How To Shoot Real-Estate Videos. A Beginners’ Guide

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So, you are interested in producing real estate videos?!

You are either most likely in one of two boats:

The first is you have a camera and are, “as a business owner first,” exploring the ideas of how to make more money.

Or, you have your eyes set on a new camera that has amazing capabilities but has an eye-watering price tag too and you are trying to wrap your head around, making more money to rationalize the purchase.

Either way, this article will help bring an overview of the whole process!

Let’s dive in…

What should a real estate video consist of?

Easy, the property that is being sold, duh! But it is not just a property that you are shooting; it is someone’s product. This product has features, design, and, character. It is your job to capture that.

In what way, you may ask? In any way, you see fit. See you are the expert here. The agent knows nothing about cameras or how video is produced. So you are the visionary!

However, you do want to make sure that you go over a “must-have” list with the agent before shooting to make sure that you are capturing everything the agent sees as a necessity not, just you.

Also, determine the music before a shoot with the agent. I’ll get back to music later in this article.

If you do these two things you will eliminate many headaches before it ever arrises!

What camera should I use or consider getting?

Let’s first think about the median. As a general rule of thumb, you should always know where the end destination for your creations will be. This will help you determine the gear needed for the shoot.

Most real estate agents are going to be marketing their listings on a website called MLS in the states, and on their social media platforms.

With that being said people will be viewing these listings mainly on mobile devices, so a resolution of 1080p is the benchmark for such a small screen. Anything more should just be considered, “for the time being” as wiggle room in post-production.

So, export your final product in 1080p even if you are shooing in 2k or 4k.

Now, if you plan on getting into photography as well, most DSLRs with interchangeable lenses have a bracketing feature and their megapixels are suitable for all online users. Which is mainly where these listings end up.

So, what camera should I get exactly?

That is easy, as long as the camera shoots a minimum of 1080p as well as shoots stills with megapixels in the teens you can produce real-estate videos and photos!

Check out the top popular brands such as Sony, Canon, and Nikon. You will find, however, that Sony tends to be the market leader currently.

A lot of real estate filmmakers use a DSLR with a full-frame sensor.

Some of the best camera options for real estate videos include Sony Alpha a7II Full-Frame Mirrorless Camera or Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Full Frame Digital Camera.

This will give you maximum adaptability to ever-changing conditions such as low light and wide field of view with the appropriate lens, which brings me to…

What is the best focal length to shoot real estate videos?

Go for a wide-angle lens if you’re shooting real estate.

Well, remember, you are shooting a property first and what is the number one thing that all properties have in common? They are never the same!

Each home you will enter will have its own weird corks. Some will have been built in the ’40s some in the ’70s and, some will be modern-day.

Each era of architecture had different ideas and frankly, the size of people and their spaces have changed over the last 100 years.

So, think basic here. You know each house will have a certain level of uncertainty, and first and for most, you are there to capture a home in its entirety! A lens that is versatile here is KEY!

The best lens for this job is going to be a Canon 16-35mm 2.8 or a Sigma 16-35mm 1.8.

Pro-Tip: how wide is too wide?

Remember a little efficacy comes in the play when shooting with wide-angle lenses. The wider you go the more the image is distorted making the room feel much bigger than it actually is.

Protect yourself and do not allow agents to pressure you into using a lens that is so wide that it miss represents a room. Misrepresenting a room can lead to claims of false advertisements something you want to stay away from.

Should I use a tripod, slider, or a steady-cam for real-estate video?

Think about it like this…photos are a snapshot and video brings in a more sophisticated look at the product before someone arrives. It gives a more real sense of how the space truly is before a customer can be onsite.

So currently the right answer here is no tripod, get the camera moving. Steady-cam or Slider will give the viewer a better sense of space and being there than a tripod.

Move the camera through spaces and show scale wherever possible!

Pro-Tip: Incorporate speed ramping for the added wow factor!

Read our guide Best Gimbal Stabilizers For DSLR And Mirrorless Cameras here.

Read our guide Six Things You Need to Know Before Buying a Tripod for Video here.

Read our guide Best Professional Camera Sliders For Any Budget here.

Should you buy a 360-degrees video camera for real-estate video?

I say stay out of this space. If you are going to offer 360-degrees video, offer it and own and don’t overlap video and 360 cameras unless if you are a Real Estate focused entity.

The space is flooded with guys who do 360 and it has its own specialized equipment.

If you are hell-bent on getting into it, however, then, by all means, do it. Be a business owner first. Be smart here and don’t spread your self to thin. 

How do I capture the house in its entirety?

The hero shot is always the front of the home or the backyard whatever is more sellable. An agent will let you know!

This hero shot can be done in any way you want as the creative control is in your quart here.

Get creative! Time-lapse, drone, steady-cam! 100% up to you!

Are drones a must-have for real estate video?

I would say yes. Most turn and burn real-estate gigs are fast-paced, and some agents don’t want to pay the big bucks for a fully well thought out video and the best substitute for that is an amazing drone shot. 

A drone captures so much and says so much about a neighborhood, the home and the geology around the home.

However, make sure you are in all compliance when flying your drone and be careful; this has the most significant risk factor during the entire shoot.

What lighting should I use for Real Estate videos?

Lighting is a fascinating subject matter when it comes to real estate videos. This boils down to one thing. Clients budget as always!

With photoshoots of homes, photographers use a method called bracketing, which allows for multiples shots at different exposures to be combined to get lighting even between the outside exposer and the inside exposer of a home. With video, we don’t have that luxury.

