Real Estate Video – Equipment, Settings and Shot Ideas

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Real Estate Video – Equipment, Settings and Shot Ideas

One of the most-asked questions I get from y’all is how do I do real estate video? What equipment do you use, what settings do you use, how do you actually put everything together? We’ll divide this up into a couple of posts so this doesn’t turn into a huge book. For now, let’s take a look at the equipment I use when capturing video for real estate, what settings I set on my camera and different angles or shots that I take throughout the home.

May 8, 2016 – Added Focal Point bullet point to both Exteriors and Interiors settings list.

Real Estate Video Equipment

When I first started my business back in 2010 I was shooting just stills. I saw the rise of video and decided to add walk-through tours as part of my services. At the time I only had my Canon 60D (cropped), so I used that for both stills and video. It worked great! However because interiors are generally dark, and I love buying new toys, I later purchased a Canon 5D MKII to handle the video side and continued to use my 60D for stills. Fast forward to today, and I use a Canon 5D MKIII for stills (for built-in higher bracketing) and the Canon 5D MKII for video.

I would recommend using a camera that records 1080p video. Video is more of a “luxury” service, so it’s important to me that it looks good. It drives me crazy seeing these big-box companies offering video for super cheap, and then you go look at them and they are delivering 480p videos! Not even 720p?! You and your clients with appreciate the higher resolution, so up your game to 1080p.

You can find a list of my camera gear on the Equipment page.

For pan/tilt shots (basically everything where I’m not walking with the DJI Ronin-M) I use an ePhoto 717AH Fluid Head on top of my tripod legs. I have been using this head for years and haven’t had any problems. And as mentioned, I use the DJI Ronin-M for the actual walking portions of my real estate video tours, and you can find my review of the Ronin in a previous post.

Exteriors

Let’s take a look at the exterior shots I do, and what settings I use for real estate video.

  • ISO 100-320
    • I generally use something low. It’s bright outside, so we can go really low on ISO to contain the light.
  • 1/50 Shutter
    • The DSLR video masters state you should shoot with a shutter that’s twice your frames per second. Since I shoot at 24fps, I keep the shutter at 1/50 (24*2=48, so 50 is the closest value) at all times.
  • F/8-22
    • It’s bright outside so you’ll usually have a small aperture. I’m usually around F/18.
  • 23mm-40mm
    • Focal length is just dependent on how far away I am, what I’m focusing on, etc. These values are assumed to be for a full-frame.
  • 4600K White Balance
    • Choose what you think looks the best on the LCD. I find that 4600K works great for me.
  • 1920 x 1080/24fps
  • Focal Point
    • Focus is set to Auto on lens, and AI Focus on camera. I focus on the property itself before each shot to set the focus, and it stays that way throughout the shot. It doesn’t auto-focus and auto-adjust as I shoot.

To be efficient and deliver a consistent product, I usually shoot all videos with similar angles. For exteriors, I almost always start with a full-view pan of the front of the property. I then showcase one or both sides of the home. I may pick something on the property to zoom in and draw attention to, and then finally I do a closeup tilt of the front door. I try to make sure each shot is a different direction than the previous shot. So if I’m panning left to right, and my next shot is a pan, I’ll pan right to left. Or if I am panning left to right, I can have a tilt shot be next to mix things up.

Here are some examples of exteriors for a property, cut out of a final, edited video.

Interiors

Now for interiors, what shots I do and what settings I use for real estate video.

  • ISO 1250-1600
    • Interiors are generally dark, so you need to bump up ISO in order to get them bright enough.
  • 1/50 Shutter
    • Same shutter as exteriors, doubling my 24fps.
  • F/4-8
    • Mostly shooting around F/4, again because it’s interiors that are dark and we need a larger aperture to let more light in.
  • 23mm
    • I almost always never change from 23mm indoors. Just like in stills, I feel this is a good balance between wide and minimal distortion/perspective issues.
  • 3600K White Balance
    • Again choose what you think looks best. It’s important to get it as close as possible in camera, as video is harder to color correct than RAW stills. For bathrooms with no window light, you’ll find you may need to drop down to 2800K or so to cool the video temperature down.
  • 1920 x 1080/24fps
  • Focal Point
    • Focus is set to Auto on lens, and AI Focus on camera. I focus roughly 10 feet ahead of me before walking shots to set the focus, and it stays that way throughout the shot. It doesn’t auto-focus and auto-adjust as I shoot. If I’m doing multiple large scale rooms I won’t touch the focal point between shots. If I switch to doing something smaller like panning a smaller bedroom, and especially bathrooms, I’ll re-set the focus to something more appropriate, like the front of the vanities in a bathroom, etc.

I usually start my interiors facing the door to transition the view from outside to inside. I like to walk toward the door, and showcase the first “main” room they would be seeing if they walked inside. This is usually a study/office, maybe a dining room.. If the home starts off with guest rooms I’ll avoid them and instead head straight to the kitchen or main living as that’s more important to me than guest rooms. The goal is to show the layout as best as possible, while trying to minimize walk time so the video doesn’t get TOO long.

