Five Dos and Don'ts of using stock footage [sponsored]

Written by RedShark News Staff

Adobe Stock

What's the most effective way to utilise stock footage into your workflow? Here are five Dos and Don'ts to be mindful of.

Stock footage is high quality video that’s been pre-made to suit a vast number of themes. It’s easy to search for exactly the type of clip you need to fit into your production. Once you’ve paid and downloaded it, you can shape and mould it as much as you need, to fit effortlessly into your project, saving you both time and money.

Here are five Dos and Don’ts for using stock footage successfully.


1. Get to know your chosen stock library

Stock footage is an amazing resource that can make your budget go a lot further. So when you’re planning your production, go through the whole project and consider where you might be able to use stock clips. Take the time to explore and see what kind of footage is available, and learn how to search and find exactly the clips you might need. With Adobe Stock, you can do a visual search by simply dropping a reference image on to the browser. Test the downloading process, and start playing around.  

If you want a crash course, check out stock forums. They’re full of experienced users who just want to help.

2. Incorporate stock footage in your project planning

Figure out as early as possible where you might benefit from stock footage. Which scenes? Will you be using it as a transition between scenes? Maybe an aircraft landing or taking off. Or perhaps a shot with a busy street. Do some cursory searches at this stage to see what’s available.

Adobe Stock also offers a library of motion graphic templates, which may come in handy in the editing process if you need to add custom text, animations, or transitions.

3. Do an “is it credible” test

Context is important here. The way you match your stock shot depends on whether you’re looking for something to just “fit in” or whether you need something contrasting to introduce you to another scene - or merely to make a distinct separation between scenes.

Download the watermarked preview and put it into your timeline to make sure it fits in with your project.

4. Understand what role your stock footage is going to play

Is it an establishing shot? Stock footage is ideal for this. Cityscapes, marinas, airports, or wide open spaces: stock can take you places that you don’t actually have to take a film crew to.

Is it a background? Don’t limit yourself to just green screen work. Stock can appear through windows, in reflections and even on TVs, computer screens, tablets or phones that are on set.

5. Make sure there’s nothing that’s going to date quickly, or is already out of date

And make sure nothing in your stock footage is going to go out of date faster than the rest of your film. If people on a train are using an iPhone 4, then this is going to look odd in 2018.


1. Don’t always choose the shot that looks like a film poster

Unless that’s the effect you want!

There is always a role for glamorous “statement” shots. And it might just be that you need one. But don’t forget that stock footage encompasses virtually everything. If you’re making a corporate video for a firm of builders, it’s quite likely that you’ll need stock footage of a pile of bricks.

2. Don’t choose a shot because it looks great in isolation

Instead, choose it because it matches your artistic intent in the film. Of course, a shot that “just looks great” might fit in your film perfectly. Just remember that stock footage works best when it blends in, unless you are deliberately aiming for the opposite effect. Downloading the watermarked version is a great way to see how a stock footage shot works in the context of your project.  If you are using Premiere Pro, you can download a preview directly into your timeline, edit it and then if you license it, all of your edits including things like color correction are preserved on the full resolution version.

3. Don’t change your story or your production to match stock footage

With Adobe’s visual search and frictionless in-app integrations, you’ll be able to find almost exactly what you want quickly. There’s nothing wrong with molding your film to blend in with any footage that you have found, but you shouldn’t need to do this to any great extent.4    Don’t reject a piece of stock footage because it doesn’t match the look of your film

You are completely at liberty to change the look as much as you like, and to make the stock footage blend it. With After Effects CC, you can even add motion blur or camera shake. Using LUTs and subtle or extreme grading, it’s simple and eminently feasible to match stock material to the exact look and feel of your production.

5. Don’t hesitate to use stock footage

It’s a great resource, and it will save you time and money, while also improving the look of your production. What you save can be allocated to other shots that will make your film stand out even more.


Do check out Adobe Stock. There’s virtually everything you need and it’s easy to find.  Don’t waste money on shooting footage when you don’t have to.

If you would like some ideas or need stock footage for an existing project, visit Adobe Stock to be inspired! You can also click here to learn how you can contribute videos to Adobe Stock.

Tags: Production


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