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June 25, 2013 at 8:39 AM #67885
I am looking to start a realty video business. I have a friend that is a realtor and have talked to her about this some. I am wanting to start this off on a very small scale and it will be a part time business for me. I am looking at around a $400 budget for just a camera just to get started. I know that is fairly low considering some of the cameras out there, but this is about as much as I would be comfortable in losing on a camera if the business doesn't take off. As/if the business grows, I will upgrade equipment later. Does anyone have any suggestions as to which cameras I should look at in order to do this? I haven't had a whole lot of video experience, but I don't think I will have a problem learning as I go. I tend to pick up on these types of things very quickly.
My plan is to start off using only music and no voice overs. I will be starting off with Premiere Elements as my editing software. If the need comes about, I will look into adding narration at a later date. I have done a lot of looking around my area and it doesn’t seem like anyone is offering this service. I feel like I could have a lot of room to expand if this takes off. Is there any tips or advice anyone can give me on this subject? Thanks.
June 25, 2013 at 7:25 PM #208014
This sounds like a great idea! I did some research and found a few other companies offering similar services. One is called Realty Video Tour: http://www.realtyvideotour.net/ They seem to have a nice template put together where they are able to combine their interior video with some custom music but to me, their prices are a bit low for what they're offering. However, they are quite competitive! They seem to be using a consumer model HD camcorder for their services.
Another is called AgentCasts: http://www.agentcasts.com/ They have some easy listening style music in their videos along with a very good narrator talking about the finer parts of the home. If the picture on the home page of their website is any indication, it looks as if they are filming their productions on a Sony DCR-VX2100 DV camcorder (in SD). I wouldn't recommend this since most people will likely want their production done in HD (psychologically it makes clients feel better about your services) and since tape takes a while to digitize, but I will say their prices are at least more along the lines of what I would expect.
With these websites in mind, and with my own assumptions about what you would need included, I would recommend a camcorder like the Canon Vixia HF M40. The reason I would pick this camcorder is because it fits your budget ($350 on Amazon), has a larger image sensor (1/3 inch rather than 1/4), records to an affordable SD card, has a wide angle lens (at 43mm), and has an onboard memory of 16 GB. In addition, the camcorder records in both an MP4 and AVCHD mode which will both work smoothly in Adobe Premiere Elements. If you did get this camcorder, I would buy the optional bigger battery the BP-819 in order to get more recording time. You never know how long these shoots might take you – especially in a large home!
June 25, 2013 at 7:31 PM #208011designcbtsParticipant
You are wise to keep your costs (overhead) low. I would also advise you to make your clips (time spent videoing, editing, etc.) short.
Once you actually start workig, you'll find a natural flow that works for you. By minimizng your investment, you can charge a reasonable, i.e. cheap, price on to your customer.
June 26, 2013 at 7:43 AM #208021
Thanks Ed. That is what I was thinking as well.
It’s funny that you mentioned realtyvideotours.net. The owner is actually the one who pointed me to this site. I hit him up to see if he would share some tips and thoughts about what he does. He is an extremely nice person!!! He shared a lot of information about what and how he does things. I did ask him about a camera choice, but never got a direct answer on it. I didn't want to push the issue with him since he had shared so much more information with me.
I agree with you on having an HD camera as well, if for nothing else just the selling point to my future clients. I have searched for some cameras in this price range and had narrowed my search down to what I thought would be possible good choices. The Canon Vixia M40 and the Sony Handyman HDR-CX130 are the two that I thought would be good for what I needed. These are based off the descriptions and reviews that I had read. My knowledge on video cameras is very limited at best. I am slowly leaning more about them. So I'm glad to see you recommended the Canon. It makes me feel like I'm on the right track on my search. I still have a whole lot of learning to do though. Hahaha.
Thanks for the information. It is a huge help and very much appreciated. Any other advice or camera choices are very much appreciated as well.
June 27, 2013 at 2:34 AM #208037
Ed is right. Lighting is a huge aspect of any quality video production. He is also right in recommending quartz flood lights from a big box retail store. They are inexpensive, use the same bulbs as "professional" lighting, and with the right kind of diffusion can look just as good if not better than professional lights. You'll lose some flexibility and that "professional look" of your equipment but you just can't beat what you get for the price. In addition, Videomaker has published some great articles on their website showing how you can convert a quartz halogen light from a big box retailer into a more flexible unit with barn doors, baby pins, diffusers, and more: http://www.videomaker.com/article/14583-do-it-yourself-lighting-kit. They also have another article on making your own diffuser that could be of some use: http://www.videomaker.com/videonews/2010/09/8727-lighting-tip-diy-light-diffuser
The big thing to remember is that setting up lighting can often take time so you'll have to consider how often a home setting needs additional lighting to look good. If most locations look okay with the lights available in the home, you may just want to put a section into your contract that states what kind of lighting situations work best for homes so the realtor or seller know what lights to keep on or have in the house.
