The Definitive Guide to Buy Stock Video like an Expert

Video is the media of today and tomorrow, a must-have in your creative and commercial projects. To buy stock video is by far the simplest and most cost-efficient way to get your hands on the perfect footage for your endeavours.

Navigating the stock footage online market is easy enough, but understanding how it works, from buying process to legal aspects and everything in between could be a lot trickier. As the offer grows in options and buying models, finding the best possible deal for your particular needs could also be a bit of a trial-and-error learning curve.

No more! Footage Secrets has put together this complete and in-depth guide covering all aspects of buying stock footage that will let you purchase and use stock video clips like a total savant.

Read it, pin it, and share it! It’s all for your benefit.

Let’s get started!

Importance of Video

First Things First: The Importance of Video

From websites to adverts, for streaming or social media platforms, in artistic, editorial or commercial projects, video is everywhere. 

You won’t find a single media industry expert that doesn’t assure you that video is all the rage in the creative world. Motion imagery has been a staple in visual trends for years, and not coincidentally this format sustainably grows in popularity and usage as days go by.

The reason for this is rather simple:

Humans respond to images better than to any other media or communication format, and images in motion attract their attention a lot more than stills. So for any case where you intend to catch someone’s eye, video is a powerful tool to achieve your purpose.

In consequence, motion imagery is every day more prominent in communication, content marketing, advertising, digital platforms, and well, almost everywhere.

The Prolific Stock Video Market

And where there is demand, there must be an offer. Video is a steady and fast-growing segment in the stock media market for a decade now, and there are no signs of it decreasing. If anything, it's rather the opposite.

The constant need for fresh video content to use in social media, websites, streaming platforms, tv and movie productions, etc., makes stock media agencies keep investing in growing and enhancing their footage libraries. It has also impulsed the birth of many companies dedicated exclusively or primarily to selling stock videos.

A Technology-Fueled Market

In connection with steady demand, the rapid technological developments in imagery contribute a lot to keep video at the centre of the media scene in many ways.

  • Image Quality – Today's cameras are capable of recording incredibly realistic footage in insanely high definition –and screens are not behind in being able to display it–. While HD is still the most popular quality in stock videos, a few years ago 4K resolution clips landed in several big agencies like iStock and Shutterstock, and is now available at most worth-knowing outlets. Even more, companies like Pond5 debuted stock footage in 5K, 6K and even 8K. Lately, the big fishes like Shutterstock include super premium collections with this type of quality, suitable for A-class filmmaking.
  • Video Tech – Not only resolution has been improved in recent years. Drone technology has had a huge impact in aerial footage, lowering costs and producing shots that were close to impossible to get before, and making drone stock footage a prolific niche in the market. In the same line, immersive video experiences are the hottest thing in motion imagery for a couple of years now. Developers are working in inundating the mass consumer market with VR-capable headsets and cameras, and even Smartphones are now able to take 3D shots. Content creators are eagerly exploring this new tech and its extended frontiers, with which 360º and VR stock videos are now all the rage too. Also, hybrid imagery that mixes motion elements with still components is an interesting point in today's visual field. Apple Live Photos, cinemagraphs, even the good old GIFs and looping or bouncing clips, are all very popular particularly in social media, and thus stock video libraries have nice assortments of them.

Visual Content Pivot Towards Video

Unless you live like a hermit, you obviously are aware of the prominence of video content all around you. The main purposes may be familiar – entertainment, advertising/commercial, informative, etc. But web 2.0 certainly revolutionised visuals in terms of mediums, where the interactiveness of video turned it into omnipresent. Video intros became a must-have in websites and apps, but that's just the beginning.

