1 April 2020 Video production tips and best practices

Losing live action to Covid-19. Is stock footage the answer?

Stuck for ideas on how to create video during Covid-19? Check out our handy guide on using stock footage over live action in a time of crisis.

Stock footage and imagery are excellent tools we can use during this pandemic. They are a fantastic way to get high quality videos without needing to go out and film. Not only that, they're very cost effective, and can yield great results when used right.

Creating video during Covid-19

Due to the recent Covid-19 outbreak, filming live action content is pretty much impossible. It's certainly not possible to film teams, bustling offices, or really any outdoor spaces. This matters hugely to brands trying to get their message across and connect with their customers, old and new, during these somewhat scary and unsettling times. 


Live action footage is crucial to creating a human connection between your customers and your brand. People respond well to seeing other people - it's built into our DNA! It's understandable then that during, let's say, a global pandemic with international lockdown, we are craving human content more than ever before.


However, with a bit of creative thinking, it is possible to create wonderful live action content without having to go out and film...that's right, no filming involved! Better yet, this solution is also cost saving, which is extra helpful in a time when many marketing budgets are feeling the pinch. 


Enter, stock footage.

'Isn't stock footage just cringe-worthy fake videos of people in business meetings? I hear you ask. Well...yes and no! But mostly no. You can still get a high quality piece of work for your company using stock footage - you just need to understand what exactly it is, and how best to use it!


So, what is stock footage?

Stock is as simple as this - it's just videos or images that have already been recorded, and uploaded to a site like Shutterstock or Getty.  These can then be downloaded, for a fee, and used in your own work. The possibilities with stock footage are endless.


There's a massive collection at your fingertips too - Shutterstock alone has over 18 million video clips and is being added to weekly.


The only downside to stock is that you aren't getting something 100% personal, and you may use content that another brand has used previously. You can make it personal by working with a production company (*cough* ahem, hello!), to add your personal brand into the mix. 


This can be done in a variety of ways...

Stock Footage & Motion Graphics

Stock footage and imagery can be manipulated through the use of motion graphics which adds an extra level of production value, giving the audience the impression that they are watching a bespoke production. 


Motion graphics can be integrated within the footage using various techniques, such as  rotoscoping, which uses live action footage as a template for animation. This creates the illusion that imagery or graphics are embedded within their surroundings.


We worked on a video for eThink that not only used motion graphics, but also made use of green screens within stock footage:


Stock Footage & Animation

Stock imagery can also be edited so that parts of the images can move, also known as cinemagraphs.


An example of this would be taking multiple elements of an image, such as a person or a path and trees and using a 3D camera to make the image look 3D. You can then move the camera around to replicate some camera techniques. You can also move parts of the image to add a different perspective, giving you something new and more unique.


Individual elements can also be edited. For example, making a person's hair move in the breeze, or manipulating people's limbs with subtle movement.You can also add visual effects such as a fake sun, dust particles or wind effects to add more life to what otherwise is a still image.


Using these elements can make a stock image that many people have already used more unique and tailored to your brand as well as the messaging you want to get across.


The end result could be used in a wide range of places, from social media to your website. After spending time scrolling images all day, an "image" with subtle movement could really grab your audience's attention, making them stop mid-scroll, helping to drive better engagement.


Adding in personality and animation isn't the only positive element of using stock.


Variety & Diversity

A massive benefit of stock is the huge variety of content out there. 


You can search for nearly anything and find stock footage that suits the content you're looking to create.


There's stock footage and images from every corner of the globe - great if you want to create content that appears localised without having to go out and film it. There's numerous locations and settings too so stock footage literally opens up a world of possibilities for giving your video content a fresh edge in the current climate.


There are also many actors and models in stock content, from different backgrounds, ages, hobbies, careers - the list goes on. Luckily, stock is as diverse as the human race, so you can find the perfect stock to represent your audience best. 


Perhaps you want to include a location in your video that is hard to reach, like a mountain or rainforest - stock already has this covered. Filming in remote or dangerous locations can be extremely expensive, but in many cases, this footage is already out there in the form of stock.


Drone footage falls into the same category. It can be difficult to find a licenced drone operator, with a decent camera...for a decent price. Because of their specialist skills and advanced technology, they are few and far between and therefore command a high price. But not all is lost - there's plenty of stock footage from drone operators online already! This means you can get the stunning aerial shot you want, without needing to shell out for a helicopter or drone operator.




Coronavirus aside, a final key benefit is cost. As you've learnt so far in this article, filming can be expensive, and with stock there is no need to hire an expensive film crew or photographer.  


You can get footage of locations which would normally require expensive and complicated permits with just the click of a button. You can download high quality footage of professional actors without needing to pay hefty usage fees, or hiring out a studio to film them in.


The only downside here is that you aren't getting shots of your staff or products, although a combination of the two can be used. Alternatively, you could consider 3D modelling your product and combining this with stock footage and imagery, creating a much more personalised feel.


Here's an example we created for our client Satair utilising stock footage and imagery to create a fast-paced video that communicates a clear message:




If you're looking for innovative ways to create video during this crisis, we're on hand to talk through strategies and potential options. Just drop us a line at hello@venturevideos.com or head on over to our contact page and get in touch. 



Written by Jess Percival Copywriter for Venture Videos — a full-service video production agency that specialises in producing creative videos & campaigns that get real results.

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