Increase the value of your next Real Estate video by using a slider
(DIFFICULTY LEVEL: EASY) Are you a Real Estate or Property Agent that has been shooting your own property videos and you now feel like you're ready to up your game. Here are some tips when adding a slider to your Real Estate videos and increase their cinematic production quality and emotional engagement.
There a numerous sliders on the market, from the very inexpensive for under $100 to very high quality sliders worth several thousand. This blog post will focus on just a few types of sliders that would be considered very reasonably priced as well as how to correctly use them and tips for getting the best out of them.
BUYING A SLIDER
When considering purchasing a slider, it is very important to be sure you calculate the entire weight of the rig above the slider carriage. This will include your camera body, lens types, extra battery, flash or light as well as the video head. All of these in combination can add significant weight and the slider should be designed to perform above that weight for the best results.
The first slider I'm going to mention is the Neewer 24" slider for less than $90 CDN:
This is an inexpensive slider for smaller DSLR cameras and the specifications state it can handle a weight up to 4kg. An added benefit to this slider is the additional built in wheel/dolly system. Using the wheels allows for an added flexibility that I will discuss a little later.
This slider uses a nylon brush carriage to rail system, which is adequate for small cameras and small camera heads. The lack of a true roller mechanism does keep the price of this slider down, however the trade-off is a slider that has a lot more friction when under weight.
The carriage uses a standard 1/4 mounting bolt, which will fit some photo/video heads, or you can get a 3/8" to 1/4" reducing screw for the mounting hole of your photo/video head (which can be seen in the photo above).
The slider can be mounted with a single tripod below the center or with two tripods/light stands on either end.
The wheels have a large rotating tightening/adjustment knobs on the bottom side so they can be quickly removed if you want to mount the slider on a stable surface. They can also be loosened to change the wheel axles for radius turns or be re-mounted closer to the center of the slider if you need a tighter radius turn (you will need two 3/8" to 1/4" reducing screws in that case).
I use a Canon 70D, with a battery grip and a ball-head mount for this slider (shown on the right). This slider can manage smooth movement with a big camera setup, as long as I carefully balance the camera's center of gravity over the carriage. However, I feel that this slider would be more suited to a smaller DSLR without any extra gear attached.
A better and still very reasonable priced slider at just under $180 CDN is the
This slider can support up to 5kg of weight, but more importantly, it has a ball bearing slide mechanism. This is extremely helpful in making smooth movements, which is an important goal when using a slider. One trade off for this quality slider is that the dolly wheels are no longer part of the package.
I won't describe the slider in detail as the features are nearly identical to the other Neewer slider (excepting the dolly wheels). This slider uses all the common thread mounts for your tripod or light stands and the carriage mount also uses the common mounts.
One feature not found in the less expensive Neewer model is a slider speed tension dial. This allows you to adjust the tension of the roller mechanism from completely free to a slower movement, which can be very useful when sliding at an angle or vertically.
A final, and very unique slider, for approximately $350 CDN is the
This is a compact slider offering twice the travel distance of its form factor. In this case, this slider is under 10 inches in length, but will slide to just under 20 inches. It does this through a telescoping mechanism that only works if attached to a mounting base such as a tripod (when sitting on it's own feet, the telescoping mechanism will not travel and the slide is then limited to less than 10 inches).
This slider has a load capacity of 8kg and also uses a bearing roller mechanism in the carriage offering exceptionally smooth slides. There is also a locking button to keep it from telescoping when you are traveling. This is a very compact, light system, making it very portable and highly suitable for some property videos.
USING A SLIDER
How, why and when to use a slider
All camera movements are superior to virtual still image pans. The difference between using a slider and just moving across a still image is enormous. A still image is lifeless and cannot give your audience a sense of the space or the ambiance of a location. Here you can read a deeper article regarding the superiority of video over still slide shows or virtual tours.
When shooting real estate videos, sliders are ideal for smooth, slow movement - which is key to holding your audience in the video - quick, jerky movement is appropriate for action sequences and not property videos.
1) Using a slider to add life into a difficult shot
Below are two comparisons of a country home with little curb appeal. This is extremely difficult to deal with in still photography and using a still image to simply pan across will not add anything of value for your potential audience. One way of dealing with a difficult aspect of a property is to add real movement to the shot, which in turn adds life and ambiance to video, making it easier for your audience to engage emotionally with the property.
For example, The first is a virtual video (a still image that has been just panned from the left to right) of the entrance way .
Exterior Virtual video example
The second is a video using a slider from the left to right and a dissolve to the door. Here the beginning of the shot shows the leaves moving in the trees and we can hear the birds chirping. You can sense the peaceful, romantic ambiance of this country cottage of this video in comparison to the virtual video.
Exterior Slider video example
TIP: When shooting and editing, there are numerous opportunities to increase the power of the story you tell when you plan two or three shots that make narrative sense and combine them as I did with the video sample above. The final dissolve to white, could then reveal the enormous interior post-and-beam great room. This acts as a small, and welcome, surprise in contrast to the modest exterior - again, allowing the viewer to build their own personal narrative.
2) Using a slider to reveal a subject
Below is a slider and pan in combination shown from inside the kitchen to the great room. Here the slider reveals the long floor-to-ceiling windows after looking at the beautiful post & beam room. Depending on the edits prior and after, it is an opportunity to create a moment for your audience to imagine, that while they are in the kitchen, they can look out to the great room - perhaps at a dinner party or watching a family reunion - and really feel the potential of this space in their own life.
Great room slider reveal
Now, lets look at a 'virtual' pan across a still image as shown below. Here the image is a little larger (having been taken from the original video shot) so that I could do t