  • YouTube Videos – The dawn of YouTube popularised video streaming and the concept of a video-centred interactive platform, and became a must-be online presence for brands, artists, influencers and of course vloggers. Stock footage is a great ally to put together amazing YouTube clips in no time.
  • Facebook Videos – The veteran social network has done very good keeping up with the evolving digital society. It added video support years ago in anticipation of the trend, and Facebook videos are today a key component in viral content and citizen journalism, successfully exploited by businesses to maintain an engaged audience, via videos for Facebook Ads or simply for their profiles or fan pages. Twitter videos are similar. Stock video clips are very useful to create social media video ads.
  • Instagram Videos – The visual-first platform is the current social media king, and since a few years they started working towards making video a big part of it. From their native camera app, additional video-special apps like Boomerang and Instagram stories, there's plenty of room to get creative with motion imagery. Stock footage can simplify your workflow when making cool Instagram videos.

So if you want to be up to date, and to have a strong foothold on the future, you must work with video!

Extra Resources for Video Makers
Whether you're all in with video content or you're just getting started, you must definitely check our compilation of the 30 best sites for filmmakers! 

From stock media outlets to sources for inspiration and skill-learning, every site worth following is there.

Stock Video 101

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Stock Video 101: the Essentials of Stock Video

Having left the relevance of video as a media type established, let’s now cover all the must-know basics of stock footage to make sure you fully understand how this resource work. Shall we?

What is Stock Video?

The quick answer: a stock video (or stock footage) is a video clip that is already created and is made available for others to use in their productions with a commercial purpose, under a legal-binding license that regulates said use, in exchange of a fee.
For more info, check out this full explanatory article on what is stock footage.

What is Royalty-Free Stock Video?

Royalty-Free is one of the most popular license models for digital stock media, thanks to its multiple benefits. Basically, it’s a license that gives you a vast number of usage rights with no time limit and very few restrictions for a usually very affordable one-time fee.

This makes royalty free stock videos to be one of the most flexible and accessible resources for filmmakers and video creatives.

Pssst! Want to know where to get it? Here's a list of top 5 agencies to buy Royalty-free stock footage cheap, and below you'll find a lot more info too!

How is Stock Video Useful for Creatives?

Stock footage solves two main video content creation issues at once:

  • Saves time: planning/producing, shooting and editing footage takes considerable time. But stock video clips are already created, available to download and ready to use in commercial projects under a perfectly legal license, saving you not only the hassle but also a lot of time.
  • Saves money: Creating footage from scratch demands a substantial investment since the costs of location, equipment, crew, talent, etc. add up. Royalty-free stock clips, however, are sold at very reasonable prices – as they are licensed over and over, the gain is in the volume of sales, and that enables low price points.

Whether you are a business owner wanting to create some videos to promote your brand, a beginner filmmaker trying to realise your first vision, a commercial videomaker putting together a production for a client, or any other creative endeavour you’re embarked in, stock videos can undoubtedly do your project –and your life– much more manageable.

How Can I Use Stock Video?

One of the best features of stock footage is how versatile it is. You can use it for pretty much any commercial, artistic or editorial production you have in mind. The possibilities are endless, and you can use the same clip across multiple projects, creations and media channels, as well as edit the videos as much as you want. Some examples:

  • Commercials/Adverts
  • TV and film productions (B-roll, transitions, etc.)
  • Corporative, branding and promo videos
  • Social media content (YouTube videos, Facebook videos, Facebook ads, Instagram videos, etc.)
  • Websites (website intros, etc.)
  • Educational videos (YouTube tutorials, online courses, presentations, etc.)
  • Editorial productions (video news, etc.)

And in almost all mediums imaginable:

  • TV
  • Film
  • Video sharing platforms (YouTube, Vimeo)
  • Social media (Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat)
  • Websites
  • On-site displays

And that's just scraping the surface of possibilities. Isn’t it great?

Buy Stock Video

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Buying Stock Video: Expert Tips for Smart Buyers

How to Buy Stock Videos
The act itself of buying stock video is actually effortless:

  • Go to a stock footage or stock media site – here you have a list with 20+ stock video agencies to choose!
  • Sign up for an account
  • Select the clip you want to download
  • Pay for it – online and very quickly using credit card or Paypal
  • Download your clip
  • DONE!

