In the past, when most people thought of stock media, they tend to think of the basics, like establishing shots, b-roll of overweight people, women smiling while eating salad, or looping background animations for presentations. As the industry has evolved, however, more and more productions and content creators are utilizing the tool of stock media to not only supplement their projects, but to improve it.
The benefits to stock are simple, but vast. You get high(er) quality media at a fraction of the cost of hiring someone to create it or by doing it yourself, without the time investment. This makes using stock a no-brainer, and something that has some surprising uses that you may not have ever thought of at first.
1. Documentaries & Non-Fiction Projects
There is a whole genre of stock footage that’s captured for the purposes of documenting real-life events, captured either by professional new shooters or citizens on the ground. This footage tends to be very timely, and look less “produced” than some other stock footage, so it’s a good option for news outlets, documentaries or even social media.
When it comes to historical content, there are lots of archival items to pull from. Some of the most important events in history are available to use in your projects at the click of a button. If you want to make a project about Prohibition, Albert Einstein, the Moon landing, or even the making of the Terminator movies, it’s all there. There is a lot of power in using archival footage to tell a story, because these historical events have been around for decades and were so important in showing the world how it was at a specific moment in history. This power can translate to your video and make your projects more memorable.
1929-Amelia Earhart / Billy Mitchell / Usa by TheArchivalCollection
True crime documentaries can use shots of police stations, flashing lights, caution tape, as well as gunshots and prison door sound effects to add layers and depth to the story. Wild animals, wind, water, and waves are all stock elements that can be added to nature-based projects. The key here is to use contextual footage, music, and sound effects to really set the tone and look and feel of your videos, so that the viewers can be even more immersed and engaged in the story.
Thanks to citizen journalists and other user generated content, documentarians and other storytellers now have access to more timely and spontaneous events, such as riots, parades, and protests. This footage typically captures angles or moments that you couldn’t get yourself. Now that cameras are cheaper and almost always within arm’s length in the case of smartphones, there’s almost no limit to what you can find for almost any theme. For example, a recent documentary film about the Flint water crisis relied on Pond5 stock footage to help fill in some shot gaps.
2. Tutorials & Educational Projects
Instructional videos are some of the unsung heroes in the filmmaking world, because they may not be the most flashy or the most high-coveted types of videos people want to make, but they’re often some of the most important or useful types of videos. Just think of how many times you’ve looked up how to do something and then have several dozen, if not hundreds of videos to choose from.
Eye-popping stock footage can be added to any tutorial video to boost it and give more visual examples of the subject matter at hand. Instead of talking directly to the camera or having one long, uninterrupted shot of the scene, use some footage to complement what’s being said.
If you look at the Pond5 tutorial playlist on YouTube, you’ll see dozens of videos that are supplemented with tons of amazing, high-quality b-roll shots. When you’re in production on your tutorials, think about what you want to show over the music, text or a-roll, then take some time to find something that works to enhance your tutorial.
To take it an extra level up, try to find clips that match your visual aesthetic, whether it’s the shot style, the framing, the lighting, or the color. Having a large contrast between your a-roll and the b-roll can be really distracting.
It’s also a good idea to have some background or bed music that can be placed on the video to help keep it interesting and move it along. It should be something that fits with the tone of the piece, and should not be too intense or noticeable, so it doesn’t take away from the information that’s being delivered.
3. Ongoing Series & Projects
If/when you’re producing videos on an ongoing basis, it can be a huge pain to have to create new graphics from scratch every week, or find new music for every video. Opening titles, credit sequences, segment stinger sound effects, lower thirds, and specific music tracks for different sections of your videos can all be used to keep it quick and easy by allowing you to simply add them to every video as needed. You can simply find a stock After Effects template, import and type in your own graphics and text, then export and use that video file each time you begin an edit. These are the types of shortcuts that keep help keep your projects on time and under budget.
1932-Amelia Earhart / Atlantic Crossing / 1932 by vivace
Alternatively, if you have an ongoing project or series like the “Made With Pond5” series, you may want to keep certain aspects of the project the same, but also add variety to keep it fresh. You can download multiple songs, or use different graphics presentations for different segments. As long as the go along with your brand’s style, feel free to mix it up.
You should create folders for all of these assets on your computer organized by file type, so that once you open your project, you can either import the item and go, or you can create a master project that you unzip before every project with folders that already reference the recurring assets.
Using stock media in your productions can give you access to high-quality clips you may not have the ability or budget to capture on your own. It not only bolsters the production value of your videos, it can dazzle viewers with more visual, audible, and emotional depth.