Monday, September 27, 2010

Motion Stock vrs. Still Photos

This high-speed (slow motion) stock video of a towel snapping a woman's buttocks has generated over 42,000 views...but no revenue.

Youtube, A Snapping Towel, and 42,000 Views
Just checked in on my videos at youtube. I don't do that very often so I was surprised to see that one of my videos has had over 42,000 views. Considering the next highest is just over 6,000, (slow motion video of a dove released into flight) that little statistic caught my attention. It figures that video clip garnering all of the hits is of a woman's buttocks being snapped by a towel. All the videos I have posted are slow motion ones shot with a Phantom HD camera at 1,000 frames per second. When the towel smacks into her derriere and is captured in super slow motion it is kind of interesting to see the woman's flesh ripple. Ouch! BTW, this idea, and the buttocks, belong to my partner Stephanie Roeser. Can you imagine your girl friend asking you to snap her in the bottom with a towel, and videotape it? Ah, the life of a photographer!

The World of Motion, Exploration and Who Knows
I have also ventured a step further into the motion world with this video of an exploding light bulb, again in slow motion, that transforms into one of those CFL "twisty" eco florescent bulbs. I envision this as a environmental message indicating that you can make a powerful difference with small steps…such as replacing your old bulbs with energy efficient bulbs…but in a dramatic fashion. The twisty bulb is actually a still shot, the same one I used for my "brain bulb" image. You can import still images right into Final Cut Pro. Hey, another way for me to spend hours and hours glued to a computer! I have no idea if there is a market for this video or not, but it did prove a useful vehicle for me to explore just a bit more deeply into the motion world, and who knows, maybe it will sell (license). I am going to submit this one to BlendImages as part of their new and growing motion offering.

Time, Effort and Pathetic Returns
My video offerings at Getty (I have just under 200 clips) have been bringing in a very approximate $750.00 a month. While that might at first glance seem pretty good, if you look at the time, effort and money invested, it is actually kind of pathetic. At that rate I will have the expenses covered in only the next five years. On top of that, I am sharing the revenue with several others who were involved in the projects with me. So if any of the videos are still earning money five years from now I may start getting $250.00 a month in profit, but by then I can't imagine the revenue will still be that high. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the slow-motion project (most of the online clips) and learned a lot. But you can see why I might not be diving head-first into the motion game! If something changes and the revenue stream really takes off I will report that here. Doubtless there are those out there with a much better experience than my own, but for me the still stock image remains the more viable option at this time.

Stock Motion, Challenges, and Microstock Competition
There is little doubt in my mind that video can be a real plus for assignment photographers to have as part of their offering. But when I look at stock video, or perhaps I should say motion stock, I see some real challenges. Video is much more difficult to capture well, more time consuming to deal with in editing, almost impossible to "save" in post (we once shot a beautiful video of a woman jogging up a hill and passing in front of the setting sun, back at the studio we realized that just as she passed in front of the sun a camera bag was visible in the frame, oh well) and is already being flooded with microstock competition. I personally think that most videos will be short, custom produced ones with a minimal reliance on existing footage. I will continue to "visit" that world from time-to-time just in case that market turns out to be far more robust than I envision, but for the vast majority of my own efforts I will stick to still images.


Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your experience and analysis about this. I've also found shooting footage to be much more time-consuming, and the workflow and post-production challenges are huge. My sense is that creating footage really has to be a labor of love in order for it to be worth the time and effort required to do it well.

Unknown said...

Thanks for sharing your experience. I've been reluctant to dive into motion for this reason exactly. By the way, your slow motion clips are awesome.

Jonathan Ross said...

Straight to the point with nothing to hide. Honest answers from one of the best. Thanks John

Unknown said...

Motion stock has always been a tough road and it is just getting tougher to make a decent return. Again, create footage that is in demand and not out there. I bet your light blub will do well. Thanks for sharing

Unknown said...

Totally agree John. I can see a market in assignment video but for stock it has to be either so on the ball; so right first time to fit a style or client requirement that by being so it limits it's own market.

Cloudscapes, timelapses, blurred crowds, flowing water, will all be covered to saturation in no time at all.

For video, at the moment, I think bespoke is where it's at and where the potential returns are because as you've discovered - editing gigs of video into a finished piece is a time consuming and costly process.

John Lund said...

Jon, there is a word I don't run across to often...good one though!