From the moment your payment is made and the file downloaded, a license to use that file is automatically issued under your name (using the personal data you entered when setting up your account), so you’re legally covered to use the content immediately.

But despite how user-friendly the system is, choosing where to buy and how to buy is more complicated, especially if you want to make sure to maximise value for your money and/or if you’re working under a limited budget.

There’s a considerable pool of websites to buy stock video online, and while similar in principle, they work with different buying models and licensing options. It can take some time to find the perfect fit for your needs, and it can be really overwhelming after surfing through options for a while.

But luckily for you, you have Footage Secrets on your side! We have spilt all our insider knowledge to make it easy for you to pick a supplier and an offer that goes with you, from this list of the top stock video agencies. Dive in!

Stock Photo Secrets Shop

Quick Facts
  • Best price for HD videos
  • Budget-friendly
  • Important discounts for members
  • Tailored to small budgets
Best match: Small and medium-sized businesses, entrepreneurs, startups,  video beginners, enthusiasts and hobbyists

 

The Stock Photo Secrets Shop sells stock photos and stock videos under Royalty Free license, and the whole service is oriented to small and medium-sized businesses, with superb image quality but offers and prices thought to fit into every budget.

  • Library size: Hundreds of thousands of videos
  • Quality: All full HD videos
  • Buying model: On-demand with video packs
Pricing:

  • 5 clips – $198 – $39 each
  • 10 clips – $380 – $38 each
  • 25 clips – $900 – $36 each
BEST DEAL! If you get a membership to any of their monthly or annual plans for stock photos, Stock Photo Secrets Shop gives you an incredible member’s discount of 50% off in video packs!

Stock images are a great complement in video production, with multiple applications. Plus the Shop has really convenient offers like the 99club, making it possible for you to get all the stock media you could need at the best possible price!

Video Prices with Member’s Discount:

  • 5 clips – $99 – $19 each
  • 10 clips – $190 – $19 each
  • 25 clips – $450 – $18 each
Unbeatable price: Full HD stock videos for only $18 per file!
Buy Stock Video at Stock Photo Secrets Shop

iStock Video

Quick Facts
  • Best price for 4K videos
  • Premium exclusive footage
  • Budget videos
  • Special discount with our iStock Promo Code
Best match: Filmmakers and artsy creatives looking for unique footage, small-budget folks needing ultra HD (4K) video on the cheap

 

iStock is a very renowned stock media company, a pioneer in the online industry and backed by the prestigious Getty Images. Their stock video offer (that adds to a huge stock photo library also available) is all under Royalty Free license, but divided into two main collections: Signature, that hosts millions of artistic, one-of-a-kind videos available only at iStock, and Essentials that includes a vast number of high-quality clips for everyday needs.

  • Library size: Tens of millions of files
  • Quality: from Web to 4K
  • Buying model: On-demand with credits
Pricing:

  • Essential videos: 6 credits – $48 to $60 depending on credit pack used
  • Signature videos: 18 credits $144 to $170 depending on credit pack used
BEST DEAL! iStock prices videos according to the collection they are in, not the resolution (like most other agencies do). This means that a clip will cost you the same regardless of it being web-size, HD or 4K.

Unbeatable price: At as little as $48/$144, iStock has the lowest prices for 4K stock footage in the market!

Special Discount with Footage Secrets! In addition to this great offer, you can use our exclusive iStock Promo Code to get 15% off in your purchase of credit packs at iStock, thus saving even more in your stock videos!

What’s also cool:

iStock credits never expire, as long as you log in to your account once a year, and are valid to buy stock videos as well as stock photos, so the same credit pack gives you access to all the supportive still images you need, with no time limitations!

