Blog Tag: video tours

Is it “Snowing” Outside Your House?

As a real estate photographer and a virtual tour provider, I often peruse realtor.com and other sites where virtual tours and listing photos are posted to gage them against my own work and make sure that my offerings and services are of higher quality than that of my competitors.

One problem I notice again and again on the majority of pictures I view (both stills and panoramas) is “blown out” windows which make it look like a blizzard is raging outside! Since I’m not viewing listings in Antarctica, I know that this is actually because the photographer doesn’t know how to expose the scene for both inside and outside light.

The reason this happens, without launching into a full-scale lesson on dynamic range (the range between the darkest and lightest areas of a scene), is that exterior light (sunlight) streaming through a window is typically much brighter than the ambient light and/or the artificial lighting inside of a room. While the human eye is the most advanced lens on the planet and can adjust lighting levels so that you see more even lighting in a room, even the most expensive camera lenses don’t come close to duplicating this kind of dynamic range.

I live in Los Angeles and often shoot very expensive homes with great views of the beach or mountains, so it is very important for me to adequately capture the view. So, a few “tricks” are necessary to make sure that the end result is a scene or a photo where both the interior and the exterior are properly exposed.

First of all, choose your camera angles carefully. You can often choose camera angles that minimize window glare and still for the most part properly expose the interior. If you shoot a sunny window straight on (i.e. at a 90 degree angle) you will most certainly get a partial or total “wash out” if you expose for interior lighting. However move your tripod so that you are capturing that window from an angle of 10 or 15 degrees and voila!!

You can often capture the exterior scene with very little effect on the interior lighting (you may have to use the “dodge” tool for some minor tuning up around the window). Of course, you may have a window across the room that you are shooting straight on, so that may only solve your problem with one window. Also, sometimes we don’t have the luxury of total flexibility when choosing our interior angles due to room features, furniture or objects we are trying to shoot around. That’s when a little “Photoshoppery” comes into play. Yes, you’ll need a little bit of Photoshop knowledge to do this, and (duh) the Photoshop program itself.

There are a few ways to do this, but here’s what I do. First, you must have a camera that contains selectable metering spots or zones (not all do) and also you must use a tripod to match shots exactly. Also, if possible when lining up your shot, try to not have anything partially or totally in front of the window, because it may create problems for you later. When a window is partially or totally in the shot, you are going to capture two shots. First, expose for optimum interior lighting (the window will be partially or totally blown out to white). Next, without moving the camera, move the meter point so that it is exposing for the window. Immediately, the window scene comes into view while the rest of the room goes somewhat dark. You now have two identical shots, one with optimum exterior lighting and one that exposes the interior properly.

Repeat this process for all shots that include windows. Now, time for a little Photoshop magic! Open up Photoshop and pull up your duplicate shots. Now go to your picture where the window scene is optimum and push in pretty tight on it (200-300%) so you can be precise with your selection work. Now use the polygonal lasso tool (or if you have a more rounded or irregular shape to trace, the magnetic lasso tool) to trace the window. I usually trace outside the window frame, and then if necessary, use the “dodge” tool to lighten the frame up.

Now, select the “move” tool, which will automatically cutout your selection, and drag the window over to your “interior” picture. Push in again real close on this picture so you can place your window exactly where it should be on top of the “blown-out” window. Now flatten the layers of your image and VOILA, you have just “composited” an image!! You have a shot where both the interior and window scene are perfectly captured and exposed. If you are doing this for panoramas, I recommend stitching the scene first, once with the window shots and once with the interior shots and then compositing the resulting images. This is because if you choose to do it picture by picture before the stitch, you will find that you are often cutting out and replacing the same window twice or even three times due to the overlap of the pictures. If you are an RTV provider and have any questions on this process, I’m glad to answer them personally, visit my website and drop me an email.

To Your Success,
Lawrence McBride
Virtually There Media
www.bevirtuallythere.com


Marketing 101 Keeping your Connection Tight

There are real estate videos on websites like YouTube that agents post for free and I just read in a Real Estate Newsletter that it’s being encouraged to post those videos. This could potentially be a major industry mistake! Not only do videos on youtube come off as very unprofessional they distract the home shopper from what they are doing. If you take that video and link it to your website and someone clicks it to see it, you’ve just sent that buyer down the road to another website with completely unrelated content.

Why in the world would it be encouraged to send buyers away to another site that doesn’t have anything to do with buying or selling homes? YouTube makes their income off advertising and advertising alone so one would think they are fairly adept at distracting ones attention. Attracting and encouraging people to look at ads and other videos is the sole purpose of their site.

