If you can imagine a novel absent of place or punctuation, then you can imagine what a film would be without establishing shots or sound effects. Often, we have to remind ourselves that the work that we create contributes to the greater whole, and that the principle of contributing to the greater whole surpasses the stereotypes of what stock imagery and sounds can achieve.
Fixing a Hole
Keep in mind that, as a Pond5 contributor, you provide important colors to the palette of other creators, which is crucial to the fulfillment of their own artistic vision. In a few circumstances, sampled sounds and images define what we remember from an entire piece, rather than a just a sound hidden deep in our subliminal consciousness. Beyond inserts and cutaways, there’s always a chance that the media that you produce may be woven into the fabric of another artist’s masterpiece.
The Beatles’ first track off the White Album begins and ends with the screeching sound of a jet taking off and landing. The jet sound effect was created by using a tape loop taken from the EMI tape library’s Volume 17: Jet and Piston Engine Airplane. This wasn’t the first time that the Beatles had raided the EMI tape library for sound effects. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band is saturated with prerecorded sound effects, from the concert crowd in the opening track to the sounds of farm animals in Good Morning Good Morning, which can be found in EMI Tape Library’s Volume 35: Animals and Bees and Volume 57: Fox-Hunt. Incidentally, the same sound effect of clucking chickens in Good Morning Good Morning is used in the 1954 animated version of George Orwell’s Animal Farm.
Two Sides to Every Album
The consumption of art has never been greater. With that said, there are more affordable production tools in the market, which make it much easier for a growing population of artists to create. A huge demand exists for stock photos and footage that can be licensed to package these works. In addition, well-known artists are feeling the pressure to create more work to feed the ever-growing demand from their fanbases. For instance, in 2015, Drake and Future released their album What a Time to Be Alive, and the cover photo of the diamonds, created by NYC photographer Christina Tisi-Kramer, was licensed directly from a stock-photo library.
Using existing images and sounds as a means to save money and time isn’t a new concept. In fact, the genesis of our industry can be traced back to Hazel Marshall, a negative cutter at Paramount in the 1920s. I’m sure that no one at the time could imagine how important these assets would be to great directors telling their stories in the decades to come.
Before the process trailer and digital effects captured our imagination, rear-screen projection was the solution for establishing a place from the vantage point of an automobile’s rear window or to create an action sequence in a controlled studio environment. Alfred Hitchcock used rear projection to great effect, most notably in the scene of Cary Grant being attacked by a crop-duster plane in North By Northwest.
Dropping a process plate behind actors in car windows is just as popular today as it was when James Bond was being chased along a gravel road in Dr. No. Footage from rear and matching side car windows are especially in high demand. A-list directors such as Quentin Tarantino, James Cameron, and many others still rely on rear projection to tell their stories.
Stuart Cooper’s 1975 film Overlord is an extraordinary example of cutting World War II archival footage and perfectly blending it into the contemporary footage that he shot for the film. Roger Ebert praised Overlord and argued that it “combines its newsreel and fictional footage so effectively that it has a greater impact than all fiction, or all documentary, could have achieved.”
The Anonymous Artist
It is extremely rare that an independent artist can create work in anonymity and at the same time earn passive revenue or, in some cases, live entirely off the content they produce. As a stock contributor, fame is not attached to what you do, which allows you be extremely free to create whatever you wish, without a need for critical validation. As a creator, the opportunity to contribute a piece of your work that can potentially be part of something greater shouldn’t be underestimated.
As an anonymous artist myself for over two decades, I can confidently say that there’s no better sense of satisfaction than maintaining your freedom, your vision, and your anonymity. But more importantly, never forget the importance of the media you create — it could very well end up in another artist’s masterpiece, if not your own.