Shutterstock Video

Quick Facts
Best match: Video makers with high demand for variety in themes and style of footage

 

Shutterstock is one of the most popular stock media agencies on the web. Their stock video division is also one of the largest, hosting millions of high-quality clips –all Royalty Free– and pushing hundreds of thousands of new files every week. They also include Shutterstock Select, a premium footage collection with cinema quality all sourced from industry professionals.

  • Library size: 14 million+ videos
  • Quality: from SD to 4K+ (even 8K for Select content)
  • Buying model: On-demand by with video packs
SD

  • Single clip $65
  • 5 clips $299 – $59,80 each
  • 10 clips $549 – $54,90 each
  • 25 clips $1299 – $51,96 each
HD

  • Single clip $79
  • 5 clips $359 – $71,80 each
  • 10 clips $669 – $66,90 each
  • 25 clips $1579 – $63,16 each
4K

  • Single clip $179
  • 5 clips $799 – $159,80 each
  • 10 clips $1499 – $149,90 each
  • 25 clips $3699 – $147,96 each

Shutterstock Select (8K)

  • Single clip $399
BEST DEAL! Shutterstock’s video packs save you from $25 and up to over $700 from single clip prices, and all packs are valid for one year from purchase date, so you have plenty of time to use your downloads.

Special Discount with Footage Secrets! Using our exclusive Shutterstock Coupon Code you’ll get a nice 15% off in any video pack of your choice, letting you save even more in your high-res stock footage!

What's also cool:

Shutterstock is a very tech-oriented company. They're continually updating their platform with the latest developments such as AI for image recognition, and their service includes nice perks like a free online image editor, for example.

Adobe Stock Footage

Quick Facts
  • Fully integrated into Creative Cloud platform
  • Affordable prices
  • Added functionality
Best match: Filmmakers and video editors using Creative Cloud applications like Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC

 

Adobe Stock is Adobe’s proprietary stock media service, that integrates a very large and high-quality stock footage library right into Creative Cloud platform, making it accessible from the media tab in its video-oriented software apps. This allows you to surf, test-edit, license and automatically use professional stock video clips in your projects all in one place. Additionally, the service has its own stand-alone website and it’s available for all users, whether they have a Creative Cloud membership or not.

  • Library size: Millions of videos
  • Quality: HD and 4K
  • Buying model: On-demand per unit and with credit packs
Pricing:

  • HD $79,99 per clip – and between $66,66 and $74,99 depending on credit pack
  • 4K $199,99 per clip – and between $170 and $179,99 depending on credit pack
BEST DEAL! You’ll get the most value for your money in Adobe Stock if you have a Creative Cloud membership and love to use its video editing apps in your creative workflow. Because if you do, you could be adding HD, pro-quality videos to your projects in a couple of click of your mouse and for as little as $66,66 each!

Buy Stock Video at Adobe Stock

Videoblocks by Storyblocks

Quick Facts
  • Footage specialised
  • Subscriptions including unlimited downloads
  • Very low prices
  • Additional marketplace for single purchases
Best match: Highly productive video makers needing a large volume of videos all the time

 

videoblocks by storyblocks logoVideoblocks by Storyblocks is a company specialised in stock video that pioneered with the “Netflix style” subscription model for stock footage years ago. Later on, they expanded to include collections of stock images and stock audio files, becoming a full stock media platform compartmented by media type.

They offer a wide selection of wholly-owned stock video clips under different subscription plans, adding a crowdsourced marketplace with lots of footage from other artists that you can buy on demand, all Royalty Free. As a perk, if you have a subscription you get a discount in marketplace content.

  • Library size: Wholly owned has 115,000+ clips, Marketplace has 1 million+
  • Quality: HD and 4K
  • Buying model: Subscription and on-demand (each option gives access to a different collection)
Pricing:

Proprietary library

  • 5 downloads a month, partial access to the video library, for $19 monthly or $99 yearly
  • Unlimited downloads, full access to the video library, for $39 monthly or $199 yearly
  • Unlimited downloads, All Access (video + audio + images), for $65 monthly or $349 yearly
Marketplace

  • HD $79 per clip – $71,10 with a subscription
  • 4K $199 – $179,10 with a subscription
Unbeatable price: With an unlimited downloads plan you can certainly squeeze every last drop of value out of your money. The more files you download, the less you’ll be paying for each. And the annual plans save you up to 57% from monthly prices. At just $199 for a whole year, as soon as you download more than one 4K video you’re already paying less for them than anywhere else!

