Rights managed, Royalty-free Stock Footage

Rights managed, Royalty-free Stock Footage.

Rights managed, Royalty-free Stock Footage is film or video footage that can be used again in other films. It can be called in different ways: Stock footage, and similarly, archive footage, library pictures, and file footage. Stock footage is beneficial to filmmakers as it saves shooting new material. A single piece of stock footage is called a “stock shot” or a “library shot”. Stock footage may have appeared in previous productions but may also be outtakes or footage shot for previous productions and not used. Examples of stock footage which might be utilized are moving images of cities and landmarks, wildlife in their natural environments, and historical footage. Suppliers of stock footage may be either rights managed or royalty-free. Many websites offer direct downloads of clips in various formats.

Stock footage companies began to emerge in the mid-1980s, offering clips mastered on Betacam SP, VHS, and film formats.

Corporate usage

Companies throughout the world use stock footage in their video productions for in-house meetings, annual conventions, seminars, and other events. It has become popular to videotape interviews of CEOs and other VIPs using a green screen backdrop. When the green is keyed out during post-production, stock footage or stock shots are inserted, to impart a particular message.

Public domain

One of the largest producers of public domain stock footage is the United States government. All videos produced by the United States military, NASA, and other agencies are available for use as stock footage. There are a number of companies that own the copyrights to large libraries of stock footage and charge filmmakers a fee for using it, but they rarely demand royalties. Stock footage comes from a myriad of sources including the public domain, other movies and television programs, news outlets, and purpose-shot stock footage.


With each introduction of new standard, it requires reshooting or rerendering the popular footage as well as new images to show the capabilities of the next standard. Betacam SP, VHS, and early digital footage was shot in Standard Definition (SD), in 4:3 aspect ratio. Next came a higher resolution format, High Definition (HD), with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is closer to cinema widescreen formats. Many stock-footage companies and producers were concerned that their libraries would become irrelevant. Most stock footage companies & distributors now require HD 1080p footage at a minimum with many requesting 2K resolution and 4K resolution raw footage. Many companies are also including Virtual Reality (VR) and 360-degree video footage.

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Look at Pond5, The world’s largest royalty-free footage collection.