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Finding royalty-free stock footage

Finding royalty-free stock footage

Is something missing from your video?  Are you not fully satisfied with your footage?  Did you create a voiceover but are unsure where to find the images to accompany that? How about music?

Even the best videographers occasionally have to turn to other sources to find appropriate footage.  I’ve needed to find footage of the perfect sunset from a Hawaiian beach and my client certainly was not going to fly me out there to get a 40-second clip.  Would have been nice though.

Royalty-free stock footage sites are popping up like weeds.  A lot of savvy videographers and photographers have realized that they can shoot whatever they like and sell it to a website that will in turn sell it to the public at large for a flat fee.  Royalty-free means you pay once for the image or footage and you can use it as many times as you like in almost any format. Royalty-free music is also widely available.

Stock footage sites generally offer subscription-based plans, credit plans or pay-as-you-go.  If you plan on using stock footage on a regular basis, you’ll get more mileage from a subscription plan than paying for each piece individually.  Pay attention to the file types and uses in order to determine what size or resolution is suitable for your project. The prices are fairly competitive and are on average $20 per image or clip.

My top 4 sites for all stock things: Photo Video and Audio

ENVATO: Envato tops the list because it has EVERYTHING!!! a business owner needs. The Envato market is your gateway to website themes, royalty-free music, graphics, photos, stock video and 3D assets. Everything is pay-as-you-go, or you can subscribe to a plan. This year (2019), Envato added royalty-free audio to their unlimited assets plan and I jumped on board. It’s a great value for a company like Digital Shoebox that uses a variety of assets in our client projects.

POND5: I started using Pond5 for their wonderful selection of royalty-free music, but have since discovered their sound effects and After Effects templates to be mighty impressive as well. They’ve expanded into sound effects, stock footage and images.

123RF: This one is my personal favourite for vector illustrations and stock images.  Also found here are logo designs, videos and audio.

SHUTTERSTOCK: Originally jut a stock photo platform, Shutterstock has grown immensely over the last decade. They offer everything the other stock sites have, but what makes them different is the variety of options available to users, from pay-per-license to pre-paid packs. They also purchased Premium Beat, absorbing the music database into their own.

Stock footage, photos, music and illustrations are a handy tool to have when you need to fill gaps in your video. Be careful not to use the same clip over and over again in the same video, and always make sure you read the license rules before you make your purchase.


  • Jeff

    October 7, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Hey ChicFlicks,

    Saw the link posted on your Twitter feed. I offer completely free HD stock footage as well. At the moment I have roughly 140 clips. All of them are hosted on Archive.org and should be a simple “right-click, save” without any sign-ins or registering. If you think it is worth it to your readers, feel free to suggest it in future posts.


    Keep up the good work!


    • Jeff

      October 7, 2013 at 9:55 am

      I should note that every clip was shot or created by me and is free to use for ANY production purpose.

  • Mirela

    November 11, 2013 at 11:11 pm

    Hello ! this coukd be usefull for who is looking for music : If you want to have a listen we offer quality royalty free music for a share on http://www.musicincloud.com
    It was a lot of work doing it, hope you’ll like it 🙂 enjoy !

    • Audiobank

      January 28, 2014 at 2:21 am

      Thanks for the share, royalty free videos are hard to find. Good stuff on musicincloud Mirela, especially the Gipsy Jazz !