FootageBank Celebrates Golden Birthday with Treat for Clients

Paula Lumbard, founder & president

Paula Lumbard, founder & president

A Golden Birthday is a once-in-a-lifetime event that occurs when your age matches the day of your birth. It’s also referred to as a Grand BirthdayStar BirthdayLucky Birthday or Champagne Birthday… Did someone say champagne?

As FootageBank raised its glasses in celebration of 15 years in business on April 15, team members reminisced about the days of its birth…

Carol martin, vice president

Carol martin, vice president

“I opened a high definition company and learned what high definition was all on the same day! Talk about a learning curve… But that’s the thrill of being an entrepreneur. Now, we are embracing 4K and buying storage instead of stamps.”’ - Paula Lumbard, Founder & President

“I had an education in film (yes, celluloid) and a background in sales but someone had to set up the systems. Excited and unqualified, I jumped on what would be the wildest ride of my career. Who knew I’d become the engineer my father always wanted?” - Carol Martin, Vice President

Erik Dahlgren, Content Coordinator & Office Manager

Erik Dahlgren, Content Coordinator & Office Manager

“The first time I had to access the innards of our website, I was so nervous I crashed it! I remember our web host calling and asking, `What are you guys doing over there?!’ Now, I spend most of my days practicing internal medicine!” - Erik Dahlgren, Content Coordinator & Office Manager

FootageBank is grateful to all of its clients. Mention its Golden Birthday with your next order and receive a 15% discount. Cheers!

 

 

ARCHIVES ABOUND AT NAB 2017

With over 1,800 exhibits spread out across the entire Las Vegas Convention Center, and 100,000 plus attendees roaming the floor, NAB is like a small, frenetic city, and homing in on points of relevance takes some perseverance. That said, there’s a lot there of interest to the footage community, including products and services directly tailored to current needs, as well as technology and trends that are sure to affect the footage industry in the near future.

With that in mind, we’ve assembled a highly summarized “mini-directory” of companies that offer products and services that we believe will be of interest to footage companies, as well as other stakeholders in the archival footage business.

The list is divided into seven categories, including: digital asset management & storage; digital rights management & protection; logging and metadata; file sharing; film scanners and restoration; footage companies; and sessions.

We hope it gives you some sense of the state of things at NAB!

Digital Asset Management & Storage

Actus ClipFactory

Actus ClipFactory™ includes a content management system that allows users to enter and edit metadata, search and find specific clips, send the clips via mail, save the clips as files, distribute the clips to any destination such as CDN or social networks, download the clips and more.

www.actusdigital.com

Atempo

Atempo’s ASG-Digital Archive is a versatile, scalable file archiving software solution for the media industry that makes large data volumes available when and where needed, and integrates easily into user workflows. Data is secured and stored in open formats on a variety of storage media including tape, disk, cloud or object storage. Data movements are traced and logged. Users can preview assets with low-res proxies and make a partial retrieval of large assets. The AGS-Digital Archive is currently in use at the National Film Board of Canada, where they are archiving all digital masters and source files, including related metadata, for restored and new works.

www.atempo.com/ASG-Digital-Archive.aspx

Avere Systems

Avere Hybrid Cloud NAS enables use of cloud storage for tier-2 storage (active nearline storage), creating an accessible active archive at the lower cost of object storage. Avere Hybrid Cloud seeks to change the economics and functionality of data storage and computing for rendering, transcoding and encoding by allowing clients to leverage public and private storage clouds, IaaS, and elastic compute for workloads previously limited to on-premise high-performance (HPC) storage systems.

www.averesystems.com/active-cloud-storage

Cantemo

The Cantemo Portal helps manage video files, from creation through editing to distribution and archiving. The Cantemo Portal can be used for post-production management, as a distribution and sharing platform, for workflow file management and as an archive front end. Deployment can be done in the cloud, in front of a large tier-2 storage, or a tape library.  Having proxies and metadata for all items means that anyone can search the archive from almost anywhere without having to know how the tape library works, where the storage is, or where the assets lives in the storage. Portal is used for finding and recovering files that are then copied to production storage or to distribution methods for sharing or re-use. Cantemo is currently in use by media companies around the world, including the Boston Red Sox, who use it to “transition the Red Sox workflow, expand accessibility, and empower their creative team to get content to market more efficiently.”

www.cantemo.com

Cinegy

Cinegy develops software solutions for collaborative workflow encompassing IP, capture, editing and playout services tools, integrated into an active archive for full digital asset management. Cinegy Archive is the innovative media asset management solution for any organization with an archive or productions to manage. With its scalable and open architecture, Cinegy offers an affordable solution to digitize tape-based archives and production workflows. With advanced logging and metadata accumulation over the entire lifecycle of the media assets, content becomes easily searchable and reusable, saving time and money. Cinegy Archive enables local and remote real-time collaboration allowing loggers, story and video editors to work on video material in real-time, even while it is still being ingested. Using the Cinegy Workspace browser-based interface, clips can be searched, browsed, selected and even edited from anywhere.

www.cinegy.com/index.php/products/media-asset-management/cinegy-archive

Crawford Media Services

Crawford Media Services, Inc. provides premium content services, including mass digitization, human generated descriptive metadata, and digital archive storage for all owners of media content. Crawford’s service based model allows them to provide the customized solutions necessary to meet the specialized challenges now faced by content owners and make unruly media collections ready for market. 

www.crawford.com

Dalet

Dalet Galaxy is an enterprise Media Asset Management platform which unifies the content chain by managing assets, metadata, workflows and processes across multiple and diverse production and distribution systems. Dalet offers end-to-end Archive solutions to optimize workflows and to maximize assets, managing all type of multimedia content, including video, audio, texts, documents and more. Ideally suited for News, Sports, Programs and Radio workflows, Dalet’s Archive solutions makes media easily accessible and findable from any location through a Web client, but also to third-party systems thanks to the integration layer. With Dalet Archive solutions, media companies can build a truly unified environment where content is made available to everyone who needs it, no matter what system they are using, and extend the reach of owned content through easy and fast repurposing on multiple devices.

www.dalet.com/business-solutions/archives-and-media-asset-management

Imagen

The Imagen Enterprise Video Platform helps companies of all sizes and industries preserve, navigate and monetize their ever-growing media libraries. The latest update - Imagen Version 5 - has been built with both content owners and their customers in mind, providing the most efficient platform for managing and monetizing video content. With the focus on improved speeds and creating a more agile platform for media managers, Imagen version 5 enables content owners to adapt to the marketplace quicker. New features include optimized ingest tools for rapid content on-boarding, new payment models allowing customers to license clips using micro credit payments and high speed fulfillment of high resolution content. New language localization features also enable content to be licensed by a worldwide customer base, or streamed to paying audiences across the globe. Used by a number of key customers such as Premier League, Channel 4, Endemol and IMG to manage, distribute and commercialize legacy and near live content, Imagen’s latest version of its Enterprise Video Platform creates even more opportunities to generate revenue for content owners, as well as preserving large libraries of media with best in class workflow and archiving tools.

https://imagenevp.com/

Imagine Products

Imagine Products, Inc. develops high value, innovative digital video utilities to backup, view, share, transcode and archive assets. Imagine’s array of applications offer simple to use, elegant user interfaces with powerful back-ends that are affordable for both professionals and beginners. Some popular applications include ShotPut Pro (offloading application), PrimeTranscoder (transcoding application), PreRollPost (LTFS archiving application) and HD-VU2 (native file viewer). 

http://www.imagineproducts.com

Masstech

Masstech’s scalable archive and storage management solution automates the archive process, ensuring that media and metadata are stored safely, while making it easy to find, retrieve and restore content in required formats. Whether archiving on-site, across multiple facilities or remotely for disaster recovery, Masstech enables media companies to preserve and protect valuable content and build deep media libraries that can be mined and repurposed.

www.masstech.com

Object Matrix

Object Matrix provides digital content governance & object storage platforms. The company was built on the philosophy that archive systems should be scalable and interoperable, as well as ensuring instant access to data and metadata. Its flagship product, MatrixStore, is an integrated object storage software solution, providing protection and governance for the lifetime of any digital content. Customers include NBC Universal, TV Globo, Imagina, Miami Heat, EDF, the BBC & BT to name a few.

www.object-matrix.com

Quantum Corporation

Quantum StorNext production & archive solutions power modern workflows, enabling content creators to collaborate in real-time and keep assets accessible for future use and re-monetization. Evolving for 4K and beyond, new camera formats, delivery options & tighter deadlines. StorNext supports every step of media workflows, managing content files from ingest to archive. Leading studios, broadcasters & thousands of smaller content creators use StorNext to create award-winning productions.

www.stornext.com

SGL

SGL is a leading provider of content archive and storage management solutions with over twenty years’ experience in the media and content management sectors. SGL’s FlashNet archive solution delivers unrivalled levels of resilience, flexibility and adaptability and the addition of FlashNet Infinity, an elegant suite of web-based dashboard tools, adds further sophistication to FlashNet. 

www.sglbroadcast.com/products/

StorageDNA

StorageDNA helps film, video, and broadcast professionals master their digital workflow, work more efficiently and save storage costs. StorageDNA helps media professionals address the challenges of high-resolution digital file-based workflows, including cost-effective backup and storage; the long-term protection of digital assets; and the need to easily archive, search, find, restore, and directly access content when needed. StorageDNA is known for the intelligent workflow solution DNAevolution built on Linear Tape Open (LTO) and Linear Tape File System (LTFS) technologies. StorageDNA’s solutions power some of the most complex and critical workflows for a wide range of customers, from major film studios and television production companies to sports organizations, government agencies, and Fortune 500 corporations.

