Virtual Tour Best Practices
Virtual Tour Best Practices. Your first Virtual Tour.
Just bought a virtual tour solution? Looking to buy a virtual tour solution? In this post we will go over how to create professional Virtual Tours for any kind of property showcasing. After doing much research about different Virtual Tour solutions, we have accumulated the knowledge and on site experience to give some insight on what goes into a good Virtual Tour. When done correctly, a full virtual tour can give unparalleled property viewing experience that when combined with a realtor, can help sell properties faster, while also receiving more listings. However, Virtual Tours can not only help real estate agents, but also help businesses show off their location like never before. Whether you are a real estate agent looking to self produce tours, or a business enterprise looking to become a virtual tour provider, the tips in this blog will be sure to give insight into producing a professional and quality Virtual Tour every time.
3D + 360° Vs 360°
Lets begin by briefly talking about different virtual tours, and some varying features provided by tour solutions. Whether you’re in Real Estate or any other field, there are two kinds to be aware of, 3D + 360°, and 360°. Some suggestions given only apply to 3D enabled virtual tours as their is no model dollhouse in non-3D enabled 360° virtual tours. In this blog “Scan Density” and “Scan Distance” is meant as the space between each 360° photo and 3D scan data point.
3D + 360° Demo
As seen from the examples linked and shown above, a virtual tour with 3D + 360° allows users to better understand the layout and general details of a property from a glance without going room to room. However, as seen in the example, some 360° providers have included certain features to help bridge the gap of understanding the homes layout. Although, it is widely regarded that virtual tours that combine 3D elements with traditional panorama photography provide higher value to users.
What to do Pre-Shoot
On our first Virtual Tour created we learned a lot, and after doing a few dozen more, it has become evident of what factors and scanning practices produce higher quality Virtual Tours. Starting with 360° and 360° + 3D Virtual Tours, the first and biggest tip is to look at example virtual tours from your selected provider. This can give you a better idea on the movement found in virtual tours while providing insight into the recommended scan distance. Cameras from different providers have varying specifications of what the maximum distance can be between scan points, however this should not be a solid guideline to the distance between panoramas taken. It is very important to keep usability and functionality in mind when creating virtual tours. Can a user navigate to different points in the home in a natural and easy way? What about behind that table? Can you make a full walk through of the house with your selected scan points? These are all questions to keep in mind while still adhering to our suggested best practices laid out below.
MLS Compliant Property Scan
Setting up on Location
The first two things that you should do when walking into a new property for a real estate virtual tour are:
1:Turn on all the lights around the house and ensure they all stay on along with turning off all ceiling fans.
2: Ensure bathrooms have toilet lids closed.
While the first is imperative to a quality Virtual Tour, the second suggestion is commonplace when taking real estate photography. Keep in mind, that consistency is key in a virtual tour. You do not want things moving or changing place between panoramas that distract and take away from the property being showcased. Now that the home is setup for scanning, lets discuss scan placement and spacing. Although it may seem like a good idea to just start scanning wherever, it is best to stick to a consistent scanning pattern. I personally like to start at the front door and make my way around the house from their. We have learned and been suggested from multiple virtual tour providers to keep scan patterns in a consistent grid like pattern. In many properties, with some exceptions, scanning in a grid pattern makes it much harder to miss scan spots and important positions that may be crucial to the movement of your tour. In 3D enabled virtual tours, this also gives much better scan data to build the 3D Dollhouse. See Image Below.
As seen from the example above, keeping to a grid pattern can help you keep track of where in the project you are moving next as well as providing good 3D Data for 3D enabled virtual tours. Keep in mind that scan points should be around 3 to 5 feet apart, while keeping decently spaced from unimportant walls excluding the front door and windows/sliding doors that provide unique views of the surrounding area. It is important to note, if your tours are 3D enabled be sure to note any out of view angles that may require an additional shot for dollhouse structure. For reference, you can see a shots taken for 3D data in the above example such as pano 104, pano 64, and pano 22. These are taken to give 3D data to the TV space in the wall, the top of the kitchen cabinets, and to the bathroom toilet. While it is sometimes hard to provide accurate 3D models at times, it does not harm or hurt your tour to take extra model shots to ensure dollhouse accuracy.
At this point you should be moving from spot to spot, taking scan points and model shots as needed. It is common practice to keep all walk in closets included in the scan while keeping smaller closets and pantry’s closed from view. If your tour has view points outside of the main tour interface, be sure to go around the property and take photos as necessary to provide a full property tour experience inside and out. It is important to also keep in mind MLS photography inside the home, as it is sometimes beneficial to take extra panoramas for MLS photo extraction.
Post Shoot Editing & Tour Completion
Now that you have got your first virtual tour shot and stored on your device, you’re done right? Not quite yet! The next step is to upload the tour to your provider and wait for processing. This can vary in length depending on what tour solution you are using and how large your scanned property is. Although you can typically get your tour back within 24 hours. It is very important to check the virtual tour as soon as possible upon receiving a view-able link. While there are many steps you can take while scanning a property to ensure quality, there are sometimes unforeseen issues. It is best to identify any problems early before any post work happens to the tour. This helps you to save time and ensure delivery of the final tour links when expected. Important! Although it is very uncommon, major flaws may prompt an additional visit on site for corrections.
Panorama + Photo Editing
The final steps after ensuring overall tour quality is to edit photos and reprocess them into your tour. We have found that the Adobe Creative Cloud is your best friend when it comes to photo editing. However, before talking about what programs to use you must first identify and download all Panoramas that require editing. These are photos that have cameras in the mirrors, need color adjustments, or need object removal in Photoshop. It is typically best practice to edit Panoramas first, and then snap your MLS photos to avoid having to double edit any particular area. We recommend using Adobe Photoshop for editing Panorama cameras and object removal, and Adobe Light-room for any color adjustments/corrections. We wont talk here about editing cameras out of mirrors, but with the tools provided in Photoshop their are a multitude of different options from a Clone Stamp tool to a simple cut and paste depending on the complexity of the image. It is important to preserve the file type and size of any photos or other assets edited from your virtual tour to ensure the ability to re-upload and integrate back into the tour.
Now all you’ve got to do is snap your photos for MLS, do lighting, color balance, and other adjustments, and youre finshed. This can again be done through an Adobe program called Adobe Light-room. While more fine details are better taken care of in Photoshop, Light-room is a simple program that allows you to balance your photos to ensure the best quality possible.
And You’re Done!
Congratulations! You have completed your Real Estate virtual tour! Be sure to look back over your tour and ensure all features are up to your personal standard. With your tour now completed you can share your property with people all around the internet with ease! Although there are other optional steps such as applying an analytic program, a virtual tour made following the steps laid out in this post will help you to ensure the best quality for your clients and the best user experience for your buyers.
To read more about virtual tours and what they offer to a real estate listing, check out our full website Here!