Category Archives: Pre-Production

How a ‘Video Blueprint’ can save you time, money

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By now, virtually every agent understands the value of incorporating video into the marketing of their listings. But, before you run out and hit that record button, be sure to begin with your end goal in mind.

Unlike the notorious phrase, “Shoot first, ask questions later,” preplanning — in other words, asking questions first, THEN shooting (in the video sense) — will reap great dividends. And by dividends, I mean increasing the likelihood that the video will be shared on social media and have people watching it longer — and as a result, you’ll generate more leads.

Just like building a quality house, it takes a blueprint to produce a truly effective video presentation. The same is true with what I’ll call the “video architecture” of a home tour. The most common mistake I see on a daily basis are videos that needlessly run incredibly long, all due to lack of preplanning. Imagine what would happen if you asked a construction company to build you a home, without a blueprint to give to them that outlined what the desired outcome was to be. You’d probably end up with the Leaning Tower of Pisa, in addition to spending about four times the money and man-hours required for such a construction project.

That being said, your blueprint should consist of three things: (No. 1) a shot list; (No. 2) a script that is based off of your desired video shots; and (No. 3) a storyboard to tie it all together.

While you may have a short docudrama of a video in mind — and while the property features may be worthy — keep in mind that the average viewer will start to tune out after about 80-90 seconds. Preplanning will help you stick to this length or less. Start by asking the sellers what attracted them to the house when they purchased it and what features they added that they enjoy the most, then use that to build your shot list based on the top 10-15 sellable features of the property. Important: While developing your list of 10 to 15 shots, keep in mind that each one will take up around five to six seconds of “screen time” once the video is fully produced.

Next, write your script around your shot list by telling a story that flows about the home, keeping in mind the five- to six-second rule above. Overall, a professionally narrated 90-second script will consist of around 130 words (give or take). For a house or community video, be sure to focus your script on both the selling features AND the benefits.

Tie it all together with a storyboard, which gives an image-based description of what the viewer will end up seeing in each scene within the video (accompanied by a quick sentence description per image), while taking into consideration the scene flow, what angle to use, what direction to pan, and when to zoom in or out, etc.

Besides helping you shoot a professional-looking presentation, a well-thought-out video blueprint will help you tell a better story, while dramatically cutting the expense of shooting and postproduction under control.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.

With the right video content, agents are no longer just a salesperson, but a trusted real estate concierge

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It may sound harsh to say, but it’s true: Talking about yourself is not the best way to win listings. That’s why statistics on YouTube’s top 5 real estate video types indicate “About Me” content ranks fifth on a scale of most sought-after video content buyers/sellers review before choosing an agent.

Why? The reason can be found in what I believe is one of the best sales, marketing and communication books ever written: “How To Win Friends & Influence People,” by Dale Carnegie. If you haven’t read it, get a copy. First published in 1939, it continues to be a top seller because it’s based on a profound truth about human nature: To get people to give you what you want, you have to give them what they want first.

To build and grow your business base, you need listings and referrals. But what do consumers value when choosing a real estate agent? According to a recent report about real estate tech trends, 39 percent of consumers said they chose an agent referred by friends or family, and 25 percent said they went with an agent they’ve worked with before.

Staying in regular contact before, during and after the close of their real estate transaction — and providing a message of value during that contact — is a huge step in the right direction. A step that (which might be hard to believe) many agents fail in taking.

You understand that repeat business and referrals by professionals and past/current clients are key to grow your business, but do you have an actionable plan? Start by selecting content everyone would consider noteworthy or, better yet, socially sharable. If you don’t have time to create all the content yourself, just identify some credible industry partners. Companies such as RPR, HouseLogic or Imprev may offer multitouch campaigns with content delivered in both print and digital marketing materials.

When it comes to sought-after content, topping the chart is market data. Answers to commonly asked questions like “How is the market performing? How long does it take to sell a home right now? Do I need to renovate before I put my house on the market?” can help agents brand themselves as the go-to source in their area, armed with data like up-to-date local real estate market analysis, managing conditional offers or bidding wars, and improving curb appeal.

