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Tips for Editing Stock Footage

written by: Shane Burley•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 8/4/2010

Here are some tips for how to edit stock footage that you may have shot for sale.

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    Cutting Stock

    Stock footage that is sold for use in different projects is a very lucrative business. You can find many sources online, such as, where you can purchase high end stock footage to fill the gaps in videos that you may be working on, from corporate videos to commercials. These high end stock footage clips are often prepared and sold by production companies as part of their business strategy, and they usually have to provide these stock clips in a certain fashion so that they will be approved by the outlets that sell the footage and so that people will actually purchase them. Oftentimes, they will be provided for the production company to an online distributor and then video editors will look for clips that will fill their needs, find them, purchase them, and then include them into their video with the rights to do so. To get the video clips ready for stock footage sale you will have to edit them so that they will fit the correct format, so here are a few tips for this stock footage editing.

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    Clip Length

    There are usually requirements from the stock footage distributors for how long those clips must be. Oftentimes these stock footage clips must be between five and twenty seven seconds, though somewhere in the middle is best. A five second clip will not get purchased quite as often as others and a twenty seven second clip is often going to be too long to maintain any interest all the way through.

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    Beginning, Middle, and End

    Oftentimes when stock footage is filmed, it is done so in a long series of the same kind of shots. For example, it may be a child playing with grass in a field. This may happen for fifteen minutes with various angles and perspectives, but you will need five to twenty seven second long clips. It is up to you while you are editing this stock footage to try and find spots that will have a beginning, middle, and end so that it will feel like a complete clip. Even though there are no actual story components you can still find an appropriate start and stop point for the clip depending on what is happening in it. This could be where the child is still, where she begins to toss grass around, and then stops and smiles at the camera. This will constitute the fragment that you can have for your clip. This is not always as necessary when you are doing landscape or urban shots, but it is still good to find a start and stop point that is natural for the type of material it is.

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    Natural Start

    The start and stop points are often built right in to the way that the footage is shot. In many situations the director of photography that shot the stock footage will begin and end certain clips with a rack focus or a pan away, which is the first placed that the video editor cutting up stock footage should look for. These starts and stops are going to do the best when you are looking to sell stock footage as people want to download stock footage that has these photographic techniques.

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    Once you are done editing the stock footage and are ready to sell the stock footage you will want to separate all the selected clips from the rest of the footage and render them out as the highest possible rate you can, mainly because people want to download stock footage that is high end and looks very professional. Go through a regular compression workflow for multiple clips and then get them ready for submission.