Creating and Selling Stock Footage

Creating and Selling Stock Footage

An under-appreciated and possibly lucrative channel of opportunity for many aspiring video producers – and one that just work for you – is creating and selling stock footage. Stock footage is everywhere – if you have a discerning eye you stand a good chance of seeing it when you’re watching TV, movies, commercials, and other film and video productions.

What Exactly is Stock Footage, and Who Uses It?

Imagine a video producer in a city like Seattle producing a video that’s set in New York City. Her production will be much more authentic with the addition of establishing shots of iconic NYC images, like the city skyline, the Statue of Liberty, Times Square, and so on. But expense and time precludes her from flying a crew all the way across the country to get these shots. That’s where stock footage comes in.

Established stock footage companies collect footage of locations, scenes, and action that they can sell to TV, film, and video producers who don’t have the time, resources, or locations to easily and inexpensively produce the footage they want in their own location or in their own studio.

Who Sells Stock Footage?

As mentioned above, there are a variety of companies that trade in selling stock footage to video producers. A quick internet search will bring up plenty of leads in this fast-growing business. Virtually all of these companies have contact and registration portals set up online that let you register with the company – often for free.

Once you’ve got your eyes on a few different companies start checking the details. Find out what file formats are acceptable to them, and then see if they’re looking for any particular type of footage. Many stock footage providers also are looking for clips of particular lengths as well. Don’t be surprised if they ask you for a demo reel or sample footage – after all, the footage they’re selling reflects on them, and they’ll want to ensure that the content you provide meets their standards. Don’t look at this an obstacle – if they’re looking for particular type of footage it’ll be a great opportunity for you to hone your skills and expand your video portfolio.

What Stock Footage Sells?

Stock footage material can run the gamut, from iconic landmarks to generic shots of the natural world. When you’re considering what kind of videos stock footage companies are going to want – and which will sell best for you – take some time to consider what may be in demand and what unique or unusual video presentations you can create. And without a doubt, capturing people engaged in contemporary outdoor activities is always in demand, due to the changing nature of fashions and recreational activities.

If your area is blessed with unique natural settings, take advantage of them. After all, remember that the people who buy stock footage are looking for video clips of places they can’t shoot themselves. Keeping this in mind, take the time to shoot the assets around you in unique and different ways. For example, footage of hikers walking down a trail is good. Footage of hikers walking down a trail taken from above, or at very low angles, will give you even more options. Your potential clients may want the odd angle, or realize they can edit together your footage to create a more compelling presentation.

Another example – imagine you’re shooting footage of an outdoor café. Don’t just settle for the long shot. Get in close to capture the details of the table or some of the interesting architectural details in the vicinity. The more interesting shots you’ve got, the more your footage will stand out.

And don’t forget sports. If you have access to non-descript sporting events, like a golf match, club soccer, tennis, and so forth, you may have a good seller to a video maker who needs establishing shots.

How do I Send Footage to Stock Footage Companies?

Once you’ve made contact with a willing company, you’ll need to work within their parameters to send them footage. Most stock footage companies request a certain number of clips at a time since it’s easier for them to review and post the footage, plus associate search keywords and more, with a group of videos, rather than simply a few at a time.

Most companies will use some type of FTP (file transfer protocol) software or a website designed to handle multiple uploads. Be sure to familiarize yourself with their method once you sign on, so that you can avoid potential hassles later. It’s all part of being professional at what you do!

What’s My Earning Potential?

Most stock footage companies will pay you a percentage of the cost of the video when they sell it. Different companies sell video clips for different amounts – anywhere from a few dollars to several hundred, so your earnings can vary quite a bit depending on the percentage and the selling price. One other factor to consider – some companies pay more if the content producer works exclusively with them. In other words, if you promise not to sell your footage to anyone else, you may get a higher cut of the proceeds of the sale.

But here’s the real beauty of stock footage sales. It’s not a one-time sale. Stock companies sell the same footage to multiple customers and give them the rights to use it as many times as they like. If you’ve got a sharp eye you may have noticed the same clip used in different commercials or TV programs – that’s the power of stock footage at work. And if you’ve created a popular or compelling piece of footage, you may end up making a steady income from it as it is purchased numerous times from different clients.

Consider Stock Footage Sales

If you’re willing to put time in on the front end to create a collection of compelling video clips, selling stock footage could become a valuable part of your video production business. There are no guarantees since you’ll need to shoot the footage first and then wait for sales. But if you’re willing to invest the time and come up compelling and, original footage, it may be the boost your business needs.

