We’ve seen a huge growth in accessible stock video libraries in recent years, and videographers can now get their hands on tens of thousands of hours of pre-recorded footage to use in various projects.
However, with so much choice on offer, it can be difficult to know where to get started, and how to find the best content. Not only will you need to find the most reputable platforms, but you’ll also need to have a good understanding of licensing to ensure you’re using the footage legally and correctly.
What Is Royalty Free?
Just about anyone with a camera and some basic editing software can become a content creator these days, meaning there are a lot of new videographers out there that might not fully understand what royalty-free means when using stock video.
Royalty-free simply means you can use copyrighted material without having to pay the owner for recurring use. Now, this doesn’t mean you get to use it completely free of charge, and there’ll be an initial fee to pay upfront, but once paid for you can essentially use that content as much as you like for as long as you like.
Accessing High-Resolution Stock Video
Most stock video libraries will understandably have the best content behind a paywall. While some might have a selection of free videos to choose from, you’re more than likely going to have to pay a monthly or annual charge to get top quality and HD royalty-free content. If you don’t like the sound of monthly payments, you can find sites that let you pay a one-off fee for individual HD videos too.
However, if you’re going to be producing a lot of videos, we highly recommend getting signed up for a subscription as most libraries will have thousands of videos to choose from and it’ll definitely work out cheaper in the long run.
In many cases, you’ll have unlimited downloads and access to that stock footage for life, even after you cancel the subscription, as you’ll have already paid for it. We’d always recommend reading the licensing agreement with your chosen platform carefully to make sure this is the case and you’re not falling foul of the law when using footage.
How to Choose a High-Resolution Stock Video Library?
A quick scan of aggregate review sites like Trustpilot is always a good starting point when searching for a good content library, and you’ll get an idea of how reputable the platform is.
Next, you’ll want to check out the stock video library. The best platforms will tell you how many videos you have to choose from, break content down into different categories, give you different resolution options and let you view the full range for free before you purchase.
It’s quite rare to find 4K and ultra HD footage on free platforms, so if you’re looking for the best resolutions you’ll need to try a paid package. Plus, spending the extra cash usually opens up a whole range of other features including special effects videos, exclusive plug-ins, enhanced customer support, and access to online cloud storage options.
It’s always worth comparing these little extras across different platforms to see which one has the best features suited to your projects.
Types of Licensing
Before you take the leap and decide on which stock footage platform you’d like to use, it’s always worth considering other types of licensing and the usage rights around the footage. We’ve already explained how royalty-free licensing works, but you should always check if either of the following licenses will apply to your high-resolution downloads too.
Content usually becomes public domain once copyright has fully expired. Given that this could take decades, the only way you’ll find HD public domain content is if the original creator has decided to release it to the public domain themselves. They can be difficult to find, but some stock video libraries may have some available to you. Check out the free downloads each platform has on offer to see if any are available.
A creative commons license is applied when the original content creator allows you to use their video under certain conditions. This usually means crediting the work every time you use it, or you might not be able to use it commercially and make money from the content yourself.
Most stock video libraries will apply a blanket royalty-free agreement to everything you download under your subscription, but it’s always worth checking exactly what type of license you have before you post your own project.