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Welcome to the video world! So you have returned from your latest vacations or have traveled around the world and you have dozens of videos that you want to put to good use or maybe you are a professional videographer with hundreds of video clips lying forgotten in some old archive or you are a video enthusiast that want to start from scratch in the world of selling stock video footage. Yes, as I stated in my short video, you can generate some extra income by selling those wonderful videos you took from your latest vacations, scuba diving, nature scenery, urban activities, buildings, monuments, sports, people doing things, and the list goes on practically to infinity. Somewhere in a corner of this world there may be a movie, documentary, or advertising producer that needs that special video clip that you filmed.
If you have a high quality consumer or prosumer camera and you have the talent to take great short clips you can join the stock video selling business for free at Pond5. You will need to be consistent and persistent. Consistent by making better quality video each time you hit the record button and persistent because you will need to take a few thousand videos in order to see your income grow to levels that will help or even pay all your bills and if you are exceptional in video making you have the possibility of earning a substantial income. Your income may grow to levels that will be greater than what the Social Security offers you at the end of your life. Making videos for sale is like putting money in a retirement fund or savings account except that you will end up making more money. As an example if you place $2,000 in the bank it will pay you back about $60 in interest per year. If you put 2000 good clips for sale, you may get $500 - $1000 a month or maybe even more.
I am going to be honest with you. Newcomers fail in the stock video business because they expect immediate results. People that start selling since day 1 are extremely rare. You will first need to built a portfolio of several hundred files to start seeing the income coming in. So, do not quit your job and be persistent.
There are many video stock selling agencies out there. Almost all of them were designed to sell stock footage from professional videographers with expensive equipment and have strick requirements. When Pond5 was founded it gave the opportunity to the novice and casual videographer to have a storefront to sell their clips on the internet and also gave professional videographers the chance to set their prices and upload their entire portfolio. Pond5 became the EBAY of video footage. Now days it stands as the biggest stock video provider in the world. In no other agency a novice videographer can expect to be accepted and grow to become a full blown professional. Many top seller senior members begun with a consumer camcorder like the Canon HV20. Today these same members own several thousand dollars of state of the art video equipment.
Cameras – the tool of the trade:
If you do not have a high quality consumer, prosumer camera or professional, today there are quite a few models available that record with the same quality as expensive professional models. As a starting point, I recommend Canon's video capable DSLR cameras like the 550D/ Rebel T2i, 600D Rebel T3i, or the Canon 60D. The downside of the Canon DSLRs is that they do not have video auto focus.Sony has also introduced the A65 with has a very large 24 megapixel sensor that takes excellent video. The Sony A65 offers fast auto focus during video recording and a unique image stabilization system which makes you feel that you have a camcorder in your hands but uses a Codec that requires much more computing power. Remember that these new DSLR cameras almost match the quality of very expensive professional cameras which will satisfy your customers expectations. You will need to buy a sturdy tripod. Stable shots with hand-held cameras are almost impossible to get. Buy a tripod that will enable you to take smooth stable long pans. Once you have a stable income you can consider buying more expensive cameras and equipment.
Marry your camera, sleep with your camera, eat with your camera and keep those batteries fully charged all the time. Go with it everywhere you go. Things happen fast and at un-expected moments. You do not want to miss the next big fire in town without your camera in your hand. Opportunity shots never returned. If you are going down the road and you come the scene of an accident with a truck burning or turned over, stop for 10 seconds and film it. It is your only chance to add such a clip to your portfolio. Until you become a proficient videographer, stay away from low light situations. Film in well illuminated scenarios and under a bright sun. From 8:00 am to 10:00 am is the best time to shoot outdoors.
At Pond5 videos can be from 4 seconds to 60 seconds long, My experience is that anywhere from 12 to 20 seconds long is enough. Remember that buyers will only use a few seconds as B-Roll. Once you upload your video, place the correct keywords, and summit for approval to be listed for sale. It will take anywhere from 7 days to 21 days to be online in your selling portfolio. Upload what you consider to have sales value. On the Pond5 homepage there is a list of keywords used by buyers. If you see a keyword of something you can shoot, then go and filmed it. Your portfolio must have a little bit of everything. Diversity is very important. Do not specialize in one single subject. Filming 2,000 different ducks will not increase your sales.