www.storagedna.com

Vectracom

Vectracom is a mass digitization service company specializing in the preservation and valorization of audiovisual heritage, including films, video and audio. Vectracom operates worldwide, with offices in Europe, North America and North Africa. From inventory to delivery, from manual cleaning to automatic metadata creation, Vectracom has developed innovative solutions and workflows to adapt to the specific needs of each client.

www.vectracom.fr/en/

Wazee Digital

Wazee Digital demonstrated how they can capture content in real-time, upload it to the cloud using file acceleration where Wazee Digital Core (asset management platform) kicks off workflows that include creating file renditions, metadata extraction, archiving and publishing to multiple digital endpoints including Core, Digital Media Hub, Commerce, YouTube and Facebook.  All of which was accomplished using a 25 Mbps wifi network – proving the benefit of having a lightweight browser based front end with all the heavy lifting and transformation of video assets being processed and stored in the cloud.

www.wazeedigital.com/

 

Xeric Design

Xeric Design is the developer of Cinematica, a feature-rich professional video management system designed with powerful tools and an intuitive drag-and-drop interface to manage growing libraries of video files, with a range of options to suit every need. Features such as thumbnails, storyboards, and keywords make cataloging a snap. 

www.xericdesign.com

Digital Rights Management & Protection

ContentArmor

ContentArmor creates, develops, and commercializes security solutions for entertainment content, providing audio and video watermarking technologies to deter piracy for premium multimedia content across creation and distribution workflows.

www.contentarmor.net

FilmTrack

FilmTrack’s cloud-based platform provides the tools to manage mission-critical data, including contracts, rights, financials, royalties and asset management in one solution, simplifying the complexities of managing and licensing intellectual property. FilmTrack services broadcasters and other media and entertainment organizations by providing an end-to-end solution for the back office. FilmTrack can complement current systems by integrating with ERP or finance packages, mastering media management, or scheduling solutions with secure, RESTful APIs. 

www.filmtrack.com

Markany

ContentTRACKER,  MarkAny's forensic watermarking technology, facilitates multimedia business models and protects content in high piracy environments. ContentTRACKER enforces security policies by embedding unique and robust identifying code without altering the viewing experience for the legitimate user.

www.markany.com/eng/

Vistex

Vistex partners with clients to provide powerful cross-platform content, rights and royalties management solutions, allowing complex businesses to fully automate their requirements. With (17) offices and (1,200) employees worldwide, Vistex works with clients to manage the full life cycle of their Go-to-Market programs through strategy, software, implementation, execution, and analytics.

http://vistex.com

Search & Metadata

IDENTV

Whether from live TV streams or recorded video, IDENTV's pioneering Intelligent Video-fingerprinting Platform (IVP) processes visual content at ultra-fast speed with highly scalable & accurate recognition of objects, faces, brands, logos, scenes & more in an integrated self-managed environment. Creating powerful video analysis capabilities and actionable insights from Video Big Data.

www.identv.com

Primestream

Primestream’s FORK Logger delivers a user interface optimized for tagging real-time feeds with the metadata needed to make a quick turnaround – making sifting, sorting and finding the right clips easy. FORK Logger is now available as a self-contained turnkey solution tailored for sports production –facilitating faster and more efficient workflows. Automatically add rich metadata and markers with FORK Logger using live data from STATS, the leader in sports data and content. The module’s extensively configurable and contextually dynamic user interface gives sports loggers the tools to quickly tag video with pre-defined metadata – making assets easier to manage, move and ultimately monetize.

http://primestream.com/simplypowerful

Malgn Technology

Malgn’s KeyFlow Pro is a simple, elegant and surprisingly powerful media manager. Upload, preview, organize, role edit, tag, annotate and more with KeyFlow Pro, featuring deep integration with Final Cut Pro X. It's on the Mac App Store.

www.keyflowpro.com

ReCAP

ReCAP is a consortium of European companies that has recently received funding from the European Union to develop a Real-time Content, Analysis and Processing (ReCAP) software platform. The consortium includes NMR (UK) ToolsOnAir (Austria), nablet (Germany) and Joanneum Research (Austria). ReCAP will enable media companies to automatically analyze and extract time-stamped descriptive and technical metadata, in real-time, from live broadcast quality video content, as well as process their existing archive content.

www.recap-project.com

File Sharing

Aspera

Aspera, an IBM® Company, creates next-generation software technologies that move the world’s data at maximum speed regardless of file size, transfer distance and network conditions. Major film studios, post-production companies, visual effects houses, and broadcasters rely on Aspera to reduce production cycles while securely delivering high-resolution media worldwide, with the utmost quality of service, providing consumers with content faster and more efficiently than ever before.

www.asperasoft.com

FileCatalyst

FileCatalyst is a pioneer in managed file transfers and a world-leading accelerated file transfer solution. FileCatalyst is a software platform designed to accelerate and manage file transfers securely and reliably. FileCatalyst is immune to the effects that latency and packet loss have on traditional file transfer methods like FTP, HTTP, or CIFS. Global organizations use FileCatalyst to solve issues related to file transfer, including content distribution, file sharing, and offsite backups.

www.filecatalyst.com

Signiant

Signiant’s intelligent file transfer solutions help the world’s top media companies move petabytes of content every day over standard IP networks. Built on Signiant’s patented file transfer acceleration technology, the company’s on-premises and cloud-native SaaS solutions are the market leaders for moving large files over distance - between systems, between people, and to and from cloud object storage.

www.signiant.com  

Film Scanners & Restoration

Black Magic Cintel Film Scanner

The new Blackmagic Cintel film scanner includes the most advanced Image Mill image processing Cintel has to offer, built into the machine itself, providing powerful grain reduction and optical stabilization technology, which makes the Cintel scanner a perfect choice for historical archive conversions and restoration projects. Cintel’s ultra thin size means it can be desk-mounted or wall-mounted. There are even multiple accessory mount points for adding audio pickups or key-code readers. The Cintel film scanner produces stabilized, grain-reduced files that are ready for digital restoration and mastering.

www.blackmagicdesign.com/products/cintel

FilmFabriek

FIlmFabriek is the creator of the cost effective, high quality, modular frame-by-frame film scanner, used by archives and scanning companies worldwide to replace their telecine scanners. The scanner is sprocketless, offers sound heads and the unique wetgate system to optimize the digitization of damaged film.

www.filmfabriek.nl/filmscanner/

LaserGraphics

Since 1981, LaserGraphics has been at the forefront of film imaging system technology.  Their still-frame high resolution photo and slide film recording systems exceeded the rigorous demands of customers in the medical, military and digital photography markets.  This, coupled with innovative engineering, exacting levels of quality, and superior service is why LaserGraphics has sold over 25,000 still-frame film-recording systems.

http://lasergraphics.com/index.html

MTI Film, LLC

MTI Film provides world class digital film restoration services to studios and libraries that need the highest quality work delivered on time and on budget. The MTI team of experienced restoration artists use DRS™NOVA to remove all types of defects - ranging from warping, color breathing, and 3-layer misalignment, to dust, dirt and scratches. In addition, MTI provides expert color correction, editing, and transcoding tools for HD, UHD, and DCP delivery.

www.mtifilm.com/

RTI Film Group

The RTI Film Group specializes in providing a variety of equipment and technology for those involved in the digitization, preservation and migration of media content. That content may be residing on motion picture film, broadcast video formats or optical discs. Products such as digital film scanners for all film gauges, scanning at up to 5K resolution. The RTI Group includes Lipsner Smith, TapeChek Evaluators, BHP, Calder, Filmlab Systems, Imagica, and CIR. Over 100 specialized products are available.

www.rtico.com

Vintage Cloud

Vintage Cloud recently acquired long-established film editing table manufacturer Steenbeck, and now offers the world’s fastest film archive digitization system. The Vintage Cloud Steenbeck uniquely offers the ability to digitize separate image and audio at the same time at up to 4K resolution and up to 60 fps. The all-in-one system has now been enhanced by the introduction of Smart Indexing, which uses AI and machine learning to dramatically increase the speed and precision with which metadata can be included within the asset – giving it substantially more value.

www.vintagecloud.com/

Footage Companies

The footage industry was well represented at NAB 2017. In addition to our exhbition (Footage.net), exhibitors included Dissolve, Filmsupply, INA, Pond5, Shutterstock and VideoBlocks. We spent some time at all their booths and all seemed to agree that NAB was a productive venue for footage companies. 

Sessions

Investing in Stock: Getting Paid to Follow Your Passion

Robb Crocker, author of Stock Footage Millionaire, gave a presentation at the Adobe booth on how to produce and market stock footage. He discussed strategies for successful stock footage production including: shooting footage you would want to buy; using equipment you would want used in your own productions; developing a niche; looking for developing trends; leveraging your resources and special access; and playing to your strengths.  You can watch his presentation here

From Lens to Archive: Media Management for NewTek NDI

Workflow experts at ProMAX walked attendees through an end-to-end production process utilizing NewTek devices and the NDI protocol, showing attendees how to instantly manage media from first capture all the way though archive. The session looked at each specific step along the way, including: ingest; immediate backup; encoding & proxy generation; metadata tagging; searching; editing/post production; and long term archiving.

