Having Your Cake and Eating it Too. What the 5DMII is doing to real estate marketing

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About December, last year Canon released the 5DMII – a DSLR camera delivering 1080p video. The full-frame camera totally blew Nikon’s D90 out of the water and no doubt sent sirens screaming at digital cinema outfits like RED.

For here, for the first time, was a ‘video’ camera drawing on Canon’s vast armory of pro glass, meaning we could finally shoot homes on wide angle lenses.

Canon 5D MkII
Canon 5D MkII

When video first started making its presence felt on the real estate market, the work horse was Sony’s Z1P. Not a bad camera for its day but the lens was nowhere near wide enough. When it came to showing off a bedroom, the bed was about the only thing that filled the shot. While still images could be pulled from the video, the format was interlaced. Beyond lifestyle, the property video in those days was more of a pre-listing tool.

Then along came SONY’s EX1. Full 1080p, with miles of throttle. Slow motion and extremely slow shutter speeds introduced evening time lapses. The camera came with a slightly wider lens attachment; now we could almost see the legs of the bed. But still no bedroom.

The 5DII changed all that, with lenses that Canon call’s ‘Beyond Human Perspective’ – without bowing (distorting horizontal lines), allowing the property video to come into its own right – and delivering both photographs and HD video at the same time. It also presented a very steep learning curve for suppliers. All of a sudden, photographers had to learn the skills of film-making; story construction, motivated movement, editing, music scoring – and the work-flow behind a 30fps camera now being deployed in a 25fps PAL world.

And then there’s the storage and computing power needed to move these assets around. Re-touching a 26 megabyte RAW 1 photograph was relatively easy. Editing 16 gigs of HD content for your average property is far more demanding. Cinematographers, on the other hand, were probably in a much better position to take advantage of these converging skills. All they had to do was learn to press a button.

But make no mistake, the lines are being blurred between the Film and Photographic industries and cameras like the 5DMII have not only leveled the playing field.

They’ve changed the whole game.

Guest Author: Brett Clements from Platinum HD

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  • craig pontey
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 7:17 am 0Likes


    Great article…..

    I will leave this to the professionals like you and your team who do an outstanding job in this changing world where buyers want Video.

    Well done Propvid keep up the sensational work.

    Craig Pontey

  • David Leggott
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 8:16 am 0Likes

    If anyone has doubts on the lines between Film & Photography then check out Vincent’s first 5D Mk II “film” here…..
    I have also seen Nocturne…. (http://vimeo.com/7152063) but it now doesn’t seem to not be publicly available any longer – something about Canon asking him to withdraw it? But when you do get a chance to see it, you will be suitably impressed I’m sure – you will be seeing the future, especially its low light capabilities they are just amazing – Vincent I think it was, said “I pointed it towards a black area at night – and the camera wowed me by showing what was there – something my naked eyes couldn’t”

  • PaulD
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 11:27 am 0Likes

    Brett, As a firm believer that video is the way to go when marketing property, and having seen some of Propvid’s high quality output, I notice that many, so called “property Videos” are just a collection of high quality photos in a fast slideshow with a music track added to fill in the gaps. They are not really videos at all. I suppose one of the reasons for this is that 1080p video is high quality, and high resolution, but if you don’t have a high speed broadband connection, you can’t get through the video without stopping and waiting for the streaming video to catch up and get ahead. Would you like to comment on that, and is there a way to compress the video so that the public, many of whom don’t have the highest speed broadband connection, can see the whole thing play through without stopping and starting ?

  • Robert Simeon
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 12:14 pm 0Likes

    Welcome Brett, this is so interesting and I agree too that video (will) is the next big thing for our industry. Already we are seeing a movement in advertising expenditure and one thing that is certain is that technologies keep getting
    better and better.

    Very much looking forward to reading more from you on these topics.

  • Zac
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 4:04 pm 0Likes

    Hi Brett,

    I’m interested in camera’s & stuff… just wondering what you are basing your statement on when you say: “The full-frame camera totally blew Nikon

  • Brett Clements
    Posted November 28, 2009 at 5:32 pm 0Likes

    Thank you for the feedback. In respect to Paul’s comments about compression – and I hope I explain this properly – we shoot and cut in 1080p, so we can take advantage of the full-frame censor in the 5DMII and one of the highest HD formats available – giving us fine detail – but then compress the video down to a much small packet for streaming, on Flash. By keeping this file size small, and our screen size big enough (but not too big) – we have arrived at a happy medium, given the speed of the network in Australia. We have about 4,000 videos streaming from our new site and none of our Clients, or their Clients, have reported any speed problems since we re-designed part of our streaming process. While YouTube is now starting to stream full HD, somebody has to pick up the bill for that; at the very least, the user pays, at their end, for bandwidth and the download. If your average Joe is force-fed huge HD video files, via links from an agency’s web site, that might have a hefty impact on the family Internet bill. And that impact may result in that Joe avoiding that particular site like the plague. Which won’t be good for that Agency’s business. Good compression and a good screen size. At least for the moment.