From a technical side of things, you can overcome this in two ways:

1. Use a pre-programmed slider shot

The first being a locked off pre-programmed slider shot to show movement.

You can then shoot two identical slider shots with one exposed for the room and one exposed to the outside exposure.

That way in post-production you will be able to mask off the underexposed inside of the home and combine both shots to have equal exposed slider shot.

2. Underexpose the shot

Another less technical way of pulling off a more equal exposure between outside and inside shots is to shoot everything a few clicks underexposed.

Not to the point where you lose exposure to extremely dark areas but enough to give the outside a fighting chance in post-production by raising the exposure levels and masking off the windows in post.

This technique works best when the home is welded due to its architectural design as well as a camera that has a full-frame sensor allowing for you to be a tad bit more radical with your ISO choice.

Tips for purchasing video lights for real-estate videos

If you are planning on purchasing lights, however, remember that you were battling the power of the sun for the exposure outside.

Check out our article How Many Watts Do I Need for Video Lighting? where you learn more about how to battle windows with continuous lighting.

99.9% of your real estate clients will not have the budget for those high-end lights however with the method used above of exposing more closely for the outside exposure bringing in lights will only help with narrowing that usability gap.

If you’re interested in budget-friendly lighting, you should read our guide to the 8 Best Budget-Friendly LED Lighting Kits For Video or our guide Best Portable LED Video Lights For DSLR & Mirrorless Cameras.

What type of music should I use for real estate videos?

I am a firm proponent like I mentioned above of making sure that you have a list that your real estate agent has given you precisely what they want to be shot.

I also believe that music should be chosen prior to shooting the home. Let the agent have a saying this as their vision may be different than yours.

You can either use royalty-free music that you find online or purchase the rights from such websites as Epidemic Soundaudiojungle.net or musicbed.com.

You can read our review of Epidemic Sound here.

If you’re new to royalty-free music, you can read our guide Royalty Free Music For Video. What, Why, Where, How?

Spend a good chunk of your pre-production time on finding the correct music. This truly sets the tone for not only the home but the neighborhood and the agent that is selling the house! 

What look should I go for in terms of color grading?

Unless if the realtor has a specific look that they are going for the best way to move forward is to shoot in a color grade that is light, crisp, and airy.

This is the current standard for professional video and photos in this space. The potential buyer of any home wants to see the product represented as almost heaven, no imperfections noticeable within the images.

What should I edit on?

Editing software is someone’s personal choice. I dare not tell you which software to use however I will suggest to you the top three, in my opinion.

Check out Final Cut by Apple and Premier by Adobe. You have heard those names before I’m sure, and chances are you most likely already are in one of these ecosystems.

If you are starting from complete scratch, check out these free video editors…Shotcut, Hitfilm Express, and DaVinci Resolve.

Can I shoot real estate videos by myself or do I need an assistant?!

Shooting real estate jobs is relatively easy and should only take one individual approximately 1 to 2 hours to shoot an entire home up to 2999 square feet – or less if it is just a property.

Now you may find that real estate agents not only want to shoot the home but local amenities in the area as well to make more of a lifestyle video.

If this is the case you still should be able to shoot this on your own, however, it is much more work and your price should reflect that if an agent request more than just the home shot.

How do I get my first client?

Getting your first client may seem to be the most daunting task. How are you supposed to get a client if you’ve never even shot a real estate video before?

Well, you are just gonna have to offer your service for free to one agent to get one underneath your belt.

For that matter, you may offer up to three free homes with different agents or a single agent to help you get your style and process under control.

Find an agent online via social media or their direct website and email them asking them if they have a home they would want to be shot for free!

Include other examples of your work and tell them you are trying to break into the real estate market and would love an opportunity to shoot a listing for them free of charge!

How much should I charge for a real estate video?

The toughest question for any artist is how much should I charge for my work?! There’s no right or wrong answer here however a good starting point would see how you stack up against the competition.

Explore competitor’s websites and see what they are charging and watch examples of their work to get a grasp on what your local market is a custom too.

Also, know your market size and potential!

This entirely depends on the area that you plan to shoot in and the average price of a home in that area.

A bigger market like Los Angeles is going to be much different than a small coastal community like Brookings, OR.

Do you know the agents make 6% on average of the cost of the home, which is split between the buyer’s agent and seller’s agent?

So unless your buyer is the same as your seller agent, the real estate agent is only making 3% of the total price of the home. That 3% typically has expenses tied into it such as photographers fees and video fees and any other marketing fees.

If you have an idea of what the house is going for, you can use this information to estimate the profit the real estate agent is going to bring home. Now, how big a slice of that do you want?

What other things should I be mindful of from a business owner standpoint?

One thing you should have to consider is getting insurance for your small videography company.

You are entering onto a premise that is in a gray area between being sold and being purchased by another party.

If anything happens to yourself or anything on the property, you can get into some quick legal issues that may be a significant pain in the butt.

I have had real estate agents show me the work from a new local videographer and was boasting about their quality and low cheap price.

After inspecting the footage, I pointed out relatively quickly that the individual was actually flying a drone in the house. I then asked the agent what happens when the drone crashes into those oak cabinets and destroys the finish on them. Who is responsible?

The agent quickly looked at me and realized that paying me a little bit extra was well worth the risk mitigation.


Otis Ryder is a professional photographer and videographer who has shot real estate videos for over a decade.

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