Stock footage are so commonly used we do not notice them. From news to commercials, films to television programmes, they are used everywhere in the media. Since its usage in the early twentieth century, one primary force drives its prevalence — cost effectiveness.
While this simple economic rationale continues to fuel the stock footage industry today, technology has changed its nature in terms of licensing, distribution, pricing, source and usage.

Here are five changes you should know:

1. You can use stock footage for perpetuity.

Technological advancement enables good quality reproductions of copyrighted works, and this has led to the exploration for more flexible, user-friendly forms of content licensing.
While much of archival footage are licensed as rights-managed works, stock footage can now also be bought under the royalty-free license.

The main difference between the two forms of licensing are:
1) Duration of use: Rights-managed footage are licensed for a limited amount of time; Royalty-free footage can be used for perpetuity.
2) Cost: Rights-managed footage are charged based upon various usage considerations, such as the purpose of production, the size of its audience and the duration of usage; Royalty-free footage are charged based upon the format required.

2. You can download stock footage instantly.

The advent of technology has not only enabled footage to be stored in digital format, but also created file-downsizing softwares and connected the world via high broadband speed, setting the necessary framework to buy and download stock footage online.

3. You can buy stock footage more cheaply than before.

Buying rights-managed footage are generally considered to be a cheaper and more convenient option, as compared to hiring a crew and cast to obtain the required shots.
However, royalty-free stock footage are based on an even more competitive pricing business model, making them viable options for cost-constrained projects.

4. You can make a living out of stock footage.

Traditionally, they are sourced from recycled content of previously produced works (usually news or film). Today, there are professional stock footage creators who make their living out of creating and selling stock footage.

5. You can act with dead people in your new movie.

With technological advancement, stock footage are no longer just used as establishing shots or cutaways. They can now be creatively manipulated for more interactive usage.
In the movie Forrest Gump (1994), Tom Hanks’ character Forrest meets several historical figures. Here is a video clip of Forrest Gump meeting John Lennon at The Dick Cavett Show. In the original interview, Yoko Ono was sitting beside John Lennon.