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How To Use Stock Video Footage to Make Great Quality Videos

Should you use stock video footage in your next ad or explainer video? Your first response might be, “no, we want something original.” But what if we told you many professionals use stock video footage in films and television, ads, and other video content? If used correctly, it can look great, while saving you money and time.

If you’re skeptical, take a look at this video from Chicago Custom foods. How much of it do you think is stock?

The answer is, pretty much all of it. The product shots at the end were custom, but everything else was stock footage. That includes the images of truffles rolling, castles looming, and hands working.

A trip to Europe just to snag an establishing shot of a castle might be outside your price range. That’s where stock footage comes in handy.

Here’s another example. This one is from a video we made for Getec.

They could have gathered actors to appear as fire fighters, police officers, and scientists. But getting access to sets and props would have been a challenge. That’s even before we talk about the safety gear and drone you’d need for the technicians in the transmission tower. All of that would have added to the cost of the project.

There was just no need for new footage when good-quality clips were available for licensing at a reasonable price. Speaking of licensing.

Getting rights to use stock video footage

Before you use any stock footage clip, make sure you have the rights to it. The last thing you want is to spend time and money creating a video, only to learn that you don’t really have rights to use one of the stock video clips you included.

Avoid this problem by getting your stock videos from reputable sites. Read their terms carefully. Some confer rights only for certain uses. Often, you can pay for additional rights.

You might be thinking, “Sure, obviously, but what about public domain films?”

It is possible to find public domain stock footage that is free to use. But, again, make sure you’re getting them from a reputable site.

The National Archives and Records Administration of the United States has an online library of these videos. They include military, documentary, and educational films. The visual and sound quality may not match modern standards. Most were made prior to 1976.

Note that some of the videos in this database have use restrictions as well. Don’t assume that a video is royalty free just because it is older.

Tips for Using Stock Video Footage Seamlessly

Many videos and commercials integrate stock footage so seamlessly that you don’t even know it’s there. Take this video we created with TruWear. Most of it was recorded specifically for this commercial. Can you spot the stock footage scenes?

This seamless effect comes from smart clip selection and skilled editing. Here are three tips to help you create a seamless look whether you’re using all stock video, or a mix of stock and custom content.

1. Choose Interesting Footage

If you’re using the same footage as everyone else, your video will look like everyone else’s. Stock footage can be visually interesting or used in creative ways. Make sure the clips you choose reflect your message and your brand style.

2. Get a Skilled Colorist

A colorist can create a consistent stylistic look across multiple clips with color grading. If one clip is bright and saturated, and the next is muted and dim it will be obvious that you used stock footage. Using professional software like Adobe Premiere Pro, colorists smooth out these differences. The result is a seamless visual experience.

3. Add Graphics to Tie it All Together

Graphics and custom animations can help you tie scenes together. You can see this at work in the TruWear video as well. The right music tracks and sound effects can also add continuity.

Reliable sites to find stock video footage

You may be able to find inexpensive or even free video clips, but be careful. If you’re working with an unknown site, you have no way of knowing that they have the rights to that content. It’s safer to stick with stock video sites that are reputable in the industry.

Our three-go to sources for video are:

  • Shutterstock Footage – Allows you to set up an annual subscription or buy per clip. The standard license is enough for explainer videos, email marketing, social and many advertising projects. If you want to use the clip to decorate your sales floor or turn it into merchandise, you’ll need an Enhanced license.
  • Adobe Stock Videos – You can buy a monthly subscription to download a certain number of assets each month, or buy credits that expire one year from your purchase date. They offer standard and enhanced licenses much like Shutterstock.
  • GettyImages – Offers rights-ready licensing that charges you based on the intended audience size and how the video will be used. Unlimited use will cost the most, while limited web and digital is the least expensive.

Start Making Your Video Today

As the examples in this blog show, stock videos are a powerful asset. You can use them to save money, reduce production time, or fill in hard-to-get footage. With skilled editing and the right finishing touches, your viewers will never realize you used stock footage.

For help creating a video with or without stock footage, contact the video production experts at IdeaRocket. From storytelling to color grading, we have the skills to launch your message into orbit.

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