Technology Solutions

Video Primer

As sites like YouTube continue to grow, commercial real estate professionals are starting to see results from Web video marketing. For example, when our company, Duemelands Commercial, includes videos for new retail property sales listings on our Web site, we notice a significant spike in inquiries — up to nine calls a week sometimes. Video captures not only the property but also the sound and feel of the surrounding area, giving potential buyers, tenants, and investors a more dynamic view than traditional still photos. They like to see the traffic, what’s down the road, and neighboring tenants, especially nationally known retailers. Video is an active medium for promoting active investments.

It used to be very expensive to put a video on the Internet. High production and equipment costs, the need for multiple cameras, and restricted bandwidth often made Web video impractical, especially for small-business owners. Now, commercial real estate professionals can record, edit, and upload videos to their Web sites themselves at a very low cost. The following beginner’s guide to Web video production, while by no means exhaustive, highlights a few of the lessons that our company learned when we began working with video.

Gearing Up

In addition to a computer, the following equipment can be used to produce a Web video:
• Camera: Most digital still cameras sold today have the ability to shoot short videos. The inexpensive Flip Video camera also may be a good option for beginners.
• Flash memory card: at least 4 gigabytes
• Editing software
• Optional equipment: small tripod, wide-angle lens, and remote wireless microphone
• Upload software

Before purchasing your Web video equipment, make sure the camera’s output video format is compatible with the editing software. My Canon camera, for example, uses Apple’s Quicktime video format, which is suitable for Adobe software Premier Elements 8 and other editing software programs.

It’s also important to consider the Web page’s video format. Adobe’s Flash video format is the most common and is compatible with several types of video upload software. Plus, Adobe Flash Player already has been installed on most computers.

As long as the camera’s output files are compatible with the destination — whether it’s the editing software, upload software, or video streaming Web site — you will be able to get started.

Editing Options

After a video has been uploaded from the camera to the computer, it’s ready to be edited. To avoid boring viewers, try creating a 30-second video comprised of 10 three-second scenes. Most editing software includes a storyboard that allows users to arrange various clips (short video segments). After the clips have been edited, music or a voiceover that describes the property also can be added. When done tastefully, these elements can make ordinary videos more engaging.

Apple’s iMovie and Adobe Premier Elements 8 are popular editing software programs for Web video novices. The former, which is included on all new Mac computers, lets users drag and drop clips and add titles, transitions, and effects. The latter, which comes in Mac and PC versions and costs from $79 to $149, has a less intuitive interface but offers extensive user support. Windows Movie Maker, CyberLink Power Director, and Roxio Creator are other examples of PC-compatible editing software.

Posting a Video

The most popular way to post videos on the Internet is to upload them on YouTube. It’s free, easy to use, and compatible with most common file formats, making it an attractive option for a Web-video novice with a tight marketing budget. However, even if you embed a YouTube video on your own Web site, it will still be branded with the YouTube logo.

We prefer to use VideoWeb Wizard 2.0, which generates code that allows us to place videos directly on our Web site. The software includes five video players, 13 frame designs (or skins), and Web page templates. If you already have uploaded videos to YouTube, with Video Web Wizard, you can download and rebrand the videos with a company logo or other image before uploading them to another site.

There are many ways to get your video in front of the eyes and ears of potential customers. Along with a host of other Web video upload software options, commercial real estate pros also can use DVDs or flash drives to distribute videos. However the video is published, it will generate interest. The secret is capturing your property on a sunny, clear day.

Skip Duemeland, CCIM

Skip Duemeland, CCIM, is chief executive officer of Duemelands Commercial in Bismarck, N.D. Contact him at (701) 221-2222 or