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Stock video, like stock photography, is created and made to be used more than once in different contexts. Users of stock video can buy it for their projects to save them from having to film their own footage. This saves on the time and reduces the costs associated with their project and has made stock footage a vital part of the modern media environment.
The same stock footage is often used in many different productions. A single piece of stock footage, of a particularly famous landmark, the Statue of Liberty for instance, might end up being used in a News story, a documentary and a commercial!
Stock footage can either be royalty free or have a license that requires the user to pay for it. If the stock footage has royalties attached to it then each time it is used the producer of the footage receives a fee from the user. This can create a very significant stream of passive income for successful producers of stock footage.
A single piece of stock footage is known as a ‘stock shot’. This can vary in length from several seconds up to around a minute.
Commonly used examples of stock footage include city panoramas, landscapes and heritage sites, wildlife in their natural habitats, beach sunsets and other scene setting shots as well as historical footage of important events.
A Brief History of Stock Footage.
Stock footage first became a regular part of the media scene in the 1980s when clips were sold in VHS, SP, Betacam and other film formats. These were generally held in small, highly specialized libraries that focused on genres such as culture, extreme sports, wildlife footage and technology. However, as the industry grew most of these smaller libraries were bought up by the major players, including Getty Images and Corbis.
With the introduction of digital cameras and their widespread use by the early part of the 21st century the dynamics of the stock footage industry began to change rapidly. The combination of the internet and digital cameras saw a whole range of websites appearing that hosted stock footage at more competitive prices than the traditional big players offered. The easy and affordable access to high quality digital cameras meant that freelancers could make a good income by supplying specialized stock footage in their own genres on these websites.
Who Uses Stock Footage?
The use of stock footage is extremely common – in fact far more frequent than the average TV or YouTube viewer might suspect!
News programs have long used stock footage as part of their reports with one of the earliest providers being the famous Pathe News who are most well known for their war footage. News programs use stock footage of foreign cities to save their camera crews travelling there for the shot, when they run a story on a historical event and in many other situations when they either can’t get a crew on site in time to report a story or can’t justify the cost of it.
Documentaries are another major user of stock footage. Stock shots can be used to illustrate a point in the documentary while the narrator creates a unique voice over that ties the scenes together.
Television series and movies often use stock footage. For instance, the famous series Star Trek frequently reused stock shots of explosions, planet scenery and starships to save on the costs of repeatedly recreating the scenes from scratch! They would usually make some small alterations to the footage in post production however even with the modification it kept the production costs way down.
Stock footage is often used in commercials and advertising. Advertisers are always trying to get the best value for money in their public relations and so it often makes more sense for them to use a piece of stock footage whenever they can instead of paying for a crew to shoot a generic scene they could buy for much less. Generic stock shots of a pleasant suburban home can be used in a home insurance commercial and stock footage of endangered species in the wild can be used in a money raising campaign drive for an environmental charity!
In recent years, YouTube content creators have been one of the main new users of stock footage. YouTube creators are often working on a tight budget and whether they are creating documentaries, tutorial videos or commercial content it’s usually going to be easier and cheaper to pay for some stock footage that arranging the shoot themselves.
Selling Your Stock Footage – Top 5 Stock Footage Sites.
The demand for stock footage is booming in the age of digital videography and once you master the requirements and style of what is in most demand you can create a good passive income.
If you are setting out to sell stock footage you need to try to future proof it. This means that you should shoot in the highest quality that you can and although most is still filmed in 1080p the resolutions will rise as time goes on. To keep your footage relevant and in demand in 5 years time you should be shooting in 4K and upwards so that it doesn’t look dated too soon! It’s also worth shooting your footage in a Raw format so that future purchasers of your stock shots can digitally upgrade it later.
Before you submit your stock footage to an online platform make sure you check out the payment and commission structures first because they can vary significantly between sites.
- Pond5. With a dedicated 24/7 support team on hand you can set your own prices and receive a good rate of commission while retaining the rights to your work. Pond5 has an impressive list of customers including Disney, MTV, Vice, Discovery Channel and Netflix.
- ArtGrid. Offering excellent rates of commission with an easy to use interface this platform is growing and looks set to flourish in the future. You retain the rights to your footage and can use it elsewhere as well as promote it on their site.
- Shutterstock. As one of the largest providers of stock video the platform has tools to help you get your video onto the platform in your own personalized portfolio. You can also download the app and submit video directly from your phone while keeping track of your earnings at the same time.
- iStock. Getty Images never went away and their new online site, iStock, has more than 1.5 million customers worldwide including some of the big names that operate in TV, social media and all the main commercial sectors.
- Dissolve. Create your own profile and join the growing community of videographers on this exciting site. The site helps you to curate your work and are primarily looking for footage between 5 and 30 seconds in length.
How Much Can You Expect To Make Selling Stock Footage?
The amount that you can make by selling your stock footage will depend entirely on whether or not you can create content that people are willing to pay for. If you get the formula right though you can expect to make a serious passive income once your work is up online.
As an approximate guide though, you could easily expect to receive upwards of $50 per 10-15 second clip after paying commission to the platform providers. Many of the online stock video sites, like Shutterstock, will automatically price your footage for you however others allow you to set your own fees.
The higher the quality of the footage the more you will receive for it and remembering that you can sell the same stock shot many times over frequent downloads of your work are the key to long term success.
One factor that you should also be taking into account is the difficulty of the shot. If, for instance, you had climbed Mount Everest to record some drone footage from the top you should expect to receive far higher rates than if you shot some footage of a dog playing with a frisbee at the local park. That said, if the demand were far higher for the footage of the dog in the park then the number of downloads at a lower price could easily outweigh the higher cost of the Everest footage!
Aerial footage tends to receive much higher rates of pay and for some high quality 4K drone footage you can get anywhere upwards of $100-$150 per 10-15 seconds of video.
Top Tips To Help You Maximize Stock Video Sales.
- Get the Basics Right. Make sure that you are shooting in the right settings, save it in a RAW format and use 4K or above. Frame the images well, capture interesting or unusual angles and perspective and get the color correction perfect! There are many tutorials, free and paid, which you can refer to for more information.
- Think about the Audience. Before you shoot some footage try to have an audience in mind, in other words, who might want to buy it! Random stock shots are far less likely to generate a passive income than a well thought out series.
- Make the most of your time shooting. Remember that time is money and so when you’re on site shooting some footage get shots from multiple angles which you can cut together in the editing suite.
- How Long? When you are shooting stock video you need to make sure the footage is at least 5 seconds long but generally speaking, no longer than 1 minute.
- Lighting is Crucial. Getting the lighting right can transform mediocre footage into video that will sell in large quantities.
- Drone and Aerial Video. The demand for aerial videos is skyrocketing and if you can capture some classic footage of famous cities or landscapes then you can expect to reap the rewards down the road.
- Persistence will Pay Off. When you’re uploading stock video you’re going to have to work at it for a while to start seeing some serious results. Try to upload new content every day or two, or weekly at the very least. The more videos you can upload, the more you are putting your work out there, and the more likely you are to make sales. Also, when you’re uploading content regularly you’ll soon come to know instinctively what people are looking for and your income will increase accordingly.
Stock Video – A Great Form of Passive Income.
If you’re a videographer then you can create a fantastic income by selling specially made stock video. As more people enter the videography space the demand for stock video has never been higher and if you can capitalize on what they need you can expect consistent sales of your work.
Mastering stock video will take a little time and although you won’t retire overnight if you are consistent in your production, regularly upload new content and keep a close eye on the changing trends in the market you’ll be guaranteed your share of success.
Are you thinking of creating stock video footage?