Stuck using stock video? Do it right.

720 720 Vanessa Jeschke

Stuck using stock video?
Do it right.

Making the most of video that’s already available.

When it comes to making marketing videos, let’s be honest – a custom shoot is always going to be best. When you can build a video from the ground up, you’ve got complete creative freedom to tell exactly the story you want to tell, in a way that’s completely dialed-in to your product and brand. You want your name in 50-foot-high glitter letters? Well, we’d probably try and talk you out of that, but the point is, everything’s possible.

Unfortunately, budgets and timelines don’t always allow for shoots – and, of course, COVID has made things tricky, too. Using stock footage can be a viable alternative for getting the job done – but what can you do to make your stock-based video still have that high-quality feel?

o1

Use stock that doesn’t feel stocky.

Your audience is smart, savvy, and, let’s face it, easily bored. Give them a video with stock clips that feel generic and expected, and you won’t have their attention for long. One surefire way to send them packing? The same tired old clichés. A growing plant to represent growth? Brilliant! Groundbreaking! Boring as hell! Stand out from the crowd by using unexpected images and unique visual metaphors to tell your story in a fresh way.

BLAH (Tired old cliché)

AHHH (Brand-new take)

(While we’re at it, your audience really doesn’t need hand-holding. If you’re already telling them something in voiceover, there’s no need to show them the exact same concept visually. We call these “see-say videos,” and trust us, they are not an edge-of-your-seat experience.)

o2

Make it real. (Or real-ish.)

Speaking of your audience, they’ve got great B.S. detectors. People don’t like to feel like they’re being obviously marketed to, and phony, cheesy clips will definitely get their guard up. Yes, we’re looking at you, manic smiling lunatics exchanging high fives around a conference table.

As you consider various stock clips, ask yourself: Is this something a human being would actually do? Is this what a real person actually looks like? If you’re marketing to IT professionals, say, they want to see themselves, not some vacant airbrushed model. Find clips that feel natural and authentic, and you’ll come off as natural and authentic yourself.

BLAH (Faux and forced)

AHHH (Real and recognizable)

o3

Keep the limits of the medium in mind.

By its very nature, of course, stock video is generic, so that it can be useful for all kinds of different projects. But that definitely creates some challenges for you. Stock can help tell your story, but you can’t rely on it to speak for your business. Unlike still photography, it isn’t really possible to photoshop things in and out of a video; what you see is pretty much what you get.

So, the specifics of your product and brand have to come from the storytelling and content you use around your stock footage – V/O, images, animation, superimposed text, kinetic type, etc. Otherwise, you run the risk of a product video where no one knows what your product is. “What are they selling? Sped-up highways at night?”

BLAH (How does this fit in?)

AHHH (The perfect fit)

(P.S. As you’re looking for ways to tell your story, don’t forget that you might already have great things in your back pocket. Existing footage from other company videos can be a total gold mine, with that perfect customer story or soundbite from the CEO just waiting to be recycled.)

o4

Budget for quality stock.

Although using stock can cost you less than a custom shoot, that doesn’t mean you should skimp. Great-looking videos need great-looking stock, and quality stock – i.e., original-looking clips that are well-shot and well-lit, with realistic-looking actors – doesn’t always come cheap. Plus, keep in mind that you may need more clips than you realize. On average, with the videos we do, we’re generally using a different clip every 5 seconds, which can add up. Make sure you’ve set aside the cash for a cache of great clips, or you’ll be stuck piecing something together from bargainbarrysworldostock.com.

BLAH (A bargain – and it shows)

AHHH (Looks like a million bucks)

o5

Budget time, too.

While at first it may seem like using stock footage will save you time, as the person who has to hunt down these clips, let me tell that that is DEFINITELY not always the case. Searching for the right video can take WAY longer than shooting and editing footage – hours of watching clip after clip to find that single diamond in the rough that has the right mood, models, lighting, lens, and angles. “At last! The non-cheesy handshake clip of legend!”

And that’s just the beginning. A clip that seemed great might feel weird in the final cut. A clip you thought would be easy to find actually isn’t. Or maybe a clip winds up needing to be reworked to match the style of the rest of the video. All of these things take time and effort, and you need to make sure you’ve made room for them.

o6

Make clips feel consistent.

So, you’ve found all the footage you need. Great! Now, as you start stitching it all together, you’re going to want to make your clips as much like one seamless whole as possible. And that means color correction – tweaks to exposure, contrast, and tone to give the video an even look. Do it right, and the footage will look like it was made just for you. Do it wrong, and you’ll leave people wondering why some parts of the video were randomly shot in the Old West. “Is this a time-traveling marketing video???”

BLAH (Something seems off)

AHHH (Right on!)

It’s time to take stock.

These are just some of the things you can do to create a stock-piled video that feels like it was shot just for your brand. If you could use a hand with your own video, we definitely know our way around a “confident woman smiling at camera.” Check out a few of the videos we’ve put together, and get in touch if you want to work together on something – stocky or otherwise.

Client: Qlik, 2021 Data Trends

Client: Orig3n, Brand Video, CES 2019

Vanessa Jeschke
Senior Art Director