Stock footage can be an incredibly lucrative business venture. Television networks, films, and sometimes just corporate videos will pay big bucks for good stock footage that can be used to fill gaps in their production. Oftentimes, it will cost less to pay for the stock footage than for a production company to go have a full production day for footage that may only be used briefly, even though you may be charging a hefty fee. Now there is a growing networking of online retailers that will allow you to sell your footage for royalty fees, and many production companies are using the microstock format exclusively to sell their stock footage. Though it may seem that many of these companies have the facilities and talents to out produce you as an individual, you may have just enough equipment and experience to create stock footage that can really sell. Here are some tips for filming your own stock footage.
Your Unique Position
The most important thing to remember when you are filming stock is that you need to focus in on what you can do that is going to be different than other companies. Professional production companies will often have the ability to go for large crews and cast, and you may not be able to afford that. Instead, focus in on your environment and unique talents. For example, you may want to focus on shots of the specific urban or country area that you live in. If someone is looking specifically for shots of that area then you will be in a unique position to sell your footage. If you are involved in any kind of sports, conventionally team focused or more alternative sports, these will also be great options. The most important feature here is to find things that will not be incredibly difficult for you but may be for another producer.
Image quality is going to be incredibly important as people want to buy stock footage that was fully produced with professional broadcast quality camera equipment. Sound is usually not going to be as important, but include it if it is going to be incredibly important to the footage. You are going to need to be in HD at the very least, but you may be able to get away with very high-end still cameras that produce video images. The RED is often used for stock footage sale because of its high image quality, as well as more portable HD cameras.
Time Laps and Special Positioning
As was mentioned above, your individual location will often be in demand at some point. You may want to begin shooting still or slightly moving images of your city or area to see what you can get. Time lapse videos of cities are often good sellers for showing a specific location or urban life in general. Time lapse is also going to be great in the country to highlight certain aspects of nature.
This may not be a tip for filming your own stock footage, but the post-production is going to be important. The quality of the images themselves, meaning the very color and material of the image, is going to be more important than when filming for your own project. Make sure that all stock footage is properly color corrected and exported in appropriate codec, usually the highest quality possible. You can also feel free to stylize the image more than you would in a more practical context, which means playing with the colors and adding effects in programs like After Effects. The basic idea is to make the images look incredible so they will fit appropriately in high end projects.
This post is part of the series: Stock Footage
Here are a series of articles that deal with the production, edit, and sale of stock footage.