Even better, when this information is presented as agent-branded video content within a newsletter, it becomes highly shareable via email and social media. These are the kinds of things that homeowners want to know beyond the purchase date of their home, and are also topics that they are more likely to share with their friends and family. Before you know it, you’re not working as hard to get your name “out there.”

Suddenly, you’re no longer just a salesperson. You’re a trusted real estate concierge. People come to you when they have questions and need advice. They become your faithful fans. They want to refer you to friends and family. And, just like Dale Carnegie said, this is how you get what you want: listings and referrals.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.

Real estate video tips: must-do’s when hiring freelancers or choosing to film it yourself

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When you decide to include video in your real estate marketing, the next question is, “Should I hire someone or shoot the video myself?” The answer depends on what type of video you plan to shoot.

When you decide to include video in your real estate marketing, the next question is, “Should I hire someone or shoot the video myself?” The answer depends on what type of video you plan to shoot.

For evergreen videos like community tours, your agent profile or company commercial should be professionally filmed by a full-service production company. The investment is worthwhile for any video with a relevant shelf life of two to three years. For other types of video, it’s more economical to use a freelancer or do it yourself.

Let’s start with freelancers. Finding videographers on sites like Craigslist can be an iffy situation. A better choice is the marketplace section of WellcomeMat.com because they specialize in real estate. No matter how you find freelance candidates, use the following proven ways to help mitigate risk.

Ask them to send three videos they’ve produced exactly like your project. One freelancer may be great with testimonials, yet not as experienced filming a home tour. After viewing their demo reels, narrow down candidates to your top picks. Then ask your candidates for references on the specific samples they sent you. This helps to weed out anyone who may have fudged the truth about their experience, showcasing someone else’s work as their own. You’d be surprised how frequently this happens in the video industry.

When you call a reference, ask them to describe exactly what role or function the freelancer was responsible for during the shoot. If you find out they were less than honest about their role in the production process, cross them off your list.

Once you narrow down to your top two or three videographers, ask each for a detailed proposal listing all included services. Beware of a significantly lowball price. You may end up with what you paid for: very little. And don’t forget to ask for proof they’re bonded and carry insurance. Someone has to pay for any damage to your client’s home. It shouldn’t be you.

Don’t forget to contract for two rounds of revisions. The first should include up to 10 changes. The second, up to five. If you can’t negotiate for both, insist on 10 changes allowed to the rough cut. Stand strong on payment terms: 50 percent upfront, the balance paid after you’ve approved revisions. A word of caution: Quite often we’ve been hired for a project that our client had previously paid someone else to produce and that person left town before finishing the video. So, take my advice, when it comes to using freelancers, it always pays to perform due diligence before signing the contract.

There’s a wealth of online resources if you plan to do it yourself. ReelSEO offers comprehensive do-it-yourself tips from lighting and sound to editing. HDhat has an online store with the latest apps, equipment and gadgets specific to real estate videography. They also provide very affordable editing services for raw footage you provide.

If filming your listing videos is something you want to take on, here’s a list of the equipment you’ll need:

  • A DSLR (digital single-lens reflex) camera.
  • A 64-gigabyte memory stick, which can record a couple hours of HD footage.
  • A fluid head tripod so pans and tilts aren’t jerky.
  • An umbrella light to eliminate shadows and fill in dark areas of a room.
  • A lightweight monopod camera support — it steadies the camera for sharper framing and can be used to create a boom/crane effect for creative and elevated angles.
  • Add in a lapel mic for audio and you’re all set.

Check out B&H Photo Video online for great deals. If they don’t have something you need, try Best Buy or Radio Shack. Now, buying all this equipment may seem like a pricey investment. But you also have to consider a freelancer usually averages from $1,000 to $2,500, plus their travel expenses, for just a single basic video. Do the math and decide which route is best for you.

Stephen Schweickart is the founder and CEO of VScreen, the nation’s leading video services company within the real estate industry.

Script Writing

Script Writing Template

Script Writing may be one of the wisest choices you can make when preparing to create a video for your business.  Creating a great video is much more than just having an idea and grabing your camera.  Taking the time to outline your idea is a great way to iron out your idea and plan for the type of footage you want to capture.