Filmmakers, whether amateur or
professional, are always on the lookout for quality, affordable stock footage.
Creating stock to sell can also be a great way for filmmakers to earn a little
extra cash, or even build up to making a living at it! Let’s look at some of
the things you’ll need to consider if you want to start selling stock footage.
What to Consider When Shooting Stock Footage
Shoot the Best Quality
It goes without saying that your
footage needs to be good quality. Always shoot the very best you can, even if
you don’t intend to upload as that. For example, shoot 4K even if you’re
planning to only offer an HD download. If your footage doesn’t look good, it
won’t get past the review stage of any sales site and you might harm your
chances of being accepted as an author.
Shoot in natural daylight at
first, if you aren’t confident about getting good results at night or lighting
a set. Get to know the best results your camera can produce and avoid just
sticking it on auto.
Don’t Process Your Footage
If you’re a filmmaker, it can be
tough to part with your raw footage, but resist the temptation to edit it other
than basic corrections. People who are making use of stock footage are going to
want to process it in a way that suits their project.
Find Your Niche
Certain things will always do
well on stock sites, and be needed, like the skyline shot of New York above, for example.
The problem is if you’re adding to that mix then you’re just one video in an crowded market. If you can, try and specialise in something that people
aren’t able to get easily, but might still want. I’ll talk more about how you
can predict desirability in stock footage in a little while.
Keep half an eye on opportunities
when you’re busy with your day job. Are you a wedding videographer? In which
case you might get some pretty church stock footage while you’re scoping out a
venue. If you work in an office you might get some footage of the photocopier
working… you get the idea!
Conversely, don’t try to be too
clever – people sometimes upload things to show off what they can do, but
actually isn’t that useful. If you want to do fancy things like a nice long
time-lapse, remember to keep it as an option and have related, regular video of
the same subject with it.
Think About Including People
It’s a little more work, because
you may need model releases (certainly you will if anyone is identifiable), but
including people in stock footage can be really useful, and often sells better
than other video. Hiring actors can be a good way to make sure your bases are
covered, and it means you can use the opportunity to shoot them from different
angles and mix up your style of shot.
Film From a Variety of Angles
As I mentioned above, filming
something from more than one angle can be really useful to someone needing
stock footage. A filmmaker can create a whole scene from your video by cutting
away and back to another angle; likewise, with closeups.
Should you Include Sound?
It’s likely that the filmmaker
who buys your footage will want to add their own sound to it, but if you’re
somewhere where that might be difficult to replicate accurately through sound
effects, it might be appropriate and useful to record the ambient sound, too.
You should never add music or your own effects though; if in doubt, keep it
Don’t Get Tripped up
We’ve talked about model
releases, but there are some other things you need to be careful about when
filming footage to sell. Avoid brands and advertisements completely – they just
won’t be any use to anyone and you could get into trouble if they’re
misappropriated. Certain places will also require special permission to film,
like subway stations and privately-owned buildings for example.
Think about the content you’re filming
too and whether it’s appropriate. Is there unfortunately placed graffiti in the
background of a shot? It might mean your footage isn’t suitable and could get flagged
up under ‘maturity’ guidelines or other submission flags and filters.
Finding a Store and Uploading
What Duration Should Your Clips be?
A lot of stock uploads are
annoyingly short: What can seem to the videographer like a long-duration shot
is often not a lot of time to the person using it in their film. Try and keep
your clips to at least 30 seconds in duration.
What File Type and Size?
Many authors and sites are
offering downloads in a variety of options today, so it’s wise to plan for
that. I mentioned shooting in 4k, and even if you upload a 4k option, it makes
sense to also add an HD version. An assortment of file options is useful too,
like, MP4, MXF or MOV.
Predicting What’s Desirable
Many sites will tell you what the
most popular downloads are and what people are searching for, so you can use
those as a guide as to what to shoot. Don’t underestimate the mundane stuff
either: every day people are searching for items to use in their corporate presentation,
wedding video, menu promotion, and so on. Reports that stock sites send out can really help
you to see where your skills might overlap with what’s viable to sell.
Choose your keywords smartly and
sparingly. While keeping them relevant and specific, also look
at the reports of what people are actually searching for. Don’t add things that aren’t relevant just because
they’re popular terms, though, not only will people stop trusting you if you
appear in searches when your stock isn’t relevant, but you might also get removed
from the site.
Terms and Conditions
Always read anything you sign up
to really carefully. Stock sites vary and some may offer you a better rate on
your footage for the right to sell it exclusively, so just make sure you’re
happy with the deal and it’s fair all round. Many sites let you retain
copyright of your footage and give you the option to remove it at any time.
Getting Rich, Quick!
Like anything worth doing, being an author and seller of stock footage is a long game. You need a reputable bank of quality video before you can build an audience who trust you and come back for more. While you’re unlikely to start coining in the big bucks immediately, it is possible to earn a decent living (or at least some passive income) by selling stock footage, just be prepared to put in the work, and good luck!
Envato Market and Envato Elements
Both Envato Market and Envato
Elements let authors host their stock video.
The great news is that a lot
of the criteria to being accepted is what we’ve talked about in this
article, so you’re already well on your way to selling your video. Check out the submission requirements for video on Envato Market for more detailed specifications.