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 silent.
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.
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