Try to stay away from people faces unless you have a written model release specially when you are in countries that have laws that protect the privacy of persons like in the USA. There are exceptions that apply to public figures and news events like riots, protests, people participating in parades where people know that there are going to be news cameras around. Remember you are not a reporter. You do not have a news ID therefore you are not protected by a guild, association or union. A bear in a creek won't sue you. A man lying on the floor in a car accident will sue you.
There are many laws that protect children. Unless you have an official model release from parents do not film children faces.
According to the latest court cases in the US, it is permitted to take videos of public buildings from public property as long as there is no trespassing. You may also take video from public property of government workers doing their jobs, like police, firefighters, FBI agents etc. Do not walk to policemen when they are at their lunch time. You can filmed them safely and legally when they are attending an emergency, conducting an arrest, of doing something that has news value. Taking pictures and video of crime scenes may be illegal even for the press. Do not trespass a crime scene perimeter or warning tape.
If you are filming a tribe in the middle of the jungle, you may not have any problems with human faces and peoples identity.
The preferred frame rate for videos is 30 frames per second. This frame rate is the most common in the American TV/broadcast industry and it can be easily down convert to 24 frames per second which is widely used in the film industry. It can also be easily down convert to 25 frames per second which is the standard used by European broadcast companies. Remember it is more difficult to up convert to 30 fps from 24 fps than down convert to 24 fps from 30 fps. In addition try to use progressive mode (30p). 30 frames per second progressive are the best selling clips. Do not worry if your camera only shoots at 60i (60 fps interlaced) or 30i (30 frames per second interlaced); they will work fine.
Try to record you clips at Full HD 1920x1080. This will make your clips useful life span last longer before becoming obsolete, at least for the next 10 years before Ultra-High HDTV becomes the new standard. You may still shoot in Standard Definition (SD 720x480), not every country or TV station has change to HD TV yet but expect more sales with HD clips. As a rule SD clips are less expensive than HD clips, but in Pond5, I have seeing SD clips sell for $199.oo.
There are many codecs that you can used such as but not limited to codecs like Mjpg, Pjpg, and H.264; which are the most common codecs used in stock video. The best selling of all is Pjpg (Photojpeg) for progressive clips. The second runner up is Mjpg (MotionJpeg) for interlaced clips. Save you clips in Quicktime(.MOV) with the Pjpg codec set anywhere from 86 to 95% in compression quality.
Pond5 accepts clips for the new 3DTV's that promises to generate substantial income for the stock shooter videographer in a few short years. The current problem is that the TV/Movie industry has not decided yet what is going to be the final video format standard for this industry. A senior Pond5 member presented the format dilema on what to film and upload and listed these options: (1) Separate left and right video captures at full 1920x1080, (2) a single red / blue glasses in a single 1920x1080, (3) Side-by-side where the 1080 height is preserved but the horizontal is compressed to fit the 1920 size, (4) top-bottom where the horizontal 1920 is preserved but the 1080 is compressed, (5) preserve both aspects in a side-by-side by having the dimensions as 3840x1080, (6) preserve both aspects in top/bottom in a total dimension of 1920x2160. Currently Pond5 members have uploaded videos in several formats with the hope that they will sell. Although there is currently not a formal standard, you may start uploading your own 3d clips. The following clip by another Pond5 senior member shows two formats variations placed together in a single clip. They are for red/blue glasses and left eye / right eye components.
4K/2K STOCK FOOTAGE
4k and 2k are video resolutions which are greater in size than Full HD which consist of 1920x1080 pixels. 2K reference resolution is 2048×1536 pixels, whereas 4K reference resolution is 4096×3072 pixels. Nevertheless, 2K may also refer to resolutions like 2048×1556 (full-aperture), 2048×1152 (HDTV, 16:9 aspect ratio) or 2048×872 pixels (Cinemascope, 2.35:1 aspect ratio). Pond5 is one of the few stock agencies that is accepting these sizes of video clips for sale. As time goes on and television increases in quality and resolutions the demand for this clips will grow. You can be ahead of the pack by starting to upload 4k and 2k stock footage. I must say that cameras that shoot in these very high resolutions are quite expensive but you can take a photographic timelapse with a good DSLR and then convert it to video.