Attendees were guided through capturing and storing NDI video streams to a storage device; how to best protect media, short term & long term; understanding how live production broadcast can integrate into a post-production workflow; how to set up an integrated "production - post production" workflow utilizing NDI devices; how to organize, tag and search for media in a dynamic production environment; and how to archive content while still having access to proxy media.

How “Saturday Night Live” Built Private Cloud Storage to Accelerate Workflows and Archive Assets for the Next 40 Years Presented by Cloudian

Session covered how SNL manages and archives assets from 40 years of programming, and ensures those assets deliver value for the next 40 years, featuring media management and storage experts from SNL and presentation of their approach to building an open architecture and saving costs, while accelerating media access in their highly time-pressured workflow.

Footage Hacks: Smart Practices and Strategies for Better Footage Research, Acquisition & Use

In many important ways, finding footage has become easier than ever before. There’s an enormous amount of footage online, both on commercial sites like Footage.net, as well as consumer-directed sites like YouTube, offering researchers nearly instant access to clips. That said, finding, acquiring and using third-party footage remains a complex process, and high-level footage research requires skill and experience. With that in mind, we pulled together a list of hacks and suggestions from industry experts to help you raise your footage game. 

1. Dig Deeper

Not every piece of footage has been digitized and not every clip is online, so don’t assume that because a clip is not available online that it doesn’t exist. Comprehensive footage research will involve some level of direct interaction with the footage providers, and most footage houses are ready, willing and able to help you out. In addition, almost all archives can now digitize footage on request and send it to you via FTP very quickly for review. For the most, part this means allowing a bit more time for bringing in sample material, but otherwise the process should fit seamlessly into your workflow.

“Unless an archive has exclusively ‘born digital’ materials (like archives that feature contemporary footage) most archives have a vast array of archival source formats that were cataloged but never formally migrated to digital formats,” says Stephen Parr, president of Oddball Films.  “These formats, ranging from 16mm and 35mm film to multiple analog and digital videotape formats are almost always available to be digitized to the format of a clients choice. In fact, most archives are continually digitizing materials to new file formats, whether SD or 4K. You should always ask an archive if they have additional undigitized materials. If so, they may be able to transfer them for you on demand, or at least send you logs before you move forward with transfers. Some archives will digitize original source materials for free, others will charge a fee. Either way it’s incumbent upon a good researcher to ask about undigitized materials - if you don’t ask, you won’t find it.”

2. Provide as Much Information as Possible about your Project and Footage Needs

Talk directly to footage providers about your overall footage needs, not just the specific items you think they have in their collections. Most footage providers know their collections inside and out, so if they understand your project, and what you are looking for, they can offer suggestions you may not have considered. Additionally, providing as much detail as possible on your footage needs will expedite your search.

“There have been numerous times where we would receive an email for a very specific item and rather than just merely send them the requested clip, I would call them up, and because of a direct dialogue, I was able to suggest material they had not thought of, which then turned into many more licensing opportunities,” said David Peck, president of Reelin’ in the Years Productions.

These conversations, whether on the phone or over email, are also the place to dig into the details of your footage needs, especially when looking for editorial footage.

“By being more specific and providing more context in your footage requests, we will get the right footage to you faster, rather than spending more time for us to get you footage and you having to sort through footage you don’t want,” said Eileen O’Donnell, content manager at NBC News Archives.  “With editorial footage, information is important - locations, dates, time periods. If you have a specific event you’re looking for, let us know more than ‘Early Vietnam War’ or ‘Late Vietnam War.’  The more information you provide, the more accurate the search results will be.”

Other issues that warrant deeper communication include the “context [in which] the footage is going to be used,” said O’Donnell. “Are you looking for branded content with reporters to present as a news story, or are you looking for b-roll on the subject in question? If you’re doing a project on a famous person, do you truly need everything we have on that person, or is there a specific interview or topic they’ve spoken about that you need for your story?”  

3. Look for New Sources & Underused Footage

Finding new sources of footage, underused collections and less obvious footage can make a big difference in the final outcome of your film, both in its quality and its marketability. Finding new sources is “very critical - not just to make a sale, but for me to be excited about the project,” said documentary filmmaker Tom Jennings. “When you tell a network you've found something no one has seen before, they get excited. You have to remember their needs. They want to set this program apart from others that may have been done about the topic. For them, it's a marketing tool -- we have something new. For me, it's being able to see something that I think is familiar through new eyes. That's a major part of making these films feel special.”

“Look on either side of the iconic moment,” added Jennings. “Too many producers just go for the usual when it comes to telling historic events.  For our Pearl Harbor show, because we had no narration and no interviews, we heavily relied on playing major moments in ways not seen.  I swear if I hear President Roosevelt say, ‘a day that will live in infamy,’ and nothing else, I’m going to go crazy.  It turns out that speech is less than five minutes long.  The ‘Infamy’ part is the first 10 seconds.  The rest of the speech lays out the entire reason why the U.S. is going to war… what Japan had been up to, how they must have been planning this attach long in advance, etc.  It’s fascinating and sums up the entire entry into the war — in less than 5 minutes.  But all we know is, ‘a day that will live in Infamy.’  In our show, we used the entire speech and illustrated it with footage along the way.  I don’t know of any other doc that has played the entire speech, but I believe our viewers are much better informed for having heard it.  So my advice is, look for what’s on either side of the iconic moment. What was said and done before and right after?  Usually, there’s something very rich that just never made it into the highlights reels that so many producers rely on.”

4. Don’t Fall In Love with that YouTube Clip

Relying on YouTube as a footage search engine is a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it’s a great platform for accessing a large amount of video and seeing what’s out there. As documentary editor Cindy Kaplan Rooney put it, “YouTube and Google searches can be very helpful, especially when you are working independently. I recently edited the independent documentary Levinsky Park, about the plight of African Asylum seekers in Israel.  I did not have a staff.  It was the producer and myself.  We did use the name sources such as CNN, Getty and F.I.L.M. Archives, but to tell this story we needed to search far and wide and really hunt because this is not a widely covered topic. YouTube and general Internet searches were great research tools and helped to connect us with people that the producer then contacted.  Those contacts led us to very important footage that helped us tell this story.”

On the downside, identifying rights-holders for YouTube clips can be daunting, and sometimes impossible. “You do have to be willing to give up material that has been in your cut that you love if you are not able to get in touch with the rights holder,” said Kaplan Rooney. “This did happen on Levinsky Park.” Or, as Tom Jennings put it, “my researchers have made me swear-off looking at YouTube. The biggest challenge is not falling in love with footage before you know it can be cleared.”

Another issue to be aware of when using YouTube and other consumer-oriented video platforms to source footage is that a most of the large, commercial footage houses have not added the bulk of their collections to these sites. These commercial footage collections are much better accessed directly through their owner’s sites or through a footage aggregator like Footage.net.

“Only a tiny fraction of the footage industry’s collective archives are available on YouTube,” according to David Peck. “Relying solely on YouTube (which sadly many inexperienced people in this industry do) and not contacting archives directly does a great disservice the film you are making. Most of the archives out there (mine included) want to help you but if you come to us after the film has been cut with bootleg YouTube footage, than there’s not much we can do. Most companies don’t charge screener fees so there’s really no excuse not to come to us directly.”

5. Some News Footage May Need Additional Clearances

“Remember that while every network and local news station has their content on their websites, not all footage in those stories is available for licensing,” said Eileen O’Donnell of NBC News Archives. “News stories come from a variety of sources, in addition to [the networks] own reporters and camera operators.  Networks and local stations subscribe to agency news feeds where they have broadcast rights or may have secured rights for other third party videos or photos for broadcast.  For this reason, you cannot assume [the news] content you’ve found online is available to license for your project until it’s been fully vetted by the library.” 

6. Send a Zap

Sending a Zap Email through Footage.net is an easy, effective can way to kick off your footage research project, allowing you to send your footage request instantly to Footage.net’s full list of stock footage partners, where expert researchers at each company will review your request and get in touch with you directly if they have footage that meets your needs. The process is very straightforward and will ensure that your request goes out to a wide network of footage providers, some of which you might not have considered contacting directly. To send a Zap, just go to Footage.net, click on the Zap button on the homepage, fill out the (very brief) request form, hit send and you’re done.

7. Understand Third Party Rights

When licensing footage, it’s important to remember that while footage houses usually control the copyright to the footage itself, they may not control the underlying rights, especially those pertaining to the rights of privacy and publicity of recognizable individuals shown in the footage.

“Researchers should always check on the talent and location release status at the start of a search so that later they are not disappointed if their selection does not have the releases they need,” says Paula Lumbard, president of FootageBank HD.

Third party rights can be especially complicated when dealing with musical performances.

"Probably the most important thing to keep in mind when working with a company like Reelin' in the Years, and others such as Historic Films and BBC that have a large archive of music performance and entertainment oriented footage," said David Peck, "is that while we control the copyright to the footage in our collections, we do not hold the underlying rights, such as the rights to the performer's image and likeness. Which means that before using a clip from Reelin' in the Years of the Rolling Stones performing ‘Satisfaction’ from a 1965 appearance on German TV, users will need to obtain clearances from, and often pay license fees to, a variety of other entities, such as music publishers, record companies, unions and directors and, of course, the band members themselves.”

Property and locations may also be subject to privacy rights. Many of the houses, restaurant exteriors and other physical locations used in television shows and movies to set a scene come from stock footage agencies. And, like shots of recognizable people, these location clips typically require releases from the property owner. One of the more famous examples is the Hollywood Sign, the rights to which are controlled by the Hollywood Chamber of Commerce, which has appointed Global Icons to manage these rights and negotiate usage fees.

