Over the years, stock footage has been a convenient resource for video producers everywhere because of their immediate download ability and cost saving advantages. Commonly seen in movies (Forrest Gump), television shows (The Incredible hulk TV series), and documentaries (war documentaries); stock footage adds a whole new world to video productions. For those who haven’t explored the world of this wonderful resource, use this guide as a rule of thumb when venturing into using stock footage for your video productions.

What Is Stock Footage?

Stock footage is basically video footage that has no story, just generic footage created for those involved in the creation of video or film projects. It can either be footage taken during a previous video shoot that was not used, or made specifically for use as stock footage. Some examples of stock footage include timelapses, nature, people, cities, war and slow motion shots. As you start on your purchase of stock footage, there are some tips to consider.

Important Tips To Note When Purchasing Stock Footage

Know Your Budget

The first thing you need to know is your budget. Prices of stock footage are dependent on the type of license placed on them, and can range from one dollar to hundreds of dollars. Be careful to read the licensing agreement and all other usage stipulations to make sure you don’t incur any extra costs that will cause you to spend more than you budgeted.

Content Licensing

When dealing with stock footage, there are various licensing plans you will face, namely Rights Managed, Royalty-Free and Editorial Use.

Rights Managed

Stock footage with the Rights Managed licensing plan are very closely managed by the content owner. This means that the owner reserves all rights to the clip even when it is purchased. These clips are sold on an individual basis, and prices are based on various factors like the purpose of production, duration of usage, and intended use of the content. While expensive, the advantages of using Rights Managed footage is not only the top of the line quality but also the exclusivity of usage. This exclusivity will come in handy when you find that your competitors are working on similar projects and you don’t want them using the same footage in their projects.

Royalty Free

The more user-friendly and generally cheaper alternative to Rights Managed, Royalty Free footage are charged on a one time basis based on the format required, and buyers can use it for multiple times for multiple purposes without needing to pay royalties. While Royalty Free footage is cheaper, the lower cost doesn’t equate to lower quality. As a matter of fact, much of Royalty Free content is of HD quality, just that there are also other formats and video quality available. This means that even for a low price, you will still have access to world class content.


Similar to Rights Managed, Editorial-Use only footage are limited to only being used as part of a documentary, news or editorial pieces; and costs for these clips are usually lesser than those with Rights Managed or Royalty-Free licensing. Besides the strict restrictions placed on the usage, such as the limitations on size, placement and duration of use; there may also be a limitation on the amount of editing that can be done to the clip during post production.

Quality Control

It is important to keep in mind the quality of your current footage compared to the quality of stock footage you intend to purchase. If your video only requires SD (standard definition) footage, there is no need for you to spend unnecessary money on HD (high definition) footage. Likewise, if your video requires HD footage, then buy only HD footage. Therefore, preview all stock footage you intend to buy before purchasing it. Remember, always buy footage that fits your project’s format specifications to save yourself a headache.

Modification Of Footage

There are some stock footage websites that place restrictions on the type and extent of modifications you can make to the original footage. This is most commonly seen for footage with the editorial-use only licensing. Therefore, always carefully read and follow the guidelines placed on such footage to avoid any legal troubles.

Legal Guarantee for You

Stock footage websites will generally include a free legal guarantee that will protect you from any legal action that may arise from using the footage you purchase (provided you follow the terms of your licensing agreement). Do check for this term with your selected stock footage library.

Make Stock Footage Work For You

While stock footage may not need to be used in all of your video production projects, knowing what’s out there, where and how to find it, and what it’s going to cost will be nothing short of beneficial for you. So when you find yourself having free time, use it to explore stock footage marketplaces and make notes for future references.

Stock footage is there to make your life and video production easier, so go ahead and use it. Don’t feel bad that you’re using someone else’s footage. Anything that can enhance your video into a work of art that will leave a lasting impression on your audience is worth it. Whether it be stock footage or your own creation, it’s the final result that counts. So don’t be afraid to make use of all the quality work available for you.

Buying Stock footage from MotionElements

MotionElements offers over 100,000 royalty-free stock animation, stock video clips, 3D models and After Effects templates across many categories. Simply select the clips you want by adding them to your cart where you then log in to your account and checkout by paying via credit card or Paypal payments. After the transaction is successful, the download link to your selected clips will be sent to your email address you provided at the payment transaction and your clip will be instantly available for download.