This is an exchange from She a Go, a fan-made hip-hop music video that uses watermarked comp clips of businesspeople. It sums up many people’s feelings about stock footage.
Then there’s Darwin Deez’s ridiculous You Can’t Be My Girl, where he’s inserted into stock video clips, this time of a variety of women.
Yep, it’s easy to make fun of stock footage.
But check out the video for “Nothing,” by country music star Paul Brandt.
The video includes a cast of 60 and spans a variety of locations — from New York City to the desert. When CMT, Canada’s country music network, saw it, they asked Paul if he’d travelled the world to shoot it.
But it’s all stock footage.
“Nothing” is proof of the power of stock footage to add high production values, while saving video producers and editors time, effort, and money. Here’s how.
Tell a Better Story
Stock isn’t exactly B-roll like this anymore. It’s shot by filmmakers and professional shooters — it’s cinematic, stylish, and contemporary. You can use it as a basic building block, those small but essential elements that make a seamless whole. But stock can also reflect bigger truths, establish a look or vibe, and take viewers on a visual journey. For example, we conveyed the universal message of “Nothing” through a montage of clips of people in love and visual metaphors of youth and freedom.
Whether it’s a music video about love or a corporate brand video, stock can help you tell more compelling stories. This before-and-after explainer video for social-giving app Goodpin is a great example. Before, it’s a dull talking-head video. After, with stock, it tells a richer, more evocative story. A story people will actually want to watch.
Even facts and figures can be turned into beautiful visuals: “Our cupcakes are handmade with love,” “We ship worldwide,” “Sustainably sourced from local fishermen.” Or if you need to illustrate somewhat more metaphorical concepts, stock footage can help you show what you say.
Make the best use of your time and talent
Doesn’t matter whether it’s an explainer video, a television ad, or a music video, producing a video is a lot of work. Consider what “Nothing” would have involved had it been shot custom. Casting for 60, 17 individual shoots, 70 shots, assorted locations, a plane, a motorbike, a wedding, a beach, a meadow …
From all the pre-production paperwork and legwork to shooting to post, video-making is labor- and time-intensive.
Focus your time and talents on the proprietary content, the stuff that’s unique, that depends on particular talent or locations. Then use stock to knit it all together — establishing shots, transitions, time-consuming timelapses, the stuff you simply don’t need to shoot yourself. One of the benefits of stock is that someone has done all that work for you.
Plus, you know what you’re getting. No surprises, no disappointments. That glorious sunrise you got up at 3:00 a.m. to shoot may not rise as gloriously as you’d hoped. This sunrise though — passing ship included.
Stock can also save you in a pinch. Despite your best-laid storyboards, post can reveal holes you hadn’t anticipated. Abrupt, confusing scene changes. Continuity issues. Not enough B-roll to flesh out transitions. Stock fills in story gaps.
Save some bucks
Shooting custom video adds up quickly — cast, crew, locations, gear, permits, travel, etc. And unless you’re working with a Pirates of the Caribbean–sized budget, some shots can be prohibitively, even impossibly, expensive to do yourself — an aerial over Dubai, a concert crowd, a giraffe loping across the savannah.
With “Nothing,” shooting that many locations, subjects, and situations custom would have cost a lot. In fact, we estimated almost $60,000 when we did a comparison for Notch Video’s “How Much Did That Video Cost?” series. Using stock — along with custom footage of Brandt shot by George Georgeadis — the video cost less than half that to produce. If you’re curious, check out the clips used in “Nothing.”
(By the way, How Much Did That Video Cost? offers an interesting look at the costs involved in creating a video — it’s worth checking out.)
If you ever need help finding footage, give us a shout. We offer free research and would love to help. And because you’re a friend of ProVideo Coalition, you can get Dissolve’s BETTER T-shirt free (pay just $5 for shipping to the US or Canada). Visit dissolve.com/bettertee. Offer expires August 31, 2015.
Lori Burwash is a writer at Dissolve, a stock footage company. Dissolve provides high-quality video clips for use in television or web-based advertising, brand and corporate videos, news and documentary programming, web sites, and mobile applications.
Using our clips, we’ve created such popular videos as “This Is a Generic Brand Video” and “Emoji Among Us,” two of our four Vimeo Staff Picks. Browse more than 600,000 clips, check out our showreels, and visit our blog at dissolve.com.