How to Use Stock Footage More Effectively in Your Projects

The demand for video content has grown dramatically in the 21st century, and more and more people have the opportunity to turn filmmaking into a profitable profession or a satisfying hobby. In addition to the process of putting videos together, many creators are also putting available footage online for others to use.

If you feel like your video projects need a little extra cost, then using other people’s content can help you perfect the projects. However, you must consider a number of factors in order to use stock footage correctly.

Keep reading to learn more about how you can maximize the effect of your video footage.

Using stock footage has some pros and cons, and you need to consider when is the best time to use stock footage in your video projects. Here are three situations where it makes sense to do so.

You can certainly build a YouTube channel or create excellent client projects with simple mind-blowing videos. However, using B-roll can add depth to your content and keep things interesting for viewers.

While getting a B-roll for your video is a good idea, doing so is often time-consuming. If you have a busy schedule and feel like you can’t get any or you’ve got some but still haven’t had enough, using pre-made footage can help you fill in the gaps.


If you’ve had a bad day and your footage is overexposed or shaky, you can also use stock footage as an option for review.

When your camera functionality is limited

Even basic video cameras have great image quality, but you can’t do everything with them. In some cases, you may want to capture an otherwise impossible angle without putting yourself at risk — like the view you’re in from above.

In other cases, you may not have the right lens to take a particular photo. The available footage can help if you don’t want to buy a new drone or lens.

When you can’t travel

If your video revolves around a particular place, you could ideally go there and shoot the scene yourself. But if you’re discussing something that happened in the past, you probably didn’t take any pictures while there. Similarly, you may not be able to travel for a variety of reasons.

If you can’t go to a particular location to shoot a video, you can always use the available footage to help you better tell your story. You may need to search a little harder for more obscure places to find exactly the video you want.

You might think that using pre-existing footage is as easy as going to a website and downloading the video you want, but you need to consider a few factors.

You may not take any available video and use it however you see fit; In many cases, you will need to pay for the footage that you use. Before you use anything, check the website’s terms and conditions, as well as the type of license to use on the video (see our article on Creative Commons and non-commercial use to find understand more).

If you plan on using the stock footage often, paying for a subscription on a site like iStock or Artlist might be worth it. But if you’re looking for a one-off video or don’t have a big budget, you can find many websites with free videos to use.

File type

Once you’ve found a pre-made video that you think will be a good fit for your project, you’ll need to make sure it’s the right file type. Otherwise, you’ll be wasting a lot of time, and you’re probably better off capturing the content yourself.

Try to find the file in MP4 format. That way, you won’t have to convert anything — and you’ll know for sure it will work with your project.

How the footage fits your story

While we recommend using B-roll in your video projects, you should also be careful. Using random footage that has nothing to do with your story will look disjointed and viewers may doubt your credibility.

Instead of using every available video you can find, review your original video and think about how stock footage will fit into the overall story. Consider the general mood and theme of your project.

Now that we’ve discussed the key factors you should consider when adding stock footage to your video projects, let’s see how you can get the most out of it.

Use a variety

If you want to successfully use stock footage, we recommend diversifying everything in your projects. For example, you can use different types of footage, such as overhead footage and content shot from the ground.

You can also change the actual content in your photo. If a video shows a person typing on a computer indoors, you might want to take another person for a walk outside.

Don’t abuse it

You have to strike a balance between the original footage and the footage in your project. Too many videos available can distract viewers and prevent them from absorbing the message you intend to convey.

Use stock footage in moderation and review the entire video after editing. If you’ve gone too far, don’t hesitate to remove a few photos.

Edit them to your style

Pre-made footage is a great addition to your video projects, but you have to make sure that the videos you put together match the original content you shot. If the colors look different, you will have inconsistent end results.

Many footage hosting sites allow you to edit the videos you download from them. Therefore, you should spend a little time editing the content according to your style. That way, everything will fit and have better alignment.

Ready-made footage is a great way to make your video projects stand out. When done properly, content of this kind can strengthen the story you’re trying to tell and ease your production workload.

Before using stock footage, however, you need to consider copyright, file type, and how the content will fit into your project.

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