Free stock footage is a valuable resource to spice up your video creations.
Stock footage lets you get all kinds of additional shots, b-roll and filling content at low prices, and they are already created and ready to be used. Learn more about stock footage and it's utility here. But although cheap and easy to get, most stock footage is sold under a flexible, yet paid, license (usually, Royalty Free).
What to do when you can't afford to buy stock videos? If you're working with a tight budget and paid Royalty Free videos are out of your reach, don't despair: you can still get stock footage for your projects without paying a penny.
Several sites and companies offer great stock footage to use in video productions, completely free. Depending on the terms specified by each source, you can download and use these free footage clips in multiple ways.
Best Sites to Get Free Stock Footage
If you navigate our Agency Review list, you will find the best stock agencies to buy stock footage. But when it comes to free stock footage clips, these are the best places to go:
One of the most popular stock imagery agencies (previously known as iStockphoto), iStock has a great offer in stock footage, that includes budget clips and high-value, exclusive footage. You can learn more about their service in our iStock review.
And you can get free clips from iStock easily. On their website's homepage, just scroll down and you will see weekly free files in different media types, including one stock video. Every week, iStock releases a new batch of free assets. This means one free stock footage clip every week. To get access to them, all you have to do is sign up as a member. And don't worry, it's completely free!
In addition to their huge library of Royalty Free stock videos, after effects, and complementary media (photos, vectors, sounds, etc), of which you can read on our full Pond5 review, this agency has also made available a large collection of almost 10,000 archive footage clips for free.
The clips are all under Public Domain law, meaning they are copyright-free. You can use them free of charge forever. These videos cover a wide range of the history of mankind, and can add value to a wide variety of projects (not just historic or documentary productions). Plus, they also have over 63,000 stock photos, around 2,700 audio files, and little over 100 3D models, all archive and Public Domain.
To access these resources all you have to do is sign up on their website. Once you have your member account you'll be able to browse, search and download as many Public Domain clips as you want, and integrate them in your work.
Motion Elements is an Asian agency specialising in stock footage and other “motion” imagery types. They are the leading company of their kind in Asia, and they have a large library of Royalty Free stock videos. Find out more in our Motion Elements review.
The company offers a small selection of free clips on their website, but you can also subscribe to their service to get 30 new files including stock footage shots, after effects templates and stock music, every week! And it's completely free.
All the free files come with a Royalty Free license, so you're allowed to use them forever in a varied range of ways, at no cost.
Visit Motion Elements free clips gallery or subscribe to their Weekly Free Elements to get free assets to enhance your production.
VideoHive is the stock footage service part of Envato, an ecosystem of independent, yet interconnected, online marketplaces for stock imagery and related resources. VideoHive contains over 330,000 stock footage and video effects clips, including motion graphics, templates, and more, mostly in HD quality. Learn more in our VideoHive review.
Envato releases one free item from each of their stock marketplaces every week. This includes one weekly free stock footage or video effect clip from VideoHive. This weekly free clip comes with Envato's Regular license, which grants perpetual rights in one of a wide range of usages to choose from. It's a one-time-use model: you can use the clip forever, but only in one of all the accepted ways (to use the same clip in a different way, you need a new license).
The weekly free assets are showcased on VideoHive's homepage. All you have to do is sign up and you'll be able to download the free clip of the week!
Storyblocks Video (formerly Videoblocks)
This is an interesting company because of their success with an unlimited subscription business model (where you pay a flat monthly fee to get as many videos as you want). Read all about it in our Storyblocks review.
Storyblocksdoesn't have a freebie deal right now, but their unlimited downloads plan is the next best thing. You can get an annual membership with unrestricted access to over 1 million HD and 4K videos, for just $199! This saves you 57% from the regular monthly price which totals $468 for a year of service.
If you think about it, as soon as you download 2 clips from Storyblocks, you're already paying less for each of them than you would at nearly every other agency. And if you download hundreds of them? You'll be paying literal pennies for each clip!
