Taking stock: Should you use stock footage in your promotional video?
November 26, 2013
You’ve hired a video production company to create a video for your business. They’ll be capturing your products, your people, and your facilities on camera. So would you also consider incorporating ‘stock footage’, that is pre-filmed images or scenery that were shot at another time and in another place, as part of the mix?
Stock footage, when used judiciously, can be a great way to stretch your budget and add value to your production. It can help capture certain kinds of images your crew can’t because of budget limitations or risk. But used incorrectly, it can also make your video look awkward, cheap or downright amateurish. Working alongside an experienced video producer, there are ways to make stock footage work for you. Here are a few do’s and don’ts to follow when working with stock footage:
- Shooting out of season: Need a shot of some daredevil snowboarders or migrating geese in the middle of summer? Stock footage can easily help you get the images you need whatever the time of year.
- Filming somewhere your team can’t go: Whether your video needs a view from the bottom of the sea in a submarine, or rare bacteria through a microscope, it may be far more cost- and time-effective to order up a shot via a stock library.
- Communicating emotions or abstract concepts:Videos for non-profits often face particular challenges. Some have to communicate feelings like depression or hopelessness. People are frequently describing difficult times in the past, where there are no photos or videos to help illustrate their interviews. And some non-profits may not be able to even find volunteers willing to appear on camera to discuss these sensitive issues.These are all situations where stock footage can make a great difference. In this example, we’re able to use poetic wintery stock video to illustrate the mental states of a woman describing her bipolar illness in an interview that was filmed in the summer:
- General aerials: If your video calls for an aerial shot over a major urban center, it will be more affordable to license the seconds of footage you need versus hiring a helicopter and cameraman to get the footage.
- Travel points: Does your video concept call for a stark desert as backdrop for nourishing skin care products? Does your video need a panda and your city doesn’t have a zoo? These are other examples of how licensing the shots you need will be far below the travel fees to the Mojave Desert or the Shanghai zoo…
- $$$$: If you need a long grocery list of stock shots, the cost may become prohibitive. You may want to revisit which shots your crew can capture in a cost-effective shooting day, and which absolutely need to be stock images for reasons of practicality.
- Too Generic: Too many stock shots of too many generic places and people run the risk of giving your video an artificial, pre-packaged look.
- Detail-oriented: If you need a specific sign, building or landmark in an aerial shot or time lapse sequence, it may simply not exist in stock footage. Your film crew may need to be the first to film it – but then you can resell it to a stock library!
- Mismatching: Stock footage can look fake alongside your filmed images if the editor doesn’t artfully match the look of the footage with what you’re shot. Equally, your cameraperson will need to ensure that his or her lighting, framing and camera movements work with the footage you’ll be acquiring.
Working with a production crew: Sourcing and cost
Once you’ve decided on stock images, there are a number of great sites that offer easily researchable video, including some museums and national archives. A professional video production crew will be experienced at researching and sourcing the best material. They can work with you to create budget parameters, and then create a ‘short list for you’ to choose from to fit within your range.
Once you’ve found the perfect shots, there are two ways to purchase the footage. Either you’ll pay a royalty fee, which is a one-time usage fee. Or you may purchase rights-managed footage, which means different rates depending on where the shots will ultimately be used. Stock footage edited into an internal company training video will cost less to license than footage edited into a web video that will play worldwide from your site for several years.
You can expect to pay anywhere from 50$ to several hundred dollars per shot. Your production company can take care of purchasing the footage and acquiring the rights.
Not sure what your next project needs? Contact us to discuss your video, and to receive a free estimate!