Picture this: I’m a prospective home-buyer. On a daily basis, I read scores of listing descriptions and examine every photo. I scour websites and search Facebook and I watch all the listing videos I can find.
As a shopper, I want to see something special. Something that stirs my imagination. Something makes me stop what I’m doing, pick up the phone and contact the listing agent because I want that place right now. But everything I read and see is so similar. I feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day.
Listing videos are a tremendous opportunity to give buyers like me something different. Videos are visual, engaging: easier to consume than text and more interactive than photos. And yet, so many listing videos do nothing to stand out.
The problem with these videos is not what is being shown. The problem is what is missing.
Here are a few simple techniques that you can use in all of your brokerage’s listing videos. These are timeless techniques employed by Hollywood for decades. Techniques that, for whatever reason, have been excluded from virtually every online listing video. They will never get old, never go out of style. Once they’re implemented, the quality of your listing videos will skyrocket and they will finally connect with your prospective home buyers.
1. SFX (sound effects)
How many times have you gone to the theater after a long day, burdened by some inane problem at work or at home, only to completely forget your troubles when the show starts? How does this happen? Why can’t you mimic this distraction at home?
Here’s a secret about cinema: it’s not the big screen or the darkness that distracts you. It’s the sound. It is through the complex arrangement of music, dialogue, and sound effects that you are transported from your reality into the manufactured reality of the movie. Take a look at the two clips below. One is silent while the other has sound effects. Which one do you feel is real?
Listing videos typically have music or dialogue/voice-over but they rarely have sound effects. With listing videos, you’re missing a golden opportunity to imbue your videos with feeling and immerse your viewers in the listing—without them having to be there.
Some ideas for sound effects: feet walking in the grass in the backyard; tires on pavement as a car pulls into the driveway; water running in a nearby creek; neighborhood kids playing on the sidewalk.
Lighting is a tricky thing to master, even for the pros. It requires time, persistence and precision. Most listing videos stick with a simple arrangement: bright natural light in the middle of the day.
What about showing the listing in the evening? At night? In the morning? There are a host of low-light cameras available now—namely, the Sony A6000, Nikon D3300, Canon Rebel T5 among others—that can capture high-quality images in dark conditions with little-to-no grain. Producers are no longer bound to shooting during the day or the golden hour. There is no good reason to not include low-lighting.
Some ideas for lighting: show some friends having some drinks on the deck for a late dinner party; stage an outdoor movie screening with the neighborhood kids; film an adult enjoying coffee in the kitchen before the day begins.
3. Shot Variety
Shot variety is a straightforward concept. When you capture shots of the listing, you’re probably going to get your key features first—master bedroom, hot tub, backyard, kitchen etc. These are standard shots for every listing video. They’re typically wide shots, with everything in frame and in focus. These are great shots because they give the viewers a sense of the listing’s space, and also serve to supplement the written material on the listing.
The problem in relying on these ‘wide’ shots is that every listing begins to look the same. Sure, items in the frame are different but the framing itself is identical. To break up this monotony, you need to include a variety of different shots—low angle, high angle, close-up, medium shot, slow motion, time-lapse. There are so many things that are unique to every listing that simply shooting wide shots of everything effectively negates their existence. Including these details gives meaning to the listing, authenticity. You give the viewers an image of what actually it’s like to live there.
Some ideas for shot variety: close-up silhouette of a coffee being poured in the morning; a shot of the backyard from inside the house (Searchers style); a high-angle shot from the stairs, looking down, as a child scampers across the living room floor.
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