find stock footage for free

Sometimes, you just can’t film everything you need for your video. It might be due to a lack of time, equipment, access to a specific location, knowhow, or all of the above.

Not to worry, there are a plethora of free resources out there for stock footage. Stock footage consists of short clips of everyday people, animals, industry, travel, landscapes, skyscapes, and random activities. If you can dream it, you can probably find stock footage of it online.

Getting creative and combining scenes into a composite clip can open even more possibilities. Here are some tips and tricks for using stock footage, and nine places to find it for free (or cheap) online.

Using Stock Footage

Stock footage can be used in several ways for a variety of purposes. For starters, you may not have the equipment to get a specific shot. A timelapse shot of traffic, for instance, might not be technically possible with your kit. Or, you may not be able to get the exact shot you want, such as a helicopter view of a city, or a glimpse back in time at a historic town. Sometimes, you need to extend a scene to accommodate a longer audio track, or introduce some variety to a shot.

This can help communicate not just your idea, but to build a more engaging video overall. For more artistic films, combining a clip of someone dancing with a visually rhythmic background can create a specific mood and create help interesting effects. Think of stock footage as a visual tool to help your video inspire the right emotions for your viewers, and communicate the information they need to understand it.

When you are looking for files to download, make sure you are getting the right format for your project. Depending on the look you are going for, try to match the resolution of the rest of your footage (e.g. 720p or 1080p) so that it fits with the rest of your shots. Although you can convert file formats, it is best to match whenever possible for consistent quality and easier editing.

Where to find Stock Footage

HD stock footage used to be very expensive, but that hasn’t been the case for a while. There are many sites that provide HD stock footage downloads for free, or for very reasonable prices.

Since the best footage is usually taken with expensive equipment by professional videographers, paying for quality clips is often well-worth it. As a bonus, it helps support artists between gigs.

1. OpenFootage.net

OpenFootage.net offers a mix of paid and free footage at different quality levels. This is a particularly good resource for slow motion, time lapse, and CGI clips.

2. Videvo

Videvo is based out of the UK and has an extremely broad selection of free footage. Their range of categories covers nearly everything you can think of, and all of it is free. They offer some motion graphics, but their specialty seems to be Quicktime footage of everyday life, which can really help many projects along.

3. Videezy

Videezy takes slightly a different approach, and provides a platform for people to share and discover stock footage. Every clip on the site is free, and there are many options to choose from since they are user-generated. It is fun just to peruse, but this is exactly the place to find a specific clip you won’t find anywhere else.

4. XStockVideo

XStockVideo offers a mix of paid and free footage, and has a range of definitions for most videos available. Not all are free, but the paid video clips are usually under $5, and the variety available is extensive.

5. Beachfront B-Roll

Beachfront B-Roll is a donation-based site that has a nice selection of nature, timelapse, technology, holiday, and city-life clips. The download process and copyright could not be more straightforward, and the quality is very high.

6. Dissolve

Dissolve offers a wide selection of paid clips that are really high quality. Their extensive library is easily searchable, and consistently good. The variety of filters available make it possible to pinpoint the exact clip you need very easily.

7. Pexels

Pexels has a variety of free clips available. They offer helpful categorization of clips, as well as an easy to use search function. They also have an extensive image library if you can’t quite find everything you need in stock video.

8. Pixabay

Pixabay has a huge library of free stock video. You can refine your search by video quality, as well as different effects, like animation, time lapse, or slow motion.

9. Create Your Own

Whenever filming, capture plenty of b-roll to supplement your footage. Take some shots shifting through different focal points, panning through the environment, and from different angles.

If you are filming at a specific location like a restaurant, shots of the exterior and interior, as well as the host, wait staff, other patrons and chefs can help set the scene. Naturally, obtain the proper permissions, potentially including licenses, for video of other people, public places, and of establishments.

There are many more options for stock footage out there. The best site for your project really depends on the type of video you are trying to make.


Have you used stock footage? Did we leave out any important advice? Please comment with your best tip below, or share with us on Twitter.

Written by Courtney Purchon

Courtney is the Head of Marketing at SproutVideo. Follow her on Twitter.

Posted May 19, 2014

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