  • Peter Ricci
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 12:18 am 0Likes

    Brett, most people now understand their bandwidth bills and soon enough everyone will be moving across to unlimited bandwidth – much like the USA is now. Mobile is a completely different story as we are a long way off unlimited bandwidth.

    With embedded videos on websites. I think having them play automatically is a mistake but giving the users the option to view them is a good thing. I have seen some of your videos and some really are quite amazing. It will be interesting to see how the agents move across to these over the coming years.

    As for you hosting all of the videos, that is a business model path that you have gone down – you will however see sites like Vimeo.com ($60 USD per year for 5 GIG a month of uploads) and more popping up where a user can host cost effective HD Videos and possibly you might entertain that option as well.

    Having said that, it comes down to ease, if an agent does not have to worry about anything and you handle the works, then I am sure they are quite happy to pay for the design, upload, streaming and support for their videos which of course is a premium over services like YouTube and Vimeo.

  • Brett Clements
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 12:47 am 0Likes

    VIMEO is actually not a commercial site. Its terms and conditions apply to non-commercial work, posted by a ‘respectful community of film makers’. YouTube also has issues with commercial work. They are not enforcing their terms – yet – but I think it is only a matter of time before you see a far more aggressively commercial YouTube appear. Because, after Google, YouTube is now the No 2 source for all searches in the world. I don’t believe you can build a commercial business model projected into the future on a ‘free’ platform you have absolutely no control over. It might be a nice ‘Woodstock’ web stance at the moment, but it is is ‘hippie’ in the real world of communication. Fact is, while we no longer have analogue costs to bear, there are real costs in delivering content over the Internet. I think the real burning question here is the transition of hard advertising dollars from print…to the net. And just like those old print presses rolling, there are costs to bear in building and maintaining and developing that network. So streaming video over the Internet is not going to be free. We all have to pay the telco’s. They will replace the ‘print barons’ of the future. There is no such thing as a free lunch. And the cost of doing video business over the Internet is a fraction of what you will pay for cutting down the trees.

  • Brett Clements
    Posted November 29, 2009 at 12:58 am 0Likes

    Footnote for Peter. I think its important I say here that streaming video is not part of our business model. I’m a film-maker. Not a telco. I only referenced our site as an example of how video can be streamed fast, in response to PaulD’s question about the compression of 1080. This is also my first post so I am trying very hard to contribute as much as I can without giving too much away. It is a grey area. I will make mistakes. My apologies for them in advance.

  • Shane Dale
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:06 pm 0Likes

    Brett – what price range applies to this type of marketing for a property – its clearly a benefit to have the ability to do stills onsite in the same package but I understand that cost of production is a key obstacle in wider acceptance of professional video. Whats your comment on this issue? Does it suit only higher budgeted properties? What about the mid range?

    – and in the case of DIY agent videos – it seems to be the hassle of them producing, shooting and editing their own at any kind of quality. I havent found many agents who can handle a pro camera – stills or video. Its my opinion that bad photos or badly made videos actually detract from the marketing of a property and an agents profile. Great imagery is drastically helpful, and almost a must have these days for any property.

  • Brett Clements
    Posted December 2, 2009 at 3:44 pm 0Likes

    From as little as $330 to as much as $30,000. From a from a tin shed sitting on a block of land to a hotel resort. The technology is available now to deliver both photographs and video simultaneously, so I believe the costs should be integrated. Not an add-on. In a few years, the cameras we use today will be out on the consumer market for a fraction of what they cost today. Hardware isn’t a barrier to entry anyway. Everybody servicing the industry with visual marketing collateral has to understand the future is going to won in creativity and quality, and that’s hard to measure. And to price. Fact is: a 5 year-old will be able to wield this hardware pretty soon – and some probably already area. The point-and-shoots have also come a long way – and software for Lightroom makes HDR images achievable, when, not so long ago, you had to have a very sophisticated art department. In respect to DIY Agents, I know a few Agents who take their own photographs and are very good at it. Whether they’d have time to do all the backend editing, music scoring etc that goes into a video…..

  • Shane Dale
    Posted December 4, 2009 at 4:48 pm 0Likes

    I agree, its possible for agents to make good shots and maybe video, but the reality is they just dont do it usually. There are exceptions of course.

    Video, virtual tours and floorplans of any decent quality are much harder for agents to do than decent still photos. Although the new video DSLRs are making it much easier.

    I can say for sure that after 12 years in this industry with internet and print media as my main focus – I have never seen an agent go backwards career wise when they moved from amateur to professional marketing.

    Video is another new layer on that path – broadband has opened that option up – the new way to add a point of difference. But I still think a floorplan is more important in priority to the general buying population – in cost and usefulness.

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