View Full Version : Interested in shooting Stock footage?
May 11th, 2011, 12:14 PM
Hello everyone. If you have interest in shooting stock footage, curious about its creation and use, wondered "Isn't it just sunsets, clouds and people doing stuff?" or perhaps you already shoot stock and are looking for advice to create a stronger portfolio I hope I can answer any and all questions you may have. This thread will be informative, thought-provoking and fun. It is my hope you will find, through my over 4 years experience at iStockphoto, and exposure to over 300,000 royalty-free video files, an important and inspiring resource.
May 11th, 2011, 01:58 PM
Welcome Lon! Thank you for this.
I've been toying with the idea of shooting stock for a year or so now, but I've never fully committed to pursuing it. It's daunting when I see the quality of the video on istockphoto! :)
May 11th, 2011, 08:46 PM
Welcome to Dvinfo Lon!
I live in India. What kinds of stock footage could I produce that is unique to my country and has global appeal (or at least appeal to istockphoto)?
May 11th, 2011, 08:59 PM
Lon, let me add my voice to those welcoming you here.
For those of us who have considered doing this, some general guidelines would be extremely helpful, such as:
1. What content types tend to sell best?
2. What formats tends to sell best (or do you require one and only one specific video format)?
3. What durations tend to sell best?
4. What needs do you/your clients have that aren't being sufficiently met?
Look forward to learning more.
May 12th, 2011, 12:40 AM
We set up a company 25 years ago STOCKLIBRARY. If we have a job in somewhere of interest we budget another day or so just to do the key stock images.
In our experience, what will sell is a variation on the cliche images. establishers / time lapse - the image that says where you are, what this is all about in just a couple of shots. Aerials always in demand. Most corporate budgets will not allow for expensive aerials, however if you go up for an hour over your city, landscape, seascape on the right day you will sell that a dozen times.
One other strong demand is for "key backgrounds' locked off shot that might run 10 minutes that can be
used in interviews etc. Looping does not do it for most producers - give them a long continuous background
also consider doing the same establisher at different times of day / season.
We were with one of the big three Image libraries but now go it alone with the people we know.
Another aspect of filming stock footage is that you can "value add ' your own work by dropping a few winners into a corporate or video clip that can make it look like you spent on travel to exotic places for the job.
Clients love that global reference Steve Bowman
May 12th, 2011, 10:36 AM
Thank you for welcoming me everyone.
Corey, the quality of the collection can be intimidating its true. I would add however the iStock community is a very supportive resource for advice, help and inspiration. The best advice for those starting out is familiarize yourself with our collection, understand your own comfort zone and then find a niche you can work in. The strength of the iStockvideo collection has been the consistent evolution of ideas and concepts and our philosophy of inspiring contributors towards creating content with a distinct and personal style. Those contributors who continually challenge themselves achieve the greatest level of success.
Sareesh, The tendency can be to shoot travelogue footage however India is obviously more than just the Taj Mahal, street markets and vendors. I would engage the people, lifestyle and experience of your world. Scriptwriting guru Robert McKee advises honest local stories will always have global appeal. We like to think of stock footage as short 30 second stories. You have access to The Indie Farm community of filmmakers. That is where you should start with conceptualizing ideas and content.
Adam, It is difficult to nail down the most popular genre or subject but well thought out and executed footage with an opportunity for a wide appeal sells the best. Much like the note to Corey above, a strong sense of personal aesthetic is a valuable tool. Overwhelmingly the contributors to the iStock site are providing progressive PHOTO JPEG content between 5 and 30 seconds in duration. Content will dictate the duration however and as our content is incredibly diverse it would difficult to say how long the best selling files are. I will say however footage should have a beginning, middle and end. Buyers will have an expectation of action and completion. If you set up a scenario or action, best allow for sufficient time to progress to its logical conclusion... or a pleasant surprise.
Rick L. Allen
May 12th, 2011, 02:11 PM
Word to the wise...
