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10 Tips I Learned From My First Listing Video Shoot

Ah, video. It’s the sexiest new trend in real estate presentation and is, by far, one of the most difficult skills to build up while juggling every other task an agent has resting on their shoulders. Although there will definitely be a learning curve when you start doing video I can assure you the payoff will be more than worth it.

To help save you a ton of time and frustration I’ve outlined ten tips I learned on the path to my first real estate listing video shoot below. I also included my first listing video at the bottom of the post for you to critique. It’s not perfect but check it out anyway! 😉

1. Create a list of the video shots you want/need. – I picked up this cool tip from the photography blog of Scott Hargis. It’s so easy to get caught up in the craziness of taking pictures and video of a home that you forget what you wanted to shoot.

Make a list of what video angles you want for your video (a storyboard is a great way to summarize this) so you can remember to focus on those before getting other shots.

2. Make sure you’re using the right equipment. – Okay, confession time. I attempted the video you see below once before but scrapped all of the video because I used the wrong equipment. I thought it would be okay to use my photo tripod for video but that’s not the case. Get a smooth panning video tripod like the Slik U9000 so your video doesn’t come out jerky or jittery.

3. Find your style. – I watched hours of real estate videos including videos by Ian Watt, Mike Lefebvre and stuff I found on WellcomeMat before planning my first video shoot. I didn’t get to capture everything I wanted because I rushed the video on this project (violating tip #6 below).

In the end, I still feel like the final result encompasses some of my style by being fast paced and upbeat. My goal was to create a fast, fun video that didn’t oversell the home and didn’t feel like it was dying of the generic feel many real estate videos have.

4. Set the stage for your video shoot. – This tip is a twofer. Not only should your property be set to stun when you’re filming but it should be absent of any homeowners, kids, pets, aliens and other assorted types that could pop up in the video.

Remember, video is the one medium where you can’t easily edit out stray elements. If you’ve got a kid staring at you from outside the window your video is wrecked and needs to be redone.

5. Practice! Practice! Practice! – Just like an athlete needs to train before a marathon, you should practice using your tools (tripod, video camera etc.) before game day. I didn’t practice panning on my new tripod as much as I should have and it shows in the video. Because it’s my first video I was a little bit more lenient with the quality but you can guess who is getting double time training before the next shoot.

6. Be patient and make sure you have plenty of time to shoot. – This is the most important tip, ever. Shooting video takes a good amount of time, especially when you’re new at it, and its not something you should try doing in a pinch. You should be well rested and have a few hours blocked out for filming until you get your own filming routine down.

7. Shoot in the late morning/afternoon only. – Ready for my biggest pet peeve? I hate shooting video in the late afternoon/early evening because the outside lighting change is so obvious. In my video I neglected to follow this tip but next time I’ll start filming around 11:00 am instead of 2:00 pm.

Also, don’t record video at night if you can help it. For one, the windows turn into mirrors making filming much more difficult than it needs to be. Blacked out windows don’t look great on video either.

8. Record the same scene multiple times. – The saving grace for my video was the fact that I filmed the same scenes 3-4 times. Some of the clips were downright shake ‘n bake awful while other first cuts ended up better than my later attempts. You can NEVER have too much video.

9. Know your post-editing requirements and process. – How much hard drive space do you need to download one hour of 1080i HD video? I didn’t measure my HD video download because I have a 1.5TB external drive but a quick Google search indicate one hour of HD video will consume 4GB of hard drive space. Grabbing an inexpensive external drive will save you time later.

Another bottleneck common in video editing is an older computer that doesn’t comfortably process video editing. My aging Macbook Pro collapses under the pressure of video editing + multi-tasking so I picked up a refurbed iMac to handle video editing.

10. Choose a video host wisely. – With all this talk of videography there is one important point that we almost overlooked. Did you know that Vimeo explicitly forbids real estate video walkthroughs? They’ll delete those suckers on ya, even if you’re a paid member.

Viddler, made famous by super blogger Gary Vaynerchuk and tech blog Engadget, is free for non-commercial use but business use starts at $100/month.

Brightcove (used by the Better Homes and Garden Real Estate Blog) is similarly priced at $99/month.

You could always go the YouTube route which I did for the time being but I’ll probably pick up a Viddler subscription when I’m ready to host these videos on my sites. YouTube is okay but it has a chintzy Walmart feel to it (in my opinion) because of the diverse subject matter the site is known for. Your video host reflects on your business so keep that in mind while shopping video hosts.

Without further ado, here is my very first listing video:


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  • Great article. Thanks for the tips. Here is one for you. Zipvo. Free website for Real Estate Videos.

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  • Nice post Joshua. A couple of things:

    Music, while important, may not be useable unless you make the music. Do you have any tips or suggestions on where to find useable music and second, what kind of camera are you using for the video?

    • Thanks Ryan. You can download royalty free music from places like iStockPhoto Audio ( I haven't used yet but they seem to have quite a collection (

      Apple's iMovie software comes with a collection of royalty free audio tracks and sounds to use for your movies too which is what I did in this instance.

      If you don't mind giving up some creative control you can use Animoto ( to create your video where they also have a wide choice of royalty free music to use as part of their paid membership program.

      My camera is a Canon HG10. It's a 30GB HD camera that I picked up for about $700 on Amazon though I think it's successor can sometimes be had for less. You could also try recording with a compact camera or D-SLR capable of HD video recording depending on your needs.