Buy Stock Video at Videoblocks by Storyblocks

Pond5

Quick Facts
  • Footage specialist
  • Complete service oriented to filmmakers
  • Exclusive content
  • Subscription available
Best match: Filmmakers, videographers, digital creators and video-savvy folks in general

Pond5 is a footage-first stock agency, dedicated to providing filmmakers and video creatives with all the media resources needed to complete their projects. They offer Royalty-free stock footage and video content, as well as audio and still imagery as complements, and they have an extensive catalogue with lots of variety in themes and styles, as well as in pricing and quality.

Recently, Pond5 added the possibility of exclusivity for contributing artists, meaning that they now will have more and more video clips that cannot be found anywhere else. Exclusive stock footage comes at higher, premium prices but they reflect it in value as well.

Pricing:

Single purchase – Clips are priced according to resolution but also to length and content value

  • SD – $15 to $400
  • 2K – $20 to $500
  • HD 720 – $20 to $1000
  • HD 1080 – $25 to $2500
  • 4K – $25 to $5000
  • 5K+ – $25 to $5000
Membership – Access to a selected collection of videos, images and music tracks 10 downloads a month – $199 monthly or $999 annually
BEST DEAL! The ultimate value in Pond5’s service is in the variety of price points and content. You can find great HD videos for 25 bucks, as well as super unique 5K+ footage for $300. If you need stock videos regularly, the membership certainly gives you a really low price plus access to supportive media materials!

Buy Stock Video at Pond5

Stock Video Buying Options

You’ll notice these stock footage websites have different buying systems, sometimes more than one. Each of them has its pros and cons, and they cater to specific creative and budget needs. If you’re unsure which one would suit you best, we’ve got you covered. Join us on a tour through the highs and lows of the different buying options for stock videos:

On Demand with Credit Packs or Download Packs

This is a very straight-forward way of buying, that implies paying as you go (no rocket science here). Most companies selling Royalty-free stock media do so at meagre prices per file, so they tend to establish a minimum purchase requirement to keep things profitable. And they do so with very similar systems:

Credit packs – Instead of an actual currency, some agencies price their clips in “credits” –a fictional, proprietary currency–, and then sell you credit packs of different size. You must buy a credit pack and then use those credits to download the videos you wish. Usually the larger the package is, the less is the price per credit.

PROS:
  • You get a better deal by buying in bulk.
  • Agencies who work with credits tend to unify this system across their different media offers, meaning you can download videos, images, illustrations, audio tracks and more using the same credit pack.
CONS:
  • It adds steps to the buying process and makes it more complicated to calculate the exact cost per video.
WHERE TO BUY STOCK VIDEOS WITH CREDIT PACKS?

Download packs – This is pretty much identical to credit packs but simplified. Instead of using a fictional currency, agencies just sell you preset packs of video downloads. You pay for these downloads upfront, and then use them to select videos at your own pace. Just like before, larger packages cut individual file price and let you save more.

PROS:
  • It saves you money in volume purchases.
  • It's a lot simpler a buying process.
CONS:
  • This system is almost always limited to one media type, so with a video pack, you can only download videos.
WHERE TO BUY STOCK VIDEOS WITH DOWNLOAD PACKS?

Individual purchase – While this is not very common for stock photos, most companies actually let you buy just one stock video clip if you want.

PROS:
  • This is as easy as an online buying method gets.
CONS:
  • You usually pay the highest prices per download with this option.

