Stock Footage Library: What’s In It For Me?

Fanny Tham

Fanny Tham

by Fanny Tham of [email protected]

Stock footages are increasingly popular because of their availability for immediate download and cost-savings advantages. This raising trend of using stock footages has created an impact for both buyers and sellers. No matter who you are, this is what you want to know.


1)      Uses of the Footages

Common uses for stock footage (stills) are in magazines, book publishing, business reports, advertising, web design and graphics design. Stock video footages are commonly used in documentaries, television programmes, news items, sports reviews, independent films and commercials. Entire story lines can be created by means of stock footage. Commercials have been created purely out of stock footages.

2)      Searching for Footages

Two important elements often neglected when buyers are searching for the right footage are file formats and file age. Make sure the file format complements the project you are working on. You do not want to be working on a HD video clip in 16:9 and to purchase a stock video footage in 4:3 dimension. Or worse, getting a NTSC format for a PAL format project. File age is also very important as the time-sensitive elements may affect the credibility of your project.

3)      Content Licensing

There are 2 kinds of licenses for stock footages – Royalty-free and Rights-managed. Royalty-free license is the more user-friendly form of content-licensing. Royalty-free footages are charged based upon the format required and buyers can use it multiple times for multiple purposes. Rights-managed footages, on the other hand, are charged based upon various usage considerations. These may include the purpose of production, the size of audience and the duration of usage. Some footage may also have an editorial-use-only licensing agreement. Editorial use only agreement dictates that the usage of the footage is limited only as part of a news or an editorial piece.

4)      Legal Guarantee for You

Any reputable stock footage library generally includes a free legal guarantee. A free legal guarantee protects you from any legal action that may arise from the footage you purchased. Do check for this term with your selected stock footage library.

5)      Modifications to Footages

Some stock footage libraries may also place restrictions on the types of modifications you can make to the original video. Others may have more advanced restrictions that which limits the music or other audio you insert to run along with the video. Do read and follow the guidelines and clearly understand the extent of modifications that you may be allowed to make.

6)      Stock footage libraries

Popular stock footage libraries include: BBC Motion Gallery, Clipcanvas HD Stock Video, Corbis Images, Getty Images, Thought Equity Motion, Revostock, iStockphoto and Shutterstock. There are many more which may cater better to your needs.


The business of selling footages is a USD$282 million industry in annual revenue, according to ACSIL Global Survey of Stock Footage Companies 2007. As we look to the future, here is what you, as a seller should know:

1)      Generating your Content for Sale

If you are a content owner, you are possibly sitting on a pot of gold. To generate your content for sale, consider recycling your own content or create your own stock footage. To recycle your work, take a look into all your content. For video content, edit clips of videos with a specific theme. It can be as general as scenic shots to action-themed such as cars crashing. You can also create your own footage. Research on what the buyers are looking for. We advocate supplying to a niche demand. List down a comprehensive list of keywords and describe your footage clearly. Today, there are professional stock footage creators who make their living out of selling their stock footage.

2)      Content Licensing of your Footage

As a seller, you can offer royalty-free or rights-managed footages to your buyer. Usually, royalty-free footage allows your buyers to use the footage for multiple purposes and multiple times. However, it is important to remember that you should be able to provide certain restrictions to your royalty free footage. Restrictions for royalty free stock footage should include the number of times the footage should be used by the buyer without putting too much restriction on the amount. Rights managed footage means that you manage the rights to the footage. The potential buyer can often only use the footage for a specific purpose and for a limited time. Due to the slew of royalty-free stock footage, in order to better your competition, make sure your rights-managed content is rare and genuine.

3)      File formats and Quality

As a seller, your clients can range from established producers in a film project to mass consumers making their own home-video. No matter who your clients are, it is important to present your footage in topmost quality and in a format that is user-friendly. Beyond retaining clients, different file formats will also affect how much you can charge for your footage. HD stock footage fetches a higher price than DV footage. This is because HD footage has a better resolution than DV. As the world has turned in HD, it is also key for you to consider supplying footage in the most popular format. 3D is the next phase, as a seller, you may want to consider setting a market for yourself by supplying quality 3D stock footages. However, be aware of what is the current industry standard for each of the format.

4)      Stock Agencies

As a seller, you can try these libraries:

  • BBC Motion Gallery
  • Clipcanvas HD Stock Video
  • Corbis Images
  • Getty Images
  • Thought Equity Motion
  • Revostock
  • iStockphoto
  • Shutterstock

5)      Uploading and Keywords Insertion

The easiest way to upload your footage to the majority of the libraries is via FTP. A simple free FTP client is the Filezilla. Some libraries may want you to upload via their website. Keywording is an important step for you to determine how your footage will be searched. Stock footage libraries use a combination of your title, keywords and a myriad of other statistics to decide what results to show potential buyers when they do a search. All libraries require 50 or less keywords for every footage.

6)      Payment from Stock Footage Libraries

Some libraries allow seller to set their own prices and they pay sellers between 45% to 60% of the sold footage price. Other libraries will set the own pricing for the footage and usually they will pay the sellers 20% to 40% of the sold footage price. If your footage is sold exclusively in their library, they will usually upped the percentage by 10% to 20%. Libraries will make payment to seller either after every sale or as monthly payments by checks or Paypal.

7)      Charging for footage

Typically, for royalty-free stock video footage, you can charge from USD$10 to USD$150 per clip. For rights-managed video footage, it can be about USD$100 per second. However, charging this rate means your footage should be rare and genuine. As a guide, the more interesting and unique the subject of your footage, the higher the rate can be.  Historical stock footage is a great example since very few have copies of videos from historical events, so owners can charge high for these stock footages. For a historical stock footage, you can charge a minimum of USD$500 per clip.

Comments & Advice:
  1. Jason Fox says:

    Thanks Fanny. This is a very good resource for both stock footage consumers and producers. Video is an ever increasing demand for filmmakers, businesses and corporations, and websites, and stock video can fill the demand for these kinds of content.