If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth 1.8 million. Well, at least that’s according to Dr. James McQuivey of Forrester Research. Without quibbling over the exact numbers, let’s agree that videos provide a powerful tool for storytelling. It adds extra sensory layers to your project, including sounds, sights, and suspense. Plus, videos develop an emotional element to the story you are telling.
Stock footage is a fast and easy way to get the footage you want or need to tell your story, filling in the gaps, and bringing your concepts to life. Royalty stock footage goes one step further, making this kind of media content available to videographers and designers, regardless of budget, expertise, and location. Need professional b-roll of the Swiss Alps in the summer? As an artist living and working in the middle of South Bend Indiana, that's not a problem. With royalty stock footage sites aplenty, you can have all the footage you want and more.
Before we dive into how to use it and when, let’s first clarify exactly what is stock footage. Stock footage, aka stock video, aka b-roll, is a general term for short video clips that are taken by professional videographers and sold online in a marketplace.
The content of the clips can range from current political or environmental issues to nature scenes, exciting world events, musical shows, celeb appearances, humorous shots, powerful messages, or more. They can be as generic and mundane as you’d like. Or stock footage can be as personal and explicit as you require. This video content is usually kept to under a minute (sometimes even just a few seconds), but it can be longer at times.
Royalty stock footage is footage that comes with the license to reuse the footage in many different ways and situations. This is a valuable tool for marketing, promotional, and other business needs because it can be used in ad campaigns, on websites, in social media posts, and more. Royalty stock footage sites cover the web, and there are literally millions of video clips available to anyone looking. Good stock footage sites will also have a free stock footage section to choose from.
Of course, if you're looking for a quick fit for your current video project, you'll need stock footage that matches your resolution. The good news is you can easily search according to resolution on most royalty stock footage services. Stock footage sites generally offer two types of resolution (there are others, but these are the most commonly-found):
This is the standard resolution, not bad, but not 4K. This stock footage is still high-definition, it just has fewer pixels.
Looking for something more professional? 4K is the way to go. These ultra high-def video clips provide your video with a beautiful, seamless appearance, complete with good lighting, composition, and stability.
360 stock footage and VR footage are the coolest things to hit videography since, well, the video camera. These video clips create a true-to-life, immersive experience that cannot be matched by any other art form. Your viewers will feel like they are IN the video, experiencing the sights and sounds firsthand. And in terms of marketing, 360 stock footage creates deeper connections with the product instantly.
Even Leonardo Da Vinci didn’t finish his works of art overnight. So, what makes you think you’re going to be able to get all of your filming done the first time around? Most likely, you’ll go out for your first round of sessions, get back to the shop, start editing, piecing things together, cutting things down, and cleaning up your rolls. And then, you’ll notice what you missed.
Now, you have two options. You can go out and shoot another round of footage to complete your video. Or you can turn to stock footage sites for the holes in your project. Most videographers will opt for the second one. Why? Well, aside from the fact that 4K and 360 stock footage is incredibly high-quality stuff (shot by professionals only), here are a few other reasons:
It'll save you a whole lot of time. We don't have to tell you just how time-consuming each filming session can be. Besides the hours you'll spend taking the footage, you'll also have to include time spent on editing, cleaning up, and tweaking the footage. If you're almost finished with your video project, it might not be worth the time to run another shoot. Instead, many professionals will opt for the simpler and more time-efficient solution of purchasing royalty stock footage.
It could save you money. Not always. After all, good quality 360 stock footage can get expensive if you need a lot of it. But sometimes, these video clips can save you a bundle. For example, you might need a short b-roll of a landscape somewhere halfway across the globe from where you're filming. Hiring a crew, flying across the world, and setting up a shoot for a few shots is hardly an economically-sound choice. No, stock footage is definitely a more cost-effective choice. And when you consider the fact that you can even get free stock footage, well, then there's nothing to even talk about.
Let's imagine you want to raise awareness for the beautiful Amur leopards that are fast becoming extinct. You'll preach to anyone who will listen, your delivery is strong and passionate, and your emails ring loud and clear over this injustice to one of nature's most underappreciated mammals. You get a few responses, but the results are pitifully underwhelming.
Now, let’s try another visualization. Picture sending out some stock footage of the endangered Amur leopards. You portray the grace and beauty of these creatures as they move about their natural habitat. You illustrate a heartwarming scene with a mother lovingly tending to her new cub. You capture the hidden charm of this elusive animal. What do you think the response to this video will be? Without a doubt, your campaign will reach success that’s tenfold anything a written campaign could achieve.
You've shot all of the footage you need. You've cleaned up your piece to perfection. And now, you're running the final analysis before you put the bow on top. But then you notice that there's something missing. It's not a blatant hole in the storyline, but it's important enough to give you pause. Do you go back and shoot more interviews, footage, or whatever it is you need? Can you even get the right people and circumstances together again? Or do you just quickly browse through the libraries of a few reliable stock footage sites and snag professional-quality royalty stock footage to complete your film? The choice is obvious. Stock footage helps you fill in the gaps that make your video complete.
Getting that perfect shot is a challenge even for the most experienced videographer. The timing, lighting, position, and setup all have to be just right. And a slight change can mean the difference between picture-perfect and, well, just eh. But when you purchase 4K or 360 stock footage, well, that stuff's golden every time. The footage is shot by professional videographers, and only the best results are put up for sale on stock footage sites. So, if you are just starting out in the business, royalty stock footage could help you create a more impressive portfolio or finished project than your current skill level would allow on its own.
Finally, high-quality royalty stock footage can enhance your project greatly by adding in special effects or by using green screens to insert anything into your film seamlessly.
You’re in the middle of a video project, and it’s missing something. Or you’re almost done, but your video needs one more thing to really finish it off with a bang. Or maybe you just realized that the footage you shot is unusable for one reason or another, be it quality, legality, or other.
Remember, stock footage is shot by professionals, so you aren’t compromising quality. There’s no shortage of stock footage sites online today. It’s not a question of finding one. Rather, it’s a question of finding the right service for you. Good stock footage sites aren’t as common as the average variety of these services, but there are still several brands you can rely on, including Pond5, 123RF, Shutterstock, and, of course, iStock. Browse through these high-quality stock footage libraries the next time you need quality footage, and turn your video into another masterpiece.