Three Tips for Using Stock Footage

A common roadblock many cross during preproduction is when there’s a need for certain shots or footage that compliments a part of the script, but there isn’t enough room in the budget or time for shooting.

With some exceptions, you can find almost any kind of shot you need by searching any one of the dozens of stock footage websites out there. Stock footage can potentially cut down on shooting costs and save time during video production, but it’s important to know how to use it correctly and what its limitations are. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you find yourself looking to stock footage for a video: 

Know your budget and take note of the price tag

Royalty-free stock footage prices vary and can range from around $80 — $200 per clip and beyond, sometimes for less than a minute of footage. If you’re looking to use stock footage for more than a couple shots, this can add up and get expensive very quickly. 

Define your budget early on in the planning process and weigh shooting costs against the cost of purchasing stock footage. Take some time to browse through stock footage websites to get a sense of what you would have to pay for the shots you need. 

Authenticity is important

Using too much stock footage can easily make a video feel staged and cliche. This is a Generic Brand Video by Dissolve is a hilarious fake brand video made entirely of stock footage and a great example of what to avoid when using stock footage in corporate videos.

It’s important to make sure stock footage blends well with the rest of your footage and doesn’t stick out or feel misplaced. Stock clips that don't fit well can easily make a video feel like a series of random shots glued together, lacking any continuity or purpose. Also try to avoid using cliche or staged shots of offices, employees, or anything else that could come off as inauthentic or misleading to your audience.

Focus on telling a story

Don’t forget that no matter what, telling a story and engaging your audience is the most important aspect of any video. No matter how visually appealing the footage is, a video that isn’t compelling isn’t serving its purpose. 

And remember: A production company can help you craft a story while also finding ways to ensure that you work within your budget.