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RISMEDIA, Nov. 20, 2008-When it comes to marketing real estate, it’s common knowledge that potential buyers want a visual representation of homes…and with the influx of listings including photos and virtual tours, it’s important to upgrade your marketing efforts to help differentiate yourself. While many real estate companies and agents turn to companies such as ours to professionally create video tours for their listings, many other agents are left wondering how they can save money and create a tour on their own. Creating a video tour of your listings is a great way to add interest, and with a little guidance you can do it yourself.

What You’ll Need

First and foremost, you need the necessary equipment. When selecting your video camera, there are a few aspects to keep in mind. “Prosumer” level cameras are ideal as the image will be crisper than a standard handy cam-style camera. If you want the clearest image possible, then go with a high-definition camera. If you must use a consumer-level camera (i.e., a handy-cam or the like) it doesn’t necessarily have to shoot HD, but it’s important to move the standard aspect ratio from 4:3 to 16:9, so be sure your camera shoots in this format. This gives your tour more of a widescreen, cinematic effect.

A fluid-head tripod is a must. The fluid-head makes for smooth shots that will give you a professional look that amateur shooters will not have. Avoid walking while filming with a camera, or having any handheld shots that could be simply obtained by utilizing a tripod. Look for one with adjustable tension. This means the ability to adjust the pressure needed to move the tripod-mounted camera smoothly.

It’s extra work, but lighting is highly recommended for best results. You can have the best camera in the world, but without good lighting the results will likely be a fraction of what they could have been. The reverse is also true. Great lighting can make the cheapest of cameras look like a million bucks. Usually a professional umbrella light works best and spreads the lighting throughout the room evenly, without a lot of glare and harsh reflection.

Next, make sure you have HDV (high definition video) tapes. If it is just DV, the image will not have the same quality as if it were captured to an HD tape. Always bring several. You never know just how many you’ll need to film a home.

Shooting Tips

And now for the actual filming. Using standard techniques is an easy and sure-fire way to effectively display a home. SLOWLY panning (side to side) from one end of the room to the other, from a location that best shows the room is easy and effective. Along those same lines, tilting (up and down) from floor to ceiling or vice versa accomplishes a similar goal. Getting a few well-chosen detail shots in each room will bring the value of your video up a few notches. Don’t just show me a living room. Show me the fireplace as well, or the chandelier etc.

Make sure you avoid filming clutter within the home. Also be sure to give extra emphasis on the kitchen, master suite, and bathrooms, which are statistically the most watched scenes of home video tours. It’s usually a good idea to turn on as many lights in the home as you can while filming. However, avoid shooting toward an open window or skylight if possible. The sunlight will cause the iris to restrict the incoming light…and thus darken the picture substantially.

Grass should be cut and the yard clean prior to shooting. Avoid having people, pets or cars in your video, because these will distract the home buyer from the ultimate purpose of the video–the home itself.

Also, be sure to sell the lifestyle of the home and any surrounding amenities, community, or city. This is one aspect that many home videos miss.

If you want to try a few advances techniques, you can use these to add an artistic element that will drastically boost the selling power of the video.

Rack focus – Zoom in, then place two objects of interest, one in the foreground (close to camera) and one in background (farther away), then roll the focus from one object, back to the next. This can only be done with a camera that has a manual focus ring.

Zooms – Starting your shot zoomed in on an object or centerpiece of a room and zooming out (slowly) to reveal the rest of the room has a nice effect. It shows the vastness of the room while showcasing something important or elegant like a fireplace.

Finishing Touches

Shoot exteriors of the home the same way as interiors, using similar techniques. Use pans and tilts to show the home, and highlight that by zooming out. Try to shoot the exteriors as the sun starts to set. The evening casts beautiful light when compared to the flat light of the mid-afternoon. The technical term for this timeframe is “Golden Hour” and is generally up to one hour after sunrise or before sunset. This is when most movies that you see at the theater are actually filmed to achieve the best look and feel, as well as connect emotionally.

Now that you have your footage, you’re ready to edit. If possible, you’ll want to add music and/or narration to your footage to draw people into the home. Few things are more boring than looking at footage of a home without music or a voice to explain what you are viewing. Easy to use programs such as iMovie or Windows Movie Maker come standard with most computers and are simple enough that you can accomplish your goal with minimal training. More advanced programs like Final Cut, Adobe Premiere, or Sony Vegas will give you more options to spice up your video with different transitions, color correction, or text.

Editing Techniques

When cutting your video together, cutting to the next shot on a sound or beat helps keep the cuts smoother when you’re not using a cross-fade. Whether it be on the beat of a song, or on the sound of your voiceover talent hitting a hard T, or B, etc., this placement of cuts will definitely separate your video from the rest.

Always be sure to match the rooms we’re seeing, with what we’re hearing about. This may seem like common sense, but you’d be surprised how often it doesn’t happen. Try to lead your viewer through the home as if they were walking through it. It’s a lot like telling a story to help the viewer “experience” your home. Smooth shots and a logical script will accomplish this.

When your video is finished, you may have to experiment with different export settings in your respective program, based upon how and where your video is going to be displayed. Preparing a video for DVD and preparing a video for Internet are two very different things, so be certain to research all available information carefully.

Now get out there and get started!

For more information on Realty Video USA, visit www.RealtyVideoUSA.com or call 866.720.0204.

192.168.100.55