So you've decided to invest in a drone for your real estate business? Congrats! They're a TON of fun – I can vouch for that. 🙂
Buying a drone is a BIG first step, but if you really want to unleash the raw power of drone videography, you'll need to learn a few basic techniques that can create EPIC aerial footage.
Anybody can point a camera at something and start recording, but if you really want your videos to look next-level amazing, there are a few basic flight patterns and camera movements that can help you capture the kind of breathtaking imagery that sells real estate fast.
Now, I can't claim to be any kind of “expert” drone pilot just yet – but after playing with the DJI Mavic Pro for several months, I've been able to come up with 5 standard shots that ALWAYS make my videos look great.
Since I've managed to nail down a handful of shots that deliver good, consistent results, I figured I would put together this blog post (and more importantly, the video below) to explain exactly what I'm talking about…
Here's a recap of each one of the shots explained in this video…
In this shot, the idea is to start above and slightly in front of the property you're filming. Once you're in this position, with the camera facing down, you can simply drop in from above while simultaneously tilting the camera up to track with the property.
A nice variation on this shot is to start from the ground, with the camera facing forward, and then ascend while tilting the camera down (basically, the reverse process from the descending move).
Both of these shots will give your footage a cinematic and professional look, because it requires some coordination (not much, mind you – but some). Anybody can just fly over a property without changing the direction of the camera, but once you start developing and using your skills as a real estate cinematographer, it will have a MAJOR effect on the final presentation of the property.
The Overhead Shot
This is probably the easiest shot in the list, because you just have to point your camera directly down and fly over the property. When using the overhead shot, you can start by hovering low over the focal point of the property and then move the drone higher in altitude while rotating the drone. This will give you a nice view of not only the property, but also its immediate surroundings – and since it introduces new surroundings throughout the shot, it's an exciting and interesting visual experience for the viewer.
Another way to shoot the overhead shot is to start from end of the property and fly to the other (as if you're just passing through). This shot isn't necessarily the most informative (because it only shows the property's roof and footprint, similar to a survey), but it is a nice way to add an interesting perspective of the property that isn't typically seen with the other shots in this type of video.
For this part of your video, the objective is to fly horizontally around the house, lot or building, while keeping the camera locked on the focal point of the property. This kind of camera movement requires a bit of skill because you'll have to coordinate the timing of how fast you move around the property with how quickly you pan the camera to stay locked on the property itself.
Some drones now have a “spotlight” tracking feature, which will allow you to lock onto any moving object (e.g. – a car, a person, a dog, etc.) and the camera will stay locked on that point, regardless of where you fly. In my experience, these systems have a harder time locking onto objects like buildings, because they don't move. Nevertheless, if you're able to get your drone camera to recognize a house or building as the focal point of your shot, this could potentially make the process much easier for you.
This is a great way to open or close a real estate video. In this shot, the idea is to approach the property from a distance and eventually fly over while slowly tilting the camera down to stay focused on the property. Again, this one will take a reasonable amount of coordination, though with a little bit of practice, you'll probably find it's not terribly difficult (especially if you have your gimbal responsiveness setting adjusted to be slower, which will make the camera movement much smoother). I use this one all the time and it always makes me sit back and say, “Wow, that looks awesome.”
The great thing about this shot is that in many cases, you can also reverse the clip, so it's more of a backwards fly-over that keeps the spotlight on the focal point of the property. Either way you play the footage, it looks great!
One of the cool things about drones now days is that they're getting more and more dynamic in their abilities. Rather than buying a whole additional set of camera equipment to achieve a “slider” effect with your camera, you can effectively use your drone to capture a very similar perspective.
With this shot, you can start your drone at a lower altitude of 6 – 20 feet (eye-level, or a little higher) and move the drone from side to side or forward and backward, to which gives the shot a slider effect.
Try to move the drone very slowly (no faster than you could walk). In this shot, the goal is NOT to make it look like you're using a drone, but to simply give the viewer a moving perspective of the property (as if they're walking around it themselves).
What's Working for You?
These 5 shots have worked great for me – but I realize there are probably a lot of other techniques I didn't cover here. If you've come up with any other shots that look great with the properties you're filming, be sure to let me know about them in the comments below!