Stock Footage Intro

What is it?
Stock Footage is often termed generic or B roll footage. It’s used to fill in shots. Maybe a movie or TV show needs a cinematic fly over of New York city, or a corporate video needs a shot that means “Enthusiasm”. Or just footage of a dump truck, rice field, person at the top of a mountain, you get the idea.
A lot of the Zeitgeist films used stock footage. A lot of the Jay Shetty videos is stock.
Where can you buy/sell it from
There’s a lot of different stock websites.
There’s probably other drone specific websites as well that have sprung up recently.
General Information
Stock footage is almost always 5s to a max of 1 minute long, it’s without audio and is best in 4k resolution although 1080p is also accepted.
There’s some great options, from people, to nature, also things like slow-mo, timelapse, drone footage, 360° and more.
The main issues to consider when filming stock footage is the requirements for no visible branding, shots that have meaning and the need for Model and property release forms.
No Branding
If you film a person up close and their clothing has brand logos on it, you can’t sell that footage commercially. It’s considered distracting, but also there’s trademark and copyright issues. The same is the case for filming a generic shot of a shopping mall, there’s brand logos all over the place.
Even focusing too close on a single car can cause problems and the footage will be rejected.
I think this is generally a lot less of a problem with drone footage.
If you fail this you’ll likely be rejected due to visible trademark.
Model Release Forms versus Editorial Content
When filming, if there’s a person who could identify themselves from seeing the footage then that footage needs a model release form.

If you are filming in certain locations then they’ll need a property release form. I got one filled out for a theme park I filmed at. If you tried to film a cultural heritage site, or somewhere you need to buy a ticket to enter then that’s a great example of where you’ll need a property release form.

I personally use the Easy Release mobile app to help me with getting model and property release forms.
There is however a 2nd type of video. Editorial content. This isn’t for movies and the like, but instead for news organisations and can also be footage you have that advertises a specific brand, e.g Coke or Grab or Nike. Those companies or even their competitors can buy the clip if they happen to like it.
Setting the submission to editorial content is also often done for things like big groups of people, etc..
Stock Footage (and stock photos) is a long game. To make enough money to quit your day job you usually need thousands of clips and of content that people want to buy. Expect $5-30 for the sale of a decent video clip, depending on the website it’s sold from. Most clips won’t sell. There’s some stats about people getting an average of like 20c to $1/month per clip. Of course it looks more like a logarithm I’m guessing. The best 20% of clips are likely worth 80% of your income.
So there’s a stock footage website where you can’t actually buy any footage from. It’s called BlackBox and it is a syndicated submission service. You upload your footage to BlackBox, fill in the various info and then they’ll submit the content on to the other main stock footage websites.
There’s more to it than that though. Because they are already dealing with the money transfers from various sites, they can also enable things like revenue splitting.
This means that I can assign say 20 or 30% of the revenue for a clip to a friend for helping curate the content. Dealing with the release forms, adding the keywords, title and other information to the videos. This is something that’s fairly easy for them to do. I’ve already uploaded the videos, they just need a laptop and can watch the video and add the info. But I’ve got a backlog of over 100 clips I’ve not published because I haven’t done this, so having someone else do it means actually getting them out there.
You could also do a revenue sharing arrangement with say a model in the video. If you filmed a dancer or a stunt driver then you could give them 50% revenue. They’ll need an account with BlackBox though.
More resources to read The general Blackbox FAQ’s – A video by Chris Hau which is basically an advert for BlackBox. – A beginners guide to selling stock. Contains another advert for Blackbox
—- – Info about how one guy managed to make a resonable amount of money selling stock. Now he runs his own stock website. – A much more realistic version of stock footage sales. He earned $6,675 in 13 months. I love his aerial shot of the Kayakers going down the rapids. Great drone footage! Netted him about $700 in sales.
The 9 tips are:
1. Keep It Quality
2. Pick a Niche
3. Include Actors
4. Exclude Branding
5. Submit Aggressively
6. Work Out Who Pays the Big Bucks
7. Flaunt Your Work
8. Get Your Analytics On
9. Dream Big — But Not Like, Too Big – You can download the model release forms from Shutterstock here. You’ll need a model release form for selling commercial video where people are identifiable in it. E.g where there’s 1 or 2 people walking along and you film them.
I would like to point out that as of the time of writing I’ve only had about 5 videos and about 20 photos actually published to a single stock website and haven’t made any sales in the month they’ve been up there. I have a lot more footage to add, but work full time programming websites, so don’t have the time to deal with keywords and the other stuff, hence why Blackbox is attractive to me right now.

By Michael Kubler

Photographer, cinematographer, web master/coder.

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