Drone photography is cementing itself as the standard for all-future real estate marketing.
Thanks to the evolving technology in real estate drones (and the internet), potential buyers nowadays receive tours of buildings from the comfort of their own homes and phones.
From cinematic footage around a property, to bird-eye view images, drones capture the essence of a residential or commercial property from a range of photo & video angles.
While high-res drone cameras and smart features produce incredible footage, effectively capturing quality real estate marketing content takes a keen eye and skill. And since no two real estate properties are the same, a professional shoot requires a standardized approach.
For that reason, this article will, primarily, offer guidance on the most essential real estate photo and video drone shots, to include in a standard ‘shot-list’ for each property.
4 Key drone shots for real estate photos
In line with aerial photography, these are the 4 main drone shots for real estate content;
Sometimes called ‘Nadir’, the top-down still shot is a vertical photo taken from directly above the property. This way, a potential buyer gets a clear understanding of the property’s boundaries, land size, layout and any significant features like a pool or basketball court.
Color fading the surrounding area/buildings to highlight the single lot of interest, in post-production, can further enhance the image and its quality to the viewer.
TIP: Include annotations such as dimensions, area boarder lines, street access points, etc.
Position the drone camera between a 45–60-degree angle, roughly 200-300 meters away from the property. Using the horizon as the reference point, get a vantage view of the suburb profile. Framed with the full property in the lower-third, the shot ought to include the land and sky, allowing for the neighboring area and points of interests to be seen.
TIP: Aerial drop-pins can highlight nearby landmarks or amenities like shopping centers, schools or cultural attractions, etc.
This shot mimics pole photography, with the drone camera angled slightly above the tree-line. It’s commonly taken 15-20 meters above the ground, shooting straight-on or on a slight-low angle, with the main house/property as the main focus covering 2/3 of the frame.
Be careful not to have more roof than house in the frame.
TIP: Get close-ups and wide shots from multiple angles, as well as vary the angle, distance, and eye level of each image you take of exterior amenities
A combination of pole & angled oblique photographs, this bonus shot is taken when the sun is at or just below the horizon, and requires for all the street, house and neighborhood lights to be on. To make this shot requires some mastery of low-light or night-photography.
TIP: The night before shooting, note what time neighborhood street lights come on
Top 6 useful drone video shots for real estate marketing
Taken alongside the photos, the following drone video shots can further help to set the scene of a property, and give your real estate footage a cinematic and professional look;
This is a leisurely forward sweeping shot that starts at a high wide-angled view of the property. It then moves slowly downward leading into a direct flyover reveal of the property itself transitioning to highlight notable features in the adjacent neighborhood and landscape.
During editing, this kind of shot serves particularly well as an establishing shot, and can be used for opening scenes. It gives the potential buyer an immediate sense of the general location, and surrounding of the property being viewed.
TIP: For end-scene edits, reverse the process from the descending move. Start from the ground, with the camera facing forward, and then ascend while tilting the camera down.
At times referred to as a Cable Slider Pan, this shot is one of the more challenging to pull off smoothly and requires a decent amount of drone flying skills.
Depending on the property setting, the shot involves plotting a straight path that slides along the longest side. At all times during the same motion, gently pan the camera focusing or tracking along the center axis of the property. Getting a professional-grade shot takes some finesse, but the key is to pan softly with no awkward stutters or sharp movements.
TIP: Set the drone to autonomously fly, by turning on Tripod or Cinema mode on your DJI.
This orbital spotlighting shot is slightly similar to the sweeping shot, and too needs skilled hand-eye coordination. The objective is to fly horizontally around the house, lot or building, while keeping the camera locked at the center of the property.
Extra care must go into maintaining a slow speed, and avoiding jittery camera movements. Also, for this shot, it is vital that the entire building and the horizon are always in-frame.
Intelligent flight modes like, Spotlight Mode & Point of Interest modes in the Mavic 3’s FocusTrack function, allow for your drone to autonomously fly this kind of path.
TIP: Carry spare batteries, it can take several minutes to successfully nail a whole orbit.
With the drone directly overhead a property, and the camera pointing straight down, simply execute a vertical uprising motion. Alternatively, you can create a cork-screw effect by, firstly, hovering low over a focal point on the property or any significant features and then gradually increasing the altitude of the angle, while rotating the drone in a spiral motion.
Such a shot gives a potential buyer a nice view of the layout of property, as well a sense of its size in relation to its immediate surroundings.
TIP: Use this as a transition video from lower ground-shots, to full-height panoramic shots.
The idea is to unveil the scene of a property at a distance from behind a foreground element. To start, select what part of the property will be revealed, and then select a foreground element to hide your selection; it could be a tree, hills or even other buildings.
The shot continues by carefully moving the drone past that foreground element to reveal what’s hiding behind it, usually the front the key feature of a house like a courtyard.
The reveal shot creates a compelling scene, by establishing a foreground, a middle ground and a background, which offer a sense of depth, scale and complexity to the footage.
TIP: You may also try doing it in reverse by moving backward to reveal the foreground element instead, like a noticeable landmark, or sign.
This bonus shot is for ambitious real estate drone experts. The shot may begin with the camera slowly approaching the building, and gently swooping into the inside of the property, through a large opening, like a balcony window or porch entrance.
The shot then continues or transitions into indoor walk-through footage of the property.
However, for safety reasons, this shot also can be completed two parts. That is, an outdoor shot leading up to the opening; and an indoor shot that starts from right at the opening. A seamless transition can later be edited in post-production by stitching the two shots together.
This is an exceptional way to show off large and luxurious properties and offer a justly unique viewpoint for potential home buyers. Although, remember to toggle-off all obstacle avoidance settings, when attempting this shot.
TIP: Propeller guards are an essential accessory for flying indoors.
Now that we’ve covered the techniques involved in taking standard real estate photo and video shoots, in parting, here are some basic rules to capturing industry-level drone content;
- Preparing the scene: Remove visually distracting items to avoid tedious editing work.
- Use natural lighting for outdoor shots: recommended shooting between noon and 4PM.
- Take as Many Shots and Angles as Possible: ensure you get that perfect shot.
- Shoot in RAW: For more flexibility when it is time to edit.
- Check the Weather Forecast; plan accordingly, and aim to shoot on clear days.
- Pre-select highlights; always show the stand-out features on the property
- Rely on the Basics; include diagonals, contrast, color, the rule of thirds, and leading lines.
- Utilize Intelligent Flight Modes: Eliminates jerkiness, and delivers buttery smooth footage
Real estate drone photography is used to create compelling imagery. And in as much as all individuals have their own creative processes, the steps and tips shared here will ensure excellent photos and videos, consistently to help further your ambition in the industry.
Gerald Ainomugisha is a freelance Content Solutions Provider (CSP) offering both content and copy writing services for businesses of all kinds, especially in the niches of management, marketing and technology.