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Stock Footage: Is the Cost Worth the Reward?

The concept of stock footage has only been around for approximately 35 years, with the emergence of the World Wide Web greatly aiding the sale and distribution of it. Stock footage is footage that has been shot and archived for use at a later date.

There are diverse sources of stock footage including content from the public domain, videos produced by government run agencies, news outlets and movies and television. Various online companies, such as Shutterstock and iStockphoto, specialize in giving their customers a variety of stock photos and video clips to download for a set price. Often the individuals who upload content to these sites are professionals who film staged objects, individuals or scenery specifically for this purpose.

The use of stock footage in corporate videos is a very common occurrence. You may have viewed a video recently and had no idea that the shot or scene you were watching wasn’t filmed specifically for use in that video. When edited well, a video can have a myriad of sources for its video clips yet still flow together seamlessly.

Stock footage can be a beneficial tool in a number of circumstances. One common use is when filming with a greenscreen. With limited time and budget, one can film a CEO address or testimonial and then transport that person to a different location with the use of stock footage or images in the background. Take a look at the screen shots below, which showcase a video where Keywest employed this technique.

Man sitting in front of green screen; to be removed and replaced with stock footage.
Man sitting in front of green screen; to be removed and replaced with stock footage.
Man sitting in front of stock footage
Man sitting in front of stock footage


Another prominent way to use stock footage is for b-roll.  When you need to spice up your video with an aerial shot of Tokyo’s skyline, individuals holding hands behind a sunset, a girl reading in her bed, or whatever other obscure shot you need, often it can be more cost effective to purchase these clips rather than going out and filming it yourself. The cost of a film crew, travel to the location and the time and effort it all takes may not be plausible if you need a wide variety of different shots or they are difficult shots to get. In the video Keywest produced for Huawei Technologies we utilized a mixture of our own filmed clips of addresses to camera and b-roll from the client’s facility, and supplemented that with stock footage in order to tell the story of the company and its customers.

On the other hand, stock footage can be a large expense in of itself. Clips range greatly depending on their quality, subject matter and where you source it from.  Video clips, as well as photographs, can vary from an affordable price of around $40 each to as high as $600 or more. Therefore a video with multiple stock clips can become quite pricy.

Here at Keywest we have decided to be proactive in order to get our clients the most bang for their buck. We have begun to film and edit clips for our own portfolio of stock footage. Certain clips we have sent to stock footage websites, such as Pond5, while other shots we keep in our own roster to use for our clients videos. This way when a need comes up we have footage available at our disposal, and at a very limited cost to our clients.

If you decide that stock footage is the best option for your video make sure to look at an array of different vendors. When priced and used appropriately stock footage can be a great way to make a cost effective video look more expensive and elaborate than it really is.


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