Drone Real Estate Marketing

I created my first residential real estate video in 2014, since then my team and I have created hundreds of videos helping realtors sell their luxury real estate listings. Consequently, I’ve had the unique privilege of having mentors to help me understand the importance of knowing how to see and capture the value and key selling points in every listing.


In commercial real estate, a crucial selling point is location and accessibility from main highways and populated areas – and being able to showcase that in the real estate video. Residential real estate is more about showing viewers what they will see in person when they visit the listing. Low perspective shots, for example, are a must. Oftentimes, drone videos fail to put enough emphasis on these types of first-person shots and focus too much on the shots from above. Which brings me to the next point.

Keep the drone as low to the ground as possible for residential real estate videos. It may sound strange to hear the words “low to the ground” and “drone” in the same sentence, but it is a game changer. It’s important to understand why you are being paid to do what you’re doing. You are creating video content that will help market a real estate listing (home/property) in the best way possible. Understand that people are impacted most by visuals they can relate to. People don’t fly, so while having high, elevated shots is extremely helpful when showing large properties or distances from highways, it is typically not the best way to show a residential listing.

Imagine that your drone is a 50 foot crane rather than an aircraft. Your drone is simply a tool that allows you to achieve unique, elevated shots, but the camera is where you need to first put your focus.

To really set yourself apart from the competition, you will need to learn the basics of photographyvideography, and video editing. Stop thinking like an RC pilot and start thinking like a filmmaker. Understand that you’re not getting paid to be great at flying your machine. You’re getting paid to capture quality video using the camera on your machine and then to edit that footage into a quality, finished product.

Before you film anything, take the time to learn about your camera and the basics of photography and videography. Know your camera’s capabilities and limitations. Learn about the frame rates, the resolutions you can film in, and how to use these elements to help you create quality videos. Learn what ISOapertureexposure, and f-stop mean. You’ll find that understanding how to control your camera will lead to some really amazing footage.

Knowing your equipment is some of the best advice I can give you, and it doesn’t have to be the most expensive equipment either – what matters most is how you use it and how well. I have heard so many clients tell me that their company invested in an expensive video camera to help them create quality video content. In reality, they would have been better off buying a less expensive video camera and keeping every mode on auto. Like most other things in life, the more expensive something is, the more bells and whistles it comes with, means more knowledge, training, and experience you will need to make it function properly. Buying the nicest camera in the store does not automatically guarantee you flawless footage. Most often, it will give you the poorest quality video because no one knows how to operate it. The same principle can be applied to the commercial drone industry. A $10,000 video camera often requires multiple operators. The same principle applies to a $10,000 drone.

The DJI Bumblebee 550. This was the very first drone I purchased when I started Innovative Media Group (formerly Innovative Aerial Media) back in 2014.

When I first started our company, I filmed the first dozen real estate videos using a custom built, DJI Bumblebee 550 and the original DJI Phantom 2 (before it came with a camera on it). Fast forward four years and we now film with a DJI Inspire 1 Pro. At the time we purchased the Inspire, it was about a $4,000 difference in price from the original Phantom. However, my expectation in the quality of the shots has always been the same no matter how expensive and advanced the equipment.

The DJI Phantom 2 (original). This was the second drone we purchased for Innovative Media Group (formerly Innovative Aerial Media). You still see the warn Innovative Aerial Media sticker on top. Notice, there is not gimbal or camera. This was the very first consumer model, you had to add your own custom gimbal and camera system if you wanted to capture stills and video with it.

In the beginning, I had to buy custom gimbals that could support GoPros and I learned how to film all of my shots without looking at any video monitor. I called it “flying blind.” I did this by visualizing the shot I wanted to capture in my mind and trying to coordinate the speed, orientation, and movement of the drone with the speed and movement of the camera. It took many, many hours of practice. But after enough time, I mastered it. It’s all a matter of knowing your equipment.

Another crucial aspect to creating real estate videos with drones is that you must visualize the shot you want to capture before you even get the drone off the ground. Thinking about shots you want to see when you’re already in the air, and based on what you are seeing on your video monitor, will waste batteries and can be very dangerous. Think about what it is you want to see before you think about how you are going to fly. I don’t want to beat a dead horse here, but STOP thinking like an RC pilot and START thinking like a filmmaker.

Part of thinking like a filmmaker is learning how to edit. I don’t mean learning how to cut, trim and pull footage together – I could show you how to do that in ten minutes. I mean really educate yourself on how to control elements like the frame rate of your footage by filming it with the proper settings on your camera. This can have a huge impact on what you are able to do with the video once it’s on your editing timeline. I have always said that the best cinematographers are always thinking about how they are going to edit their footage as they are filming it.

I prefer editing in Adobe Premiere when I'm on a pc. However, if I am editing on a mac, I don't mind Final Cut Pro either. It's a matter of preference. Both software programs are more than capable of giving you the tools you need to get the job done and much more.

Filming and editing are much more synonyms with one another than most people realize. It’s like a marriage. These are the things that will help you create great videos for your clients – not being the greatest drone pilot or even having the most expensive equipment. Understand what video you’re trying to capture, how you are going to capture it, and how you will use that footage to create what you need in post editing.

Lastly, understand the needs of your clients. Know that, when it comes to providing a service for realtors, you will always have more than one client. Your final product not only has to impress the realtor but also the home/property owner and potential buyers. Let’s face it, the commercial drone industry is the most saturated it’s ever been. What this means is that more than ever, you need to differentiate yourself from the competition. What makes your work different and better? How are you using the tools you have to best serve your client? Ask realtors what things they feel would be most important to see highlighted in a video. Ask them what they believe their client would want to see in a video highlighting the property. This is something that will change from listing to listing. You will find that the home/property owner may have differing ideas from the realtor as to what the most important selling points are. When this happens (as it often does), you will want to find a happy medium between the two perspectives. In short, spend time with the realtors and home/property owners, get to know them and what they want, and produce a mind-blowing real estate video that sells their listing without anyone having to lift a finger (besides you, of course).

Innovative Media Group testing live-streaming video with drones, for the 2016 Kalamazoo Marathon-Borgess Run.

Before creating your website and social media platforms, before you even order business cards, take the time to learn about your equipment, understand the process, and get to know your clients. This will allow you to quickly and efficiently complete the filming of your listings and will rapidly increase your work flow during editing. Most importantly, it will give you everything you need to deliver a quality final product in a timely manner.

I hope everyone has found this blog beneficial! Please let me know how you feel by leaving a comment below. If any of my facts are off (as they sometimes are), please feel free to correct me and I will be sure to update the content on my end! Lastly, if there are any topics in the world of drones you would like me to write about, let me know and I will get on it! Thanks again, and I look forward to posting my next blog!

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