In the era of social distancing, safely creating video content to connect with clients is more important than ever.

Real estate agents are good at making sales and marketing a product. But, that doesn’t mean they all know how to make a video that will sell a home.

Now, more than ever, it’s important for agents to be able to create video home tours and promotional videos to connect with clients when it’s not possible to do so in person.

After speaking with the experts and doing a little research, Inman learned about different options agents can choose from when making their own videos.

The DIY route

Anton Petrus / Getty Images

Script

Even the most quick-on-her-feet agent will benefit from creating a story board and a script at the beginning of the project as guidance, whether the video is a listing video or other promotional video. Having set lines to say will keep you on track and help you to avoid stumbling over words.

It’s best to keep things conversational and concise, and doesn’t hurt to ask a colleague to read what you’ve written for a second opinion. You’ll also want to keep an eye on the time: According to video software company Wistia, video viewership drops off significantly after four to five minutes. To keep your audience engaged, try to keep video length to around two minutes.

Erlon Silva – TRI Digital / Getty Images

Filming and editing

With shelter-at-home orders in place in most areas of the country, you’ll likely want to handle all filming yourself or with a generous family member who’s also at home with you.

If you’re filming on your smartphone, a selfie stick or a tripod will come in handy, especially if you don’t have an assistant to help you. Professionals recommend doing test shoots in different areas around the house you’re filming in to see what looks best on camera.

Depending on your budget and level of ambition, you may want to consider purchasing a video camera, rather than just sticking with a smartphone camera. Business Insider put together a list of recommended video cameras a few years ago that’s still relevant for the agent who wants higher quality and greater memory capacity.

In terms of software that will help you put everything together and add graphics, transitions, music, etc., there are numerous options out there with different pros and cons. Some options are free and compatible for use with smartphones or tablets like Spark Camera (automatically edits clips together and easily uploads to social media) and iMovie (for iOS only), as well as live streaming options with programs like Periscope, Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.

Others that are available for a fee include:

  • Camera Plus. $0.99. Allows you to connect two iOS devices so that one acts as the camera while you operate the other one as remote control.
  • Magisto. Starts at $4.99/month. Contains “Emotion Sense Technology” that edits videos according to emotion of speakers.
  • Pinnacle Studio Pro. $12.99. Features a wide array of effects options, montage templates and picture-in-picture modes.
  • FiLMiC Pro. $14.99. Has won multiple video app of the year awards. Includes 4 times zoom, audio metering and three different shooting modes, among other features.
  • Biteable. Available for free for a very basic trial. After that, subscriptions start at $15/month. The nice thing about Biteable is that it does have an ample supply of templates and tips specific to real estate professionals.
  • Animoto. Free with Animoto branding on videos. Otherwise, starts at $33/month. Unlimited videos, stock photo library and music library available.
  • Adobe Spark. Free trials available. After that, subscriptions start at $9.99/month for an individual. Spark allows you to make memes and newsletters in addition to videos.

It’s not necessary or practical for every listing video you might do, but aerial drone footage can be an impressive addition for some properties. Although it is possible for the average adult to obtain and operate a drone after obtaining the proper certification, it may be more simple to hire out a professional. Companies like DroneBase and GeoCV offer drone services for varying prices depending on the kind of property being filmed and what sorts of images or clips you’re seeking out.

If you just need a basic 360 virtual tour solution, there are plenty of easy options available to agents, and Inman’s Craig Rowe has laid them all out here. Rowe also recently reviewed mobile iOS app Yaza, which is currently being offered to agents for free during the pandemic.

Aidan De La Paz / Unsplash

Lighting

Creating a well-lit space will help create a nicer picture for your audience. However, lighting can be tricky. Finding a space with ample natural light helps, but be sure to avoid backlighting, which can distort the picture. If natural light is not available, LED lighting is also a good option, but too much head-on artificial light can make a subject look washed out.

If you’re doing a quick and basic video from your desk at your computer, a ring light is an easy, affordable option, as Inman Coast to Coast members have pointed out.

CoWomen / Unsplash

Audio, music and voice-over talent

Background noise and room echoing that you may not notice on a daily basis could actually be very pronounced in a recording. Depending on the goal of your video and how you create it, you may want to purchase an external microphone that clips to your smartphone, which will help improve audio quality. Podcast Insights recently rounded up the best external microphones for both Android and iPhone. Or, you may want to put the camera on mute altogether while you’re recording and add background music or a voice-over later.

For music, many of the editing apps mentioned earlier in this article provide music libraries that make it easy to add background music. However, if you don’t use a service that includes this and you want to incorporate commercial songs into your video, you will need to get copyright permission in order to do so. Getting permission involves making a written request to whomever owns the rights to a song (usually a publisher, lyricist or composer) and to whomever owns the rights to the specific recording (usually a record label or performer), and then paying them a fee for the song’s use.

Some people just naturally don’t like the sound of their own voice. Fortunately, there are a host of professional voice-over actors available for hire who are well-practiced at speaking in a clear and sincere manner. For more information, take a look at my article on the topic from March.

The all-inclusive route

There are plenty of full-service marketing, production and PR companies out there who are happy to take the reins and do nearly everything for you when making a listing or promotional video. For the busy agent, this option may be well worth it. Inman recently spoke with the following companies that have either already created video content for clients by using social distancing practices, or are willing and waiting to do so:

  • Connect 3 Productions. Connect 3 is a full-service production company that took the time immediately when the pandemic hit to thoughtfully readjust their business in order to keep creating content while keeping themselves and clients safe at home. “It’s more important than ever that agents stay top-of-mind,” Connect 3 co-founder Duck Kolenik told Inman. “We took our normal production process and we … sat down for two weeks and just completely reimagined it.” Kolenik and her co-founder Jeff Landerville recently worked with real estate vet Gary Gold to help him create a series of videos remotely from the safety of his home by scoping out potential filming spots through Zoom, enlisting his 14-year-old son for help filming, and more. “I want someone to be guiding me through the process … so they can add their expertise,” Gold said. “Fortunately, Duck and Jeff came up with a way to do that while we’re all quarantined, and that was really neat.”

  • Creative Agency FIG. Creative advertising agency FIG recently created an ad for Zillow that not only captured the spirit of our current moment, but also put into practice social distancing measures while the ad was being created. “It was important that we find a way to create a film that resonated, without violating shelter-in-place orders,” Scott Vitrone, CCO of FIG, said in a statement. “That meant writing an idea that could be shot, edited and finished safely, without anyone on the crew ever leaving home.”

  • Rafiki Creative. Rafiki Creative is a turnkey production company that’s done work on projects from real estate listings to Netflix shows. Co-founder David Markun says they strive to market homes by putting their viewers “in the emotional state of the home” instead of merely showcasing the property. Like everyone else, Rafiki has had to pivot to telling stories in ways “that can be innovative and socially responsible,” Markun said. They’re now looking into more use of drones, cameras mounted on gimbals, and even cameras on rovers. “You’re flexing the technology, you’re flexing creativity and trying to push boundaries,” Markun said. “We can’t ignore the world we’re in right now.”
  • Society Group. Society Group focuses on marketing luxury properties, and often incorporates aerial drone footage in their marketing. “We would take every precaution by making the video as amazing as possible,” Alexis Lopez, Vice President of Society Group, told Inman, when asked about making safe video content during stay-at-home orders. “Enlisting just one camera man or drone and coming up with an interesting concept within the social distancing parameters that wouldn’t require a full crew, or even a crew at all.”

Email Lillian Dickerson

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