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Stock footage can be amazing, but it can also be bad… really bad. So what can you do to make sure you avoid the most cliche and cringe worthy assets out there? 

Let’s start with the basics. What is stock footage? Stock can be found on websites such as Getty, Shutter stock and pond5. They offer videos or pictures to use in your creative projects for a licencing fee. Stock libraries are usually pretty well stocked (pardon the pun) and offer a wide variety of choice in different genres and categories. So how do you choose from this huge variety? 

1. Identify your need 

First you need to figure out what will work in your project. Are you looking for some establishing shots of London? Inspiring clips of nature or something more specific like a doctor in an operating theatre? All of these assets will be available in most libraries. The quality of stock will vary from libraries but also within each library. Try to avoid ‘comedy’ stock where one person is holding a prop in a studio. This is considered poor stock and unless your creative requires this, it may lower the quality of your finished project. 

2. Choose the right stock footage provider

There are lots of stock providers and some are better than others. Getty is seen as one of the leading stock libraries, however, they are also expensive. Shutter stock also provides high quality footage but at a lower price. It is worth mentioning that some libraries offer the exact same stock at different prices, so make sure to compare before buying. 

3. Consistency 

If you are using lots of stock in your video, be aware of how the clips will look together. Most clips will be filmed by different camera ops, in different locations, with different cameras in different lighting so the chances of the shots matching are slim. Some shots can be graded and some shots may even be available in raw, allowing you to match the grade better, but it is important to keep this in mind when searching for shots. 

4. Add you own spin on stock 

The best way to make your stock not look like stock is to alter it to fit your project. Grading is the simplest way to do this but why not add motion graphics and creative edits to make the stock embed in your project more cohesively. 

5.  Check the licence

Not all stock is suitable for your project so be sure to check the licence before purchasing each clip. Some clips may only be available for editorial use only, meaning that it should not be used in any commercial content. All of the details about licencing should be available next to each clip and even be filtered out in your search options if required. 

6. Create your own when possible 

We know this is not always possible, but the best way to make sure your content is fit for purpose is to film it for that exact purpose and the authenticity will always shine through. You also have the bonus of no one else being able to use your footage as it is not available to anyone else. 

7. Bonus: Stock you didn’t realise existed

And as a little bonus there is more to stock than just footage and photos. Did you know that you can also purchase stock 3D assets, vectors and music. Most stock libraries offer vectors and music but for 3D assets, take a look at Turbosquid for inspiration. 

And just for fun take a look at this video created by Kendra Eash using stock footage. If you’re unsure of what makes a cliche stock footage video, this is it. 

If you are considering creating video content with stock, filming or animation, contact Fable Studios. Fable Studios is a Creative-led, boutique video and animation studio who create tailored brand stories that endure in your audience’s mind. We combine your objectives with audience insights and inspired ideas to create unforgettable productions that tell the unique story of your brand. Find out more about us at

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