1000watt Blog

Writings about real estate, branding, marketing, media and technology from the principals of 1000watt.

Real Estate Video is Dead

Nearly ten years ago, I joined a startup that was dipping its toes into streaming video. The company had been producing a broadcast television show for many years. The show featured technology product profiles and computer reviews and was widely syndicated across Canada and the United States.

Then, in the late 90s, this thing called the World Wide Web hit the scene and the company decided to take a radical leap and – gasp! – started putting all of this video online. We ended up pushing those clips all over the Internet, to e-commerce sites and large portals like Yahoo.

It was a miserable time. Producing web video was expensive, time consuming and complex. We shot on Betamax, rendered all the footage digitally, and then transcoded it all out into a confusing mess of codecs: Quicktime, Windows Media, RealPlayer.

It took dozens of people and hundreds of hours, day in and day out. All that for stuttery videos that were the size of a postage stamp on your screen.

How times have changed.

Flash forward nearly a decade. Web video is not such a wild idea anymore. We all have Youtube, Flip cameras and iMovie.

But one thing hasn’t really changed. For the most part, the video quality still sucks.

The Canon Shot Across the Bow

The Canon 5D Mk. II was released in early 2009. It wasn’t the first digital SLR to shoot video, but it is quite possibly the best.

And its changing the way we think about Web video. Couple a lightning fast image processor, a monstrous CMOS for HD and Canon’s extensive collection of high-end lenses and you can start creating some real magic.

Take the film “The Last 3 Minutes” for example. The on-rush of technology now lets anyone create professional caliber HD films like this.

And Hollywood, too, has taken notice. Amazingly, it was confirmed this week that this year’s season finale of House MD was filmed entirely on one.

Granted you need some serious artistic chops to pull this kind of work off – but what’s shocking to me is that whole rig can be had for a few thousand bucks. Well within reach of the truly motivated.

Real Estate Video is Dead

I think we need a new name for this movement. The word video doesn’t do it justice. This is Cinema.

So what does this mean for real estate?

It means your listing videos can look like this.

This technology is also a truely democratizing force, meaning your marketing collateral can now compete with the best that Madison Avenue can cook up. In the eyes of consumers, a boutique brokerage can now sit on a level playing field with the big brands with their multi-million dollar ad budgets. No more hokey Handi-cams. Please!

But more importantly it means we’ll have a slew of young filmmakers armed with cameras like the 5D Mark II changing the way we look at our world and tell our stories.

Real estate cinema is now within your reach. All it takes is a little imagination. And some passion.

And anything is possible.

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20 Responses to “Real Estate Video is Dead”

  1. Stephen Fells says:

    Great video Joel. Creating cinema quality listing videos is now more achievable than ever. I recently highlighted another amazing real estate video (http://tinyurl.com/ygj6tfl) that personally is the best I’ve ever seen. And it certainly deserves to be called ‘cinema’.

    It cost $10k so isn’t likely to be replicated too often but the end product is breath taking and engaging. It shows everything a listing video can be.

  2. Derek Overbey says:

    Great overview Joel. We have both seen video come a long way over the last decade and I’m glad more and more real estate professionals are understanding this type of marketing can have a huge impact on your product. I hope we continue to see this trend.

    And Stephen, that video was absolutely stunning but I’m not sure most could justify the $2500 a minute. :)


  3. inMotion says:

    Definitely agreed, the quality keeps getting better and HD cameras are more accessible but doesn’t always mean you’ll have a polished product at the end. The magic happens in post-production…

  4. Joel Burslem says:

    Stephen – That is beautiful cinema for sure.

    But I think it’s a mistake to focus on the price. The relentless, steady downwards pressure on cost by technology is going to put this type of production value in the reach of a lot more folks.

    The Canon 5D MK II was a revolutionary camera for those reasons since it coupled true HD (1080p) to a DSLR, but in a year or two that will be common place in most consumer cameras.

    Already you can find the same processor and video resolution in Canon’s new Rebel T1i – that runs around $700!

    No doubt – it’s still going to take a talented filmmaker to get the very best results, but as the cost comes down that opportunity is going to become more and more accessible to a wider group of people.

    That’s what’s so exciting about this movement to me.

