Back in the early 2000’s cheap stock photography libraries really took off. So great was the impact of low cost websites like iStock Photo that the older services, including Getty Images that pre-dated the Internet, were seriously impacted (so much so that Getty eventually purchased the iStock business in 2006).
A similar change is now sweeping the video production industry largely driven by small independent producers making their good quality clips available at a low cost. So if you’re producing your own video just how useful is this potentially money saving resource?
First the downsides. Like stock images stock video does have its limitations. Most of the footage available today has come from US producers and if it includes people, building and even the countryside there’s a good chance it will be recognised as not British – fashions, hairstyles, cars and even the weather can give the game away. There are of course ways to mitigate the effects through editing and other post production treatments.
If you plan to use multiple clips it is best to stick with ones from the same videographer and ideally the same shoot. This avoids having to spend hours in post production tweaking footage to look like it all belongs together.
Like the stills equivalent some stock footage will be over-used and as a result recognised when it crops up – this can be very frustrating particularly if you were one of the first to use it.
Scanning stills images takes very little time, you can tell in fractions of a second if it is what you’re looking for and you can easily check over 100 per minute. Not so with video, even with fast broadband it takes time for each clip to load on the website and then you have to watch a reasonable portion before making your decision – a powerful search function on the library site is therefore essential if you’re not going to waste days!
This is undoubtedly the biggest reason to use stock footage, especially if the alternative would involve a location shoot, actors, international travel, specialist technical filming or post production. For commercial B2B video we would recommend keeping stock footage to less than 10% of the length of the video unless there are compelling technical or commercial reasons to use something longer.
Often it is only when the client sees the first rough cut of a video and deadlines are looming that they realise something has been missed. Although time consuming to research stock footage it can be used to fill that gap very quickly.
Mix of Formats
If you production is mainly live action then you could drop in some stock animation, or visa versa, to add another dimension and level of interest.
Not Just Video
Many of the stock libraries also offer templates for After Effects and animation. These can be a very effective start point for any motions graphics you plan to include in your production.
So you’ve decided to use stock footage – where is the best place to find it –
Video Blocks (www.videoblocks.com)
Subscription site for the serious user – 20 million clips, $89 for 6 months, with a free 7 day trial.
Pond 5 (www.pond5.com)
Not the cheapest but a big range of over 2 million clips to choose from
Can Stock Photo (www.canstockphoto.com)
More affordable, more international contributors.
Bottled Video (www.bottledvideo.com)
Lots of free SD video and HD from $25.
Good quality, mostly US content 1.5 million clips.
Was the cheap upstart until Getty bought them, seem to be getting more expensive every time I look. Also check out the big daddy http://www.gettyimages.co.uk/footage more original quality clips, but more expensive and NOT royalty free.
Stock Footage for Free (www.stockfootageforfree.com)
Limited range of 100% free SD and HD footage – survives by including links to paid for sites like Video Blocks. Also see www.videezy.com same approach.
There will be lots of others I’ve missed, but be aware the same clips crop up on multiple sites so it is worth checking where you can find them the cheapest. Of course they have different names/numbers on the sites so it can take a bit of detective work.