8. Get the Rights You Need

When licensing rights-managed footage, the distribution rights you ask for and the duration of the license term form the basis of the license fee. To cover their bases, producers will often ask for all rights, for all media, in perpetuity. Many have no choice but to acquire these rights in that they are producing a program for a specific network, which has mandated that all elements of a particular program be cleared for all uses, whether now known or hereafter invented. But if you’re producing an independent production and don’t have the budget to afford this all-encompassing grant of rights, talk to the provider about forming a step-up agreement, wherein minimal rights are acquired in the near-term and a price is set for add-on rights in the future, should they become necessary. 

“If you can't afford to secure all rights up front, it's advisable to discuss licensing options with an archive and have these options included as possible upgrades in the licensing agreement,” says Jessica Berman Bogdan, president of Global ImageWorks. “Options usually have some type of time limitation as to when they can be exercised. It's also helpful to know the costs you'll need to pay to secure additional rights when negotiating with distributors. Narrowing the grant of rights is another good cost control option. In our experience, oftentimes clients really don't need theatrical rights, for example. Overall, if you're not required to deliver this broad rights package or if the budget isn't there, don't ask for rights you really don't need.”

9. Negotiate License Fees

Prices for footage vary widely among footage houses. In the case of rights-managed footage, there is often some room to negotiate. Some archives have a pricing schedule for bulk deals, for example, wherein they will offer discounts for buying more footage from them for a specific project. For others, it’s more of an art than a science. Either way, it’s a good idea to give the archive a sense of the kind of project you are working on, how it is funded and what sort of budget you are working with. Without that knowledge, they’ll have no basis upon which to consider potential discounts.  

“Most archives want to have their footage licensed and want to support the production community,” says Jessica Berman-Bogdan. “Archives can be flexible but only to a point. Keep in mind there's a range within which archives can operate. If you're outside that range, you need to be able to justify why you should get a reduced fee.”

10. Work with Multiple Formats

Third-party footage, by definition, will originate on a wide variety of native formats. So a big consideration when working with third party footage is how these varied formats and aspect ratios will be integrated into your final production. “In addition to archival film and video formats, now with the introduction of Ultra HD, 4K, and even higher resolution clips into the footage world, it is wise prior to licensing to understand the master format options of the clips you are considering,” said Paula Lumbard, president of FootageBank. “Consider asking about the native capture format, the camera used, the resolution of both native digital file as well as the stock clip file, and delivery options.”  Some footage houses may offer to convert their clips from standard definition to high definition, or to assist in scanning of film elements.  Fees are often involved due to processing. Again, these are conversations to have with the footage providers. 

11. Hire a Researcher/Rights & Clearance Specialist

Online footage platforms have made footage research more accessible, convenient and efficient. With a bit of practice, you can get pretty good at finding clips. But deep, extensive and effective footage research takes experience and skill, especially if your project requires a lot of third-party content. For complex projects, the services of an experienced film researcher can be essential. An experienced researcher can not only find great footage, but can often rack down and negotiate with the rights holder, consult on your footage budget, negotiate license fees and help design and implement your in-house production archive. And, as Paula Lumbard put it, “experienced researchers/rights and clearance professionals have relationships with rights holders and archives that can benefit you. In addition to saving time, they may be offered discounts, or granted rights not ordinarily extended to those fresh to licensing.”

12. Organize Your Production Library

A large-scale footage research project will require an in-house system for storage, indexing and retrieval of clips. This is essential for your production workflow, as well as for tracking and accounting for the clips you actually end up using in your production.

“I frequently edit on shows that have many editors sharing material on a server,” said Cindy Kaplan Rooney. “An absolute must is to have a cataloging system started from the first piece of footage that comes in house.  Typically, we set up our system so the clip name tells you what the category of content is as well as the footage source and date if the date is pertinent for the show. The same type of database is created for archival stills as well as footage.  The log also includes a description of the material because you rarely get good descriptions these days. We used to get cards that told you exactly what was there on the clips. So once that footage is out there on the server and various editors are working with it you can always track it back.  Another database is also created for material that is more general in nature and can be used for many different types of sequences. “

“Periodically, an assistant editor or production assistant reviews the rough cuts and makes note of what has been used,” said Kaplan Rooney. “This is also a good check to make sure that there is no duplication.  It always amazes me that on a big history show, or series, with tons of good footage editors often zero in on the exact same shots!”

“If the schedule is tight, the staff will begin immediately to work on the rights clearances, if they haven’t already made an upfront deal with the footage source,” added Kaplan Rooney. “Most places require a log of exactly what shots you are using with time codes and lengths before they will give a quote.  This is pretty much in flux during a rough-cut stage, but it’s a starting point and you can update it later on. By doing this early, if there is a problem making a deal, the editors have time to find alternatives. When working on a big archival show, it’s pretty impossible to clear rights on everything ahead of time because there is so much gathered and only a fraction of that will actually be used.”

Conclusion

We hope these suggestions have been helpful. Obviously, it is not an exhaustive list and learning about the process of finding, acquiring and using footage is an ongoing process. Please let us know if we missed anything important. We are always happy to add to the list!

Footage.net Announces Final Exhibit Partners for NAB

Footage.net's exhibition will feature a diverse group of leading footage companies, including ABCNEWS VideoSource, Bridgeman Images, FootageBank, Global ImageWorks, HOsiHO, INA and Reelin’ in the Years Productions, offering attendees a unique opportunity to discover new footage sources, meet footage providers in person and delve into the ins and outs of locating, acquiring and using footage. 

NAB has long been known as a technology and hardware show, where broadcast engineers come to find out about the latest gear. But over the last few years, with cutting-edge production technology becoming more available to independent producers, NAB has evolved into an annual destination for production professionals of every kind. They’re eager to learn about new production tools and trends, so it’s a great forum for introducing them to our footage partners and presenting footage as an easily accessible creative option.

“Providing our footage partners with a forum to meet producers and present their content is a top priority for us at the NAB Show,” said David Seevers, Footage.net Chief Marketing Officer. “So our partner companies will be front and center at our NAB booth.” 

The 2017 NAB Show is set to take place for April 24 to 27 at the Las Vegas Convention Center. The Footage.net booth will be located in the South Hall, Lower, #14,810. As one of the world’s largest production shows, NAB brings together a huge number of production professionals, the majority of which are there to learn about production resources and make purchase plans and decisions.

NBC News Archives Marks 25th Anniversary of LA Riots

On March 3, 1991, Rodney King, a paroled felon, led police on a long, high-speed chase through Los Angeles.  King surrendered and four officers subsequently beat him more than 50 times with their batons. Footage of the beating videotaped by a witness was broadcast on KTLA and aired numerous times around the world.

King was released without charges and the four officers were indicted by a grand jury in connection with the beating.  On April 29, 1992, the four white LAPD officers were acquitted and protests and violence erupted in South Central Los Angeles, starting with the beating of Reginald Denny, and spread throughout the metropolitan area. The riots lasted for six days and left dozens dead, over 2,300 people injured, and more than 11,000 arrested, leaving Los Angeles with an estimated $1 billion in property damage.

25 years later, NBC News Archives marks the anniversary of the LA Riots with a compilation of footage that includes the outrage of the LA Community, aerials of the rioting and looting, the call for Chief Gates resignation, Rodney King and his representatives’ reaction to the violence and Los Angeles attempting to rebuild after the riots. Footage from their extensive LA Riots collection has been used in countless productions, including A&E Network’s “L.A. Burning: The Riots 25 Years Later”, National Geographic Channel’s “LA 92”, Universal feature film, “Straight Outta Compton”, and ESPN’s “O.J.: Made in America” amongst others.   To view, license and download this footage, go to:  LA Riots at NBCUniversalArchives.

StormStock’s Martin Lisius Acquires Final Elements for New Storms Doc

Filmmaker, and veteran storm chaser, Martin Lisius has announced that the sequel to his 1995 award-winning documentary The Chasers of Tornado Alley will be completed later this year. Three years in the making, the doc (working title “TCOTA2”), will focus on the wonder of storms and the people who study them to improve public safety.
 
“It has been more than 20 years that I began working on the original, and I felt it was time to produce a sequel to reflect on the changes we’ve seen in our discipline,” Lisius said. “Both technology and the public’s perception of storm chasers have evolved significantly since the mid-1990’s. I want to reveal that despite the difference in how we handle data, the majority of the people behind it are the same; responsible and serious individuals dedicated to mitigating severe weather risks. If you told someone you’re a storm chaser in 2017, they would think you were a crazy, loud, reckless person. But, the reality is most storm chasers are not that way at all. And, many are making huge contributions to the community,” he said.
 
The new documentary is a production of Texas-based Prairie Pictures, and is being shot on DCI 4K. The production crew has already acquired unique and stunning footage of tornadoes, massive storms and incredible lightning displays utilizing aerial platforms, time-lapse and motion control.
 
No specific distribution channel has been determined, but according to Lisius, a television, Internet or theatrical release are all options.
 
Fans can follow the progress of the documentary at the TCOTA2 Facebook page.

YouTube: an Asset for Footage Companies?

