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Video Without the Pain of Video

Video marketing is one of the most powerful tools an agent can use, but many shy away from the perceived expense and the time it can take. Helen Mitchell reveals the top ‘cheats’ to making engaging video content without the outlay.

74 percent of sellers would list with an agent that offers video to market their property” – Josh Cobb, stepps.com.au

When it’s done right, including videos in your marketing regime can help win listings, increase VPA, improve both buyer and vendor satisfaction, improve all forms of social marketing and email click-through, increase retention on your website and property listings, and give you a whole new channel to promote yourself, your brand and your office. The challenge is to balance the joy of having video with the pain of creating it.

There are automated video production systems that can grab an existing folder of property photos and instantly make a video that looks like you hired an expensive video company, for a fraction of the time and expense. Plus, there are a few tricks you can use to cut costs even further.

Using photos to create videos

Panning and zooming still photos to create the illusion of moving video is an old technique developed in the 1950s called the ‘Ken Burns Effect’. If nothing is moving in the room, panning and zooming a still photo looks identical to panning and zooming across the room with a video camera and a tripod, for a fraction of the effort.

If the panning and zooming is smooth, most people who look at the finished video won’t even notice that it isn’t true video. Making video from photos takes minutes, requires almost no technical skill and costs very little, and yet your vendor will be impressed.

This is not to say that you cannot choose to add specific sequences of real video to lift the overall presentation. However, you should think strategically about when to go the extra mile with real video, and when to rely on panned photos.

Post-production is becoming a thing of the past. Modern cloud-based video production systems, like Busivid.com, automatically add all the professional trimmings, including combining still images and real video, adding an animated version of your brand, professionally mixed music, text effects and watermarks. All you need to do is talk over the finished presentation at your desk using a headset, and in 10 minutes you have what can look like it was an expensive production.

Photos as videos can produce clearer results

Still photos have another major advantage over true video. Photographs allow you to use High Dynamic Range, or HDR. You see, the human eye can look into a room with a bright window and a dim lighting, and see both the detail in room and the sunny view through the window. That is because your eye has a much better dynamic range than any camera.

Your eye has a dynamic range of 7 to 1. The best cameras only have a dynamic range of 4 to 1. So if you adjust the camera to see detail inside the room, the window washes out to white. Adjust the camera to see the sunny view through the window, and the room goes to black.

HDR photography tells the camera to take three or more pictures at different exposures, and then combines the pictures to get something that approximates to what your eye normally sees. With HDR the window and the room look natural. You already have HDR built into the camera app on your iPhone or Galaxy phone, you just have to turn it on. However, this HDR doesn’t work very well. A better solution is to download an app like Pro HDR X by eyeapps.com, which does a much better job.

If you hire a professional photographer, their high-end camera will have really good HDR features. This is a big part of what you are paying for, and why their photos look so good.

The challenge is that HDR only works for still photographs. It relies on taking multiple pictures of the room at different exposures, and hence isn’t an option when you shoot video. You will struggle to get the lounge room, looking out onto the sunny deck, if you shoot with real video.

When to invest in real video

So, why not make all your videos with just panned photos? Well, there are times when adding a dash of real video can really spice things up. Combining just a bit of real video with your panned photos completes the illusion that the whole property was shot on video.

1. Location, location, location

The first place to use real video is when you are talking about the local area. You should take the time to grab a few seconds of true video of the schools, transport, shopping centres and so on, in your local area. You only have to grab them once and then keep them handy. If necessary, pay a professional to shoot them for you. It won’t cost much, and you have the marketing material you will need for years to come.

Video is essential for the shots of the local amenities because there is a lot of movement in any public outdoor scene. Imagine inserting a still image of a railway station or shopping centre? Frozen images of people and vehicles can look lifeless and out of place. It also destroys the illusion that the viewer is watching a real video.

2. Personalise with real video

The second place to use real video is when you are personalising your presentations. There is no better way to promote yourself, your brand and your office than to start and finish your videos with a personal welcome and close. Ideally you would stand in front of the property and take the open and close directly to camera. You only need a few seconds of ‘welcome’ and ‘call me, I’d love to show you through’, along with your voice talking over the panned photos and area shots, to add great personal warmth to your presentations.

I suggest doing your open and close out the front of the property because you don’t need to do anything with the lighting. The only drawback is the weather and wind. Choose a sunny day and use a lapel microphone with a furry ‘wind muff’ to cover to suppress any wind noise on the day.

By adding yourself to the video, you make the viewer feel like they have met you before they even pick up the phone. You are adding the art of personal sales back into what has become a cold online sales environment. Why not lower the barriers to picking up the phone by doing a great job of personalising your video presentations?

If getting to every property is too much work, consider taking a generic open and close at your office. This might be a good place to spend a few dollars with a videographer to ensure good audio. Capturing great audio is always harder than getting the actual video down. A good video operator can coach you through the process of presenting to camera. It will only take you an hour. You only have to say one sentence for the open and one for the close. Even if you are camera shy, you only have to do it once… so stop worrying, it’s never as bad as you think it will be. You can then clip these opens and closes onto every property video you make.

If you do decide to make your open and close at your office, I suggest taking half a dozen slightly different versions. Then randomly use these different versions on your different property videos.

Add some commentary

Talking over the video adds a whole new dimension to selling. To add your voice put on a headset, watch the video and talk at the same time. Typically a property video is only a few minutes long, so you don’t have to be Morgan Freeman. The trick is to tell the story behind the pictures. Tell them what they can’t see. This means you don’t have to match what you are saying to the pictures too closely. Use phrases like ‘what I really love about this property is…’

Voicing the property should take no more than 10 minutes. You can also duplicate the property presentation if you need a second version with a different voice track. If you have an interstate buyer, consider making a version that talks directly to them by name, and talks about their needs in relation to the property. If your area represents multiple languages, consider voicing the same presentation multiple times, using different languages and cultural nuances.

Combine the elements with automated video software

The trick to making high-quality property videos quickly, efficiently and at low cost is to combine the right mix of panned still images, real video and your voice, so as to make your audience believe that the whole presentation is entirely made with real video, while keeping the production time and cost down.

Doing this with a fully automated video production system only takes a few minutes and requires very little technical skill. The end result looks like you spent a mint with a video production company, while the whole process was actually methodically handled by your office admin staff.

You should develop a workflow that allows you to offer video for every property you represent. Your admin staff already have the photos of the property and they can keep your personal open and close and the area shots on file. They can clip together a property video, ready for you to voice over, in about 15 minutes without leaving their desk.

The internet has provided many opportunities for you to reach an audience of buyers and sellers. By embracing voice and video in your sales communications, you can make these more meaningful and personal for your customers and prospects.

helenCo-founder of Busivid – a rapid video creation, distribution and management system – Helen Mitchell has coached agents in Australia and the USA to embrace technology and marketing strategies since 2006. For more information visit busivid.com or call 1 300 764 763.

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