Do not be cheap, Pond5 gives you the privilege to set your own prices. Other agencies set the price for you. Price your clips at a fair reasonable price. Remember that you will only be getting a 50% commission. My personal opinion is that prices should be between $40 and $150 for a 20 second clip. Did you know that TV stations sell their footage for $1,000 per minute. I myself have sold clips for $299.oo. Dumping prices to try to make a sale will only hurt everybody and the entire stock video industry in the long run. Do not start selling high quality clips for $10, $20, or $30. Use your best judgment when setting prices. Think of your equipment investment, your efforts, your time, all your cost, the money your will need to raise for new equipment (cameras, computers, software, etc.) and your “return on investment”.
Title , description and keywords:
This may even be more important than the quality of your video. Make sure that you have selected the best keywords to describe your footage. Keywording may be a never ending job. You will have to review on a regular basis what keywords are the buyers using and apply them to your most relevant clips. Use your keywords in your description and clip title. This will increase the chances of your clip appearing during searches in Pond5 and in Google.
Where to learn:
To learn about videography, the best and free resource are Youtube.com and Vimeo.com. A good place to start that I recommend is VideoMaker's channel in Youtube (Youtube.com/VideoMaker). Two blogs that will keep you up-to-date with budget minded videography information are NextWaveDV.com and Cheesycam.com .
Models and studio work:
One of the most productive niches in the stock video business is concepts with models shot in exterior or interior locations and studio set-ups. These clips are also the most expensive to produce. If you are an attractive person you may be your own model. Members of your family and close friends can also help you to lower production cost. As you research the stock video business you will see that clips with people sell more than other types of clips. The problem with people and models is that you will be required a model release which has to be signed by each model and a witness. You as a videographer cannot be the witness. Sometime out of focus crowds or people will solve the model release problem. You should also stay away from license plates. Shooting cars from the front and sides is safer. You can shoot people at a distance where their faces are not recognizable.
Buyers may prefer that you edit your video clips in professional programs such as Sony Vegas, Adobe Premier, Avid Media, or Final Cut Pro. But you do not need to invest in such expensive programs. There are free programs of professional quality that can be used to cut, encode, set frame rate, convert to progressive and to some extent enhance the colors of video clips. One of such free programs is offered by http://www.Squared5.com. I personally use the program from http://www.Squared5.com a lot.
Bandwidth may be an issue that may affect your ROI. Bandwidth is the amount of data that your internet provider allows you to use during a month or invoice period. If you surpass your bandwidth you will get a hefty invoice from your Internet provider. Know what is your bandwidth limit. Some of your files may be 500 megabytes or even close to 1 gigabyte in length. Try to find an unlimited bandwidth Internet provider. You may reduce the size of your video clips by 1) lowering the quality (increasing compression) to a level that does not damage the neatness of the clip when rendering the file, 2) making the clip shorter to 8 seconds or 10 seconds, or 3) uploading the file using the H.264 codec. You may also go to a “free internet hot spot" in your neighborhood. I have uploaded clips from locations like: Starbucks, Burger King, shopping malls, Denny's, etc.
Fashion, landscapes, skylines, cities, people, cars, and our planet are continuously changing. That clip you took from Times Square 5 years ago may be already out of date. The video you took from that celebrity is no longer useful because the celebrity is now much older. Videographers will always have something new to document through the lens of their cameras so do not think that everything that was going to be filmed has been filmed. This is a never ending business.
Once you have a healthy monthly income from your stock footage you will have the peace of mind that if your regular job comes to an end you are not faced with financial disaster. You also have the advantage that you are no longer bound to live at your current location. You can move and reside in any part of the globe.
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Film what you love!