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How you can use stock footage in your project

A number of recent projects have required us to use stock footage or royalty free music. These are effectively “off the shelf” media clips that can bought or licensed to be used in different projects and as more of our clients are needing them I thought I would write a short blog exploring their different types and uses.

Why use stock footage? 

When possible we will always try to produce original footage, effects and music for every single project we work on. This makes every project unique and perfectly tailored to our clients needs. However, there are a number of reasons why a project might require the use of pre-existing assets. Firstly, (and probably most obviously) is when the project needs to show an historic event. One project that we just completed was a short video charting the development of a global company from it’s inception in the 1940s up to present day. One of the ways we did this was to include footage from each era – for example the sixties included footage of The Beatles waving at people from aeroplane steps. Clearly in this situation we had no alternative but to buy the footage to use.

Another reason could simply be down to cost. We work with a number of international companies whose headquarters are in England but have offices or factories all over the world. If a company wanted to show off that it has a global presence by including footage of Paris, New York & Sydney for example it is likely that it would be far cheaper for us to buy footage of these places rather than send us on a round world trip (more’s the pity).

What kind of assets are available?

Pretty much anything you want. From video clips to special effects and background music or sound effects there are millions of assets available to purchase. A lot of them are created by amateurs or other production companies as a way to make money on the side but you can also purchase from the archives of the BBC, Pathe and many more massive corporations.

How much does it cost?

There are really two different types of pricing: royalty free & licensed. Royalty free is generally cheaper as you pay a one off fee to effectively own the asset and use it as you see fit. Price wise you’ll be looking at between a couple of pounds for a simple sound effect to £100 for a long HD video clip.

Licensed assets are somewhat more complicated. This is when the company who own the asset agree to license it to you for one specific use. You have to clearly define what the asset is for (corporate, promotional, web, TV etc), how long you need it for (normally minimum is 6 months), what format you need it in and how many people are going to see it. Based on these criteria the company will let you know how much it will cost. This is mainly for when you want to use something famous such as a pop track or image of a celebrity.

There is a third category which is when the license on a particular asset has expired and you can use it for free. This is commonly the case with pieces of classical music or literature but famously was the case for the 1967 George A. Romero film ‘Night of the Living Dead’. The production company didn’t re-new the copyright on the film leading to loads of different versions of the DVD being created and sold.


Hopefully this has given some insight into the use of stock media assets and how they can benefit you in different projects. For more information on this or any of the services Echo Video offer please get in touch with Will or Andy on 01273 911345.

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