Any stock provider should look carefully at the "actual" revenue that iStockphoto and others offer. After all your hard work, investment in skills, training, equipment and time uploading, iStockphoto only pays you 2-3 dollars per clip or image. They traffic on the "hope" that you think you will have an image(s) or video clip that makes you bundles of money. 99.9% of content providers will never have that luck. iStockphoto and their like make their money by selling thousands of different images and clips. It's a volume business for them. On the other hand you will be hard pressed to make enough money to pay for you time uploading much less any money (or profit) from the clip or image.
As someone who's been in the stock footage business for over 15 years I can tell you that the average buyer only orders about 10 sec. of footage and/or one image. I can also guarantee you that by not using iStockphoto I earn more significantly more per second and per image than the paltry couple of dollars offered by iStockphoto.
May 12th, 2011, 02:43 PM
I, too, have heard those caveats about the financial implications of contributing to iStockphoto in the hopes of massive remuneration. However, I think it's great that they are supporters of DVInfo and for that reason alone I would seriously consider them.
I am, however, a bit puzzled by some of Lon's info above. Much of it sounds distressingly like an 80s self-help book. "Understand your own comfort zone" is maybe a little too Deepak Chopra for me. "Well thought out and executed footage with an opportunity for a wide appeal" seems obvious -- does anybody plan to sell poorly thought out and poorly executed footage with narrow appeal? My questions were about exactly what wide appeal is based on past sales, figures which should be at their fingertips. (Isn't iStockphoto nothing more than a database? And isn't the only real purpose of a database to be able to look at data fields and say, okay, seven out of our top ten sellers are trees?) All I want to know is should I shoot skyscrapers or waterfalls? Beach scenes or forests? Thirty seconds or 30 minutes? 60i or 30p?
And I'm really puzzled by this notion that stock footage of 5 to 30 seconds should have a beginning, middle and end. It seems to me this is exactly the opposite of what stock footage is. I always took stock footage to be something that sets the scene, not is the scene. It should be inherently neutral, capable of being dropped into any situation, used to set a mood or location or time and not tell a story in and of itself.
But obviously I have a lot to learn about this. Not trying to diss a sponsor here, but I want to learn more because the idea appeals to me. Anything to get out of the house....
May 12th, 2011, 04:44 PM
I have sold stock footage for three years. I currently have over 4,000 clips online. I investigated the Stock Footage Business for a whole year before I started. I was told four years ago by people who had tens of thousands of clips online to expect sales of $1 per clip per year. For the past three years I have earned just that. My royalties have bought three new cameras, three new computers, Sony Video Pro software, and a few other goodies. Essentially, it has paid for my hobby.
But, nothing toward my time.
I choose the stock footage route because of my disabling condition, and the fact I live on a isolated Island with fewer than ten thousand people. Doing weddings, or selling DVD's was out of the question. For me selling stock footage was a good option. The big advantage for me is that those 4,000 clips, and the others I submit will continue to pay royalties for years to come. Offering some kind of income into the future. When I am gone, My plan is for those royalty checks continue to come in to my wife.
All my footage was HDV. 60i, 24p and 30p. I am now shooting Canon EOS footage. All of the formats seem to sell equality as well. As for finding a stock footage house, locate one where you can find a niche. Mine is Southeast Alaska footage. I would stay away from the big stock footage houses, or you're work will just become lost in vast cyberspace with a half million other video clips.
Important: Be sure to keep the rights to your footage, and the option to sell that footage on your own web site.
The money in Stock Footage is not being made by the cinematographers submitting clips. It's being made by the Stock Footage Houses.
May 12th, 2011, 09:29 PM
Thank you for welcoming me everyone.
Sareesh, The tendency can be to shoot travelogue footage however India is obviously more than just the Taj Mahal, street markets and vendors. I would engage the people, lifestyle and experience of your world. Scriptwriting guru Robert McKee advises honest local stories will always have global appeal. We like to think of stock footage as short 30 second stories.
Thank you for the quick reply. When you say 30 seconds, does that include sound and dialog? How would one typically overcome the language barrier? Or should it be in English?
