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Using Stock Footage/Photography to Spice Up Your Video

I'm going to start this post by apologizing to all of the great DPs who work with us. I am NOT trying to put you out of business. In fact, at the end of the post, I will tell how YOU can get in on the stock footage market and make some extra money on those handful of days per year you're not out shooting for us.

OK. On to the subject at hand. Why should you consider using stock footage and photography in your videos? There are a lot of answers to this question, but my favorite is, "Because it allows you to greatly expand your creative vision without greatly expanding your budget!"

How can this be?! The answer is simple. There are more stock footage and photography resources, more stock footage and photography producers, and more stock footage shots than there have ever been before. And that number is growing by leaps and bounds every minute of every day thanks to the explosion of great online stock footage services available.

To use these services takes a little understanding of how they work. First off, there are sites that prefer to work on a licensing basis, where footage is licensed for a specific project at a specific price. These sites often have the most visually stunning and spectacular shots, but, this quality comes at a price. Getty Images is an example of a site that uses this pricing and licensing model.

The other, more cost effective model is the buy-out or subscription model. iStockphoto, Pond 5 and Revostock are sites that work on these models. The libraries are typically a little more limited on these sites, however the value you get for the dollar paid, plus the more user-friendly licensing models more than make up for any deficiencies. Many of these sites also offer music, graphics, flash, animations and sound fx using the same models.

I'll give you an example of how stock footage can be used to creatively deliver greater impact. In one of our current projects, a client is having us produce a video about managing change for a leadership conference. The initial concept was to have some of the key players do interviews where they frankly discuss the changes they've faced and how they've managed change. We felt this was a great way to get people to connect with each other around a very sensitive topic, yet, being visual communicators, we wanted a means of conveying change visually. It was at this point that we realized that there is a whole world of great footage out there that conveys change (time lapse, natural shots, etc.) and that this footage could be used to open and close the video and be used as background for graphics that would illustrate key messages. Voila--the addition of stock footage takes a good video and makes it great!

So, the next time you've got a creative concept that begs for stylized footage that it would be too time consuming or costly to shoot yourself, consider adding some stock footage or photography. You'll be glad you did.

OK-DPs, this is just for you. You can make the best of the stock footage phenomenon by becoming a contributor. I recommend starting with iStockphoto, Pond5, and Revostock and expanding out from there.