Realtor.com and your website on the other hand should be focused on connecting potential buyers with other homes and keeping those buyers on your site. It’s up to the agent to keep the buyer enrolled in their services or their properties and not lose contact with that buyer. The only solution is for Realtor.com to host these videos which I see that they have recently starting doing this for free!! I am guessing they are offering this service to agents for the simple reasons as stated above. Keep clients on your website and make your site as sticky as possible. Don’t lose your connection with your prospect.

Carolyn Morton
Virtual Ndustry “We build Virtual Tours”
www.virtualndustry.com


Real Estate Virtual Tours in Panhandle

Buyers can’t buy what they can’t see.

The Florida panhandle is experiencing an extreme buyer’s market. Real estate agents must market listing aggressively to stand out among the groves of property available for sale. Listings that lack quality photographs and virtual tours are simply overlooked. Sellers and buyers are demanding the information provided by virtual tours. Listings without them are severely disadvantaged.

Joe Beane
Real Tour Vision Service Provider
Virtual Home Tours


Virtual Tours from any angle

Virtual Tours…they don’t always have to be 360 degree views!
Real estate agents and their clients are sometimes hesitant to use a virtual tour to show a less than perfect property or one that doesn’t have great neighborhood views. To them I say, “No problem”, we’ll just show the good parts in half a circle or so. Once they realize we are not limited to full 360 views, their eyes start dancing around the property looking for all the good views.

Careful camera positioning can make a huge difference in the way certain shots look. Use walls, window frames, furniture, plants, even slightly open doors to hide unwanted items or views. For an example, I just shot a house on a golf course. Right outside on the other side of the open metal fencing was a huge tree stump. I just put the camera in a spot where the fence post/wall lined up perfectly with the stump and the stump disappeared from my scene. The art of any and all good photography is the details. Keep this in mind when figuring out the best way to utilize virtual tours. Try using only two shots to make a scene. Even a little motion/pan of a view sometimes better than a full 360 or static still shot.

Joe Maguire
RE Agent Support
www.reagentsupport.com


Video on Realtor.com

I just read this morning in Innman News that Realtor.com will now be offering a new free video service to their showcase members. Showcase members will be allowed to upload a video clip to their listings which will now make three forms of media one can look at when shopping for a home. Still images, Virtual Tours, and Video Clips.

With over eight years in the industry you can imagine that I have heard the question many times, “Jason, will video take over or replace the virtual tour?” I have for many years now stood my ground on my response to this. It is my opinion that video clips will continue to augment and enhance the true virtual tour. True virtual tours will always remain as the solid foundation on which the other forms of media are delivered from. It is good to see that Joe Detuno, senior vice president of product development at Move Inc (Realtor.com) feels the same way.

At the end of the day Realtors will ALWAYS need a photographer at the home and home shoppers will always get excited about pictures they can move through and control. It’s the little video gamer in all of us I suppose. That little bit of interaction that connects us with our potentially new home. My old business partner Jeff used to say, “Video is great for things that move. Houses don’t move!” Well most of them don’t anyway. The Real Tour Vision virtual tour software has supported video clips for many years now and I have to say that it is rarely used on the house itself. We see clips of boats zipping along the water or deer strolling in a back yard but rarely do you see a clip of someone walking through the home. When you do see that that images are blurry and dark corners look like caves. Windows are always washed out and no matter how careful the photographer is, it never comes close to looking professional.

If you are interested in doing a little comparison on Video Vs Virtual try spending just a few moments in our blog as there are many articles on the two technologies in here. All said and done it is my firm belief that video will never actually REPLACE the virtual tour. I would love to hear your comments and additional thoughts on this.

Here is the full story about virtual tours from http://www.inman.com:

Many multiple listing services and listings aggregators that offer virtual tours, such as Realtor.com, already allow listing agents to provide links to videos instead. The videos are hosted by approved virtual tour vendors in Realtor.com’s Picture Path network.

But sometime in the next few months, Realtor.com plans to roll out a new feature that will let listing agents upload video directly to the site, said Joe Detuno, senior vice president of product development at parent company Move Inc.

“Some Realtors have already started using video using the Picture Path technology, which allows a URL to be uploaded to the site,” Detuno said. “We intend to have that be much more accessible from the consumer standpoint, so video is much more prominent on Realtor.com and in the listings.”

As it stands now, listing agents must choose between virtual tours or video at Realtor.com and other sites. But once the new video upload capabilities are in place, listing agents will be able to use still photos, virtual tours and video in the same listing, Detuno said.

As was the case when virtual tours were first introduced, direct video uploads will at first be available only to subscribers to Realtor.com’s Showcase listing enhancements, Detuno said.

Although video is “still in its infancy,” Detuno said he foresees the day when Realtors use all three visual aids — still photos, virtual tools and video — in their listings.

“I don’t see video replacing virtual tours and pictures, I see it augmenting them,” Detuno said. While more homes have the broadband Internet connections needed to view Web video than ever before, listings sites still serve mobile devices and other users without video capabilities.