Monday, January 4, 2010

Stock Video vrs. Stock Stills

Disclaimer: The idea and the derriere were provided by my partner Stephanie Roeser!

Stock Video Plans In 2010
Recently I was asked what my plans for video, specifically stock video, are for the coming year. I have to say that most of my intention for video, at least for the foreseeable future, is wait and see. In 2009 I submitted close to two hundred clips to my already existing fifty or so clips with Getty Images. Getty has put up about a hundred of those clips thus far, and I expect probably another thirty to fifty clips will go up in the coming months. The new clips were all slow motion videos shot with a Phantom HD camera at 1000 frames per second. To rent the equipment for shooting those clips would run around $5,000.00 a day, but I was fortunate enough to be able to use the equipment as part of a beta-testing project for GVS Systems and their GVS 9000 2XU 444 VTR hardware/software set up for capturing vast quantities of data at very high through put rates.

No Photoshop, No Room For Mistakes, Less Production

This Phantom shoot is a perfect example of how I intend to pursue stock video. When the right situations come along I will take advantage of them. I do not plan on investing in stock video the same way I approach stills. With video there is not room for mistakes, I can’t save things in Photoshop, and I get a lot less done. The editing process is slower too. So for the same amount of effort I produce a lot less video material than I can with stills.

Fewer Sales, And A Passion For The Single Image
From what I can gather about my own motion sales, and the sales made be others I am in touch with, videos still do not return as much as stills. Sure, a clip can sell for a lot, but at least with my own experience, there are way fewer sales. There is a lot of hype about the exploding use of video, and lots of excitement about even greater use with hardware developments like tablets and so forth. Everywhere you turn video is being used; on gas station pumps, on cell phones, in the bank while you stand in line for a teller. But I have little faith that I know what to shoot, and that I can do as god a job as people who are either video pros or have a passion for it. My passion is still for the single image.

Limited Stock Productions

I have truly enjoyed shooting the slow motion video. Heck, for that I might even have a so-called passion. But it still doesn’t make financial sense for me to pursue it. A year from now I might know whether shooting more of it will be worth while; but at the current cost of shooting truly slow motion video, and until I get some idea of the returns, I just can’t see diving in any further. If you do have a passion for video, then I would recommend adding it into still shoots for which it would be appropriate. If you intend to add video to your assignment work, then that might be another reason to engage in at least some limited stock productions.

Submission of Video Material Is Exploding

Another factor for me to consider is that the submission of video material is exploding. Getty sent me an email explaining that in the last several months they have become overwhelmed with submissions…from hundreds of clips a month to thousands. I bet the same thing is happening in micro as well. I wouldn’t be surprised if the supply of video is now burgeoning much faster than the demand!

Cool Slow Motion Clips
At any rate, if the right situation, or the right shoot comes up, I will engage in some video production. But as far as planning on shooting video in 2010…it is a wait and see game for me. In the meantime, check out some of the cool slow motion clips that I shot with my video partners Stephanie Roeser and David Fischer. I have only uploaded a fraction of them, but will continue to upload them, so check back from time-to time!


Luis Santos said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
donfarrall said...

John, I am a bit behind you on the video side, but I am learning new things every week. I too have my doubts about the market and with the new crop of DSLR's all video outlets seem to be overwhelmed. Istock video is way behind and totally overloaded, their video forum is full of unrest. I started down this road thinking stock, but I'm betting it will be client work that brings in the income. As we all say, time will tell.


John Lund said...


I think your right, if I had to bet I would bet that client work will pay better dividends for video than stock in most cases....


Alger P said...

Hi -
Very interesting post; insightful. I just wanted to add something about the video editing backlog at Getty Images. It may be true that they are getting a lot more submissions, but it is definitely true that they have cut back their footage editing/processing staff, by about 50 percent, in recent months, so they are simply not capable of keeping up with the volume, whether or not the volume has gone up a lot. I have this info directly from people inside the creative dept. in their NYC office. Getty is downsizing their creative depts. drastically but they say the delays are due to volume going up. When these staff reductions happened, they also said they wouldn't be producing wholly-owned stills shoots in 2010 in order to "temporarily" focus on other activities and "evolve the way we work with contributors". As a (currently) private company, they aren't obliged to reveal actual staffing levels, but these are the facts: in May 2009 they closed the Los Angeles, Paris and Sydney creative offices and cut staff in the remaining creative offices by 10 percent. In October, they announced closing the Seattle headquarters' creative office and further reductions in the NY and London offices, effective Dec. 31. The staffing levels in NY are down 50 percent, in creative stills and footage, from a year ago, and Seattle, Sydney, Los Angeles and Paris are down 100 percent. Not that it makes any difference in the outcome, but I don't think the community, such as it is, should believe that editing backlogs are due to hugely increased volume. Getty is sunsetting their creative department, make no mistake. Their reasons, no doubt, have to do with what they are projecting revenues to be, but they would prefer to distract contributors by saying that volume is skyrocketing.

John Lund said...


Thanks for sharing that info. Getty is certainly paring down, but I hadn't heard about the footage staff reductions!