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Selling footage to stock footage sites

Martin Johnson - Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Some blogs would have you believe that there's a fortune to be made selling stock footage to web sites like Shutterstock and Pond 5.

I'm by no means an expert and $98 is not yet a fortune, but I have been able to sell some of my footage.

Europe tour

Last year we spent five weeks in Europe and whilst we had a holiday we also shot what we thought would be stock footage people would buy. Some sites won't accept footage of copyrighted buildings, like the Pei Pyramid at the Louvre in Paris. Others however seem to have no problem. It's worth checking through their sites to see what they will or won't accept.

Search first

Before you load you footage and go through the slow process of describing it, adding tags, etc - see what similar footage already exists on the site by searching for it. It's probably not worth uploading similar footage. 


Most stock footage sites will list the formats they accept, but here's the process I use.

  1. 1. Import the footage into FCP, after ingesting or converting it to Pro Res 422
  2. 2. Edit to remove unwanted camera movement and export as Pro Res 422 (same as timeline)
  3. 3. Open in Quicktime player and then export at the 1080P setting. This also encodes it with the H.264 codec
  4. 4. FTP/Upload to the stock footage server

I have had the most success with static shots of scenes, sunrises, sunsets, landscape and buildings or locations. I try to think like the end user and give them the sort of footage I would look for. Generally each sequence runs around 30 seconds. 
Now when I'm out shooting on a job, I try to think if this would make a sequence suitable to upload. It's amazing how often this occurs and all you need to do is let the shot run for 30 seconds or so.
Good luck!
PS. Here's a link to my Shutterstock footage.


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