On the other hand you could just flip your LCD screen around on your camcorder (so you can instantly see what the light is doing to the scene) and slowly move your light and light stand around the room until the lighting looks good. I would reccommend going with a light that requires very little setup and that can be moved easily around the house. You don't want to waste a lot of time on the shoot setting up and tearing down lights. The LowePro Rifa softbox light "pops" open and breaks down to a very small shape if you want to go the more professional route: http://www.lowel.com/kits_rifa.html. Or a quartz halogen work light with a diffuser could work as well! It's up to you 🙂
Great suggestion Ed.
Lastly, I like both of the camcorder choices you're considering. That being said, I would recommend going with the Vixia M40 due to its more substantial HD video quality. That's just my two cents!
June 27, 2013 at 3:52 AM #208028EddieValiantParticipant
There's some real estate business in my area that runs ads on Craigslist from time to time, looking for videographers to take footage of home interiors. One of the things they insist on is quality lighting – not on-camera but something with a bright, wide spread.
Makes some sense. Potential customers want to see detail. So, look around for lighting. eBay is a good place. If money is tight, there's always the quartz flood lights from Lowes. May not look like Arris, but they'll help out. Just be sure to diffuse the light to prevent hard shadows.
June 28, 2013 at 7:31 AM #208057JosephParticipant
I did a quick search on Amazon and B&H and couldn't find the M40 for the prices mentioned. It seems to be a camera that's on its way out. (It's a good camera, though.) The R40 is in that ballpark and the R400 is even cheaper (no internal flash memory which to me is no big deal. I have a stack of SD cards.)
The R400 has a very small sensor as you would expect from this price range so if you go with a camera like this, make sure you use the best lighting practices possible. You can get creative and come up with a suitable light kit for under $100. Or actually buy one from a company such as Cowboy Studios for under $100. Even just a clip light with an aluminum dish with about a 75-100 watt equivilant bulb can make a big difference. Try bouncing it off a white ceiling to give the room a nice glow if it's too dark.
For high lumen needs, a set of halogen work lights can often do the trick as someone mentioned. If you can't rig a defuser, turn them around and bounce them off of a wall/ceiling/or foam core board. Be careful with walls though since the color of the wall may also be reflected.
The benefit of the R400 is that it runs from 24p through full 1080 60p. You'll have options for the look you want. 60p can be very crisp and lifelike if that's what you are going for. 24p is more dreamy and film-like (due to the motion blur.) Of course, I don't suspect there is a lot of motion in a video of a house or building.
Which reminds me – check out DIY table dollies/sliders. A little movement used appropriately can go a long way to make your video more interesting.
July 1, 2013 at 10:46 AM #208080
Thanks again for all of the great advice. I will have a lot of learning and tinkering with lighting once I get my camera. It does seem like the M40 is on the way out. Canon no longer has it on their website. So, I started looking around some more myself. I'm kind of leaning towards the M500 now. They seem to be going for around $500. It's a little over what I was wanting to start out with, but I can swing the extra $100. I am going to try and talk to my realtor friend this Friday to discuss the business in further detail. Once I get a good promising feeling that she is on board, I will order the camera.
I am planning on building a dolly for give a more of a walk through experience. A lot of the businesses I have looked at are doing video tours, but they aren't much more than slightly animated still shots. To me, that is kind of pointless of doing them with video. As a recent home buyer, with a tight schedule, I was wanting a walkthrough of the house, without having to setup a tour to see it. So, my thought is, build a dolly that stands between chest to eye level and roll it through the house. I've seen some businesses doing video tours, but they are just slightly animated stills. They stand in one spot, spin around a little then transition to another room and repeat the process. To me, that doesn't give you the layout and feel of the house.
Does anyone know of a good place to educate myself on the lighting subject? I’ll search this site to see what I can find as well. I’ve never used any kind of lighting before, so I need to figure out where to start and how to make it look somewhat natural.
Thanks again for all of the help and information.
July 1, 2013 at 7:32 PM #208095
I like your camera choice! It still keeps the large sensor and the SD cards which should make your video look great. I also agree wholeheartedly with dellwovideo. Dolly shots go a long way in showing depth of objects and a high degree of professionalism. If you do plan on using a dolly, I would get a slider dolly that sits on a tripod for the most efficient filmmaking. You can actually build your own in order to get the cheapest price. Otherwise, a DIY tabletop dolly is also rather passable!
Again, I wish you the best in your realty video business! I think it's a wide open market to get into right now. Good luck!
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