Earlier in 2020, right before the pandemic hit, I was hired by Jared York, President of J.W. York Homes to create a real estate video that would highlight his planned development of 23 new homes in one of Athens, Georgia’s most desirable neighborhoods – Parkside at Normaltown.
Having filmed and produced my fair share of real estate videos, I was determined to do something unique for this project. My wish was to make it thoughtful and definitely different from the typical “tour of homes” videos that crowd the internet. You’ve seen them. They are the two to four minute productions that start with drone flyover shots and morph into the camera-on-a-gimbal walk throughs with little to no dialogue.
Most of the time these real estate videos are beautifully filmed and feature lovely cinematography. But, they’re kind of boring, don’t you think?
I would love to take credit and say that this concept of rethinking the real estate video was my own original idea. But that’s not the case. When researching and brainstorming a novel approach to filming this project, I came across the Never Too Small YouTube channel.
The Australian based Never Too Small is a media company dedicated to small footprint design and living. They feature award-winning designers and highlight tiny apartment designs on their beautifully curated NTS YouTube channel.
I was immediately drawn to the calm simplicity and information packed videos on their channel. I immediately knew this was the type of production I wanted to create for my client.
After spending a few hours engrossed in watching the Never Too Small videos and taking notes on their production, I met with Jared to share the ideas of what I wanted to do.
He and I watched a few highlights of their video productions and he quickly agreed that this was the approach he’d like for me to take with the neighborhood video. I was pretty excited.
Executing My Vision
To get started, I knew I would need a well written shot list of all of the components of the model homes’ features that we would be filming in. Then there was also the need for a strong, descriptive dialogue from Jared.
Lucky for both of us, Jared knew the project like the back of his hand and he was able to quickly jot down the key selling points for the homes in his development.
We agreed to meet one morning at the model home to start the process of filming his dialogue.
Jared was mic’ed up using a Sennheiser wireless lavaliere microphone plugged into a Canon EOSR. Instead of him simply reading off the script, I took the script and started to ask him questions about the main features of the development and homes.
This proved to work very well because it felt and sounded more organic. Like Jared and I were having a real conversation about the bedrooms, the types of sliding doors and back porches, rather than him potentially sounding like a sales person while reading directly from a piece of paper.
After capturing about 15 minutes of audio on camera, I took the notes and began my filming of b-roll in the model home. One of my favorite parts about this concept was the fact that shots were only captured via tripod.
This is one of the key differences that I wanted to achieve. This simple, yet underutilized concept in today’s real estate video productions helps draw the viewer into the video and allows them to quickly explore the room with their eyes as the video image stays on the screen. It’s a much better concept that a glide cam or fancy gimbal movements through a kitchen.
Adding Flashes of Delight
When I re-watch the video, I tend to notice a myriad of little things I did in my effort to make it unique and different than the typical real estate videos that get published online. But, I’m going to share the backstory for three moments to help illustrate how simple, easy-to-film nuances can make the production stand out.
- The Musical Accompaniment: I wanted a relaxed feel to the overall tenor of the video and was able to find the track “Mountain Path” by Joseph Beg via Epidemic Sound. I downloaded just the melody stem and it worked perfectly with the cadence of the shots and matched Jared’s descriptive dialogue.
- The Barn Doors Closing: In order to break up the still, tripod video clips of the interior of the home, I wanted to create some movement in the background. When Jared described the barn doors that were a feature in the kitchen, I knew that’s where I wanted to add some movement. I had my son kneel down behind the island and close the doors by hand. I love this shot.
- Jared’s Door Transition: A simple concept that often gets overlooked in traditional real estate videos. I had Jared walk through the frame from the inside of the porch, open the door, and walk away. I then moved the camera outside for a reverse angle and he performed the same walk. Then in post, it’s a simple cut at the point he walks out. This takes no time to film and it’s even easier to edit, but adds such a wow factor and keeps the viewer interested.
The Finished Production of Parkside at Normaltown
All in all, the production from start to finish only took a few weeks. There were some revisions and revisits to the development for me to gather those “catch up” shots.
I was and still am very pleased how the entire feel of the video turned out. It even passed my own personal litmus test – my family. I have three kids and every video production I create for a client passes through them first. If it keeps their attention and they like it, I did a good job. If they complain, lose interest or have critiques about the video, I have to go back to my editing software and fix some things. They don’t sugarcoat anything and they loved it.
The video runs a little over four minutes and the best compliment I can receive (and I did in this instance from my kids) when the viewer is finished is – “Oh wow, it was four minutes? It didn’t seem that long.”
I hope you get a chance to watch the full video and let me know what you think?
The Camera Gear I Used
My primary camera was a Canon EOSR. I used a Sigma 18-35mm lens for the interior shots and interview. The wireless microphone system used was a Sennheiser AVX-ME2 set. The tripod for all of the interior shots was an easy to maneuver travel tripod from Manfrotto called the Befree. As for the drone, I use a DJI Mavic Air.
All of the primary footage was shot at 1080p and 24fps. The drone footage was shot in 4k at 30fps. One of the best tips I’ve heard when shooting drone video is to film at 30fps and then slow it down in post. It adds just enough slow motion and is a pleasure to work with. The final sequence was edited in a 24fps timeline and rendered out at 4k for longevity of the video.
(Writing as if someone else is introducing me to you) Scott Duvall resides in the Athens, Georgia area and specializes in video production, photography and podcast production. If you’re looking for professional content for your brand or business, Scott would love to help. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.