Top 5 Real Estate CGI Videos

In a few years we’re not going to be able to distinguish between real life and CGI in property videos. 

If you’re selling the promise and lifestyle associated with a multi-million dollar development to a sophisticated and discerning clientele, then a brochure probably isn’t going to seal the deal. Especially if the building you’re selling is still a year or two away from being built.

One of the best and most impressive ways to showcase what it will be like to live in a newly planned development is through Computer Generated Imaging (CGI). We’ve all grown accustomed to high quality CGI in action movies and t.v. commercials, where budgets have allowed for sophisticated virtual images to be realized onscreen. We’re starting to see high-end real estate developers employ some of the more sophisticated CGI tools as well.

Real Estate CGI Videos Defined
We’re considering real estate videos that employ a significant amount of CGI (Computer Generated Images) in the creation of the video.

For years, architects have been creating decent quality 3D renderings and walk-throughs of their proposed designs and converting them into videos to show their clients. The reality for most of these videos however, is that while impressive, they’ve always looked like 3D renderings. That’s starting to change.

Technology has advanced significantly over the past few years – enough to allow for renderings that are virtually indistinguishable from real life. Some of the reasons for this are:
1. Acceleration in computing power. The number of polygons per second that have to be        drawn is staggering and what was once only achievable with super computers                      is now being done on very affordable work stations.
2. High definition texture maps of almost any surface are available at a low cost today.
3. A growing supply of animated wireframes developed in South East Asia with                         sophisticated motion control are available on every CAD CAM platform.
4. Camera tracking capabilities built into 3D animation packages rival that of high-end           camera packages. The ability to easily change depth of field, motion track smoothly on       any plane and the sophistication of built-in lighting controls of animation                             packages, make it easier than ever to create stunning life-like renderings of a building.

It’s still not easy or cheap to do any of this and tackling organic objects like people and natural surfaces continues to be a challenge. That said, in a few years we’re not going to be able to distinguish between real life and CGI. That’s pretty cool.

Here are our Top Five Real Estate CGI Promotional Videos

Brand: the Eastbourne Development by Mirvac {Melbourne, Australia}
Production Company: Golden Eye Media

I didn’t notice the CGI at first – that’s the goal.

  • I really like the idea of commingling real life imagery with CGI but there’s too waaaay too much chit chat at the beginning of this video. My feeling is the viewer has a threshold for self-important pontification and this video exceeded it after 30 seconds. With that out the way… jumping to around 2:37, the CGI in this video is excellent.  So good I didn’t notice it at first. I was thinking, ‘Wow this is the best framing and camera motion I’ve seen in a real estate video… and the lighting was perfect… everywhere.’
  • Then at some point it’s all just to good to be true and your mind starts looking for things – the easy ‘tells’ in organic materials, textures with no imperfections, etc. Really impressive work here. The tracking shot of the pool with the time lapse effect of the sunlight moving on the wall was great.
  • They’ve also created a shorter version of this video with just the animation in it.
  • The ray-tracing on the reflections is really, really good. Movie quality.
  • The idea of tying in an object (the camera) between both realities is a good one. That common thread helps hold the ‘story’ of the video together and, if done well, can act like the magician misdirecting you with one hand while he performs his magic with the other.
  • The most exciting thing about this video to me is what it represents… we’re just getting started here.

Brand: Capitol Grand – Raeon Intl {Melbourne, Australia}
Production Company: Unknown

