File this one right under, "budgets & time". I can't tell you how many stock elements I've used over the years as a producer. Whether it was budget constraints, or deadlines, these little tools came in handy in more times than I can remember (and some at 2am).
It’s not always practical or even possible to try to generate all the required video footage for a given project, especially when you are facing a hard deadline that's fast approaching.
For example, producers determine they need additional video elements to serve as bridge material after main photography has finished and there is no time to go back out in the field.
Or, budgetary restraints keep you from developing a special graphic element from scratch in-house and you are looking for something produced by a third party that you can use immediately.
Sometimes footage is needed at the last minute to fix a mistake. You might be in a hurry for a quick nature scene that you can cut to during a last-minute voiceover designed to correct a hole in the narration of your documentary, with stock video being your best option.
Whether your video needs stock footage, motion graphics or graphic elements, having the right tools at your disposal can help you meet deadlines or dramatically increase the effectiveness and impact of a video project. Check out an overview and comparison of the five best places to find stock video elements.
At Pond5, a wide variety of stock video elements are available to download and the site offers prepaid credit packages to make it more convenient when you have a lot of resources to obtain. Pond5 bills itself as having the largest royalty-free video collection in the world. It is free to sign up for membership.
From 4K footage to aerial shots from drones or GoPro cameras, there are 4 million clips from which to choose. You can search for clips or browse by category or a particular artist. The site also offers public domain footage for your creative and commercial projects.
If you can't find a particular type of footage, Pond5 enables you to post a thread in the Footage Request forum so artists can reply with their current offerings. Pond5 sells all footage under the same license agreement, which is royalty-free and gives you the rights for perpetual use in all types of media, worldwide.
There are no fixed prices. The artist lists a fee for each individual clip along with file specifications and details such as whether there is a model release. Users do not pay any additional fees or subscription charges to use the clips.
Personally, it's my favorite, but as anything YMMV. The team at VideoHive hand picks video items and features them on the front page of the site, so if you are looking for more of a curated feel from your stock video elements provider, this may be perfect for your project.
VideoHive currently offers 271,664 video files, all royalty-free, at prices starting at $4. A new author profile is featured each week, which may help inspire you or provide some serendipity as you search for video elements.
After Effects project files, templates for Apple Motion, stock footage, motion graphics and Cinema 4D templates are all on offer. If you are working with a limited budget, you may find something useful in the free section, whose titles change every month.
As part of the Envato network, VideoHive lets users buy and sell royalty-free footage as well as participate in its online community to discuss clips, ask peers questions and share news and tips with fellow video professionals.
To begin, you must make a minimum deposit of $20 and deposits are made in $10 increments. Keep in mind that if you buy pre-paid credits on the site, you must use them within one year or they will expire.
Broadcast quality SD and HD clips are available starting at $5 at MotionElements, which bills itself as a royalty-free marketplace based in Asia for worldwide distribution of stock footage.
The emphasis is on Asian-oriented stock footage, but the clips are suitable for use in projects being developed across the globe for any audience.
As an international supplier of video, MotionElements provides online conversion of videos between PAL and NTSC in HD and 4K resolution, eliminating one more chore from your to-do list.
Artists set their own prices for each clip they post on MotionElements and the site offers 30 elements free of charge for users to download every week. After Effects, animation and a wide variety of video footage are available for browsing and searching via keywords. Prices are all listed in US dollars and you can make payments via credit card or PayPal. Approximately 75,000 video elements are currently available on this site from 2,800 artists based in 70 countries in Asia, Europe and America.
If you don’t want to type in keywords or browse titles during your video elements research, MotionElements lets you drop a reference image file onto the page to conduct new searches. Remember that videos with editorial-only use licenses can only appear in news, editorial or documentaries. Make sure that you can purchase commercial licensed material for your ads or promotions.
The Video Copilot site includes more than 150 tutorials along with its growing library of digital products and tools for video production professionals. It is a one-stop shop for plugins such as Optical Flares and Element 3D, which have become standard tools in the industry.
3D model packs include Jetstrike, a collection of commercial and military jets, Metropolitan, which contains city and buildings and Projectiles, a weapons package. If your project is packed with action, come to Video Copilot for aerial explosions, optical flares and heat distortion. Perhaps the sports package is what you really need, or maybe you simply need a collection of fresh foods. Packages range from about $50 to $100. The “Ultra Studio” bundle costs $695 and includes nine packages so you can save when buying items in bulk.
Video Copilot’s model packages work with a number of 3D programs, including 3D Max, Blender, Cinema 4D and Maya as well as Element 3D.
The type of video production work you typically do may not be best served with individual purchases of stock video elements. In such a case, the best approach for your organization is to sign up for a site that offers unlimited download with a subscription model. This is why many people opt for VideoBlocks, which boasts of an archive containing more than 115,000 HD videos in studio quality. You’ll find templates for After Effects as well as motion backgrounds and stock footage.
Subscribers to VideoBlocks pay $149 for a year of unlimited downloads from the Unlimited Library, now valued at more than $10 million. If you don’t find what you’re looking for in that collection, more footage is available for direct purchase from VideoBlocks’ members only marketplace.
In the marketplace, individual HD clips cost $49 each and 4K clips cost $199, which VideoBlocks says will save you 40% per download when compared to its competitors. VideoBlocks does not charge a commission on video elements that you purchase in the marketplace.
Video editors focused on 4K content and film studios that require advanced features can opt for a premium subscription with dedicated customer support. Premium subscribers enjoy the convenience of batch downloads and the ability to set up sub-member accounts for other members of their team.
After reviewing the details of these stock video sites, you might find it beneficial to join more than one so you can keep your bases covered. After all, one particular site might provide everything you’re looking for on a corporate project this month while another site is home to artists whose work you often turn to for documentaries or artistic endeavors.
You might find the user forum on one site to be more in line with your interests than another as well, so it pays to be diverse when signing up for any stock video company. The convenience and ease of use of any of these stock video services should make your next projects go more smoothly, finishing on time and on budget.
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