You can choose from a great selection of stock videos, background loops, templates and special effects to boost up the quality and richness of your creations!
Hurry up and get your Storyblocks Video Membership right now!
This is a stock footage sharing community, offering free download of crowd-sourced stock footage in HD and 4K resolution. On their website, you will find a large collection of clips that you can browse and search.
All shots are free to download, but each copyright owner specifies the usages they allow for their files, under a Creative Commons license. Therefore, you must make sure you read all the licensing and usage terms carefully to make sure the clip suits your needs.
You can search and download clips from their website directly, no further requirements needed.
Using Free Stock Footage to Spice Up your Videos
Now you know where to find free stock footage (and great and affordable stock videos too). But why and how to use this resource to enhance your creations?
The answer to first question is simple. Stock footage adds richness in content, and saves you time and (in vast majority of cases) money.
Is Stock Footage Good Enough?
We're not saying anything new. B-roll, contextual scenes, transition shots… they are all the mark of a great video or film production. And, also not breaking news, those can be hard to afford for an indie filmmaker or a small video producer.
Plus, many times you think of extra shots needed when you're on the go, or even already in the middle of the editing process. Setting up to shoot more content is not only expensive, but also time-consuming, and sometimes you just can't work out the extra shooting within deadlines.
Stock footage comes to the rescue. These clips are already there, shot and ready to be used. And they are likely much, much less costly than custom shooting. In a matter of minutes, you can find, buy and download the extra shots that you need.
One main prejudice some people have over stock footage is that it's “shot by someone else” and that it's “generic”. Now, while both statements are true, none of them is a negative. Yes stock footage is shot by someone else… but that someone else is also a videographer or filmmaker, just like you. More often than not, they are as creative and as skilled as any other great video producer, and their content reflects it.
And yes stock footage has a certain generic feeling, in the sense that it was created under the concept of versatility, to fit in multiple and very different contexts, instead of being specifically shot for a particular purpose. However, it's your editing what makes it integrate and streamline in your production. You must mask it and grade it to “personalize” it. Treat it just as part of your original content, and that's how it'll look. Most of mainstream and indie productions use it, and most of times you don't notice it. That's how stock footage is meant to be used professionally.
This is a very valuable solution to boost up your video or film's quality while saving time and money.
Is Free Stock Footage Good Enough?
Now, that's a question that might pop up in your head. You know there's very high quality stock footage out there, but are free clips comparable?
The answer is yes. Of course different sources might vary in quality regarding content and technical aspects, but in general lines, the agencies we listed are providing free clips as a way to showcase and promote the value in their service, and therefore they make sure the freebies represent their quality standards.
Of course, the giveaway shots are often not the “top” clip on their topic or style, but they are still decent quality and valuable. As long as you make sure you choose the right video, that fits your particular aesthetic and storyline, and as you apply the right editing, they'll do the trick: they'll seamlessy integrate as part of your production.
And you will have a professional, rich final production, at no extra costs.
How to Spice up your Videos with Free Stock Footage
You still wonder how can you use free stock footage to enhance the final look of your video or film?
Just use our list of free stock footage providers above, and start browsing for the best clips to boost up your project. Get the aerial skylines, the urban rush-hour scene, the shot of elephants drinking from a well, the day-to-night time lapse, and all the other infinite possibilities in extra content that would make a difference in your storyline, that would make your video look professional, but also appealing, fun, and audience-engaging.
As said above, analyse the stock footage shots in terms of how well they'd integrate to your own content. Style and technique and all the other aspects you need to consider.
Once you're certain to have the right clips, edit them. Add grades, cut it, mask it… do all you must do to keep a consistent visual with your custom content.
And don't forget: most of the listed agencies and providers also offer free after effects and motion templates. You can totally use those resources to fulfill your editing and improve overall visuals.
Like this, you will spice up your creations and have a much richer final product, without spending a single penny extra.
Now, that's valuable!