In our interview with footage researchers last month (A View from the Archival Trenches), archival researcher Jodi Tripi said that "everybody on the planet thinks that YouTube is a search engine and that they are a footage researcher," a reality that often complicates life for archival researchers. So this month we reached out to a group of footage industry leaders to find out how YouTube has affected their work, and whether the platform is an asset to their businesses. We got a great response from the footage community, including Scott Dittrich (Action Sports), Alan Bradshaw (AP Archive), Alastair White (British Pathe), Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage), Chris Bridson (Conus Archive), Jim Erickson (CriticalPast), Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archives), Lorena Booth (Framepool), Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks), Sami Sarkis (HOsiHO), Sandrine Sacarrere (INA), Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com), Ben Jones (Science Photo Library) and Martin Lisius (StormStock). You can read their responses in full below.

Footage.net: As noted, in our interview for our February newsletter, Jodi Tripi said, "everybody on the planet thinks that YouTube is a search engine and that they are a footage researcher." Do you agree? And if so, what are the implications for the footage industry in general and for your business in particular?

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): Jodi is spot on.  Just about every day we get an inquiry from someone whose higher up (usually a director, sometimes a producer) saw a clip on YouTube and wants to know if we have it or can supply something virtually identical. Overall, I think it helps shops like ours, as it does drive people to us when they have trouble tracking down the person who posted (who usually has no rights to the footage). As a catch-all video depository, I see it as a net plus both to us and researchers. There is also a lot of rare material up there that would otherwise never surface.

Alastair White (British Pathe): Yes of course YouTube is a search engine and we should all accept this.  It is the industry’s primary video platform with thousands of new videos uploaded every day, so it is human nature to start off your search there.  It is the responsibility of the industry to try and ensure this platform works to our benefit, because it is not going away.  We understand that only a small proportion of viewers are potential licensing customers, but the numbers are so large that even a small percentage is a large figure.

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): We agree to some extent that frequent use of YouTube has “dumbed down” footage research.  That said, most of our business still comes from Google text-based search results.  Either way, we find ourselves constantly adjusting our business to suit the whims of Google, whether to satisfy text-based search or YouTube search.  As long as Google remains basically unchallenged by competitors, this will be the state of the industry.

Chris Bridson (Conus): Researchers using YouTube as a “search engine” has become ever more evident. Being part of a business that deals with archives, I have heard from researchers attempting to source video found on general internet sites can be very challenging.  As anyone and everybody can post clips, many that they don’t own rights to, it can be very challenging for researchers to source material.  Many times this workload is passed down to archive houses, to assist in determining if something exists within their holdings.  We would prefer to get the research requests directly, spending our time to find the best material to pitch within our own collection. In the end, we feel this saves our clientele time and in the end, money.

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): I agree on both counts. YouTube is a search engine, one of the most popular, and whether people look for Kanye, cats or epic fails, it’s hard to argue it’s not footage research to some extent. Of course, footage research as we know it entails a lot more than search engines, and the vast majority of YouTube videos don’t mention much about copyright, licensing, access to uncompressed versions and all the other facets of our work. However, as a wildly, rightly, popular site it’s impossible to ignore its impact. For archives it’s a great source of interaction with clients, contributors and the wider world. For creators and rights owners it’s a showcase and a shop window as much as it’s a sea of pirates, and can generate revenue as well as publicity. For researchers it can often be the first port of call, the start of a long journey to licensing the clip they need. But while the visual history of film and television remains off YouTube, legally at least, it won’t replace the expertise of traditional researchers, nor the archives that preserve such content.

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA): We have more and more footage requests with just a YouTube link. It is quite complicated for us to identify the footage spotted on YouTube because Ina has more than 1.5 million hours of programs online. In that case, we need to do a deeper search in our database to have access to the content requested by the client. It takes us more time to process that way.

Sami Sarkis (HOsiHO): We do have a YouTube channel but we don’t push it that much. It’s here for our showreels. We haven’t yet seen any evidence of business coming from YouTube. In the future we’ll probably upload more individual clips to YouTube and see what happens. We are using many social media sites, and the most efficient in terms of visibility and driven traffic are LinkedIn and Facebook, according to our records.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): Yes that is the impression most people have. I also use YouTube as a research tool, but reluctantly as it is mostly non-professionals posting the content: it is often impossible to contact and/or get a timely response from the person who posted content.  Most of time they don’t own it and have no right whatsoever to it. The footage industry can only benefit from the free exposure and any user who wants to license footage may be delighted to find that it is an established footage house posting.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): Almost anyone can do some research on-line. But, not all data is out there. Veteran researchers like Jodi Tripi, Roxanne Mayweather, and Chris Lutz have acquired and developed trustworthy sources directly for material. Their clients demand high quality footage that is properly cleared. So, if you want to do it right, you really need to hire a professional. Would you skimp on a director or cinematographer? If quality is important to you, then you can’t skimp on a researcher. They can save your ass!

Scott Dittrich (Action Sports): I agree with Jodi.  You tube is not a search engine for stock footage, nor should it be.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): I would certainly say that the younger people do believe that it is an asset to them to search for footage. It is certainly one of the steps that young people take to find something. The hard part is how do you clear it?

Lorena Booth (Framepool): YouTube does act as an unofficial search engine and people looking for footage tend to use it as a content search engine. The problem is that they are not fully aware of the quality restrictions as well as the copyrights involved. Licensing from YouTube can go either way, very fast and easy for simple stuff, or very slow and complicated when the desired video requires third party clearance. As footage experts, we have to be prepared to educate the client on the implications of licensing YouTube material, which can potentially cause unforeseen project delays.

Alan Bradshaw (AP Archive): Over the past few years we’ve certainly seen a change in how our customers approach us in terms of buying footage. Increasingly editors, directors and assistant producers source their content from YouTube first before calling in an experienced archive producer toward the end of a production to clear the footage. Trying source copyright on YouTube is a minefield and often the archive producer has to frantically replace shots with known archives in the edit due to time constraints.

FN: What is your YouTube strategy? Do you have a dedicated channel for your footage business? If so, what sort of content does it include? Is it driving inquiries?

Alastair White (British Pathe): British Pathe’s YouTube strategy is well advanced.  3 years ago we recognized the power of YouTube and uploaded the entire British Pathe archive, 85,000 individual films; this was the largest single upload in YouTube’s history.  We have a number of YouTube channels, which currently have over 540,000 subscribers.  We also produce a number of new films each month to encourage viewership and subscribers. 

Alan Bradshaw (AP Archive): We noticed that a lot of AP News content was being uploaded to You Tube by members of the public without our control and without AP being credited for the content. So in 2014 we made the decision to up load our entire archive to the YouTube. By having our whole archive sitting on YourTube’s servers we are able to take advantage of their content ID system, which allows us to control what happens with AP copyright video on YouTube. The upload was one of the largest in YouTube’s history and when completed 1 million minutes of video had been published! For us it’s been a great marketing success and allows people to find our content easily with clear instructions on how and where they can license our video. By including our metadata with the video, it’s vastly improved our SEO on Google, making us far more visible to potential new business. We initially launched on YouTube with two channels, AP Archive and British Movietone, but since acquiring the British Movietone archive at the end of last year we’ve now launched a specialist channel looking at royalty around the world. We have more channels planned too over the coming year.

Lorena Booth (Framepool): We consider YouTube as an asset rather than as a competitor. Clients who do not yet know Framepool, will stumble upon our footage while on YouTube and come back to our site. Therefore YouTube is treated as an additional way of generating business and bring awareness to our brand and business. We have different channels and playlists where the client can be led back to our page and also show what our collections are all about. Our channels cover all content we offer - historical, editorial and creative. As well as special playlists highlighting projects where Framepool footage has been used. [It is driving inquiries] both from large and small clients.

Chris Bridson (Conus): Years ago, we started to use YouTube to highlight a special collection of “caught on tape” material, CaughtOnTapeTV, which was initially designed for our International clientele that were frequently using the site to find clips.  More recently, we created a new channel to highlight the entire OJ Simpson criminal trial, OJ Trial Uncut.  We found YouTube to be the perfect venue to post long clips that researchers can easily access.  Should they have a licensing need, the footage is clearly identifiable as being ours, and researchers can record specific time code information that will match our master.   Both channels have proven popular for researchers and have driven inquiries.    

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): We have a YouTube channel, and our strategy with it is to simply have a wide representation of our collection on it, well watermarked. The channel drives inquiries, although oftentimes the inquiries are from consumers, not professionals.  We try to filter out items that might not be suitable for all ages. That’s sometimes difficult, given how much war-related content we have.  YouTube has placed a small quantity of our clips behind an 18+ age filter, but those clips remain accessible.

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): We have a dedicated channel at youtube.com/sciencephotolibrary, and we post highlights, new collections, striking clips and more. Many of our contributors have their own channels too, and pass us any requests they get from the public or clients. Our own channel doesn’t drive sales as much as it’s a brand awareness tool, and a convenient embed facility for other social sites. Our contributors’ channels certainly drive sales to us, although for every sale there are dozens of people with interest, but no budget, of course.

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): Yes, we do have a YouTube channel that features a subset of the screeners we have on our website. It definitely puts the footage in front of a great many more eyeballs than would see it on our website. We generally get a least a few sales a month from clients who see the footage on YouTube and want to license.

