As videographers or vloggers, we’ve probably all thought about how it would be great to use someone else’s footage in our own projects. It’s not that we can’t do it ourselves. It’s that sometimes we just don’t have the time, budget or technical skill to capture certain types of footage.
Imagine shooting a video set inside a forest. You’ve captured all of your shots but you’d love to have a smooth aerial of the forest’s canopy. The only problem is that you don’t have a drone camera setup or know any drone cinematographers. Or maybe your video needs vintage news clips or beautiful underwater footage.
Enter: stock videos. Like stock photos, filmmakers can look for stock videos for aerial forest shots, vintage news clips, underwater footage and more.
Below, we’re going to dive into the world of stock videos and how they’re created. We will also explore where to find stock videos and detail why royalty-free stock footage is a great option for videographers, filmmakers and vloggers.
What is stock video?
Stock video is ready-made footage shot by professional cinematographers that can be purchased by creators to be used in their videos. Ideally, filmmakers and editors use stock video, or 'b-roll' as it is also known, to help tell their story. Vloggers might also want to use stock video footage to better communicate with viewers or to add something different to their style.
Typically, stock video clips are under one minute, though length can and does vary. Stock clips can be everything from establishing shots of cities and various landscapes to subways, space and extreme-close-up shots of objects. Basically, anything you can imagine can become stock video.
Stock video can also feature clips of video overlays, which are, as the name suggests motion graphics clips you lay on top of your footage to create a different effect. Common types of overlays are lens flare, light leaks, snow, glitches and film grain that give your video a vintage look. In fact, some stock videos can be completely computer-generated, made in Maya, Cinema 4D, Houdini and other video editing programs.
It’s important to distinguish this media from stock film. Unlike its film counterpart, stock video arose in the 1980s as digital video cameras (VHS and Betamax) and archives came into being. A number of companies specialized in offering stock videos to advertisers, documentary filmmakers and news networks and were later bought out by larger stock media companies.
In recent years, more videographers and filmmakers are shooting stock video and uploading it to subscription platforms. Thanks to the Internet, finding and using stock videos is easier and more affordable than it’s ever been.
Types of videos that use stock video
Almost any type of video can be enhanced by footage clips. Let's look at the most common types and how you can use stock footage in them.
In fictional films, stock video can be used in an establishing shot, that introduces the place where the scene is taking place. Here are some examples:
- Aerial shots of cities like Paris, London, New York, etc
- Landscape shots of mountains and valleys
- Clips of farm animals
In documentaries, stock video is often used as b-roll which serves to enrich the film during interviews. This can be old black-and-white archive clips as well as videos in the same theme of the documentary, like pandemic-related shots, animals or clips of medical staff.
Travel bloggers can use stock video to complement the footage they already shot from the places they traveled to. Actually, you can make a whole travel video using stock footage.
Commercials and corporate videos
The often slick and polished nature of stock video makes it a great choice for commercials and corporate videos. For example, if you're making an ad for a car and you want to convey a sense of strength and speed, you can use footage of horses or other powerful/fast animals.
Stock video gives YouTubers a lot of flexibility. It expands the topics they can talk about, as it doesn't require doing actual shooting.
Where to find stock video
As hinted at above, there are a few different ways of finding and obtaining stock video clips. Each option has its advantages, but in looking for stock videos, be mindful of your budget and the quality of the stock video clips.
As we’ve noted in a previous article, finding the right stock video clips is like crate-digging for the best vinyl records. The idea is to have fun, find visuals you love and make sure they fit your project.
Below, we will explore options for finding stock video footage.
Royalty-free stock video
Perhaps the most common type of stock video footage license is royalty-free, which can be found on Artgrid, Shutterstock, and Pond5. It’s important to understand that royalty-free does not mean the clip is entirely free. With an RF license, the user pays a one-time fee to use the footage in as many projects and media as they like, without ever paying any royalties to the stock footage rights holder.
Now, it’s important to know that each Royalty-Free stock video platform will have their own restrictions. For instance, a platform might restrict users from editing stock video clips into their film and television projects. Other platforms might offer royalty-free clips with a per-use fee.
Artgrid users, on the other hand, pay an annual subscription fee. This allows users to download, use, duplicate, alter and edit stock footage. It also allows users to present and use it on any platform, whether it’s YouTube or Vimeo, Facebook or Instagram or any other digital media format.
