Extreme Real Estate Marketing

EDIT: This blog has MOVED. You’re on the old, dead blog. Everything (including this post) has been migrated onboard my website. Here’s the direct link:

http://scotthargisphoto.com/blog/

Update your bookmarks! See you there!

We now continue with our original programming….

The video above was created by Quentin Bacon, with whom I’ve collaborated before. Be sure to click the “Full Screen” button so you can appreciate the incredible quality Quentin got shooting with the Canon 5d Mark II.

Your typical real estate video is pretty awful. Some guy rests a camcorder on his shoulder and walks through the house, giving you motion sickness (and a deep sense of dread as he approaches yet another stairwell). Worse yet are the ones where the real estate agent tries to become a TV personality.

Quentin’s vision was a little different. He left the house itself mostly to me (to capture with stills), and focused instead on lifestyle. If you take a look through the property website, you’ll see that many of my photos also feature people; a big part of the creative vision for this campaign was to showcase the lifestyle one has at this house. Video and Stills were planned to complement each other; there’s some overlap, but some things we felt were better suited to one medium or the other, so we didn’t try to duplicate everything. You’ll also see images made by my associate, Patti Chandler, who spent one long day shooting and assisting me on some of the key interior shots.

The video and stills were shot over a 3-day period, and a lot of coordination and planning took place to ensure that things went smoothly. A scouting trip had taken place a few weeks before, and Quentin worked up a rough schematic of the house and grounds and we planned our shots around that, figuring out ways to keep ourselves and our gear out of each other’s shots. We were also sharing talent, so that had to be figured in, too. Aerials happened on yet another day, and Quentin returned to the property some weeks later to pick up yet more footage and also to re-shoot some of the scenics of the surrounding hills, which had greened up considerably with the winter rains.

Shooting began each day pre-dawn, and continued until well after dark. Actually, it continued all night, since I was shooting star sequences for THIS shot. We went to bed pretty tired. But at the same time, I was always pretty pumped about the next days’ shot list, so getting up was no problem, either!

Below are some of my favorites from the project.

Guest Bedroom

Master Bedroom

Twilight view off the rear terrace

Jogging path surrounds the property

Greatroom

Media Room

Hot Tub w/ view outside the Master Bedroom

Eating Area / Kitchen

Rear Facade at Twilight

39 responses to “Extreme Real Estate Marketing

  1. Awesome.

    I really like the addition of the talent to the stills and the video. It gives a much more real representation of scale and livability of the property.

    A bunch of little things made a huge impact in the video:
    1) water running in the sink
    2) passing by the room like you normally would when walking down the hall, feeling like you’re peeking in
    3) amazing boom work
    4) great detail shots (door hardware, rocks around the hot tub)
    5) the little girl running through
    6) the fireplace going
    7) using plush bathrobes throughout (gives a luxury feeling)
    8) the house party
    9) the night-time time lapse

    Awesome job by everybody involved.

  2. WOW!!!

    As always your work is excellent. The collaboration is quite amazing.

    Have you used the “Living Image” on other projects or is the a technique from Quentin?

    What an amazing home?

    Exceptional job in telling the story!

  3. Fantastic shots and video too. The interiors seem much warmer/moody/editorial than typical RE work. Certainly more ambient… How did you have to adjust your workflow to accomplish this look.

    Stellar for sure!!! Congrats!

  4. Awesome work — if this is the way RE is heading over the next few years then it is going to be great fun to aim to get up to this sort of level. Lots of great techniques in here that could be used at all levels of video for RE.

    It must have really been a logistics nightmare to get all the footage, even over a 3 day shoot.

  5. Really nice work. Both you and Quentin! I too like the life-style approach of Quentin’s video better than the typical walk through. To me this feels like you see every bit as much of the home as you would with a walk through. It is more interesting in this form because you see people using the spaces.

  6. I liked the video concept a lot – wondering if Quentin used paid models for all the characters? As someone who does pole photography with my listings at times, I saw the shadow of his pole on the driveway in one shot… (no biggie). I especially like his shots on the move across a room or plane. The 5Dmk2 is pretty awesome all around.