Buying on demand lets you have full control of how much you can/want to spend in stock footage, how and when –usually credit or video packs are valid for a whole year after purchase, or have no expiration date–. Depending on how many clips you need and how much you’re willing to invest upfront, you can get a better deal for your money and rest assured you have access to professional videos whenever your projects require them.

When is Best to Buy Videos On Demand
To buy stock video on demand is an excellent way to go for some. It works particularly well when:

  • You work on a reduced budget
  • You need only a handful of clips just this one time
  • You need a few videos every now and then, but you can’t predict precisely when
  • You just prefer to have a tight grasp on your production costs at all times.

Subscription Plans

This buying model was popularised for royalty-free stock photos, and some –not many– agencies adopted it for selling footage as well. It consists of offering a preset (often more significant) number of downloads per month or per year, for a fixed fee.

PROS:
  • The recurring payments and volume of sales make the price per video to be considerably lower than that of on-demand options.
CONS:
  • Typically your monthly or annual allowance is forfeited once the cycle ends regardless of you using them or not, and you get no reimbursement for non-used downloads. So you must carefully select a plan with the right allowance in order to actually seize the savings.
WHERE TO BUY STOCK VIDEOS WITH A SUBSCRIPTION?
When is Best to Buy Videos with a Subscription
Subscription plans' main attraction is the price point, clearly much lower than any of the on-demand options. It's ideal when:

  • You’re trying to spend as little as possible in video content
  • You need lots of videos
  • You need fresh, new stock footage clips all the time
  • Your budget –whether small or more permissive– is stable.

Stock Video Pricing Range

One of the most asked questions is how much does stock footage cost. As you could expect, the prices for stock videos fluctuate from one stock media site to the other. But there is a sort of unified range of pricing that most agencies follow, for the sake of market competition.

Firstly, you must know stock videos are commonly priced according to resolution, but other criteria like commercial value and overall quality may also apply – premium content from renowned videographers or production houses can come at a higher cost, for example.

Secondly, the pricing standards apply mostly to the on-demand system. When it comes to subscriptions, the price per video drops drastically, and there is no common ground about plan costs as of yet.

Average Price for On-Demand Videos:

  • SD: $50 to $70
  • HD: $70 to $150
  • 4K: $150 to $250

Do note that these prices correspond to Standard Royalty Free license.

Average Price for Stock Video Subscriptions:

From 10 downloads per month for $199 or $999 a year to unlimited downloads for $39 or $199 per year.

What Types of Stock Videos Can I Find?

At this point, the stock footage market is as successful and popular that the offer available online is endless. Whatever you’re looking for, it’s a given you will find it.

Value Quality

You can find premium stock video suppliers as well as standard collections, and even budget libraries.

Definition Quality

Stock video sites guarantee clips suitable for professional use. You may find some small web and SD resolution files, but HD stock footage prevails in most online catalogues, and ultra HD collections are in natural growth since years which grants you to find huge pools of 4K+ videos available.

Content Type

Variety in terms of content won’t be a concern here! You can find virtually anything in stock video libraries online. Footage, motion backgrounds, motion graphics, animations, special effects, graphic elements, overlays and more.

As for genres and style, you name it! From popular trends like drone-shot aerial footage, or the latest tech developments in 360º immersive video or action camera shots, to evergreen topics like lifestyle, nature, cityscapes, sports, health, etc. There’s also richness in styles and perspectives, from generic or strongly commercial to edgy, trendy and authentic aesthetics and everything in between.

The stock footage industry has something for everyone. Videographers, filmmakers and video creatives alike can source any content they need in a stock video agency!

Stock Video Licensing

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Let’s Talk Licensing: Understanding Stock Video Usage

We’re getting into the complicated stuff, but fear not! If you’ve read this far, we are sure you’re ready for it. To understand how the legal aspect of stock video works is actually essential to make sure that you’re using it correctly – an absolute must to grant you legal safety. We know the legal argot can sound really fluffy and confusing so we’ll try to lay this out as understandable and transparent as possible to save you the headache of figuring out the small letter in license agreements:

What Can I Do with Royalty Free Videos?

