Where To Get Good Stock Footage
Make great videos and never touch a camera.
NOTE: This question comes up a lot and I’m happy to share my sources here. Still takes work to get good at editing and figure out the right vibe with your content. That said, none of the sites mentioned are paying me to endorse them. They’re all sources I use regularly and pay for.
What is stock footage and when to use it
Stock footage is simply footage you can download for free or for a few bucks that you’re allowed to use for editing purposes.
Especially if you’re editing for commercial purposes or running ads, you don’t want to be using material someone else owns because you can get punished by the platform or the rights holder can send a Cease and Desist.
Another case is when it isn’t financially or logistically practical to go out and shoot your own media to edit to. Hiring actors and scouting locations takes money and time. Sometimes it makes sense to invest here and sometimes you just need to get things done.
Three Types of Stock
I group stock footage into 3 different buckets: free, stock libraries, and asset stores. Use them all.
A free source that everybody uses is something like Unsplash (photos) or Pexels (photo and video). Price is great, but you have to be ok with seeing the media you used pop up everywhere. A lot of the footage is generic. But sometimes if you need a boring shot (like a drone flying over a jungle covered island) this is a great source.
Stock libraries are something like Storyblocks. You pay a monthly fee to access a library that gets updated with media and you are granted a license to use it in your videos. There are sometimes different tiers depending on use, but generally the big divide is internet use vs TV/ broadcast use. Repackaging their content and reselling it is almost always not allowed.
Asset stores, for example motionscience.tv. You usually pay a flat fee for a “pack” of assets that is bundled like a product, which can be footage, transitions, After Effects presents, LUTs, or sounds. I recommend getting a fast hard drive and just loading that up with assets you like and can re-use over and over. Speeds up your workflow and helps you develop a style over time.
Stock Music and Annoying Rules
There are a lot of stock music sites of varying quality from super cheesy, generic libraries all the way up something closer to a full on publishing company that represents a touring artist.
I’ve written for a bunch of these and there’s a decent chance you may actually use some music I’ve worked on from these sites.
You have to read the fine print here, mostly because there are a myriad of annoying situations that pop up because of anti-piracy or platform enforcement of song rights.
A common situation is you make a YouTube video with some stock music you paid to license, then YouTube (or whoever) flags it anyway. Then you get some annoying admin work to fix that, which sometimes doesn’t work. For YouTube specifically, Soundstripe does a great job of handling this by letting you whitelist URLs and flag use of their media with a code in the description.
What About All Those Cool Effects and Graphics?
Motion Array, anon! Many similar sites like them if you look around. If you make an Instagram and follow a few, you will be immediately bombarded with ads for them.
A lot of those cool VFX transitions, animated graphics, and other “expensive” looking effects that add an extra layer of professional sheen to your videos are available as templates that you can import into your software and tweak to fit your project.
Yes, if you have a quick computer and lots of time, patience, and coffee, you can learn how to make this stuff from the ground up but for a lot of projects it simply isn’t necessary.
Most of the readers here are looking to promote their business or pick up some client work and make them happy.