Stock Films: Everything Your Business Needs To Know And How You Can Benefit

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  • Nick Twigg

It’s no secret that online video has become the most popular choice for content consumption by consumers. In 2020, 96% of consumers increased their video consumption and 9 out of 10 viewers said they wanted to see more online videos from the brands and businesses they follow on social media (Statista).


The challenge for brands to fulfil this consumer demand is that bespoke video production is typically expensive, time-consuming and takes on average 2-6 weeks to receive your finished video project. Stock film is a great alternative to bespoke video, and is typically low-cost, fast-turnaround and accessible to most companies. We took some time with our Creative Director, Sebastian Green, and asked him to give us a run-down on stock film. Over to you, Seb.

If you don’t know what a stock film is, it’s simply a film made entirely of existing live-action or animated footage, which means you don’t have to shoot any original film to make your content. This approach to video production allows producers (and budgets) to hop over the challenge of casting, location scouting, costume styling, crewing, animating and schedules and go straight into post-production.


Here at Ideal Insight, we often work with clients that need video content to promote their product, service or brand, but they don’t have any visual assets. We were recently approached by Global Media & Entertainment, a leading outdoor media company in the UK and Europe. Global needed a brand film to launch their latest offering, DAX, an advertising service to target audiences via radio music streaming and podcasts. We were provided with a one-paragraph brief from Global, and with the use of stock, imagination and experience, here’s what we were able to produce:

Stock footage has been accessible to video production companies since the eighties. Back then it was mostly referred to as ‘library footage’ and the nature of this footage would be quite spectacular; offering visuals of extreme sports, lunar landings or the lions of the Serengeti. Today, there are more than fifteen mainstream websites providing huge archives of videos, stills and animation templates to the creative industry. 


Now the abundance of footage available can be as mundane as an old lady sitting curiously in an armchair, or it can be as fantastical as space soldiers fighting aliens on a distant planet! Either way, if you are making an advert for your business there will be more than enough content to choose from in order to tell the right story and deliver your message to your audience. 


So where do these assets come from? 


In a nutshell, independent contributors film scenes they think will sell on stock sites, they upload their content to a stock supplier, waiting for a production company to take the bait. Then every time the shot is used in production the contributor receives royalties.


‘Stockmatographers’ (this is my weak attempt to coin a new term) describe a filmmaker that producers work with the only intention of selling it as stock footage. Both ‘Stockmatographers’ and the sites distributing this footage have massively stepped up their game in the last five years. Shooting on high spec cinema kits and using serious talent on screen, we are now seeing more content being produced solely with stock footage and library music.


Just a few months before the world experienced Covid-19, our team was asked to create a film for the opening of World Summit AI, the World’s leading and internationally renowned AI Super Summit, with over ten thousand people in attendance across two days in Amsterdam.


The brief was to create a short film that would celebrate, question and leave people intrigued about the recent developments in AI technology. My team set out to create film using just stock footage, the creative was developed around this and two days later the client received the finished cut. The client was thrilled with the result. Twenty four hours after that, our film was being played to thousands of people on huge screens in Amsterdam:

Although creating a film with stock footage has many advantages for a low budget, quick turnaround project, just like any project, it will still require a great idea at the heart of it. You will also need a creative at the helm who knows how to find the relevant assets that will create a consistent ‘look’ for the film. 


I see far too many commercials or promo films that have been slapped together with a mashup of different camera formats, colour grades and production values with no attempt to create a consistent style. This crude approach distracts from the message of the ad and results in a very obvious visual mashup – this doesn’t sit well with viewers who are being exposed to more online video every day and can now identify the cheap stock film.

At Ideal Insight, we are constantly making stock films for clients for a variety of purposes- from promotional films, pitch films, internal video, training films and much more! We’ll take your key message, and utilise high-quality stock footage to create an engaging stock film to inspire and engage your audience.

Get in touch now, and one of our creative experts will come back to you with a quote within 2 working hours:

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