The use of stock footage serves as a pivotal tool in content creation due to its versatility and convenience. It allows filmmakers and content creators to tell complex stories without the need for extensive shoots, location scouting, or large production budgets. Whether you’re a seasoned filmmaker or a beginner in the world of content creation, understanding the concept of stock footage and its potential benefits and drawbacks is crucial. 

Watch: How to Get Cinematic B-Roll for your Project

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What is Stock Footage in Video Production?

First, let’s define stock footage

In essence, stock footage can form a visual narrative or supplement an existing one, providing breadth and depth to the storytelling process. To better understand how let’s take a look at the stock footage definition.

STOCK FOOTAGE DEFINITION

What is stock footage in video?

Stock footage is pre-recorded video content that can be reused in a variety of media projects. It can include a wide range of subjects, such as nature scenes, cityscapes, historical events, or generic action sequences. Filmmakers and content creators typically use this footage to enhance their productions without the need for additional filming.

What is stock footage used for?

  • Providing visual context 
  • Cutting costs and time
  • Offering variety in post-production

How to Use Stock Footage

Pros of Using Stock Footage

The utilization of pre-existing footage in media projects comes with a variety of benefits that can significantly enhance the production process and final product. Let’s take a look at the pros of using stock footage.

Cost-Effectiveness

One of the most significant advantages of using this footage is its cost-effectiveness. Shooting original footage often involves expenses like equipment rental, talent fees, location costs, and production crew salaries.

On the other hand, purchasing stock footage involves a one-time fee, making it a more affordable choice, especially for small production companies or independent content creators.

Time-Saving

Another benefit of pre-made footage is that it can substantially reduce production time. Filming original content requires planning, scheduling, shooting, and post-production work, which can be time-consuming. Stock footage, available instantly, can be easily integrated into a project, significantly speeding up the production process used as B-roll or A-roll.

This video demonstrates the use of stock footage for a commercial production and how it can be used effectively. 

What is Stock Footage Good For? Feat. Artgrid

Variety

Stock footage offers an immense variety of subjects, styles, and locations. Whether you need a clip of a bustling city, serene nature scenes, historical events, or specific actions, chances are there's stock footage available. This diversity allows filmmakers to create rich and diverse visual narratives that might be impractical or impossible to capture otherwise.

How to Use Stock Video Footage to Transform Boring Footage

Accessibility

In the digital age, obtaining high-quality footage has never been easier. Numerous online platforms offer a vast library of footage in various resolutions, including 4K and even 8K. This easy accessibility means that even those on a tight budget or schedule can find and use high-quality footage in their projects.

What is Stock Footage Not Good For?

Cons of Using Stock Footage

Despite its numerous benefits, using stock footage also has potential drawbacks that one should consider during the production process. These are important to understand to avoid the downsides of using stock footage.

Lack of Originality

One potential downside to using stock footage is the risk of lack of originality. Since stock footage is readily available for anyone to purchase, there's a chance that the same clip has been used in other productions. This can result in a less unique final product and may not align with a project's specific vision or style.

Quality Variance

While there are many high-quality stock footage options available, there's also a risk of encountering low-quality or improperly formatted footage. Given the vast amount of stock footage available, the quality can vary significantly. It's crucial to ensure the footage matches the rest of your project in terms of resolution, frame rate, and overall aesthetic.

Licensing Issues

Navigating licensing agreements can be a complex aspect of using stock footage. There are different types of licenses, each with its own set of permissions and restrictions. 

Misunderstanding or overlooking these can lead to copyright issues. Therefore, it's essential to thoroughly understand the usage rights of any stock footage before incorporating it into a project.

Finding Good Stock Video Footage

How to Choose the Right Stock Footage

Choosing the right stock footage involves several considerations to ensure it aligns with your project's needs and enhances your storytelling. Here are some tips:

1. Evaluate Your Need 

Before beginning your search, identify what you need the footage for. This could be to establish a scene, convey an emotion, or provide visual variety

2. Use Specific Queries and Filters 

When searching for stock footage, use specific keywords related to your project's theme, desired action, location, or mood. Many stock footage sites also have filters for resolution, orientation, and even color.

3. Match Elements 

Ensure the stock footage matches the rest of your project in terms of style, color grading, and quality. Consistency is key to maintaining a coherent visual narrative.

4. Consider Resolution 

Depending on where your content will be displayed, you'll need to consider the resolution of the stock footage. For online use, HD might be sufficient, but for larger screens or projections, consider 4K or higher.

5. Review Licensing Agreements 

Different stock footage may come with different licenses. Some may allow unlimited use, while others may have restrictions. Make sure to review the licensing agreement to avoid potential legal issues down the line.

6. Choose Believable Footage 

It's important to choose footage that looks realistic and meshes well with your original content. If the stock footage stands out as being stock, it can distract from your story.

Remember, the goal of using stock footage is to enhance your project, not detract from it. So take the time to choose wisely.

Where to Buy Stock Footage

Stock Footage Resources

Several online platforms provide a vast selection of stock footage, catering to various styles, subjects, and budgets. Here is the best stock footage websites for you to try out:

1. Shutterstock: Known for its extensive library, Shutterstock offers millions of high-quality stock videos in various categories. They offer both subscription plans and on-demand packs.

2. Getty Images: A popular choice for high-end productions, Getty Images provides premium stock footage, including archival and news footage.

3. Pond5: With a user-friendly interface, Pond5 offers a wide range of stock videos. They also provide a marketplace for artists to sell their footage.

4. VideoHive: Part of the Envato Market, VideoHive offers affordable stock footage and motion graphics templates. They operate on a pay-per-item model.

5. Adobe Stock: Integrated with Adobe's suite of creative tools, Adobe Stock offers high-quality footage that can be easily accessed and edited within programs like Premiere Pro.

6. Storyblocks: A subscription-based platform, Storyblocks provides an extensive library of stock footage, audio, and images, along with an easy-to-use video editor, making it a comprehensive resource for creators at all levels.

Remember to review each platform's licensing agreement before purchasing and using the footage. Each site has different terms and conditions regarding how you can use their footage.

Stock footage is a powerful tool for creatives, offering cost-effective, time-saving options, and providing access to high-quality, diverse content. However, it's crucial to consider its potential drawbacks such as the risk of generic feel and licensing issues, ensuring that it aligns with your project's unique vision and needs.

Up Next

How to Shoot B-Roll

Now that we've explored the concept of stock footage, let's delve into how you can create your own with our next article. We’ll take a look at how to shoot B-roll, what techniques to use, and how B-roll can be used.

Up Next: Shooting B-Roll →
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  • Kyle DeGuzman graduated from San Diego State University with a Bachelor of Science in Television, Film, & New Media. He currently resides in Denver, Colorado spending his time writing, filmmaking, and traveling.

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