    Makes me miss my adopted home state all the more!

  7. Thanks for stopping by, everyone.

    @ Will Kelly — I didn’t do the 360s (I don’t do them at all, actually), that was Quentin.

    @ Andy Frame — in some ways, it’s just the usual thing, but on steriods. I shot a little more ambient, and a little tighter. There were some standard RE shots, but some that were more magazine-style. For sure a lot more planning went into the shot list.

    @ Charles — yep, the logistics were in some ways the hardest part.

    @ Jeff — no, those were actually the homeowners and their family! They were good sports, and they worked cheap. That’s not actually a “pole” as in PAP — that’s a boom apparatus that can elevate and pan the camera smoothly.

  8. Wow! That is what I call raising the bar!

  9. If there was an Oscar for RE marketing, this production would end up winning everything!

  10. Beautifully shot!

    One major flaw — you showed the people’s faces. Even showing people at all is risky, but showing faces is a big marketing no-no.

    There’s a reason why real estate photos don’t include people — because you want the viewer to place themselves in the picture so they can imagine it’s *their* home. The more they can feel like it’s theirs, the more likely they are to buy.

    When you show faces, the house is owned by the people in the picture. Potential buyers then become an outsider looking into someone else’s life.

    Instead of showing people to achieve the lifestyle feel, another option could have been to include more lifestyle sound effects; coffee brewing, water running into the bathtub, background voices of people, etc.

    Again, beautifully shot but I totally lost interest when I saw someone else living in the house.

  11. Impressive marketing!

  12. Yes, very impressive indeed. Thanks for sharing.

  13. You have just brought Visual Tours to the next level. Now I have a goal to shoot for with Visual Tours. You Rock! Thank You!

  14. This is very, very well done! Scott, you and Quentin should be very proud of this it is top notch indeed. Also, the use of people in some of the photos added a lot to the image. Having a heartbeat in an image can make a huge difference sometimes, well done!

  15. Bruce Peterson

    Amazing! I can only imagine the production costs involved in something like this. It is very well done. I was sorry when it ended! Beutiful work by all in involved.

  16. This was so wonderfully done. I really enjoyed highlighting the lifestyle. I am curious about one thing, the song-is that a song you own or one that you got the permission to use by the artist. I have had problems with youtube accepting even songs that I do have permission to post in my video.

    • Katerina, as artists we are VERY conscious of copyright…the music was licensed, I assure you!

      • I am sure you did. I am not questioning you or doubting you. I was just wondering because even when I have had the appropriate license to post music on a video through youtube- youtube would not post the video. That is why I was asking.

  17. Scott and Quentin this is a first class production and you should be applauded for your efforts. I can only image that with the time and effort put into this presentation that we are looking at a 3 or 4K budget minimum. I believe this work represents the pinnacle of what a real estate company or home owner would invest in promoting a property. I would guess that the owner fronted the cost considering the budgets of real estate agents these days. I was very surprised at the end that you and Quentin received no credit for the work: Visual Production by…….
    Keep up the great work – excellent!
    Best Regards,
    Ron

  18. “Hire the best, and hire them for their specialty.” Those words came from my dear friend Kirsten, a then professional, East Coast photographer. When I first walked through Casa Estrella, touched the plastered walls, saw the light play, noticed the striking attention to craftsmanship and detail, visions of you and Quentin raced through my head. Heck–I’ve seen what you do on rooftops! I had no doubt your collaboration would be phenominal–but what you actually produced has blown me away!

    This, by extremely far, is the most beautiful insight to one of my listings…ever. Thank you so very much, Scott. As your instincts of the star image played out, so did mine of hiring you. You…rock!!
    ~Adele.

  19. I’m sure the vendors are as happy as the agent is too.
    Well done to all involved, definitely sets a new standard.

  20. Woah! That’s a great video!

    Makes you really want to buy that place!

  21. Very impressive work. I don’t think this will catch on, as most real estate agents don’t even want to hire good photography, let alone a full on video and photography production like this…

    • Mike,
      I think that’s like saying that Ferrari’s won’t catch on, because they’re too expensive for most people. Ferrari has been around for quite a while, despite it’s niche appeal.

