How to shoot Real Estate video (Part 1/2)

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As the Real Estate market has been getting hotter and hotter over the last few years, more and more people are getting into creating content for Real Estate marketing purposes. We often get asked what equipment is required to shoot real estate videos, and what are some tips for doing so, so we’ve created an informative post to help you out.

As we have gone to quite some detail, we thought it might be easier to split the topic into 2 parts.

In Part 1, we will just focus on “How to use gimbals to shoot real estate video”:

  1. Ninja walk (2 pictures/short clips to show you how to do it, Zhiyun has previous tutorial videos about this).
  2. Dolly mode, forward and backwards, using the joystick to combine tilting + dolly movements.
  3. Tracking/panning, very effective for close up detail shots or foreground/background separation.
  4. Pedestal, up/down movements, also adding panning in pedestal movement.
  5. Exploring the other modes with the gimbals, such as selfie (vlogging style), portrait mode (for easier social media sharing), or even vortex mode.
  6. Thinking about editing/story line while you plan for your shots.

In part Part 2, we will cover gear selection and camera settings including the following:

  1. Camera/lens, especially lens choices.
  2. APS-C versus full-frame sensors, and things to consider when choosing between them.
  3. Camera settings: aperture, LOG format, manual or auto mode, ISO, shutter speed etc.
  4. Gimbal choices, audio, and lighting.

Intro

So, you want to shoot Real Estate videos. Where do you start? Firstly, Real Estate video is NOT quite the same as Real Estate Photography. With Photography you have one frame to showcase the most of a room or area, so you get the widest lens possible without creating any distorted lines.

Typically for Real Estate video you want to sit at a focal length of around 18mm to 20mm full-frame equivalent (12mm to 14mm on APS-C or cropped sensors). This is so your shot remains wide, while you still allow space for movement. Movement in your shot is part the beauty of having video over a still photo!

So how do you make sure you get smooth professional-looking footage? The best option is to use a camera gimbal/stabiliser.

real estate video gear, camera settings for real estate video

How to balance a gimbal

Using a stabiliser for the first time can be tricky and overwhelming, so let’s walk you through on how to get set up. First things first, you need to stabilise the gimbal before you turn it on. To do this, once your camera is on the gimbal, start adjusting the camera along the different arms. Each arm is responsible for a different axis of stabilisation. Move the camera back and forth or side to side to adjust the different axes. This can take a bit of trial and error until you get it right, but once you’ve done it you will know what to do next time. When you have the camera stabilised on all axes, you can turn the gimbal on.

Tip: If you are using your own gimbal (not a rental) you can make a little mark on the different arms as to where the right balancing point is.

Gimbal Techniques

The Ninja Walk

Now that you have your gimbal set up and the camera balanced, it’s time to get moving. There are some techniques to using the gimbal to maximise its potential: first, the walk. You can’t walk flat-footed as you normally would because this will create a ‘bobbing’ effect in your footage.

Instead, use what is called ‘The Ninja Walk’. Slightly bend your knees and start walking from heel to toe. This rolling movement of your foot along the ground helps to take away the “step” motion which causes the bobbing effect. Keep the gimbal close to your chest for maximum smoothness. This technique can be used to create a dolly shot where you push into a room or pull out of a room. If you struggle to walk backwards, you can always just do the movement going forwards and reverse the footage when editing.

The Ninja Walk

A nice touch to really enhance your Real Estate video is to use the joystick on the gimbal to pan the camera up or down at the same time to create a more revealing shot.

A similar movement to the dolly is a tracking shot. This is similar to the dolly movement but you are moving the camera from left to right or vice versa. These are great as transition shots, as you can either start from behind an object to reveal a room, or end behind an object to block your frame and transition into the next shot.

Pedestal

Another popular shot for Real Estate Video is the Pedestal , which is similar to re-creating a crane movement. Instead of using a crane you can just use your arms. Holding the gimbal in front of you, move the camera up or down using your legs. (Yes, you may need to practise your squats!) If the setup is too heavy, you can lock your elbows against your stomach or hips for extra support. Combine this with a slight pan and you get a great revealing shot!

Gimbal Parameters

Real Estate video is all about smooth movements. To help you get the smoothest possible footage while using the above techniques, set your gimbal’s parameters to Low. This way the gimbal will be slower in its movements, giving you more control than if the gimbal was being very responsive. Normally you will shoot in Pan Follow (PF) mode so that you can reveal shots. As you move around, the gimbal will follow your motion. However, when you are doing a dolly shot and moving in a straight line it’s best to set your gimbal to Lock (L) mode. This will keep your gimbal locked-off and facing forward the whole time. I like to think of this as the Chicken Head mode..!

Portrait Mode

Something else to keep in mind is where the Real Estate video is going to be seen. A lot of the time it will be posted to social media and simply watched on someone’s phone. It can be prudent to frame your shots for mobile ratios (i.e. vertically), so that your footage still looks amazing on phones. This is much better than trying to crop your video when editing, as you may not have framed your shot with the vertical ratio in mind. Thankfully, newer gimbals now come with a vertical mode, so it’s easy to switch. If your gimbal doesn’t offer this, you can manually set it up by moving the joystick left or right until your camera is vertical.

Image credit: Chris Spiegl YouTube channel

Now that you’ve learnt these gimbal techniques needed to shoot professional-looking Real Estate video, it’s time to go and practice! After you’ve perfected your movements, come back and read the next section. We’ll cover the camera settings and gear needed, including cameras, lenses, gimbals, audio and a touch on lighting. See you there!

Written by: Matthew Lewis, Sales rep at Photogear Ponsonby

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