A Note About ISO

I set ISO to manual when shooting real estate video. I personally don’t like when videos are done in auto-ISO and the camera constantly adjusts itself to raise/lower ISO. It’s distracting when you walk toward a living room with a huge bank of windows and the camera lowers the ISO to try and even the lighting out. I’m more interested in showcasing the interior – we’ll shoot video of the rest of the exterior at the end. So I keep the ISO static, so we can see the inside. If I walk from one space to the next and the lighting is drastically different, I’ll walk toward the second space, stop, adjust ISO/Aperture, then re-walk that transition into the second space.  I use a dissolve transition to blend all clips together anyway, so I’ll just blend the two to account for the lighting difference.

Here are some examples of walking into a space and panning to show the space once I am inside.

 

Like with still photos, I tend to do 2-5 different angles of the main living areas when shooting real estate video. Living rooms, kitchens, master bed/bath… they all deserve more than just one angle. Here is how I show the master bedroom in this particular video.

 

For bathrooms I tend to take my camera off the Ronin-M and put it back on the tripod. I then either pan or tilt. It’s difficult staying out mirrors/reflections with the Ronin-M. With a tripod you can duck out of the way, get low, etc. Here’s the master bath.

 

One last example I want to show, which is how I handle 2-story homes. To transition from the first floor to the second, I show the stairs and I begin to walk up. However I don’t show the whole walking sequence up the steps due to time. You could do it with the Ronin-M, it will be stable enough, but there’s just no point in making the viewer wait for me to walk up the steps. I show the steps and the initial walk toward them, then I transition to the upstairs.

Final Thoughts

We still have a lot to go over! We didn’t discuss anything about the actual editing/hosting/delivery process of real estate video. We also need to talk about marketing and some of the questions you can run into when offering video for your clients. And I assume you want to see the final video that was delivered from the clips above? Here ya go!

 

 

By | 2017-07-20T00:38:42+00:00 May 7th, 2017|How To|9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. bob May 7, 2017 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Thanks for the clips for RE video. It was quite informative and well done

  2. Greg May 8, 2017 at 9:06 am - Reply

    More good information Lance! It always nice to hear how others do it. I’ve got one other question though about shooting video. How do you handle focusing? When shooting at F4 with a shallow depth of field, where are you setting the focus? Is focus set on Manual of Automatic?

    Thanks for the info!

    • Lance Selgo May 8, 2017 at 9:17 am - Reply

      Hi Greg,

      I focus about 10 feet in front of me. At that focus distance, with my camera at f/4 and 23mm, I have a near limit of 5.93 feet and a far limit of 31.9 feet. Check out a depth of field calculator with your setup if you are worried, but shooting so wide, you don’t get such a shallow depth of field at the bigger apertures like you do when shooting zoomed in.

      Lance

      • Greg May 8, 2017 at 10:04 am - Reply

        Thanks Lance! You’re definitely and numbers guy:) Never heard of a Depth of Field Calculator, I look into it.

      • thomas graham May 11, 2017 at 7:56 am - Reply

        I was concerned about leaving the camera on manual focus and just setting it to around 10-12′, but it seems to work well. Everything in the room is in focus, near and far. A hard concept to go with after taking stills and focusing 1/3 into the room and always being super conscious about focus.

  3. Matt Engel May 24, 2017 at 9:45 pm - Reply

    Hi Lance! Great Post!

    You’ve got me thinking seriously about getting the DJI Ronin-M. Hand holding the camera trying to pan or soft-walk through a room is nearly impossible. Trying to fix that in post is very quirky. I’m looking forward to your follow-up posts on this. I’m very curious of your post processing techniques.

    • Lance Selgo May 24, 2017 at 10:01 pm - Reply

      Don’t hesitate – get the Ronin-M! I could not be more thrilled with how well it works, and how long each battery charge lasts. It’s insane!

  4. Dustin June 13, 2017 at 6:12 pm - Reply

    Hey Lance!
    Your info had been so helpful. Thank you very much. I see some real estate videos where you can see outside through the windows but I cant get my Canon 6D to expose correctly for inside and outside at the same time. Is that something you have tried to work with? I noticed that your windows are white and don’t show outside. Is it possible for the camera to show outside with shooting in manual mode? Auto just doesn’t work cause the camera will “jump” and it does not look great, but I just can’t figure out how videographers get both inside and outside exposed together!

    • Lance Selgo June 13, 2017 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Dustin,

      There are only a few ways that I know of. The problem is dSLR cameras don’t have a wide enough dynamic range for us shooting interiors. So the videos you have seen most likely:

      1. Shot with an expensive camcorder with a higher dynamic range and then post-processed to bring back highlights
      2. Interior light boosted with supplemental lighting
      3. Shot at dusk when the outside light is less harsh, making the interior closer to exterior
      4. Shot in some form of HDR mode

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