– Video Caddy

Selecting and Buying the Right Microphone for Your Videos

Selecting and Buying the Right Microphone for Your Videos

Good lighting? Check. Well-composed and framed shots? Got that. Smooth, tight editing? No problem! Crystal clear sound? Well…

Audio is an important part of any video production, whether you’re shooting a documentary, a commercial, a wedding – the list goes on. Poor sound, muddled dialogue or extraneous noise can ruin what might otherwise be a flawless production. Picking the right microphone for the job at hand is crucial.

But there are a lot of choices available to you – not only in brands but in types of microphones. Which microphone is the best for you? To make the right choice, you need to ask the right questions. Once you answered those, you’ll be able to make an informed and intelligent decision.

What Will You be Using the Microphone For?

Different video productions, styles, and scenes will call for different types of microphones. Let’s look at the three main types of microphones and see how they fit into different parts of a video production.

Lavalier Microphones

A lavalier microphone (sometimes called a lav mic, or a lapel mic) is pretty much the gold standard for capturing dialogue. They’re incredibly useful for capturing voices in interviews like you’d need for television productions, industrial films, documentaries, and so on. Lav mics are small and usually come with a clip so you can easily attach them to a collar or jacket lapel. And if you want them to be even more inconspicuous, you can easily tape one under an actor or subject’s shirt.

One of the big decisions to make when choosing a lavalier microphone is whether you need a wired or wireless model. If your subject will be sitting still and expense is an issue, a wired microphone will serve you well. But a wireless model will provide more versatility and is pretty much a necessity if your subject will be moving around while they’re using the mic.

Shotgun Microphones

You’ve undoubtedly seen shotgun microphones – their distinctive long thin shape is a dead giveaway. Shotgun mics can be a valuable microphone to have for a variety of production situations. They’re highly directional, so just point it at your sound source and you’ll capture it, plus some of the surrounding ambience. That makes them useful for capturing dialogue and the ambience you want included – think two characters talking in a restaurant for example.

But Shotgun microphones really shine in these situations when they’re paired with another microphone, like a lav mic, that captures the dialogue in real detail. A little judicious audio mixing in the editing suite will give you exactly the effect you’re looking for. A boom pole adds real versatility to how you can use a shotgun microphone.

Video Microphones

We’re talking here about microphones built into or connected directly to your camera. Video microphones can be a very useful part of your production process. Since they’re tied directly to camera, they’ll capture perfectly synced scratch-track audio that makes it easy for you or your editor to sync up the video and your final audio mix.

Consider Your Budget and Your Production Needs

Now that you’ve given some thought to the types of mics available and how they can add to your production’s overall quality. Be realistic about what’s right for your production and budget. If you’re scrapping by with limited resources, look carefully at your budget when you start shopping.  And you’ll want to match your equipment to some extent. If you’re getting by with a basic camera, you’re not going to need expensive mics to complement the video you’re shooting.

Thanks to the internet, there is no shortage of shopping options, and more importantly, reviews that you check. When you’ve narrowed your choice of video production microphones down to the ones that match your budget carefully check reviews and keep an eye out for usage that matches what you’re looking to do.

Understand Pickup Patterns

Different microphones hear sounds differently from different directions. When you start to consider what you’re going to be recording for your video, understanding the directional response of your microphone (also known as the polar pattern) will go a long way in helping you get the right microphone.  Here’s a quick rundown of common polar patterns.

Omnidirectional Microphones

As the name suggests, omnidirectional mics capture sound from all directions – a circular pattern surrounding the microphone. That makes them well suited for applications where you want to capture a wide range of the audio landscape around a person or event.

Unidirectional Microphones

Shotgun mics, which we described earlier, are unidirectional microphones. Point the microphone at what you want to record and that’s what it will capture. That makes them useful for recording both dialogue and other audio sources that may be necessary for your production’s audio soundscape.

Cardioid

Most handheld microphones have a cardioid sound capture pattern. They’ll capture what’s in front of them, as well as some other information off to the sides – you can almost think of it as a “heart-shaped” pattern. Cardioid mics are very good for vocals and for miking instruments.

Let’s Sum it Up

So, is there a single best microphone or type of microphone you should use for your video productions? Clearly the answer to that is no. Different microphones have different performance characteristics which make them better suited to some situations than to others.

But whatever type of video you’re producing, it’s important to get the best possible audio quality. Nothing screams “amateur” more than muddled, indistinct dialogue, or poor balance between ambient noise and the main audio subject. Your viewers take clear audio for granted, and they’ll notice right away when they don’t have it.

So consider what you’ll be shooting and match your mic to your requirements. And remember, that it’s often better to have multiple microphones to capture the sound. As a start, invest in a shotgun microphone and a lavalier mic too. And don’t forget to utilize the video microphone, even if it’s just the one built into the camera – it’ll give an invaluable reference for your editing. Remember, with more mics you’ll have more options to work with, and with more options, a better production.

– Video Caddy