This video could have been seriously epic…

  • Don’t start at the beginning of this video. Instead jump right to 2:54. This is sequence is very good – the heavy percussion punctuating the model’s glide down the stairway, then down into the main hallway as the camera trails out through the main entrance and up the side of the building – that’s EXACTLY where I would have started this video. I would have built a well crafted ‘story’ around this opening sequence: start with ‘the glide’, then shorten the lobby shots, climb up the building into a flash cut of the model going to the window to start her day, and then progress into her ‘story’ which ends up back to the epic walk down the stairway. This video should have had millions of views. It’s still very good, but….
  • Multiple cuts between real-life, CGI and combined real-life/CGI help to tie the whole concept together and keep the video moving very well. Three and a half minutes go by very quickly.
  • The dusk cityscape backdrop really helps keep your mind’s eye focussed on the ‘reality’ of the city as your eye flutters around to take in the various CGI surfaces. That’s a great device to give the impression that the entire scene is real. When all you see is CGI, it’s easier for your mind to discern that it’s not real. That’s why green screen effects in movies work so well. Your mind focusses on something real in the film (the actor) and fills in all the surrounding pieces as being associated (therefore real) with the actor.
  • Nice transition from the imagination in the book to the lifestyle video shots.
  • I’m assuming that the one golden boxing glove is a metaphor for shopping being a contact sport – and that model is going to kick some poor salesclerk’s butt around the Dolce and Gabbana boutique.

Brand: Q – New Queens Place, Raeon Intl  {Melbourne, Australia}
Production Company: Unknown

Great quality doesn’t require big budgets – just a good idea executed well:

  • No idea what ‘Q’ means. I suppose that’s part of the mystery.
  • The first half of this video is one long intro scene of light rays winding their way through a nighttime cityscape and culminating in what appears to be a nuclear explosion at 2:13… and then we’re into the video.
  • The combination of aerial footage and the light rays in the intro was quite good. It should have been cut down to about 15 seconds.
  • It’s interesting to see the contrast in styles between this video and the one before it. The CGI is good, although you can tell from the beginning it’s CGI and the editing style really separates live action from CGI making it even more evident we’re watching a rendering.
  • In contrast, I think using green screen to insert a person into the CGI shots is a better idea. I know it’s more difficult to do but it makes the shot feel more real and gives it a presence. Adding a model(s) to the shot is going to cost an extra $10k+ in production costs but when you’re selling a property worth hundreds of millions of dollars this is your big moment.
  • Space

Brand: Bisha –  {Toronto, Canada}
Production Company: 

Over-the-top perfume ad or property video – you decide:

  • This was created around 2010 so kudos for being one of the trailblazers in using CGI and live action for the promotion of a real estate development.
  • This is clearly one of the more elaborate/expensive real estate promotions created to date. The cost of arranging all of those multi-actor sequences would be considerable.
  • The choice of a nighttime setting ads an element of sophistication to the film and also makes it easier to deal with combining CGI and real life footage.
  • A lot of effort went into the story and filming – this is one of the most ambitious promotions of its kind. At the time of release it garnered a lot of media attention – for that reason alone you can make the claim that it accomplished its goal.

Brand: Odeon – Groupe Marzocco {Monte Carlo, Monaco}
Production Company: Unknown

Old school, but lot’s of fun:

  • This is one of the first international residential real estate videos I had seen using a significant amount of CGI. It’s fun in a campy sort of way. At over 650,000 views it attracted attention.
  • Here’s how the first sequence should have been edited: 1. Close-up of girl in helicopter. She looks at her iPhone and glances furtively out the window. 2. Exterior shot (wide) of helicopter flying into Monte Carlo. 3. Medium Shot of helicopter landing. 4. Tracking shot of women walking towards limo with helicopter in background. 5. Low shot car door closing as we see girls elegant heel rising off ground as she gets in limo and it races off… This whole sequence should have taken 10 seconds… max.
  • Instead you’ve got 23 seconds of useless titles (if you really needed to communicate the information on screen – which you didn’t – then voice-over would have kept the video moving) and another 20 seconds of bad helicopter and Monte Carlo shots. 45 seconds that would likely lose you a big piece of your audience.
  • The CGI in this video is quite basic but the implementation of the CGI into the aerial shots is done well. It shows you the building in context of the city and the magnificent views enjoyed by every property in that building.
Jimm Fox


Jimm has been working in video and marketing for the last 25 years agency side, client side and in video production.

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