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA): In March 2012, Ina and YouTube concluded a partnership allowing Internet users to get free access to a part of the INA audiovisual memory. This agreement covers the broadcasting and monetization of 70,000 Ina videos on YouTube. This initiative responds to a common desire to make accessible to all, the French audiovisual heritage. It permits Ina to share its memory with millions of Internet users of all ages and nationalities browsing videos on YouTube each month. Ina has now 28 dedicated channels on YouTube for the general public only, not for footage business.  These are thematic channels (Politics, Paris Vintage, Society, Best of Classic, Travels, Sciences, History, Animals, Humor, Performances, Culture, Talk shows, Best of 60’s, best of 70’s, Best of 80’s, best of 90’s etc.). To date, Ina has 270,000 subscribers for all its channels. In 2016, 84 millions Ina videos were seen on all its YouTube channels.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): Post much as possible. We have a dedicated YouTube channel including all content we have in both short clips and long form. Yes, it is driving inquiries.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): StormStock does have a YouTube channel. It features some of our more dramatic material. We do occasionally get inquires via YouTube searches, but they tend to be small jobs, projects with small budgets.

Scott Dittrich (Action Sports): I totally ignore YouTube.  Those who use it say it is a waste of time and only attracts the lowest budgets.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): We have a YouTube channel with around 2700 followers. Every time we cover an event we put together a 2-3 minute highlight reel that showcases the best of the event and the biggest celebrities there. Then we blast that video out to all our clients and our social media sites, and pushing that video out to YouTube is just one more step in our routine. We’re producing those videos anyway, so it is not extra work for us. We just have to upload the file using a special compression because it does have all that watermarking on it. We do want people to appreciate that quality of it so we upload it in HD. We believe that YouTube is just another search tool that some of these young people will do a search on, so it is just one more outlet that we’d like to cover. We put all the people’s names [from the event] in the metadata so it helps make it searchable. And that is also where we host our videos for social media platforms, meaning that when we put something out on Facebook or Twitter, YouTube is the place where the video is hosted. It isn’t costing us anything to do it and the hope is that we either get revenue from a license or the advertising that is associated with it. The reality is low, though occasionally we do see some spikes. Our clip of Kim Kardashian getting flower bombed got over 168,000 views. We did a video on Adam Levine’s star on the Walk of Fame, which got over 30,000 views. We did an event for a pre-Grammy party that got over 20,000 views. I think somebody embeds it in a social media capacity and it gets shared and I think that is how that quantity of views happens.

Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks): Yes, Global ImageWorks has a dedicated YouTube channel.  We have a representative sampling from across our various collections and have a targeted marketing plan to include YouTube. We have found that over the past few years YouTube has become an effective tool in the arsenal for business-to-business marketing.  It has become a way to connect us with new clients.  Between 20% to 30% of our collection is represented on our company’s YouTube page, organized into thematic demo reels as well as many stand-alone clips based on specific collections or topics such as historic travel, global conflict, 9/11, automotive history, world cultures, or sample reels from our premium collections such as The Dick Cavett Show, Austin City Limits, Harold Lloyd or Omnibus. 

FN: Are you getting calls from people who have found a clip on YouTube and believe it belongs to you? How do you handle these inquiries? Is this a good source of new business?

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): Not usually from the public finding our site or our clips, although it’s happened on occasion – we’re not an archive of record per se. It’s far more common that people see clips on our contributors’ channels, contact them, and then are passed to us by the contributor. Most vanish with nary a reply when they get an email from an agency that talks of licensing and the like, but a significant minority do turn into sales.

Lorena Booth (Framepool): Yes, we do. Whenever clients come across something which leads them back to Framepool, we either license and deliver the clip right away or act as the facilitator to clear any third party rights or perform additional research to fulfill their needs. [Is it a good source of new business?] Yes and no. It does bring new business from small companies or small clients acting like a B2C. Not a great source of new business because YouTube is a huge content cloud not meant as a footage search engine therefore it becomes somewhat difficult to narrow down the search to a particular subject.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): Funny thing is folks will see footage on the YouTube StormStock channel and then ask us (StormStock) if it’s ours. Naturally, we say yes. Only a tiny percentage of jobs come through YouTube. Footage.net and professional researchers are far more important to us.

Alastair White (British Pathe): Yes, we get enquires everyday from customers who have found one of our films on YouTube and wish to license it.  It is a particularly good source of new customers from overseas who may not be so familiar with the British Pathe archive.

Chris Bridson (Conus): It’s not common, but on occasion, we have received an inquiry regarding a “caught on tape” clip that they have found on other Channels and ask if it’s ours.  Due to the infrequency, this is not a good source of new business.

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): We get regular inquiries, usually through the contact form on our web page.   It is a good source of new business.  Usually, we just refer the person to the clip in question as hosted directly on our site rather than on the YouTube channel.

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): We handle the sale as we do any other. If they email us about the clip, we ask how it will be used and the duration of the license. About half respond and it usually turns into a sale.  Overall, a good percentage of those who come to use from YouTube tend to be independent producers and students with lower budgets.  So, we tend to get somewhat lesser rates, but a sale is a sale. 

Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks): Yes quite often. In addition to our continuing to upload more footage all the time, several of our footage partners have their own YouTube pages and include links and notes referencing Global ImageWorks for anyone interested in licensing clips. With more researchers using YouTube as a primary source, the goal is to insure all stand-alone clips are watermarked and can be referenced back to us so they can be easily licensed.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): It’s hard to say. When we get a referral we try to ask them where they found us and it’s rare that we hear it is from YouTube. I don’t how much it generates in terms of sales or legitimate licenses. It does certainly make people aware of our brand and let’s people know what we do. There are at least 2,700 people who have subscribed and want to know what we are shooting. Obviously we have our website connected to it so there is a way to find us and reach out to us. But I don’t have an answer to that because I don’t have enough customer feedback. There are a handful of times when someone has shared a YouTube link with us and asked if we had anything like it. We find it and send it to them. Usually we’ll have something that is similar or better. It does not happen a lot. I’m sure you see on Footage.net sometimes people will just embed a YouTube link and ask whether anyone can tell me what this is or tell me who this belong to. Or can someone find me something like this? So they use it as an example.

Sami Sarkis (HOsiHO): It happens sometimes and we drive them to our main site.

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA): Ina footage on YouTube has a burnt-it logo so it is quite easy for audiovisual professionals to identify Ina as the rights holder. We only handle the inquiries for which the clips belong to Ina. YouTube could be one of the sources of new business because more and more audiovisual professionals use this platform to find their clips (quicker way to find the footage they are looking for). But, to date, Ina does not use YouTube as a professional platform.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): Yes. I try to determine if the caller has a budget to afford the clips they want. Is it a good source of new business? Yes and No. If the sale is automated, yes. But mostly non-professionals and students respond.  They are usually shocked at the prices, even when discounted, and require some amount of educating about buying footage. Many of the YouTube generated interest are time wasters, however.

Alan Bradshaw (AP Archive): Each video that we publish on YouTube has a direct link back to the same video on aparchive.com. This makes it very easy for anyone interested in licensing our content to do so without fuss. It’s been a great source of new business especially with customers who wouldn’t traditionally buy video.

Scott Dittrich (Action Sports): No.

FN: Overall, has YouTube been a positive factor for your footage business? Why/why not? What are the risks?

Chris Bridson (Conus): YouTube has been a positive factor, but using the site is not a major part of our business model.   We prefer to focus our resources on making it easier to find footage within our own collections of material.  While 90% of our clips have screeners posted to view and download off Footaget.net, we are working hard to close that gap and get as much as possible online for researchers to view.  In addition, we are constantly adding metadata to our scripts, making it easier for both ourselves and our clientele to find that perfect clip.

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): I’d say it’s been positive. Even without the publicity and sales/marketing aspects, it provides a very easy to use service for the dissemination of content across our social channels – being able to embed videos from YouTube into Facebook, etc. is a great help, saving us making different formats for every platform. It provides decent statistics and analytic tools, too, making it easy to measure the reach and effect of different topics and styles of video. I’ll be uploading a very different-style video after answering these questions, in fact, and I’m intrigued to see the responses. On the response point, it’s a truism of the web, sadly, but really: don’t read the comments! We leave them on for interaction and genuine questions, but on a popular video they can fill up with rubbish fast. We posted an animation comparing the sizes of the planets and stars that quickly turned into a slanging match between religious and anti-religious types, interspersed with people who still get a kick from puns on “Uranus.” We’ve maybe been lucky that we’ve not had anything to date that’s reflected badly on us, and we try to respond to genuine questions and enquiries quickly. Some videos we’ve posted have been picked up by media aggregators and shared on their sites, which has driven interest and interaction, and has been good publicity, leading to big spikes in subscribers, as well as contact with the aggregators themselves. On the downside there’s always a risk that someone will rip a video, block the watermark and try to monetize it themselves. It’s happened a couple of times that we know about. That doesn’t look good for us or the contributors, but they have improved reporting and other tools.

Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks): My answer today is different from what it might have been a year or two ago.  YouTube has become a primary search engine for experienced researchers but it is only one of the tools of finding footage. Experienced researchers understand that YouTube is not always the most accurate way to source copyright or ownership but it is a great way to find what might be available.  However as more footage companies embrace YouTube, it is a growing way for people to find legitimate licensing channels for footage. The risk is that many inexperienced researchers do not understand that YouTube is not the be all and end all to finding footage and that too often the sourcing and copyright information may be inaccurate.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): For our business it is more positive than negative. People do find us on YouTube, so overall it is an asset. I do think it is a much more business to consumer platform. But I do think when people do searches they have found us on YouTube and then come to us to license something. It makes people aware of our brand and what we do. And the subscribers get notified when we post something new.

