One of the smaller line items (but still significant!) in my monthly sales tables is Pond5. This site is one of the leading agencies in stock footage – and since I uploaded my first movies in 2010, I have earned over $850 from the licensing of short video clips. The sales are a bit intermittent, but each one nets around $30 (they sell for $50 to $60), and so a sale makes quite a difference to my monthly earnings. I don’t talk about it much because it is complicated – really complicated! I have a routine that I’ve developed over the years that works for me, but I just follow it a little blindly – not too sure what difference the settings on the codec mean, and whether different sites accept a different codec.
What is stock footage? In the same way as designers use a stock photo to fill a gap in their design – at a much lower price than commissioning a photographer – so video companies need to have a short piece of video (rolling waves on a beach, say) to add to some production they are putting together on a vacation resort. Stock footage is normally 10 to 20 seconds long and fills this gap in their requirements.
Although I have said how complicated it can be, it is a very useful skill to learn, and as more digital cameras are equipped with high quality HD video capabilities, it is a natural thing for a stock photographer to consider. After all, you have set yourself up with a great, well framed and composed image for your stock portfolio, why not stay there for a few more minutes and take some video that you can upload to Pond5, Shutterstock, iStock and others?
I came across a great new resource recently – Stock Footage Guide – put together by a real expert in the field, Julian Meli. Julian has been taking stock video for a long time, and you have only to look at the introductory video on his site to see the quality of his video work. He has put together an extremely well written book that explains all about video – how to take it, exposure, stability, apertures, sound etc. and then he moves into the production area with chapters on codecs, the right encoding method for different sites, which sites make most sense for contributors, uploading methods, keywording and metadata (which is not stored in the clip as we are used to with JPEGs). To add to the usefulness, he had developed a number of video lessons that are linked to the book to explain all the settings on the editing software (a free package called MPEG-Streamclip) and what the encoding settings should be to compress the file before you upload it. All this isn’t cheap – $35 for the book and access to all the video tutorials, but he has come up with a guarantee that if you don’t make the cost of the book back in video sales in the next 12 months, he will refund your purchase. There are some restrictions there though – you need to sign up for Shutterstock and Pond5 using his referral links, and you need to have 300 clips online by the end of the 12 month period – that is quite a tall order in my view, and so my advice would be to not bank on the refund!
So, my overall thoughts? I enjoyed the book – I learned some things which helped me understand some of the settings that I had been just taking as defaults, and it would certainly have saved me a lot of time and experimentation when I first started with stock video footage. If you are interested, check out his site and learn how to become skilled in stock video footage production and sale! To be open and honest – the link is an affiliate link and I will get a bonus if you decide to buy the guide, but I feel sufficiently comfortable with the book and course to still recommend it.