  5. Fred Light says:

    The 5D is a remarkable camera – I’ve been using it exclusively for real estate video for nearly a year. For me it works perfectly as I do still photos as well, and it makes it so much easier to not have to constantly be switching cameras.

    And if my recent business the past 6 months is any indication, real estate video is now hitting it’s stride – I have more business than I can handle and am working 19 hour days just to keep up. The smart Realtors are finally getting it…. in a BIG way.

  6. Quentin Bacon says:

    Hey Joel,

    Great topic and video.

    I produced the Casa Estrella video Stephan referenced above. The video is actually part of a comprehensive service that includes, market analysis, script development, photography, video production, virtual tour and marketing support services to maximize use of the media for the property and the Broker. The cost for the complete service was 10k. The property is listed for 10 million and is very secluded.

    I see videos value only within properties where the properties story cannot fully be expressed through traditional media. For most properties, good photography is all you need. Casa Estrella was a property that just couldn’t be capture in words or photos alone. We shared that story through how it might feel to experience the properties lifestyle, rather than describe it in words.

    There’s more to be said about how this commercial approach can gain exposure through social media, the value it offers as a listing acquisition asset” The key is that it serves the home owner and has the statistics to support that assertion.



    Thanks Stephan for your generous compliments and your post on the


  7. Peter Rodgers says:

    Great post Joel, and very nice work coming to light in the comments as well. This is another presentation that goes beyond. It’s somewhat of a documentary/cinema style that tells a story.

  8. Tom Flanagan says:

    Joel – Thx for the heads-up on “The Last 3 Minutes”. Thought is was wonderful short film. I’ll certainly pull inspiration from this for this years 48 Hour Film Fest!

  9. Erik Florida says:

    That is really interesting about the episode of House. The marketer and designer in me is just bubbling with the ways even a smaller scale brokerage could set their listings worlds apart from the competition with this camera.

    I think the Web and social media are changing the way the real estate community connects with clients, but pictures and video are still at the foundation of what gets a buyer to get excited about a property enough to make that first call to an agent. I think this is really important, and having video of this caliber accessible to a modest brokerage could mean their listing get noticed far more than the competition. Thanks for sharing!

  10. David Ross says:

    Hi Joel,
    Great post and really nice video.
    There has been an overall perception that good quality video has to be expensive, given the production values that the 5D brings to the table, however this is certainly not the case.
    We hope that the perceived value in video is on the rise, and with more people shooting video and more people talking about it, video will become a mainstream property marketing tool.
    Here are a couple of vids shot on the 5D for less than $500.
    - http://tsr2.propvid.tv/tsr3/pv/view.php?sc=b308e0b8b8
    - http://tsr2.propvid.tv/tsr3/pv/view.php?sc=7a8c451d1f
    Again, good post.

  11. Bruce Lemieux says:

    Great production value. Having the owner personally talk about the home and how it fits his lifestyle is outstanding. Very, very nice.

    The video does not refer to a property website or any other way to get price, details or to contact the broker. Too bad for the listing agent – and home seller.

  12. Alan Pinstein says:

    I think the new video cameras coming online make a huge difference in the quality that can be produced on a budget. I do think that video like this will become much more popular for high-end listings.

    However, even with cheaper cameras, video (like the one in this blog post) is still much more expensive to produce than photo tours. It requires more forethought, scripting, multiple takes, more lighting setup, and editing time. Delivering HD video is also much more expensive than delivering HD photo tours. I can’t imagine anything close to that type of tour getting done for under $400-500.

    As a broad rule of thumb, we find that agents typically pay about $50 for every $100,000 in listing price for photography/video. Unless a listing is $750k+ I can’t see an agent investing in a well-produced video.

    I do think that there is a place to integrate short video clips into a photo tour to get the best of both worlds, and we are moving towards supporting this type of thing in our TourBuzz tour platform.

  13. Barrett Powell says:

    [...] We shot on Betamax, rendered all the footage digitally, and then transcoded it all out into a confusing mess of codecs: Quicktime, Windows Media, RealPlayer. [...]

    There is no way your old enough Joel to know about Betamax. Marc is a differnet story.

  14. Tina FIne says:

    Great article. So many ways home owners can put a personal touch on videos of their home for sale! It certainly will make looking for a home and selling a home more fun if people just had fun with it!

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