Stock video often gets a bad rap. Clients and videographers dismiss this source of video because it ‘looks stock’. But it has a place in some productions. Weigh up the differences between using stock footage and shooting your own regarding cost, time and whether the footage fits with the video’s message.

What is Stock Footage?

Most people are aware of stock photo libraries but stock video? There are plenty of websites offering generic footage for a price. Whether you need a blurred snippet for a website background or the introduction to a corporate video, it has probably been shot and is available online for purchase. You just need to decide if it’s right for your project.

Should You Use Stock Footage in your Video?

Well, it depends on a range of factors – cost, compatibility and time are three of the most important to consider.

1. Cost of Stock Versus Shooting your Own Video

Using stock video sounds much more cost-effective than shooting your own, but it depends. If you are buying high-quality 4K stock footage and plenty of it, the cost will add up quick. Vidyard quoted the price of a 20-second stock video clip between $80-$180 USD or more if you are looking for a less clichéd video. Know how much footage you need and the types of shots you are looking for before you start your search.

If you only need a small amount of footage that involves actors and a setting that will be hard to create then stock footage is your friend. It will be cheaper than sourcing the location, actors, directing, shooting and editing the footage. However, if you need lengthy footage of several locations and limited talent, it will probably work out cheaper to hire a videographer for the day. You will own the footage and can use it as many times as you like.

Before purchasing any stock footage, check on the licensing requirements. If you don’t buy the right licence and you decide to use the video footage in multiple projects, you may need to pay multiple licensing fees that can make the stock footage very expensive.

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2. Is the Stock Video Compatible with your Message?

The biggest drawback to using stock is settling for images that aren’t quite right. When the landscape includes volcanoes, the cars are driving on the wrong side of the road and the actors don’t look Australian, it’s obvious the stock footage has been shot overseas.

The toothy smiles of actors in stock footage can look unnatural compared to using real staff in their uniforms serving real customers. Using staff and customers gives you the added benefit of their buy-in because they feel like they contributed to the corporate video production.

With humans nowhere to be seen, nature shots are some of the most popular stock videos. Free video library Coverr said generic footage of sunsets, clouds, flowing water and slow-motion movement have high downloads because they’re used in a variety of ways and are relevant around the world.

You can’t customise stock footage, so it’s hard to match other sources of footage. If you are using multiple snippets of stock footage or a mix of your footage with stock video, it can make the video look mismatched. Lighting conditions and photography styles differ so a video that is produced with several sources of footage may not look cohesive.

The footage needs to match your script. If you have chosen stock footage, you may need to amend your script, to fit the footage. You don’t want a disconnect between the voiceover and visuals. Consistency is the key for a successful video.

3. The Time it Takes to Source the Right Stock Vs Shooting it Yourself

Planning and producing video footage is time-consuming. If you need to source actors and locations, a week can quickly go by without shooting a single frame. Finding a piece of stock footage can be a much faster alternative according to Impactbnd. You go online, do a quick search for the right footage, pay, download it, and you’re done. Well, that’s how it should work in theory.

Other times you can spend hours looking for the right stock footage and still have nothing to show for your efforts. Set yourself a time limit for the initial search and if you don’t find anything close to what you had in mind, move to plan B.

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What are the Alternatives to Stock Video?

In the right circumstance, stock video will work. But if you need custom footage, your options are to shoot it yourself or outsource the job to someone else. That’s where we can help