  • I think you did a fantastic job with this video. It's better than most that I've seen. I like your approach of just moving the camera using your tripod controls. Too often, agents try to do a walk-through and it comes out looking terrible. Are you using iMovie to produce the video?

    • JoshuaFerris

      Thanks Norm! I used iMovie '09 to produce the video from end to end. Once I get more experience under my belt I might eventually move up to Final Cut Studio or Adobe products.

  • Thanks for all of the great suggestions in this article. I definitely need to take the suggestions about using a tripod. I'm notorious for shaking the video camera while shooting. Do you have any suggestions about creating more light if it's not possible to shoot during the day?

    • JoshuaFerris

      Glad to hear you found the article useful Stephanie. Lighting is one of the trickiest parts of photography and videography. I don't have much experience with artificial lighting because I'm very budget conscious but if daytime shooting isn't an option you could always try lighting kits from places like B&H:

      The only other option I can think of off hand is to turn on all the lights in the house and make sure you don't record your reflection in the windows. A lot of times professional photographers (and videographers I suspect) will put window film over windows to prevent reflections from appearing in their work.

  • Great post and very good video

  • hmpestates

    Great article.Ive just started with the flip video and ran into issues with the quality of the video- these thips really helped

    • JoshuaFerris

      Thanks. Be sure to use a tripod with the Flip because I don't think they have image stabilization built-in to the camera's recording. iMovie offers image stabilization for your video after the fact and there may be other editing suites that have a similar feature. I just <3 iMovie because it's apart of the inexpensive iLife '09 software package. 🙂

      • hmpestates

        Thanks I will check it out

  • I like the way you put up the video. It takes a lot of patience to create a video.

  • Very cool video. How long did the whole process take you from soup to nuts? I am considering getting a camera to do some real video (right now doing mostly pans/zooms on stills. I like how you interleaved that with the video.


    • JoshuaFerris

      Thanks Joe. I would estimate the video recording took 3 hours because I was still learning how to use all the equipment. Once I get more experience I think it'll take an hour because I'll know what I want to shoot, angles etc.

      The photos are a compilation from about 7 different photo shoots I did in that community because I list all of the homes for sale for the builder.

      iMovie '09 was the genius behind the photo presentation because I needed some “filler” for the video. The video felt very excessive when it was just the video shots alone and I think the photos add a balancing effect to the overall video.

      • daver

        very nice work, Josh!

        how did you do the dolly shots, like the ones where you roll past the napkins in the glasses? it's not hand-held, and some of those shots are in carpeted rooms.

        • Thanks Daver. I used a mini dolly. I'll be writing about that in a future post! 🙂

  • The video turned out great. I really like the scrolling text effects as well. And thanks for the tips on where to find royalty free music, checking out istockphoto now.

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  • Hi Joshua,

    Regarding #10.

    At, we built our own video player/hosting solution for our clients because of what Vimeo was doing. One day, over 100 of Ian Watt's videos were taken down by Vimeo and he was not even doing listing tours, he was doing more Gary Vaynerchuk commentary (plus he was a paying client of Vimeo). The next day, we set out to ensure that this did not happen to our clients again.

    Ubertor syndicates client videos to YouTube and Viddler, but also to our own player Combustion Video incase YouTube or Viddler follows suit with Vimeo.


    • Steve – It sounds like your solution covers the bases and then some. I like the idea of video syndication to YouTube though I wonder if Viddler syndication is as effective. Sorry to hear about what happened to Ian but it's a good thing you were there to get him back up and running quickly!

      I could see Viddler doing something similar to Vimeo by removing all commercial videos that aren't using their business service since they seem to have stood by that since the beginning. That said, I can't see YouTube ever giving up their open door policy on videos. Much like Google, they seem to be open to accepting almost any/everything.

  • nashuavideotours

    FYI: Viddler is now removing all commercial accounts as well. I was just notified by the president of the company that 335 of my videos would be removed unless I pay $100 per month minimum. I was given 24 hours to pay up they would be deleted.

  • pierrebatbatian

    I have recently started to shoot videos with my canon t1i with a tokina wide angle on it. this blog post was great. I think it will help my shoots a lot. I dont see how 100$ a month for video hosting can be justified tho :S. you video is amazing btw. MUCH nicer then what “pros” do in montreal.

  • Hi,
    Great tips.I totally enjoyed your video.Thanks for sharing your experience.

  • Hi,
    All suggestions in post are appreciable.#5 is I think very helpful that is practice as practice makes man perfect.Thank you very much for sharing video.

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  • I was beeing scouring the google for such info and i wanted to say thanks to you for this post. By the way, just off topic, how can i download a copy of this theme? – Thanks

  • Great!
    Thank for information, I’m looking for it for a long time,

  • Andrew Mooers

    Video at night for well lit interiors can be dramatic. At dusk, there is a magic for any kind of photography and eye candy can result! Like kissing, riding a bike, learn to edit. Do it a lot and watch the buyer not reach for dramamine for the vertigo, sea sickness.Or coffee to stay awake from way too long loops in the render / video.

  • my name is

    This advice was horrible!!! Shoot multiple times till you have it??? Maybe you should Lear what you’re doing before telling people you’re capable of doing something for monetary gain. Practices makes perfect, yes, but before you call yourself a professional, know what you’re doing.

    It’s also poor advice to suggest making a shots list. Such a waste of time. You don’t need a pre production shots list for a house. You walk in and film it.

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