On Sat., Nov. 15,at West Post Digital, the Digital Cinema Society (DCS) presented a session on Monetizing Footage. Presented by DCS founder James Mather, the panel consisted of moderator/filmmaker Barry Clark, The Footage Bank founder/president Paula Lumbard and vice president Carol Martin, Artbeats president/CEO Phil Bates and RED owner/operator Kenn Michael. Bates, Michael, Lumbard, Martin

The message to filmmakers thinking of selling to a stock footage house: don’t wait too long or the format will be obsolete. “Some shooters want to be buried with their footage,” joked Clark. “But formats are turning over at an alarming rate, so don’t sit on it waiting for it to become more valuable. One morning you’ll wake up and discover no one wants your library.”

Footage Bank HD began in January 2002, and has grown into an all-HD stock footage library with 65,000 clips. With the advent of the RED camera, says Lumbard, she saw that there would be a future for RED material and, to that end, formed The RED Footage Collective to represent footage of RED owner/operators and others. The third division is the just-launched footagehead, a repository of P2, XDCAM and other lower-res footage for use in web content and other small screens.

Artbeats offers royalty-free, unlimited use footage, whereas The Footage Bank and the Red Collective offer rights-managed content (footagehead is royalty-free). “Both models are great,” says Lumbard. “There is a market for both. Our footage suppliers prefer the rights-managed model because they want more control over the content.”

Bates notes that Artbeats started royalty-free to make its footage available to the broader desktop editing users. “This customer is a game developer, an indie film producer or part of a corporation,” he says. “They’re not used to rights-managed model. The Mac was simple and easy and they wanted the footage to be easy. Once you purchase it, the license gives permission for in perpetuity for any market for one fee.”

Exclusive clips of a unique or niche nature are usually rights-managed footage, whereas “the more generic and broad-based footage is ideal for a royalty-free audience,” says Bates. Does the royalty-free footage get over-exposed quickly? No, says Bates, who told the tale of a clip showing “puffs of fire” that has sold over and over again. “So interest doesn’t seem to diminish even if it’s sold often.”

Making money off of stock footage is a form of passive revenue, emphasized Lumbard. Shooters repurposing their existing footage are the most successful at making money off of stock footage, said Bates. “I always get nervous when people say they’re going to make a living off of this,” he says. “The key to making money in this is diversity of content,” Lumbard adds. “It’s about continually feeding the beast, meaning your archive which is your passive bank account.” That means staying focused on one’s strengths, be it tabletop, talent or underwater.

Both The Footage Bank and Artbeats maintain lists of what they’re looking for, and it’s best to contact them prior to shooting stock footage. Lumbard says she gets lots of calls from cinematographers heading to Las Vegas. “But footage banks are awash in Las Vegas,” she says. “Maybe Barstow. How far afield are you willing to go? And nobody wants to go to Compton, but we could really use that.”

Each stock footage house also has its list of acceptable cameras and acceptable formats, say Bates and Lumbard, both of whom list these on their sites. The use of Standard Def footage has dramatically declined, adds Bates.

Michael, a RED owner/operator who works on music videos and short features among other projects, met with Lumbard and Martin. “They told me how to shoot stock footage and what they needed,” he recounts. “It seemed like one of those things that’s too good to be true. Over the course of the first few months I had the camera, I had hundreds of stock shots ready to go. It’s a great way to bring in extra income from doing what I love to do.”

With online content booming and the advent of the mobile platform, the number of acceptable cameras and formats are opening up. Footagehead accepts HDV, P2, DVCPRO HD, XDCAM HD and down-converted HDCAM. At Artbeats, the V-Line offers lower-resolution DV footage, for shots captured where larger cameras can’t easily go. “I would cringe when the DV format came in,” says Bates. “But we had Caribbean beaches come in and it sold like crazy. It’s not always about the format it’s about content.” Artbeats also launched Footage Hub, which is a re-seller for producers’ stock footage brand.

Lumbard pointed out that her company’s restrictions on cameras and formats are based entirely on client demand. “Up until two years ago, our clients wouldn’t take HD, and now in all our non-theatrical products, HD native is soaring,” she says. “It isn’t an issue. The next issue is going to be…Is it RED? Is it 2K? Is it 4K?”

Also up-and-coming is 3D stereoscopic stock footage, says Lumbard. “We love new and different things,” agrees Bates. “The higher the resolution, the better.”

Advice to owner/operators interested in licensing to a stock footage house: Do your due diligence. “Does the stock footage house have a known, reputable brand?” asks Bates. “There will be a shift where footage will become a commodity on the low end, and that’s why it’s really important to be associated with high quality, so the value of your footage doesn’t degrade.”

In answer to a question about the need for fast-breaking news footage, Lumbard says that The Footage Bank does not handle this kind of footage…but that doesn’t mean that the footage wouldn’t be of value to a CNN or ABC stock footage division. “The footage does have value,” she said. “Don’t give up.”

footagehead wish list

Natural history: animal behaviors, underwater, African animals, Alaskan animals,
cute and funny animals; Natural landscapes such as desert beauty shots, waterfalls, tropical beaches, rain forest, jungle; Aerial footage cities and landscapes; Extreme behaviors and events of any kind; Time-lapse lifestyle and location shots; Special effects: fire, smoke, explosions, space; Weather related shots; Worldwide locations

Artbeats wish list:

Extreme weather, tropical deserted beaches, resort life style, holidays, ethnic lifestyles, healthcare, US cities landmarks and skylines, world cities skylines and landmarks, global warming, pollution, high-tech clean-rooms, home improvement, crime and extreme sports.