5 Stock Footage Shots That Can Save the Day

Published on in Advice / Tips & Tricks

In a perfect world, you have all the time, money, and resources to shoot or source custom video, and all the footage is perfect, exactly what you need. Instead, your world is constrained by tight deadlines, small budgets, technical snafus, and bad planning. Thankfully, stock footage will not only save your bacon, it can enhance your film or video project. Here are five kinds of stock footage shots to the rescue.

Cinematic shots

It’s getting tougher to tell an ad from a film. Canada Goose worked with Paul Haggis on “Out There.” David Fincher has directed for Calvin Klein. And Sofia Coppola directed a series for Gap.

Whether you’re creating a short film, a commercial, or branded content of some other ilk, everything is your competition. Your game needs to be strong.

In the hands of filmmakers and professional shooters, stock footage now is cinematic, stylish, and contemporary. Some of Dissolve’s footage is actually from big-budget movie and television productions. Contributors are filmmakers in their own right. They’ve shot and directed music videos, documentaries, and major brand ads, and their work has earned Vimeo Staff Picks and serious media buzz. Their stock footage is obviously no slouch, strong enough to play in the big leagues.

The Liftoff collection embodies this style and quality. Exclusive to Dissolve, it includes footage from filmmakers’ personal and professional work, originally shot for commercial spots, narrative films, documentaries, and other projects — ready for use in your own projects.

Liftoff – Footage fueled by passion from Dissolve on Vimeo.

The no-time- for-that shots

There are some shots or techniques that pack a big punch, but the work that goes into them is prohibitive. Like timelapse. It’s a perennial internet darling, and with good reason. While physically illustrating a passage of time and movement, it also can also make a more symbolic statement on change, progress, society. Think of the House of Cards opening titles, or check out this recent timelapse of Singapore by Keith Loutit.

But imagine what went into even this short Burning Man hyperlapse clip — the equipment, the time, the skill, the editing. Never mind the dust consumed. Vadim Tereshchenko, the filmmaker behind this clip and a hyperlapse specialist, says, “Sometimes it takes three or four hours to make a five-second clip.” That Singapore timelapse? Three years and 1 million photos went into it. Ain’t nobody got time for that.

Big-budget shots

With filmmaking technology — and viewer expectations — becoming ever more sophisticated, the pressure is on brands and creators to produce content that meets those expectations. Epic shots like aerials give a project a big-budget look without requiring a sky-high budget.

Uplift from Dissolve on Vimeo.

VideoFort, the company that shot this Chicago skyline, has its own helicopters and regularly shoots for Hollywood blockbusters, major TV productions, and big brands. With that clip, you get the benefit of its expertise, experience, and equipment — for $79.

Stock can also give a video a global vibe without a plane ticket being purchased. When country music star Paul Brandt released the video for his song “Nothing,” a country music network asked him if he’d traveled the world to make it. Nope, it was created entirely with stock footage.

Conceptual shots

Agencies and studios are finding that clients want more conceptual footage, such as clips that say “future” or “innovation.” Stock illustrates more nebulous concepts like this, and in a variety of ways: a high-speed train, space, clean technologies, global warming, a baby. You get the idea.

Before & After: Show what you say from Dissolve on Vimeo.

Stock footage can also reflect bigger truths and complement a script to take viewers on a visually evocative journey. For example, see how “The Sad Tragic Truth About Our Relationships” juxtaposes Jason Silva’s voiceover exploring his fear of a relationship’s end with footage of lusty couples in the throes of young, early love. 

Butt-savers and basics

Then there are some shots that save your arse, pure and simple. You’re in post, editing away, when you you realize you need a short transition clip to smooth out an abrupt scene change. Or the lighting in a shot is beyond editing help. Or the client’s footage is essentially unusable. Stock fills those gaps.

Or maybe you’re in L.A., in July, yet need a shot of a suburb in the clutches of winter. That’s where stock comes in. This is the kind of footage that, in and of itself, isn’t that complicated, yet you can’t get yourself — at least not easily or affordably.

And then there are the basic shots that just don’t need to be bespoke. Like nature stuff, a busy street, a sunset, researchers in a lab, or a smartphone in use. Sometimes you don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and that too is where stock can save the day.

For some practice working with stock to tell out a story, try our free Skillshare class, Creative Storytelling with Stock Video. It covers brainstorming, developing a story, the different ways you can use stock video, and finding and editing clips to tell an awesome story.

And if you need help finding footage or photos, give us a shout. We offer free research and would love to help you with a project.

Dissolve licenses extraordinary stock footage and photography. Our collection includes more than 2 million creative elements from inspiring talents and exclusive contributors. Browse the site and check out our popular videos, including “This Is a Generic Brand Video” and “Emoji Among Us,” at dissolve.com.

Main image by Timestock22, courtesy Dissolve

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