Virtual Tours Using Still Images
What are virtual tours and why are they important in the world of real estate? As the word signifies a virtual tour of a property or a home is an attempt to replicate the experience of a physical tour of the property or the house. Here in, one captures images of the property and put them together to give the viewer a 360° view and a complete tour of the house. Images by far depict one room or a section of a room at one time and hence rarely gives a holistic and complete picture of the house, and it is very critical to give the potential client a complete view of the property to get him or her interested enough to make a visit to the property.
There are multiple ways in which realtors handle this challenge. First and foremost, is the acknowledgement that in today’s time and age a large part of the shopping and comparison is done by the potential customer in the virtual word, sitting in comfortable environs – Hardly any debate then about importance of images and virtual tours. Once that is accepted, the realtors move on to the next stage on how to manage, overcome the challenge and ensure that their properties get highlighted. In the recent past both real estate photography and real estate photo editing and enhancements became much specialised functions. The advances in these fields have further enhanced the customer experience and in turn made the real estate image generation a very competitive field. Among the many advances made, virtual tours are fast becoming a de-facto and hence there is the burning need to get it right.
There are multiple ways to provide a virtual tour starting from the humble simple slide show, where in one puts in a bunch of photographs that covers the whole house, all rooms, the exteriors in an order and sequence that tells a story and entices the viewer. Then there is the option of shooting a video of the whole house, walk through the house and shooting the house as one walks through. The challenges with videos are many, the files are inherently heavy, and the rendering could be slow. Depending on the varying internet speeds it could end up being a turn off rather than the ideal impression one intended it to have. It still could come in handy for realtors who have a youtube channel of their own or the like, the video tour ends up being more appropriate one, for the websites though it might be better to have still images do the job. Having both is fine, but having only the video could be a risky choice.
Virtual tours using still images, as mentioned earlier the simplest option would be a slideshow, that said today there many other viable choices and probably a lot more effective ones too. One can create a story using the adobe flash player, which as effective as it is, also tends to be heavy and sluggish unless the internet connections are fast. Flash based websites tend to be sluggish but are very popular none the same. One among the critical tool and technique in real estate photography is to give a virtual tour through panoramic and HDR image stitching. In these techniques the photographer and the post shoot team both are involved in equal measure.
The photographer shoots the different components each in varying exposures, as in each room, the paths, and every part of the house. The exteriors would form a different image set with the same rules. Once this is done, the image editors blend the images and create the perfect images of each room or component and then they are stitched together to give the viewer a 360° view and a complete virtual walk through of the house. These are still images and hence don’t have the challenges of the video or a flash based solution and hence provides an extremely effective solution for all conditions. Little wonder then that virtual tours with still images are a critical cog in real estate photography.