As we mentioned earlier in this guide, you can use Royalty Free stock video clips for almost any commercial, artistic, editorial and educational projects. The licensing terms are very flexible, with very few restrictions.

The best part is that in most cases you can use the same clip over and over, in various different projects and for different purposes, under the same licensing. Meaning you only pay for the clip once and get to squeeze the value out of it for as long as you want and as many times over as you wish.

What Can’t I Do with Royalty Free Videos?

As flexible as it is, the Royalty Free license does impose some restrictions on content usage. The terms vary from one agency to the other, as each company defines their own licensing agreements. But in general lines, these are the limitations you need to be aware of:

Medium: Some agencies restrict you to use the videos digitally only, or for web-based use only. If you want to include the clips in productions for TV broadcast, for theatrical releases or for live screenings you would need an Extended license.

Audience and/or Budget Size: Some suppliers put a cap on the number of viewers for the production you will be using their content in, and some others require said production don’t exceed a specific budget. You must check this beforehand to make sure you’re going to be covered.

Sensitive Use: You cannot use any stock media content in a way that sheds a bad light on the artist who created it, the people or places depicted, or the agency that licensed it. So in general themes like violence, racism, crime and similar are to be handled carefully. Licenses tend to include a clause for sensitive use that demands a detailed look into when you’re working with delicate topics like severe diseases, politics, religion, sexual orientation, etc.

Direct Resale: Most companies forbid you to resell the stock video clips just as you downloaded them, and overall they also stop you from using them in productions for massive/retail commercialisation. However, in some outlets, you can sort this limitation by acquiring an Extended License.

What is an Extended License?

As the name gives away, an Extended License is one that expands the rights in the Standard Royalty Free license. It gives you more usage flexibility, and usually, it waives some of the restrictions in Standard, thus coming at a higher price point.

This license option is not always available for footage, though.

When Do I Need an Extended License for Videos?

Logically, this license becomes a must when your intended use is not covered by the Standard agreement. If the medium you want to use the clips in is off limits, if your potential audience or budget exceeds the max allowed, if you intend to use the videos as part of a production, you will massively distribute for a direct profit, just to name some examples. In all those cases, you will definitely need an Extended License, if available.

TV Shows & Theatrical Films – These are the most common use case scenarios where an Extended License will be required. Because a TV production or a movie is intended to be widely distributed, and because it will likely be resold and redistribution rights will be needed, a Standard License would not cover this intended use. An Extended License will grant that you're legally safe when using stock video in TV and film productions.

How About Free Videos?

You’ll notice how in this guide we’re focusing in paid stock video clips under Royalty Free license. This is not just because they’re more professional and higher quality libraries, but also because they’re a lot –A LOT– safer legally speaking.

You will find websites that offer stock footage for free. These sites generally provide their content (be it videos, images or any other media) under a variation of Creative Commons license, which grants the right to use the files in commercial projects totally free of charge. So far, this all looks good.

But there is a considerable hidden risk: Most of these free stock video sites crowdsource their clips from users, and they don’t often police submissions at all.

For a Creative Commons license to be valid and safe to use, a lot of legal parameters must be met: the person submitting the content must be the copyright owner, the people depicted must have given their express consent to be featured and for their likeness to be used, just to name the most important ones.

If any of these parameters aren’t met, the license will be invalid. Which means that even when you downloaded footage from an allegedly trusted site and used it with a license, you will still be considered responsible for copyright or right of privacy infringement and could potentially lose a lot of money in fines and legal fees.

Considering all that can go wrong, spending a little in professional and carefully reviewed and approved videos in a paid service is a lot wiser.

SAFE OPTIONS FOR FREE STOCK VIDEOS
If you really can't spend money in stock footage right now, don't despair. There are still options for you!

