Real Estate Drone Video Tip #2 – Shooting Video in Tight Residential Neighborhoods

There was a comment on the site several weeks ago asking how to shoot drone videos in closely packed residential neighborhoods versus properties out in the country. This is a very good question, as shooting drone video in suburban neighborhoods present several unique problems that must be addressed:


How do I only focus on the property I am interested in?


I found this to be the most difficult problem. With houses packed so close together, it is almost impossible to not get other houses in your shot. However, you should make sure that you remove other properties as much as possible, as they are not your subject of interest, and will only detract from the property you are trying to showcase. Here are some general tips that will help you:


  1. Plan your shoot before you get there. Check out the home on Google Maps before you get there. See just how close the surrounding properties are. This will help you determine your video sequence before you get there, saving yourself time during the actual shoot.


  • Does the property have a large backyard? If it does, this could provide you with a lot of real estate (pun intended) for you to do flyovers of the house and not fly over nearby properties.
  • Is there a long driveway to the house? If so, this could provide with a nice shot leading up to the house, which can give a potential buyer a sense of what driving up to the home would look like.


What camera settings/video settings should I use?


I am not going to dive into this too much, since your actual settings will be very specific to the day of your shoot, but the 2 recommendations I have are this:


  1. ALWAYS use RAW format. This allows you to edit the video later in your post-processing and adjust colors as necessary.
  2. I always set the white balance to AUTO. This automatically adjusts if it is sunny, cloudy, etc.




What privacy concerns must be addressed for surrounding properties?


When you are shooting videos in rural areas, you do not have to concern yourself with surrounding properties. You can shoot your video, and not capture any other homes in the process. However, when you are in suburban areas, you will find great difficulty with not capturing other homes. There are 2 main things you can do to only capture your subject property in your videos:


  1. Plan your video sequence to capture as few properties as possible – This is easier said than done, but you don’t have to worry about editing out other properties during your post-processing if you don’t capture them in the first place. Try to maximize the number of video sequences that only focus on your subject property.
  2. Edit out other homes in your post-processing – This is probably going to be a necessity whenever shooting videos in suburban areas. The density is such that you will capture other homes during your shoot. When I am editing my videos, I do my best to crop out other properties.




Example Video


I did the video below for one of my neighbors. Below are some details from the flight:


Drone type:                     DJI Phantom 3 Professional

Total flight time:            15 minutes (1 battery)

White Balance:               AUTO

Video format:                  RAW

Video quality:                  4K at 24 fps

Video Editing Software: iMovie


On the Phantom Pilots forum, people often ask what is the best shot sequence for real estate video. Here is what I used for this video. It is by no means the only way to do it, just what I used for this one.


  1. Forward flyover
  2. Upward spiral directly over house
  3. Flyover from rear of property
  4. Clockwise rotation around house
  5. Counterclockwise rotation around house
  6. 2nd forward flyover
  7. Ending shot with drone settling in front of house


A mistake I used to make in my videos is making individual clips too long. It is helpful to start your video with a flyover with some distance from the actual house, but don’t make it too long. Now, I generally try to keep my individual clips between 8-10 seconds.


Okay, here is my actual video. Feel free to leave comments on the video, and give suggestions on how to improve the video. See you next time!



2 thoughts on “Real Estate Drone Video Tip #2 – Shooting Video in Tight Residential Neighborhoods

  • Posted on January 6, 2017 at 4:03 am

    Hi Justin,
    I’m doing the same thing as you up here in NH – Boston.
    Nice job, can I offer critique ?
    (You asked and I’m not trying to be a dick or “OneUpMan” )
    Nice video if the agent is marketing a roof.
    I was going to suggest some slow, GROUND level shots (@1 foot) coming up the driveway and rising up front facade.
    Fly lateral across larger spaces showing the HOUSE.
    You did one “Point of Interest” clip, but you’re so high it’s just more roof.
    I don’t wanna be a downer, guy, but the agents I work with would not be satisfied with this video.
    Also, if you are making videos, shooting in Auto white balance is actually a bad idea.
    Pointing north? Blue sky shady areas blue.
    Pan around, house turns warmer. It’ll drive you nuts in post production.
    Pick a good white balance based on temperature (cooler vs warmer) and shoot the whole thing that way.
    This is my .2¢ that you didn’t ask for but my experience lines up with what I’m suggesting.
    I’m a relative Newbie, but having good results.
    Would love to hear what you think of my work.

    • Posted on January 9, 2017 at 3:52 am


      Thank you for the input. I would rather know things I am doing wrong, so I can learn how to correct them. As a challenge, I am going to redo the same house, and see if I get better results. Checked out your work. Looks great! How long have you been doing it? I’m guessing you have been doing photography in general for a long time, and just added drone photography when it became an option. Are there any good general photography resources that helps with what camera settings work best with certain lighting situations?


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