      A production like this is clearly not appropriate for your average 3 bedroom 2 bath house. But there IS a luxury market, and it’s doing reasonably well in many parts of the world. This is totally budget-appropriate for the right market segment.

  22. Really like what you did with the Video and stills, excellent vision ans skills to make it happen.

    I never really thought of the people in the shots as the homeowners, this is a lifestyle marketing campaign, I figured they were models and it did not make me stop watching the video or wishing I was right there at that moment.

    I agree that there is money in the high end market, if this is a 5 – 20 M $ property a few thousand to make it sell is not a tall order or out of the question. You have created an awesome marketing tool for yourselves for the next project!

    Great work everyone!

  23. Great video and a great series of pics as well.

    Here’s what I grapple with whenever I think of putting “talent” in the shot – does showing a particular person violate fair housing guidelines?

    I love some thoughts on this.

  24. Tim- It is pretty sad that with a video this good that one of the things that pops into our minds is we can get into trouble by producing it. The first thing I thought when I saw all the people was is everyone represented or is there a chance someone can scream fair housing violation. Sorry but I think that is pretty sad that creative thought and application has to not only be monitored but judged like this.

  25. This house is not new construction, or a major remodel, which is where FHA mostly applies (disabled access). You’re probably thinking more along the lines of a racial bias issue. I think that would depend on a lot more than a single advertisement.

  26. Scott
    Thanks for putting in so much extra effort and creativity to this project. We defiantly have to do this again, so much fun, long days and nights lurking around the property, looking for some magic. There has been such an overwhelming response to the Realtors representing this property. Can’t thank you enough for delivering.

    Thanks everyone for the generous compliments, they’re all very well received. As mentioned on Larry’s blog, I’ve been a lurker for some time on his blog. Seeing everyone’s work there over the past year was the catalyst to the concept I call “The Living Property Brochure.” I think real estate is ready for something new.

    @ Kristof – You make a good point, one that has been debated greatly amongst those in real estate marketing since this was released. It’s a healthy debate. I think it can be done both with and without talent in the shots. “No faces” as you described is the best way I’ve heard it articulated. The sun can be a character just as much as women in a robe. We’ll see how this debate goes. Market segmentation is a part of the service/process. In the end, it might just depend on the property and the client.
    @ Tim – “Heartbeat” Gonna have to use that one at my next meeting, thanks!
    @ Katerina – The music was licensed for use on this project. YouTube did flag the video, but the paperwork’s in order, so there should be no problem with the publisher.
    @ Ron – The property site has a “Creative” credits page for everyone involved. It’s really about the property, so no credit on the video.

    Thanks Again!

  27. great work! inspiring!

  28. Gary Russell

    Wow! This video absolutely blew my mind!

  29. Every time I am logged on to you I am more and more impressed. Keep up the inspired filming.

  30. Makes you really want to buy that place!

  31. Quentin – outstanding job – simply stunning. Sometimes a beautiful house is hard to make more beautiful, however you pulled this off with aplomb.

    couple of questions if you please

    1 – how do you do the sliding/tracking shots ? did you set up a dolly rig of some sort ?
    2 – the change of focus – was this all done manually or did you have the AF on .
    3 – what lens did you use ?
    4 – do you use a steady cam also
    5 – the elephant in the room – what did you charge for such an amazing piece of work ?

    any answers to these would be great

    again fine work

    Saul

  32. Great video and a great series of pics as well.
    I love some thoughts on this.

  33. For general marketing purposes, including marketing for hotels, restaurants, resorts, etc., we see peoples’ faces in photos all the time.

    Anybody ever seen the original marketing photos for Eichler Homes? These were often an innovative style of lifestyle photography done by a very talented Bay Area photographer named Ernie Braun. Check ’em out. These very definitely show people and faces, and they received all kinds of attention and awards in their day.

    By the way, anyone willing to say what viewer was used for the 360 panoramas? That is the way to do it. Nice quality, and you can navigate smoothly without spinning out of control.