Pros and cons of using stock footage

There isn’t a video producer or film-maker around who hasn’t faced the age-old issue of whether or not to use that great bit of stock footage they’ve found.

What exactly are the downsides to using it? Is it really that bad? The answer is no, of course, it’s not. But, there are things that you should be wary of, not to mention a few common misconceptions.

So, we thought we’d lay them all out on the table; we’re going to take you through both the pros and the cons, and also give you some tips that have most certainly helped us out along the way when it comes to using stock footage.


Stock footage, at the very least, is a fantastic option to have available. It could prove to be the missing piece to your puzzle, and when you’re working to a deadline, that can be an absolute lifesaver.


It can help you tell the story better

If you’re shooting an interview and need visuals of the subject matter to help tell the story, then stock footage can be a perfect solution; particularly for those that might not have access to the subject matter, the time to go and film it, or – in some cases – the budget.


HQ professional footage

It’s normally pretty easy to find footage that will match the resolution of your project. Plus, a lot of the time the footage is professionally shot, so you don’t have to worry about low quality in terms of technology.
This can really help if you’re not ready to invest in some really high-end kit. It can also be really great if there are any cultural boundaries in your way; if you’re in a foreign country where you don’t speak the language, it can be quite difficult to obtain footage of people you can’t communicate with.


It saves time

This one is a no-brainer really: instead of going out and filming the footage that you need, you can search for it, buy it, and have it ready to use instantly.

This isn’t just limited to video either; nowadays there’s a huge market for pre-built templates that come ready-made for you to slot your footage into.


As with anything, there are two sides to every story, and there are plenty of cons to consider.


It’s not as cheap as you think it is

You’ll find that the best footage is a lot pricier than the standard stuff available on most sites. You have to work out the balance. If you just need one or two clips, the cost of buying stock footage is probably going to be a lot lower than if you had to travel somewhere and spend time creating the footage yourself.



What makes you different? Do you need to be authentic?

You can’t put your own stamp on stock footage. It’s also very likely that at least a handful of other videographers have used that exact same clip for a similar project to yours.

If you’re looking to really stand out, go above and beyond and make your mark, then using a large amount of stock footage may not be the path for you.




Although most of the stock footage will have been filmed using some decent kit, sometimes it just doesn’t spark that ‘wow’ factor within you. It’s also true that as they’ve been created to appeal to a larger audience, a lot of clips can seem very generic and cliché; it is stock footage, after all. For every 50 clips that you sort through you might find one that wins you over.


So, should you be using it?

Ultimately, there are some really great pros to using stock footage, but there are always cons that you need to be aware of. Using stock footage can be great, but just try not to go too overboard on its inclusion.

Weigh up what you want to get from your project: if it’s a piece of throwaway content that doesn’t hold a lot of importance in the grand scheme of things, then using stock footage shouldn’t be an issue. If it’s a big project where you really want to prove yourself, try to stay away from stock footage as much as possible – and remember to weigh up the costs before jumping into buying a clip.

If you’re in need of some stock footage right now and struggling to find a clip that’s right for you, here are some top tips to help you out.


Try searching for footage by a certain brand of camera


Try searching for a particular type of shot, for example, time lapses

If you’d like any more assistance on whether stock footage is the right fit for you, or if you’d like some bespoke footage filmed for a project that you’re working on, feel free to get in touch and we’ll help you out.