Free Video Footage is a very reliable site offering free downloads on stock video clips that are under a custom license and suitable for commercial use. It's run by Stock Photo Press (just like Footage Secrets), a company specialised in stock media licensing. It's as trustworthy as it gets!

Additionally, you can check this cool list of free video resources from renowned sourced that are less likely to get you in trouble. Freebies from paid stock video agencies we listed above are included!

Stock Video Technicals

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Getting Technical: All the Stock Video Specs

Last but not least, we need to talk about the technical side of stock footage. If you’re a videographer or video editor, this quick overview will suffice you, if you’re not a video tech savvy, you can see our detailed explanation on video technicals, or just show it to your video creative.

What Resolution Can I Find in Stock Videos?

Stock footage today comes in as high a resolution as possible. There are plenty of stock videos shot with top-notch cameras!

While it’s still possible to find some very low-resolution web-size clips or agencies offering download in SD, the gross of the offer focuses in HD footage be it 720 or, more commonly, 1080 px wide.

In the latest years, the focus has shifted towards ultra HD content, as uber-powerful cameras and displays are introduced in the market. 4K resolution is now easily found in the best stock footage agencies (listed above), and it’s often the best quality available, although many big suppliers already have a growing selection of 5K, 6K and even 8K footage available!

Stock Video Prices by Resolution
Here are the average costs per clip according to resolution for on-demand stock footage:

  • SD: $50 to $70
  • HD: $70 to $150
  • 4K: $150 to $250
  • 4K+: $300+

As for capturing system, you can find interlaced clips often, but the progressive method is fairly more popular as it delivers a sharper image.

Want more details? Here you can learn it all about stock video resolutions!

What Format Do Stock Videos Come?

You will find agencies supporting a variety of different formats, but the most popular for HD videos are MOV and MP4. When it comes to 4K+ content, some companies let you download the RAW file for extra definition.

In the cases where SD is available, you can find it both NTSC and PAL standards.

Keep in mind it’s common that stock footage sites give you different resolution options to download a particular clip, as they come at various price points. But unless you really will be ok with a lower resolution and it’s a one-off use, you should try and get the highest definition version you can afford.

You can always downsize the quality when editing if you want a lighter final file, but upgrading the definition of a low-quality clip is incredibly difficult if at all possible. So going for HD and above gives you more significant editing and usage flexibility.

How Editable Are They? Are they Compatible with Popular Video Editors?

Stock videos are fully editable. Cutting, colour grading, sound editing, graphics overlaying, background inserts, special effects, everything is allowed. The versatility of stock footage is complete thanks to the fact the files come in widely popular and standard formats, compatible with most professional and free video editing software.

Stock Video Editing Integrations What's really cool (if you're like us, you'll love it) is that stock footage agencies have long foreseen customers' need for a sleek editing workflow, and they've developed API integrations with some of the most popular video editing software tools.

Adobe Stock is, of course, the most advanced one, as the same company owns and fully integrates a massive stock video library into very relevant video editing apps like Premiere Pro CC and After Effects CC.

But iStock, Shutterstock and Pond5 all have developed plugins that put their video collections at your fingertips within Adobe Creative Cloud platform or Adobe Premiere Pro CC app. In addition, Shutterstock also has an add-on for Final Cut Pro X.

Find them:

Trust us, working with stock videos won’t be a problem, but rather a breezy experience.

Want to improve your skills? Check our guide to editing footage like a pro! And if your task is about editing music or audio tracks into your video, we've got you covered with our best tips for audio editing!

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You're Now a Certified Stock Video Expert Buyer!

Congratulations! You've got to the end of this complete guide on buying stock video, and you're now in possession of the knowledge to make this resource work in your favour from every angle possible.

Be proud as now you know everything there is to know about the stock footage market and how to buy stock video, and you will always make the best for your buck when it comes to getting professional stock videos for your projects!

Quick Reminders!

And tell us: How are you enjoying being an expert stock video buyer?