Stock Footage FAQ
I plan to start this page to give people who are contributing or planning to be a stock footage contributor. This will be a source of quality information and resources to help you.
One of the leading Stock Footage sites (Shutterstock) recently hosted a livestream session, which I attended. There were some good questions on hand. I thought I would share some of the questions I heard and some that have been asked from my course.
Are smart phones acceptable for taking footage?
According to Director of Video Acquisition for Shutterstock Tom Spota smart phones are acceptable for taking footage. I think he was referring to smartphones that film in High Definition. Be aware that there are limitations like a fixed lens, but with the right accessories (tripod) the footage can be decent.
What is the preferred frame rate to film in 30 or 24 FPS?
According to Mr Spota 24 FPS. I shoot at 24 FPS for more of a film look unless I’m filming aerial footage where I’ll film at 60fps on my Gopro for buttery smooth slow motion
Should I include sound with my footage?
According to Mr Spota I recall usually contributors don’t unless there is a specific reason to. I prefer to exclude all sound. It makes the process for efficient as I can exclude sound from clips in a batch in Final Cut Pro X. It also creates smaller files, which means faster transfers. Finally I’ve actually had video clips rejected because they have sound so I prefer not to include sound unless there is a good reason to do so.
Should I use spreadsheets (CSV files) with uploading my video files?
Personally if you are going to pursue stock footage seriously and have a batch of 20 or more video files it is worth doing a CSV file.
It was actually a bit of a pain to figure out the process to use the CSV’s and actually get your clips approved for Pond5 or Shutterstock. If you are interested in CSV template files that I use regularly you can subscribe to the newsletter for a link to some CSV files you can use.
What are the rules / permission / permits needed to film a crowd eg. office, shopping centres & clubs?
At nightclubs some will not let you bring in a camera to begin with. Some are more lenient about it. If you are going to film any closeup’s you’ll need a model release. You can also blur out the face after the fact. I’ve found a a good add-on for Final Cut Pro x for this.
One way to work around this is you can partner with groups like internations.org and meetup.com that book out venues (lounges/bars) for events for the night. Get permission from the attendees and you can shoot footage there.
– Inside office you’ll definitely need permission usually from Public relations team or the Head Manager of the specific department
– Indoor Malls – security guards usually quite excited when I’ve brought out a tripod. It’s up to you if you want to get advance permission. It’s different if you’re going to be shooting in a specific store in the mall.
Do you have a model release form example, do you need one?
Here is a link to a model release form and a property release form from Shutterstock.
What about landmarks, do you need some kind of permits for those?
To be honest stock footage (video) is still a young field and the truth is you can get away with a lot without releases unless you’re shooting an close of someone or shooting on private property
– I don’t usually ask for a release for landmarks and I’ve shot all over the world. Until the stock footage sites stop accepting these clips and if the landmark owners aren’t making noise then seeking out releases is not the best use of your time. I’ve asked for film permits before and it’s a cumbersome process and sometimes you’re required to pay for a film permit. You would have to educate them on what you’re doing and convince them that it’s not a big hollywood production, which they will probably think when you mention the word “film”. For the film permit you may end up in a position where you’re paying $100-400 US for a permit with no guarantee of selling the clips. It requires a bit of common sense as well. If it is a Unesco World Heritage site and requires a paid ticket then it might be a good idea to arrange permission with the venue before shooting.
Is there a certain export criteria that these videos need to be to upload and submit?
compression? dimension? frame rate? format?
It varies with every site. Check the submission guidelines on the site that you choose for their specific guidelines.
I shoot at 1920 X 1080 24 fps NTSC H 2.64 compression most of the time and as long as the finished clips are between 10 second and under a minute with no noise you should be fine on sites like Shutterstock and Pond 5.
Here are the guidelines from shutterstock
Footage must be at least 480 pixels in height with an aspect ratio of at least 4:3. We are asking that film clips try and abide by the NTSC standard of 29.97fps (frames per second) with a time limit no longer than 60 seconds. Film clips that are uploaded with the PAL standard of 25fps are also fine.
Footage must NOT contain any sound bites not produced by the footage producer without a property release from the audio creator.
Footage should be correctly exposed and in-focus. Audio should be seamless.
Footage submitted should be digital only and we will try to accommodate any file type, including DV, Windows Media, and QuickTime.
Submitters should NOT submit any footage shot with a digital point and shoot camera.
Any one batch should contain no more than 20 clips.
Keep in mind that using a tripod increases the chance that the clip will be accepted.
How do I price my footage?
Certain sites like Pond 5 let you price your own video clips. How much do you charge for a video clip is a popular question I hear a lot. Well for a standard video clip shot in HD about 10-20 seconds long I believe $60 US is my current rule of thumb. If the video clips requires more work like using a dolly or hiking up a mountain to get a shot I’ll charge $65-70 US. Robb Crocker, the stock footage millionaire recently said on his webinar that he doesn’t charge any less than $79US. Other factors that determine the price are how how unique is your clips? If you search for this clip on Pond 5 are you likely to find similar clip. If yes then you have to put yourself in the shoes of the customer and price your video clip based on your competitors.