Video Works! 10 Tips for a Great Vacation Rental Video

It's time to get creative with vacation rental videos, and think beyond the typical room-by-room house tour with a hand-held camcorder. There are far too many of these amateurish showings on web sites and YouTube and they have very little appeal to prospective renters. Instead plan to do several short videos and upload them onto a You Tube channel, and link to them from your listing!

Take a look at this example from the owner of Sea Breeze – a Lake Ontario cottage.  Mike used simple video editing techniques and transitions, bought an evocative sound track and created a front and back end to the video.

1. Think outside the box
You should have terrific photos of your property on your Listing so it may not be necessary to create a video showing the interior. Everyone else does that. Instead, think about the experiences your guests may have at your property and create some short films showing each of them.  If on, or near water use images of a person fishing, dolphins in the water, a local restaurant specializing in seafood etc. These would all create a watchable video for people thinking of staying at your property.
2. Plan your video
For a short (less than 2 minute) video you need to plan what you want it to look like. Create a storyboard that describes each shot you want to take.  Note that the Sea Breeze video started and ended with a shot of the dog on the beach which pulled the video together.
3. A mini-cam is sufficient
You don't need an expensive video camera. A pocket camcorder can produce a great film and come with built in USB so you can plug it directly into your PC or Mac to download the footage.
4. Use a tripod
Set up your camcorder with a tripod for panning and zooming. Tripods can be purchased very cheaply but they don't have the smooth movement a more professional one will provide. If you are going to make a lot of video, it's worth spending a little more.
5. Take your time and use editing software to create a professional finish
Either iMovie (Mac) or Windows Moviemaker (PC) will create a decent quality video for upload to You Tube. They have limited features but sufficient to start off with. As you get more proficient you may want to move up to mid-level software.
6. Pan and zoom
Smooth movements and adjustments are important to create a nicely flowing watchable video. Avoid panning back and forth from one subject to another or zooming in and out too quickly. Keep your camera on an object for 10 -- 20 seconds, then stop the recording and take another shot, or zoom out slowly.
7. Compose the shot
Good movie making is all about planning rather than just running the camcorder and hoping for the best. Forget the idea that it doesn't look natural if you plan your shoot in advance because you may have to do several takes anyway to get it just as you want it.  A simple festive shot would be to focus on the flickering flames of an open fire then panning to the living area with a Christmas tree.
8 Get the lighting right
Lighting for your video is a whole article in itself and more, so for a start just be aware of these few pointers. If you are panning on an interior shoot take care because when a brightly lit background enters the frame, everything in the foreground will turn dark as the camcorder's metering system measures the bright sky or light streaming in through an open window. Shooting a scene outside in daylight is much easier but watch for shadows cast by buildings and trees that can put your subjects in the dark.
9. Add the audio later
Avoid the temptation of using the built in audio as you are filming. Add it afterwards when you've decided what footage you will use. It's much easier to do a voiceover then. Download Audacity -- it's a free sound editor and will provide all you need for your sound track.
10. Music is copyrighted
If you decide to have a music soundtrack, it is not OK to use a track from your favorite album. Since it will be published online that will be a breach of copyright and you will open yourself up to a hefty fine. Instead select and purchase a track from a royalty-free site. This does not mean the music is free -- you have to pay to use it but it is a once-only payment.  Try Premium Beat – for a good range of royalty free tracks – around $40 per track. 
Give it a try, have fun filming and then let us know when you've made your video.