How to find the right stock footage

How to find the right stock footage

With an increasing number of stock platforms available on the market, the supply of stock footage is huge. Quite often buyers end up in a jungle of editorial – and commercial licenses, unsteady footage and endless hours spent on sourcing the right clips.

Here are a few tips on how to avoid some of the common mistakes and increase your chances to find the right stock footage.

What stock video platforms to use

We can’t highlight this enough – always make sure to use stock platforms which are paying their contributors a fair commission. The stock industry is competitive and unfortunately, it’s a buyers market. Since many big stock platforms are using this to their advantage, make sure to spend a couple of minutes researching how much their contributors earn from your potential buy. You would most likely find this under Contributor pages. For VReel, find it here.

Here’s an article where we have summarised and linked to the contributor earnings on some of the biggest stock platforms like Shutterstock, AdobeStock, Pond5 and Videoblocks.

What keywords to use when searching for stock video

Getting the keywording right when searching for (and keywording your own) footage is tricky. Here are 4 good things to keep in mind when searching on any stock platform: 

1. Don’t forget that many stock contributors do not have English as their mother tongue

Being a Swede myself, I know that getting it all correct in English can be tricky. I might sometimes phrase things differently or even use a “Swenglish” word which I mistake for being English. So, avoid to search complete sentences or phrases (we encourage our contributors to only use keywords and not fill-out words). We also quite commonly see that contributors name cities in the native language (ex. Gothenburg / Göteborg). So if you can’t find footage from a foreign town, try searching for the name in the local language.

2. Is the clip you need location specific?

If the footage you’re looking for is not from a specific town or of a landmark, keep in mind that so many areas have similar aesthetic and nature. If you can’t find the perfect clip from Provence, maybe one from Tuscany could work out, a forest clip from Sweden could resemble one from Finland etc. Some nature clips we even leave as “location independent” since it could literally be from anywhere.

3. Use the right terminology for aerial footage

A few years ago when we launched VReel, aerial footage was not very common on mainstream stock platforms. But today, there are millions of clips out there. Since we film a lot of drone – and aerial footage ourselves we know that the standard is to film the same object with different movements. So if you for example are looking for a drone clip for the end scene of your production, you are most likely looking for a shot where the drone is reversing or ascending. If you really want to focus on an object, the best scene to look for is probably an orbit or “circling”.

Here’s our full glossary for drone- and aerial footage terminology.

4. Common spelling mistakes

With a constant flow of new clips being added to the platform, we see a lot of spelling mistakes. Most of them we’re trying to correct ourselves to improve search-ability, but many will fall through our fingers. If you can’t find the footage you’re looking for, try searching the keyword with a few different spellings. I myself once keyword:ed hundreds of clips “forrest” instead of “forest”.

What quality or resolution to go for when buying stock footage

Most popular stock platforms offer their stock footage in 480, 720, HD (1080) and 4K. Some even offer 6K or 8K for very serious productions. But what quality footage should you go for?

On the VReel platform we’re offering the following resolutions:

480p – This is available on the market and would at the time of the article be considered too low to use for any kind of commercial purpose. It could be suitable for mockups, banner adverts where the pixels offering is low or anywhere where you would shrink down the video to a very small size. The file size for 10 sec video in 480p would be about 2-4mb.

720p – Good for websites where you need lower resolution to not make the site slow down, for pitching clients or other projects where the quality of the footage doesn’t need to be perfect. The file size for 10 sec video in 720p would be about 7-10mb

1080p / HD – The most commonly used quality for any kind of video production for social media (Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter) or Youtube. This resolution is decently a good option if you’re not putting your video on a theatre screen. The file size for 10 sec video in 1080p / HD would be about 10-20mb.

4K – 4K footage is high quality footage suitable for any kind of production. More specifically high-end online videos, movies, TV or cinema.

The file size for 10 sec video in 4K would be about 120-150mb.

On the VReel platform we only accept footage uploaded in HD and 4K (most of our footage is 4K), but have an automatic converter to lower qualities as well. All clip previews are shown in 480p (older clips with bigger watermark) and 720p (newer clips with smaller watermark). Feel free to download the watermarked preview to see if the clip suits your production.

VReel download preview stock video

What type of license to choose

As a standard on the VReel platform, most clips are sold with a royalty-free license – meaning that you can use the clip for any kind of video production you’d like. However, if the clip is showing someones face, a logotype, a trademarked building or object, the clip only comes with an editorial license. In some cases this has been marked out in the keywords.

So, how to know which license you need?

An Editorial License allows the buyer to use the media for non-commercial purposes only. This means you can’t use it in any way which brings monetary gain, for example advertising for your brand.

Stock media with an editorial licence could be used to create content for:

  • An internal company presentation
  • A news-paper or news website
  • A website or blog
  • A documentary

A royalty-free license (“royalty-free stock media” or in some cases “free copyright video”, or “copyright free video”) is the most common licence within the stock industry. When buying a piece of stock media with a royalty-free licence you can use it in any way you like, even for commercial purpose.

Make sure to get footage with a royalty-free license if you’re creating:

  • A video production to market your own, or your clients products or brand
  • A TV- or Film production
  • A banner video for your professional website
  • Any content which can earn ad revenue, example for a Youtube channel

To get the full explanation on royalty-free and editorial licenses, read or article “The Difference Between Editorial and Royalty-free Stock Media”.

VReel Contributor Profile: BeemFlights

VReel Contributor Profile: BeemFlights

We came across you and your brother through your drone flying when VReel started off as a drone platform. How long have you been flying a drone and how did you get into it? We’ve been flying drones for many years, probably around seven years, more or less. In Holland we were one of the first companies using drones for making videos and photography. Video Creator

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