Alastair White (British Pathe): Overall, it has been a positive factor in our growth; we have seen a doubling of our overseas business.  There are some risks involved such as pirating of footage, but our belief is that most serious producers would not risk ripping off a video to put into their program to then deliver to a channel (and warrant that the program is fully cleared), they would prefer to license it legally through us to ensure they are fully covered.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): I think our YouTube channel has been positive, but it really only generates a very small part of our business.

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): YouTube has been a positive factor for our business, but we wish that Google would return to showing more video search results that are not from YouTube within the Google search engine. They used to show more video search results outside of YouTube, but have pretty much abandoned that practice. The risk with YouTube is that it is yet another layer that completely controls our Google video search results.

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): Yes, very positive. Only downside is you do get a fair number of inquiries from people with no budget at all who want the footage for free.

Sami Sarkis (HOsiHO): I don’t think there’s any risk if the footage is well watermarked. It might be a good source for our business, but not yet! For us it is more another way to advertise our content in general. The limitation is that it needs a lot of time, thus resource and costs if we intend to have a significant portion of the collection up there!

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA): Ina does not use YouTube as a professional website.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): Yes, YouTube is important to us. I think that those in the entertainment business would recognize that we are a footage company. We can post almost everything. We are able to monetize most of our content and get monthly YouTube payments. The burn-in time code we use is abbreviated, without the frenetic frame count, so that the content is more watchable as entertainment. [Risks include] take down notices made by psycho claimants for music and content. Getting copyright strikes. 3 times and you may be out.  People use the clean portions, free, and blur or crop the logos and time code. It is my feeling that those people would not have bought the content in any event.

Scott Dittrich (Action Sports): No.

 Lorena Booth (Framepool): Yes it has. It has allowed for Framepool to use it as an additional platform to highlight its content, services and expertise. The risk is having our footage being used without the proper licensing and authorization by people who may be unaware of the licensing requirements for legal use.

FN: How do you protect your content on YouTube?

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): We overtly watermark content that is on YouTube.   YouTube consumer feedback (from viewers outside the pro industry) suggests that they absolutely hate the practice, but we know from long experience that this is a necessary protection tool.  We’re continually amazed at how poorly our competitors protect their content.  It does not bother us when consumers cast “Thumbs down” votes on our videos due to our watermarking, because we are not interested in driving up non-pro viewership, and we’re not trying to use YouTube as a major advertising revenue driver. We only want our videos to be found by the “right” viewers:  Legitimate researchers licensing for the professional industry. That kind of customer is not bothered by overt watermarking.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): We watermark our material on YouTube. We did ask YouTube if we could join their copyright protection program, but they said no. We will continue to pursue that. I think it would benefit both parties. It would help to protect our copyrighted footage, and would further illustrate their commitment to protection and the DMCA.

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA): Ina is very careful about the protection of its content on YouTube. It has a dedicated Legal Team whose role is to control any piracy of its content. Ina uses the filtering technology used by YouTube, Content ID, which is free to the rights holders. This technology allows them to identify and manage Ina content uploaded on YouTube. Identification files are created and compared to users' videos.

Alastair White (British Pathe): All our films are branded with the British Pathe logo.

Chris Bridson (Conus): We add either a watermark and/or a BITC window to our clips, which will identify the clip as being ours and discourages any outside, unauthorized production use.  Nothing goes up clean.

Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks): All footage we have uploaded to YouTube must be watermarked, timecoded and tagged as being from Global ImageWorks. Content ID is a good attempt by YouTube to help with copyright and sourcing but oftentimes it has also created problems when there might be multiple copyrights or conflicting copyright interests – ie.  multiple copyright interestsmight exist when there are both the physical clip rights and separate music rights to a recording that is a second copyright or if a finished program is put through Content ID which includes legitimately licensed clips which also have been registered through Content ID- these conflicting rights situations may cause a clip to beincorrectly flagged for infringement.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): I burn a large logo on the upper left and have a medium time code and user bit burn-in on the lower right or more recently centered a bit more to be in tandem with YouTube ads. So that the pop-up ad appears over the time code/user bit portion, causing the viewer less overly visual interruption.

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): We place the same time code and company ID burn in into the footage. So, it would make it difficult for someone to use it in any kind of professional project.

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): Mainly through watermarking, and top-and-tailing the video with our name and website.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): We originally thought theft was an issue, so at the bottom of every video we post it says “License this Clip and More at CelebrityFootage.com” and it has a watermark on it. Because people have no problem taking YouTube footage and doing what they want with it. Which is why the watermark and the line at the bottom is there, because a lot of people fair use that stuff. Or try to. Once they see the watermark, a legitimate outlet, I think, that would scare them away from that. We are obviously happy to negotiate a reasonable license fee for that, but that is what makes us feel okay about it. Because at the beginning we knew people would just steal stuff from it. We supply footage to online platforms and people post that onto YouTube. So we need to do some enforcing on that. We do our own research and try to monitor people using our stuff. People do repost stuff on there all the time. We do a lot of policing daily, obviously separate from YouTube. We watch a whole host of shows and online platforms. Theft is everywhere. Even with the biggest companies. You’d be amazed. The news departments have just hacked their staff so far down that they just have no incentive, they just work off of complaints. If somebody wants to make a claim they just try to make it go away quietly.

Lorena Booth (Framepool): All content is watermarked for additional protection.

Scott Dittrich (Action Sports): I don't’ post it there.

FN: If you have found YouTube to be an asset for your footage business, are there any limitations to its utility?

Lorena Booth (Framepool): As mentioned earlier, it is an asset but the majority of YouTube users are there to watch videos and expose their content just like us rather than to buy footage therefore not much revenue is generated from this particular source.

Ben Jones (Science Photo Library): Its sheer size is something of a barrier to utility, as there’s so much content there that we’re a mere drop in the ocean: we don’t get many views from organic searches, however we keyword our work. As with the rest of the web, it’s not always easy to find rights information or the ultimate owner of the footage, nor contact details. Their algorithms sometimes cover our videos with adverts for services we’d never endorse, although I should say they’ve made it straightforward to remedy these. It also lacks the art and creative slant of services like Vimeo, whose more discerning users tend to offer more than slang and slanging. But I wouldn’t be without it, and we’re looking to engage more with it going forward, rather than pulling back.

Adam Sargis (MyFootage.com): Although users can search only the videos on your channel, you cannot easily search the Playlists that are like the old subject related comp reels we used to dub and send to clients. This was an easy first response to a request, which is followed by a more specific research and audition clip delivery. There is no way to sell or vend clean files via YouTube, at the moment. Vimeo Plus is a good alternative, but my library is too large to have them host all.

Chris Bridson (Conus): YouTube has been an asset.  One drawback is the occasional challenge of copyright claims from other production companies. Ironically, most of these claims come from productions to which we originally licensed the material in question.  I understand these claims are most likely auto-generated and are cleared up after filing a dispute, but it’s just another task to add on to the daily workload.

Jim Erickson (CriticalPast): For us, the primary limitation of YouTube is the sheer size of the service, which causes it to be administered mostly by bots rather than humans.  That means that we constantly have to respond to problems flagged by algorithms, which usually result in paperwork (online form responses) that may or may not be adjudicated by a human.  The biggest problem we have with YouTube is the constant daily attention it requires of us, coupled with the sense that someday HAL will randomly refuse to open the pod bay doors.

Mark Trost (F.I.L.M. Archive): The major downside is that you are throwing the stuff out there to the world and much of the world doesn't realize they have to pay for use (especially if they want clean material). Some are surprised, others just go away and we suspect they take it down and use it as is. But since they can do the same thing from our website, there really isn't much of a downside. Overall, a highly useful tool for us and the client.

Martin Lisius (StormStock): The upside to YouTube is it allows for some free exposure. But, it is limited as a source for business because it’s not the ideal audience. Stock footage is very niche. There are only a tiny percentage of people that need it. YouTube is an on-line general audience video network for people that want to see music videos, how-to videos, entertainment, celebrities, and videos of dogs running around in circles chasing their tails.

Sandrine Sacarrere (INA):  Ina does not consider YouTube as an asset for its footage business. Ina has its own professional website, www.inamediapro.com, allowing clients to carry out research in the whole of its audiovisual database, view the footage online, create clips, download low res footage etc.

Michael Goldberg (Celebrity Footage): Because it is so big, if you search Matt Damon, I don’t know if we would come up. You’d have to search something more specific, like what event he was at or something connected to it. We’d obviously appear if you were to type “Ben Affleck Footage” or a term that was more in our world, CelebrityFootage is in our domain so that helps us get to the top a lot of time on searches.

Jessica Berman-Bogdan (Global ImageWorks): It is impossible to monitor all the illegal clips that are up on YouTube. No sooner do you locate one and have it taken down, then it is either back up or someone else has put up another of your clips.  So to a certain degree we in the footage licensing business have become somewhat resigned to the fact that some of our content will end up on YouTube without permission. 

Alastair White (British Pathe): Our preference is still to drive customers to our own website, as they then have a range of enhanced privileges such as low resolution downloads, etc., but once we have made contact with the new customers we can explain this to them.  That said when we analyze our visibility each month we take into account all our digital platforms including our own website, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Linked In and all the other social media platforms.

Pioneering Producer-Director Serge Viallet to Receive FOCAL International Lifetime Achievement Award

Pioneering producer-director, Serge Viallet, is to receive the FOCAL International Award for Lifetime Achievement, at the fourteenth annual FOCAL International Awards, to be presented on May 25th, 2017. This Award is a gift of the FOCAL International Executive, as a mark of gratitude for Serge’s dedicated and exhaustive support of the footage archive world through his prodigious body of work.

