How to Use and Where to Find Stock Footage

Stock footage is film or footage that is not filmed for a specific film but can be used in any type of film. This footage can be much less expensive to use than to go out and film the footage individually. Much of this footage is used for background. Many times stock footage is found in other productions and may even be from outtakes. Common subjects of stock footage include nature, dangerous wildlife, landmarks and even cities.

Step 1. Finding Footage

Interestingly enough one of the best places to find stock footage is from the US government. Any film made by NASA, the military or other agencies is available to be used as stock footage. There are many companies that will provide this footage in libraries and most will not require royalties. News agencies will also offer stock footage and movie studios will have large collections from all of their films.

Step 2. Gaining Access

It can be very easy to gain access to this footage. Most are found in libraries which are maintained by the different companies and agencies. It is possible to gain access by purchasing the library or buying a subscription. There is also some stock footage that can be found for free and downloaded from the Internet. Each company will have its own pricing plan and make sure you understand what footage is available for the selected plan.

Step 3. Using Images

A good step to take before purchasing any stock footage is to download any low resolution versions of the desired images. Then let the client see these images and get their approval. Once you have gotten approval then purchase the footage. This is best for purchasing individuals stock footage and can keep costs low.

Step 4. Background

Stock footage is perfect for backgrounds, particularly if the film has many different locations from around the world. Instead of traveling to that spot just pick up a background shot of each city or location. This is also a good idea for exotic locations such as space. Check with any Star Trek or Star Wars stock footage as they have large libraries of space, space ships, planets and more.

Step 5. Content Shots

This footage is also very useful for small shots. Perhaps you need an outdoor shot of a winter blizzard and then cut to an indoor scene. However the film is being shot in the middle of summer in a spot where it never snows. Simply find a piece of stock footage that has the winter blizzard. Using stock footage in this way is very useful and can keep transport and other costs down.

Step 6. Editing

When using stock footage editing will be necessary. Normally stock footage can be used with green screen. When green screen in the background the stock footage can replace the screen. However if you need to use a rainfall form stock footage onto a scene this gets more complicated. For this stock footage with real footage splicing, advanced editing, layers and mattes will be required. Most video editing software will contain all the tools you need to merge the 2 types of footage.