land for sale with no obvious boundaries or features, thats when you start earning your money.
My top tips for that is trying to sell the sizzle or what living there will give the potential purchaser such as the views or access to golf courses and so on. As with most property videos you are not only showing the physical characteristics of the property but also trying to sell the dream of actually living there.
It can also help having a voice over script which you can use as a shot list and edit so as you can better show what is on offer.
So thats five main points or lessons that I gleaned from pointing the camera at property for sale during 2017. I hope you found something useful in there and if you have something you learn’t in 2017 and would like to share, please do. Leave a comment below.
Here’s to a great year ahead.
Shame Sophie James wasn’t lit, or that a diffusion panel wasn’t employed to take out the top light. Removing the top light in that way would have given a key shift slightly overexposing the back drop making it a pleasant pastel, rather than burning it out which may well have happened with backlighting. The panda lighting was very unflattering. She was the main subject in the frame whilst speaking to camera. For me it took the edge of what was otherwise a great presentation. Guess there is only so much one pair of hands can do!
Yes I hear you but that situation was just me and dictated by the only time we could get her there and a low budget. In an ideal world I would have had a diffusion panel and HMI with a lighting gaffer but that would have almost doubled the budget they had. Or better still shot her there at a different time of day. Cheers
Great and very helpful tips Grant! Thank you. I was already abandoning the idea of drone services because of the hard regulations but maybe I should take a further look at this type of jobs.
I love using the drone and what it can give me but the rules and regulations definitely take the shine off them. However like I said in the article its definitely helped with getting work. Cheers
Grant, thanks for your help on video. I’m not a video expert but have done a lot of realty still photography and exterior video and drone work. For me the biggest problem by far, is interior video and balancing light the way I do for still photography. I’ve used multiple old flashes for still photography for many years but obviously that doesn’t work for video. How do you handle lighting for interior video in a practical way? Spending hrs setting up lighting would not be economic except for very special cases. Your thoughts would be very much appreciated. Thanks.
Hi – it can be tricky but you are right in that time and budget doesn’t usually allow for bringing in lights. Also as you will generally be on a wide angle lens you will also struggle to hide them. My approach is to generally maximise daylight (not direct sunlight), any interior lights and the angle you shoot at. It can often be tricky with blowing out windows so I like to use that angle of shooting that minimises big windows in the shot. Like any video shot the best ones are the ones with an even exposure across your scene you are shooting which sometimes requires drawing the curtains. Cheers
Hello Grant – your tips are great and your videos are very inspiring and educational. One question: how do you open doors for your video shots?
Good question – I use the real estate agent to stand behind the door and open it slowly for me. Thats the only way I know how. Cheers
Heh, it would be learnt not learn’t
I’m a shooter not a speller!