May 13th, 2011, 10:24 AM
Rick: I do agree it is wise to look carefully at "actual" revenue models. At iStock a contributors royalty on an HD 1080 download can be as high as $80 per download and keep in mind files can and are downloaded hundreds and in some cases thousands of times. We traffic in working with our contributors to develop strong and diverse portfolios which has proven to be a successful business model, not only for us but also for our contributors. It is a volume business for us, which is one of the basic tenets of the micro-stock industry which we started in 2000. It is also a volume business for our contributors as well resulting in significant 5 and 6 figure incomes. A file is downloaded every second of every day from the iStock site resulting in millions of dollars paid out every month to our content providers. The Phantom and RED cameras, fully outfitted DSLRs utilized by our contributors didn't pay for themselves. Success on the site, or in the royalty-free industry in general, is not easy and at no time does iStock misinform those interested in becoming a stock shooter that it is. It takes hard work and dedication, constant effort to raise your own bar. It is our experience those who do reap significant results.
Adam: Unfortunately the iStock video inspectors see quite a bit of "poorly thought out and executed footage" which is why only 60% of files uploaded for inspection make it into the footage collection. It may seem obvious but it has to be stated. Understanding you comfort zone I suppose would be better stated "Go with what ya know". What are your strengths as a video producer or CG artist, what resources do you have access to, what camera(s) do you have access to? What to shoot? Well there are over 350,000 footage files in our collection, so if the question is "should I shoot skyscrapers or waterfalls? Beach scenes or forests?". The short answer is none of them 'cause we got lots. However are you inside the skyscraper shooting a busy office, is a kayak going over the falls, is a family enjoying a holiday on the beach, is a steady-cam walking through a scary forest? We do have content that is inherently neutral, time-lapse clouds and pedestrians feet, sunsets and flowers and rivers. We also have footage of espionage, superheroes and spies, lovemaking and strife, zombies, fantasies, armageddon and CG space ships.
Beginning, middle and end? Well every single instance of recorded moving images, in the simplest of terms, has the same structure. It starts, something happens and then it ends. Take the time and discipline to make a conscious decision of when it will begin. Hold off on the record or render button until you have diligently explored the visual realm you have uncovered or created. Have you taken the time to understand its visual impact? Have you challenged your design skills? Do you see the stamp of your visual style? If you have taken the time to think and compose and challenge you can move forward with confidence. You can afford the time to allow this world to reveal itself because you have provided for so much to be seen. You have developed interest. Even in the simplest of scenarios there will be movement, emotion, emphasis and even a little story that can be allowed to play itself out to its logical conclusion.
Also for Adam and Sareesh: At present our site only accepts file from 5-30 seconds in duration with FPS ranging from 23.98, 24, 25, 29.97 and 30. Generally our contributors do not include a dialogue track or soundtrack. If for example you are shooting a customer service representative, it is not necessary to hear the words she/he is saying. This lack of audio has not hampered very strong sales within that genre. The model/property releases standards and copyright/trademark restrictions are pretty detailed so it is best to visit the site for more information on the standards we, as a royalty-free, must work with.
And for David: All of our contributors maintain copyright of their work. The inspectors also do their very best to protect the contributors ideas and concepts by preventing copycats and plagiarists from trying to benefit from their originality. Our contributors inspire each other but we draw the line on intellectual theft.
And for everyone else a couple of lightboxes for your viewing pleasure!
Stock Photography: Search Royalty Free Images & Photos | Lightbox: Caper in Berlin | iStockphoto.com (http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/9614412#125f9f13)
Stock Photography: Search Royalty Free Images & Photos | Lightbox | iStockphoto.com (http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/8515930#1ccd9879)
Stock Photography: Search Royalty Free Images & Photos | Lightbox: iStockcinema | iStockphoto.com (http://www.istockphoto.com/search/lightbox/2022043#b1a495d)
May 13th, 2011, 09:31 PM
Thanks Lon...great links.