Stock footage agencies
Another option for royalty-free stock footage is to seek out stock video agencies, then buy the video clips you need. Again, stock footage agencies are a very traditional way of obtaining stock footage. It’s a great option for those productions with a big budget, like Hollywood studio films, television and Internet advertisements, and so on.
Independent videographers and filmmakers probably won’t have the funds to purchase stock video clips from agencies. Nevertheless, if your documentary project or vlog gets good financial backing, then these agencies might be worth some consideration.
Public Domain & Creative Commons
Another path to stock footage is to turn to the public domain. A legal term for non-copyrighted media, as well as media protected by free licenses, public domain stock video clips are those available to all. For instance, a bunch of early 20th century films and musical recordings have now passed into the public domain, where they can be found and used by anyone.
Stock videos in the public domain are free to use. As noted above, they tend to be older video clips, like old educational films, newsreels, and government documentaries.
It’s possible to find newer stock video clips in the public domain. For instance, a filmmaker or videographer might have made their clips public domain via a Creative Commons license. A Creative Commons license is a type of public copyright license that may give users the right to share, use, and adapt a video clip for their own projects. There are occasionally some restrictions to Creative Commons stock footage, so be sure to consider that when looking for clips.
Why royalty-free stock video is the right choice for you
We discussed royalty-free stock video above and listed some of its advantages. It’s worth mentioning them again, but also useful to detail some other upsides to royalty-free stock video footage.
It saves you money
Ease of use
A big upside to stock video clips platforms is that the online user interface is easy to use and fun to explore. Unlike public domain websites such as Archive.org or the Creative Commons website where the UX is clunky and clips are scattered without order, the interface is easy on the eyes, and clips are curated according to common themes.
What you get with an Artgrid subscription
On Artgrid, every clip is part of a “Story”, which is a collection of shots from the same sequence. This gives editors a lot more variety and flexibility, improving your ability to tell stories with stock video.
No matter which Artgrid plan you choose, all subscribers get unlimited access to all the clips in the library and unlimited downloads.
You can use the footage you download in any type of video, whether it's a film or a commercial.
A license that lasts forever
Any clip you download with an active subscription is yours to use forever, even after your subscription expires.
Find the clip that you're looking for fast
On Artgrid, you can filter your search according to Video Themes like Sport & Fitness, Medical & Health, Green Planet and even abstract clips and timelapse. You can also filter according to shot type, meaning you can find clips for close-ups, handheld, interiors, exteriors, 4K clips and so on.
Additionally, in Artgrid you can find clips curated in ‘Collections’ like Wildlife, City Life, Technological Devices, Corporate Stock Video and even collections of Glitchy Stock Video Footage or clips with the same color scheme, like Blue, Yellow, Green and Red. One of our recent entries in Collections is “Kitchen Symphony,” which features a bunch of awesome stock clips of chefs cooking.
Great flexibility with Raw and Log
On Artlist, you can download Raw and Log video files of the stock video clips. These formats let you color grade the footage the way you want so they perfectly match the look of your video.
Best value for money
Add a very affordable price to the advantages listed above and you will get the stock video platform that gives you the best value for your money.
Frequently asked questions
Is it Ok to use stock video in my creations?
Yes, but only if you have a license to use them.
Why are stock videos so expensive?
That's a good question! Not all platforms operate on the subscription-based model like Artgrid. Some offer a pay-per-clip model that can turn out expensive after a few clips. So if you have a limited budget, Artgrid will provide you as many stock video clips as you want for a fixed yearly subscription.
Can I sell my stock videos as a creator?
Of course! Stock videos can provide an excellent source of passive income. As discussed above, any shot footage can be considered stock video. So if you are a professional videographer and you have high-quality footage stored on your computer, you can become an Artgrid contributor. Just click on Become a filmmaker, follow the instructions, and hopefully, you'll be able to enjoy extra income in no time.
That's all you need to know about stock video. Now do your own research, sign up for the right platform for you and start creating amazing videos!
DJ Pangburn is a New York-based journalist, videographer, and fiction writer, with bylines at Vice, Fast Company, Dazed and Confused, and other publications. DJ records ambient techno and IDM under the name Holoscene.