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Aerial Real Estate Video | Let The Arms Race Begin

aerial real estate photography

Golden Hour In Phoenix

The arms race has begun. When I say “arms race” I am referring to aerial video. I remember when I first saw an aerial video. I KNEW it was a game changer, more for me than most. It meant more for me as I had been using video in my business since 2008, I already had the cameras, lenses, jibs, cranes, software, c-stands, diffusers – you get the idea. I already owned everything that was needed to do real estate video – well.

I say “do real estate video well” specifically aerial real estate video because most people simply suck at it. To some people, aerial real estate video is flying around the outside of a home for 30 seconds to a minute and sometimes even more than that. This is horrible. A waste. To be effective aerial real estate video should be used to show the context or location of a property. Aerial video IS an establishing shot.

DJi Phantom GoPro 3 Black

DJI Phantom

But without the rest of the video, aerial real estate video is a waste. The rest of the video is the interior of the home. The aerial video establishes WHERE the property is in relation to other homes, a freeway or other interesting landmark, but aerial video is a waste, an expensive waste, if it is not coupled with other types of media to tell the whole story of the property.

Bank One Ballpark

Bank One Ballpark

Aerial real estate video is not cheap. I was one of the first in the real estate community to own the DJI Phantom. It cost me $2,200 for my quad – Phantom, FPV, Zenmuse Gimbal and GoPro Hero 3. $2,200! I chalk that up to the cost of early adoption. The first ones in always pay more than the others. That’s fine by me, I am confident I have gotten 10 times what I paid for the Phantom in business.

If $2,200 sounds like a lot to you, relax. Later versions of the Phantom, the “Vision” cost less than half what I paid. I saw one advertised the other day for $999. Even came with its own camera too. $999! Amazing huh. And yet it is soon to be obsolete. Let the arms race begin. Let me explain.

The first camera I owned was in my macbook pro 13″, then I stepped up to the Flip Mino, Flip Mino HD, Kodak Playtouch, Canon T3i, Canon 60D, Canon Mark III and Canon C100. Why did I continue to purchase more expensive cameras? Better cameras? Because I knew it was all about the quality of the video. That was all that mattered. Not what camera was used to achieve it. You will see the same thing happening with aerial real estate video.

aerial real estate photography

The Stack

Remember when you first heard of something called a High Definition Television? If you are like me, it meant nothing to you. I thought, why would I want to pay all that money for an HD TV? I’m perfectly happy with my 250 lb Mitsubishi Big Screen! That was until I saw the picture on an HD TV. My 250lb Mitsubishi behemoth was instantly reduced to a worthless box. How could I possibly go back to standard definition after witnessing high definition?

Same thing is happening with aerial real estate video. My Phantom carries a GoPro 3. It’s a great camera. Awesome actually. For some things. Surfing, water skiing, racing, running, biking, scuba, time lapse, slow motion. Aerial video? Not so much. As awesome as the GoPro is, it has an achilles heel – automatic exposure. There is no zoom, no focus, no white balance, no aperture or ISO control for the GoPro. You get what you get.

Mill Avenue Bridge

Mill Avenue Bridge

The GoPro was great for aerial real estate video for a while. I was in awe of its video quality. But then I saw it. It was the next generation. Not another Phantom. Not even a Vision. It was a hexacopter, then an octocopter. The Phantom and Vision are QUADcopters. 4 propellers. QUAD. The HEXacopter has 6 propellers. The OCTOcopter has 8 propellers. Why would anyone want more propellers? LIFT. The more propellers the higher the payload. Higher payloads mean BIGGER, BETTER, HEAVIER cameras. They are also easier to stabilize, LESS CAMERA SHAKE OR “JELLO”.┬áBIGGER, BETTER, HEAVIER cameras mean more control. . ┬áControl over ISO, shutter speed, aperture, white balance and even better – interchangeable lenses. Properly outfitted with gimbal, dual transmitters and FPV these copters cost between $7,000 – $16,000

The Stack Phoenix

The Stack At Night

What does all this mean to the real estate agent? Easy. When the consumer see’s the image quality of BIGGER, BETTER, HEAVIER cameras strapped to a Hexacopter or Octocopter, it will almost instantly reduce the Phantom & Vision to my Mitsubishi Big Screen Standard Definition TV. They will soon be the toys compared to the HEX and OCTOCOPTERS carrying LUMINEX GH3 & GH4, SONY A7, Canon Mark II and III. Could you go back to SD after seeing HD? Neither can your buyers and sellers.

Let The Arms Race Begin

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Hi I'm Stephen Garner, I'm just a guy in the title industry {in Phoenix} trying to change how real estate agents market themselves and their services. To that end, I teach my clients HOW TO leverage sales technologies like WordPress, Content, Video, Camtasia, Final Cut X, iMovie and indexable IDX solutions to convey value and help your ideal client find you online when they are most interested in learning about you and your services. I work for escrows. Hire me!

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  • Jeffrey Gordon

    appreciated the article Stephen, at those price points it looks like everything will be outsourced to the pros with the gear and the pilots and camera operators etc., or some enterprising title guys/lenders willing to invest some serious change in relationship development?

    • Stephen Garner

      There won’t be many Jeff. As slo as the real estate industry is, the title industry is notoriously slower to react to change. It’s been like taking candy from a baby for years for me. The barrier to entry is high for my competitors. Not only do they need the $$ to get the equipment (I easily have $40,000 in equipment) they also need the knowledge to do it (took me years) and the passion – you can easily see in their work who has passion for this kind of thing and who is doing it because they have no choice. Either way, it’s an uphill battle for many. There are lenders here in Phoenix that are trying to be relevant but their expertise is loans, not aerial video or any video for that matter. Translation: everything I have seen (flying around the outside of a $200,000 house for 3 minutes) SUCKS