Colorado Real Estate Journal BUILDING DIALOG

Colorado Real Estate Journal

Real Estate Marketing:  Hollywood Meets Reality

The world of real estate marketing has undergone significant changes, evolving from a static presentation to one of the most engaging examples of technology.  This started with the advent of 3D software and architecture’s adaptation of Hollywood-quality programs.  In the late 1990’s, 3D renderings began to tell the architect’s story and convey their vision better than any sketch or ink on mylar drawing could.

Slowly, but surely, these images began to make their way to the marketing and sales side of real estate as people saw the benefit in providing more lifelike examples.  Still, in the early days, renderings appeared to be more computer generated than photo-realistic.  Over time, technology and artistry would bring life to the images, resulting in true “photo-real” renderings.

As computers improved and software advanced, more possibilities were introduced.  3D renderings became an integral part of the architect’s design process and photo-real renderings would become the foundation for many real estate developments.  These renderings would be utilized throughout the project, from early approvals to final presentations.

Alongside other emerging technologies, such as web and video, 3D rendering companies began to take advantage of this new marketing tool.  These specialty firms focused on combining the technology with an artistic touch, bridging the gap between the traditional architecture illustrators and new market expectations.  These companies have formed the foundation for much of the presentation and marketing efforts of the real estate world.

Expectations grew as competition for the “new” continued to expand.  3D animations took the presentation to the next level, giving the audience a true feeling for the building design and amenities.  These videos enhanced renderings and become small movies with true fly-by and fly-through experiences.

As the web became a fundamental part of any marketing effort so too did it become an integral part of real estate marketing.  Through the early 2000’s internet speeds gradually increased, opening the possibilities of accessing more complex content for the average person.  Websites were built around the 3D renderings and animations, providing unlimited marketing reach with a modest investment.

Competition for buyers fueled the marketing efforts and more emphasis was placed on preconstruction presentations.  The importance of visually communicating each development’s vision became a crucial piece of the project.  Detailed renderings were expected to represent the future reality in a realistic manner, from the materials to the paint colors.

Towards the peak of the boom, the boundaries between Hollywood movies and real estate development presentations continued to blur.  Technology advanced, expectations rose, and the need for preconstruction sales propelled marketing efforts, thus providing a catalyst for creative possibilities and investment in presentations.  A combination of visual elements were expected, including 3D renderings, animations, graphics and interactive elements.

The push to elevate each presentation encouraged more techniques to be borrowed directly from Hollywood.  These began with the software and led to live action video footage, including aerial (helicopter) shots.  The 3D renderings and animations were composited into the footage, creating a video indistinguishable from reality.

The technological advancements allowed for near limitless possibilities with each presentation.   These videos moved closer and closer to Hollywood quality and incorporated more traditional approaches such as actors, scripts and storytelling.  These “movies” could have true storylines written to engage the potential buyers, giving them a glimpse of the lifestyle that was being sold.  Showrooms became the theaters for these movies, presented on large touchscreens that connected with the online websites.

Through the great recession much of these advancements in presentation techniques stalled as real estate came to a halt.  Interactive media, however, continued to move forward as mobile platforms became ubiquitous.  Smart phones and tablets pushed web development to adapt to the variety of platforms, resulting in a multitude of viewable formats.  The same media viewable on a traditional computer could span several devices and reach viewers anywhere.

As the economy comes back, these new platforms have become an integral part of marketing.  The phone and tablet are a valuable piece in the presentation puzzle, allowing the 3D renderings, animations, and content to be accessed anywhere.   While certainly presenting technological and design challenges, this variety of formats is proving to be a great tool for marketing and helps create a consistent message throughout the project.

Currently, real estate presentations are utilizing each of these pieces and incorporating them into the foundation of marketing efforts.  Storytelling is emerging as a differentiator amongst development projects of all sizes and budgets.  This will continue to penetrate each corner of the real estate market as we move forward and expectations reach higher.

Communicating each project’s vision and story through a multifaceted approach is the goal for marketing and presentations.  Branding is combined with visual storytelling to truly express each project’s unique elements.  In an ever increasing competitive real estate market it is essential to a project’s success that these messages are communicated with a captivating and engaging presentation.  The tools used vary depending on the project, but the basic pieces remain consistent.

The future looks very bright for 3D and technology.  We have virtual reality becoming a real possibility with Facebook’s Oculus and Microsoft’s HoloLens, both promising new ways to engage the viewer.  While it is uncertain how well these new tools will integrate with real estate markets, what is certain is that expectations for understanding and making decisions in a digital environment will continue to grow.

For everyone, the experience will continue to improve and bridge the gap between virtual and true reality.  Artistic talent and marketing skills will push technological innovations in new directions, allowing anyone, anywhere, to make informed decisions and to have a greater understanding of each project.