Case study - Hamilton houses
Remote viewing during the pandemic
Client: Hamilton Houses, Lancaster
The Hamilton Houses project showcases how traditional and aerial videography, 360-degree panorama filming and property photography can work in concert to deliver a comprehensive online viewing experience for a student accommodations lending campaign.
Hamilton Houses is a small local Lancaster based company dedicated to providing excellent quality housing for students.
Christine, the company owner, approached me in September 2020 during the lending campaign for the 2021-22 academic year. Because of the pandemic restrictions, it was impossible to have in-person property viewings, and most of the lenders relied on photos or video taken with their mobile phones to promote their properties.
Christine wanted to offer the student an easy way to view the company houses online while keeping the experience as close as possible to a real viewing.
The project was an absolute success. Christine wrote on Hamilton houses Facebook page:
Well the videos worked, all of the houses are rented for the 2021-22 academic year. It’s been the easiest year for a long time, i didn’t even have to leave home. No turning out in the cold, no waiting for the groups that didn’t bother to let me know they weren’t coming. Thank you Stefan for your wonderful videos.
To provide the students with multiple online viewing options, we decided to include in the project video walkthroughs, property stills and virtual tours. For each of the eight houses, the package included:
- A video tour
- Still of each room
- 360-degrees panorama stills of each room combined in a virtual tour with a 3D model and floor plan.
The principal filming
I estimated that I could film two houses per day, and I grouped the houses in pairs by their proximity. First, I filmed the property exteriors from a bird's eye view with my DJI Mavic Air 2 drone.
In the house, there were four different production task that I had to perform for each room.
I first filmed each room for the videos using Canon C100 mkII and a wide Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Lens (Canon Fit).
After that, I did the stills with Nikon D3200 and Sigma 10-20mm F3.5 EX DC HSM Lens (Nikon Fit), using the bracketing technique to capture the rooms in HDR. To make an HDR photo, basically, you need to take at least three stills with different aperture settings - one with normal exposure, another overexposed and a third underexposed, and then combine them in post-production into a single HDR.
As an example, here are the three stills I took in one of the rooms.
With a normal exposure (slightly underexposed):
In post-production, I combined these three still to produce an HDR image of the room.
The third stage was to capture the rooms 360-degrees panoramas for the virtual tours and 3D models. For that, I used my Kandao QooCam 8K 360 camera - an impressive little device that takes fight quality 360-degrees stills and works perfectly with the virtual tour platform I'm using. This camera enabled me to put together a low-cost virtual tour service without compromising the quality of the footage.
Here how a typical raw panorama image looks like:
Measuring the rooms
And lastly, I went room to room to take precise measurements for the floor plans with my Bosch Zamo laser distance measurer.
With all the fieldwork done, it was time to head to my post-production studio.
the project consisted of de-facto there different products that needed three different post-production approaches.
As with any other video, the post-production workflow included preparing a draft cut with all the on-screen texts and animations, sending it to Hamilton Houses for review, updating the video according to their feedback, and delivering the final version after colour correction and colour grading. I've prepared one video first, discussed it with Christine, and finalised the other seven videos after agreeing on the video structure and template. Her's one o the height videos I created:
Property photography post-production
I combined the bracketed stills in Adobe Lightroom and did the colour corrections and adjustment in Lightroom and Photoshop.
Here how a combined HDR still looked after the post-production:
And some more photos:
I then exported compressed .png stills and uploaded them to the cloud. Hamilton Houses downloaded the stills from the likes I provided and used them in conjunction with the videos on various student accommodation websites to promote the properties.
Virtual tours post-production
The first stage of building the virtual tour was to convert the 360 -degree footage that I took around the houses into 360-degree panorama files. The first step was to colour correct the raw footage in Adobe Lightroom. Next, to stitch the tho fisheye cameras in the Kandao stitching studio. And finally, to adjust the final look of the panorama in Photoshop.
Here how it looks after that:
With all the panorama files prepared, I built the virtual tours in the Metareal platform. Metareal is a direct Materport competitor, and they offer low-cost virtual tour hosting. The platform works with any 360-degrees cameras, and its tour builder is packed with option.
I prepared this screencast to show how a virtual tour looks like:
If you want to take the tour yourself, here's the link: Three Bedroom House, Vine Street, Lancaster, UK.
Christine was very pleased with the project's outcome and commissioned me again to help her with the redesign of the Hamilton Houses website.
Remote property viewing makes the life of both landlords and prospective tenants easy. With the advance of the technology and the competitiveness of the virtual tour platforms market, it also becomes affordable and cost-effective. Even after the pandemic, it will continue to be a viable companion and even an alternative to in-person property viewings.
The Hamilton Houses project is an example of how successful a remote property viewing campaign can be when done professionally.
The videos made by SBSCreative ensured the continuation of our business this year. We rent houses to students and all houses were rented solely by the students viewing these videos. We now have high quality videos, high quality stills and a walk-through tour for each house. Stefan is a great guy and easy to work with, meeting targets and deadlines.
Video producer & Director
CAA licensed drone pilot
Animations and VFX
Mobile: +44 (0) 7934 785845