In a celebrated and innovative career, Serge Viallet has been creating documentary films specializing in the use of archive footage for almost 30 years. He has worked with multiple archives across the world and has been lecturing on archive documentation, research and use in film at Sorbonne University since 2012. He has won several awards for his meticulously crafted productions, including FOCAL International awards in 2008 and 2009 for The Rape of Nanking and Mysteries in the Archives, and was nominated for an Emmy for Kwai, his landmark and revealing film on the true story behind the building of the bridge over the river Kwai.

Upon receiving news of his win, Viallet said: “I am so proud and moved to have been honored with this award. I am so thankful to all my mentors around the world who have supported me throughout my career. I am also grateful to all the wonderful archivists and archive lovers whose work has been so valuable in helping me produce my films. Thank you FOCAL!”

Historian and archive expert, Jerry Kuehl, comments: “Serge Viallet makes programs that are scrupulous in their commitment to archival integrity - and eminently watchable.  In this era of 'post-truth' and 'alternative facts' he stands for the finest in our documentary tradition. He richly deserves this recognition.”

Not only has Serge been a great friend and champion of archives from behind the camera, and on the industry’s frontline, he has also played an important role in facilitating the preservation of over 30 years of Medecins Sans Frontiere footage, shot for and by the famed humanitarian organization, and this collection is now safely established at INA, France’s national audiovisual archive.   

Hardeep Singh-Cohli will host the gala FOCAL International Awards Ceremony on May 25th at the Lancaster London Hotel. Apart from the Lifetime Achievement Award, fourteen further awards will be presented on May 25th to celebrate the achievement of producers and directors in the creative use of footage in all variety of genres, across all media platforms, plus the contribution made to the global production industry by archivists, film libraries, researchers and technicians, as well as the work done to restore and preserve these irreplaceable assets.

Jurors from across the world are shortlisting the FOCAL International Awards 2017; these fascinating and diverse submissions are joined together by their creative and integral use of archive footage. The FOCAL awards have become a vital way of celebrating the best and most effective use of archive footage in storytelling on screen, and this year is no different. And while they celebrate productions, the awards also celebrate the people that make everything possible, with exceptionally strong competition for the categories of best archive researcher, library and footage employee of the year.

The final shortlist of all categories will be announced on March 17th and all details on the productions will be listed on FOCAL's website.

Tickets for the Gala Awards Ceremony are on sale now, so you'll need to hurry if you want to book a table http://www.focalint.org/focal-international-awards.

 

Insights from Framepool on Shooting Drone Footage

Our friends at Framepool continue to receive numerous inquiries about drone footage featuring breathtaking maneuver such as circling just above the heads of people at public events, shooting through the air between skyscrapers, interfering with flowing traffic on a busy freeway or chasing after extreme sports athletes from just a couple of inches. Cool shots, but often impossible to get, as production procedures tend to be illegal in many cases. Here's what they have to say about it.

There are plenty of reasons why shooting such close contact drone footage is limited by law. For example when the alpine skier Marcel Hirscher was almost hit by a camera drone during the Alpine Skiing World Cup in Italy  in 2015. It was a close call when the camera drone crashed just centimeters behind him. As a consequence, the International Ski Federation (FSI) banned camera drones from its World Cup races.   

At the moment, the rules for operating UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles) vary not only from country to country, but can also differ regionally. Filming drone operators will need more than talent and technical know-how: a valid pilot license, as well as shooting permits and an extensive liability insurance. 

These days, the legal requirements change daily, so filmmakers need to be up-to-date on the rules before conducting a shoot with a camera-carrying drone. Framepool offers clients pre-produced, stress-free drone aerials that can tell your story without any risk and offers you fascinating drone footage from all over the world.

Galapagos III, an Environmental Documentary Classic, to Screen at DC Environmental Film Festival

The French Embassy will present a screening of the 1972 film ‘Galapagos III’ by Christian Zuber as part of the 2017 DC Environmental Film Festival. Kino Productions, the rights holder of the Christian Zuber collection, and INA, its exclusive distributor, will be present at the screening. This year marks the 25th anniversary of DC Environmental Films Festival, the largest and longest-running festival of its kind in the United States.

Christian Zuber was one of the first environmental advocacy filmmaker who devoted his life to showing how nature and less-developed cultures were being destroyed by the onslaught of modern civilization. Zuber pioneered on land what Commander Jacques-Yves Cousteau later did with the oceans.

Galapagos III by Christian Zuber will be shown on Friday, March 17, 2017  at La Maison Française – Embassy of France, 4101 Reservoir Road, NW - Washington DC from 7:00 PM – 9:30 PM EDT. Admission is free. An online registration is required for this screening.

Click here to see Ina's collection of Christian Zuber footage.

For more information about this topic at Ina please email at internationalsales@ina.fr.

A View from the Archival Trenches

Following up on our interview with Jim Pickerell last month, we checked in with some veteran archival researchers to find out how all the changes in the footage industry have affected their work. Our conversation with Jodi Tripi, Lewanne Jones and Barbara Gregson finds them busier than ever and rising to the challenges, opportunities and frantic pace of their increasingly digital workflow. 

Footage.net: What big changes have you noticed in the footage business and how have they affected your work? 

Jodi Tripi, Archival Researcher

Jodi Tripi, Archival Researcher

Jodi Tripi: The changes are two fold: what is being asked for and what is available. In terms of what is being asked for, everybody on the planet thinks that YouTube is a search engine and that they are a footage researcher. So battling the misunderstanding of copyright, likeness, trademarks, is a prevailing aspect of footage research. Less and less we’re being asked for shots by description and criteria - “Hey, we’re looking for shots of x y z” - but more and more often is, “We got this on the internet and this what we are want to use.” 

Lewanne Jones, Archival Researcher

Lewanne Jones, Archival Researcher

Lewanne Jones: The main change is the increasingly electronic accessibility of imagery, which has been beneficial. Electronic communication has sped everything up. So we now have faster communication with reps at different companies. It also means there is an expectation of instantaneous compliance with requests on the part of our clients. Formerly we would have a longer cycle, now there is this pace. Like every aspect of life.

Barbara Gregson, Archival Researcher

Barbara Gregson, Archival Researcher

Barbara Gregson: The footage industry seems to be booming; new stock footage libraries and consolidation of others, which I don’t think would happen if there wasn’t some profits.  Since the recession more researchers and clearance people are back at work and many have jobs in sectors that were not as prevalent before.  Reality shows, games, Art departments, Internet shows all hire researchers.  It seems like I’ve also noticed an upturn in the number of archival documentaries and series being produced. The benefit is more productions mean more work for research and clearance people and in turn more sales for the libraries.  The biggest changes would be the move toward digital research and licensing which helps streamline the process.  Producers/directors want material now and the ability to research and purchase on-line helps with those immediate needs. In addition, Footage companies are more aware of the special needs and requirements of licensing agreements for studios, networks and major production companies so they work with us pretty well to accommodate those needs. 

Jodi Tripi: I work on feature films and opening titles sequences often with over 100 shots, pulled from YouTube, or the internet, which are then handed to me to “make this happen”. A portion of my job now is to explain the layers of aspects that need to be weighed when using footage. For example you can’t take a shot of a real tragedy like a close up of some mothers face in anguish because her child has died and then use it because it conveys are great emotion creatively for the project. Her permission is legally needed for a non-documentary commercial feature film I often need to replace at least 50% of the shots, sometimes 100%. The changes are that it’s often it’s a backwards research process now. The director has fallen in love with a shot from the internet, and there could be a myriad of reasons why it has to be replaced and we all hear over and over “but the director wants it!” 

The timelines we work under have changed as well. There is a sense of instantaneousness to YouTube, and smartphone society and their expectation is that all the clearance work will happen faster than is possible or realistic. Of course if it’s straight ahead stock footage from an online library the process is fast and efficient. 

In terms of what is available, the footage industry has grown but has consolidated a lot as well, which sometimes results in loss of some of the materials and lack of diversity. I feel like if you’re going to do news, do news. Some of the agencies are getting so vast and the one-stop-shopping is not always a big advantage for my niche of work.  I would rather just dig in at several smaller collections. It is probably very good for ad agencies, but for an archival and footage researcher working on feature films, it’s not quite as advantageous.

I want the most amount of footage available and my skills are to know where to research, locate and provide as many great options as possible. Lastly, the new technologies have also brought a lot of diversity of material, like access to libraries from other countries and small filmmakers around the world.  

FN: Generally speaking, have footage companies gotten better at supplying footage? Are they more user-friendly?

Barbara Gregson: Ease of research is key.  When we are looking for material, which can vary from a stock shot of a location to a very specific historical event, you hope that the key words that you use are in the description so that the items get pulled up.  The sites that let you put in a variety of key words to do “exact” searches, “any word” searches and combinations thereof are a very important tool.  Sub-categories to refine searches are an added boon.  

Jodi Tripi: I work with all of them, and try to always be very fair to the vendors. I’m aware it’s a business on both ends. Not just the studios but also for the vendors and I’m aware of the cost benefit of stock vs. shooting their own material. The search engines have definitely improved. I find some gaps with each of them, but overall they have gotten pretty good. Footage companies have done a good job of getting their collections up online.  Also important is the quality of the comps and screeners. Take ITN for example. Their thumbnails and comps were comparatively very small and low res. When I gather and present comps batches for productions to review & select, the lower quality comps often do not get selected even though the content and master quality is excellent. I believe Getty will load them up at higher res. Generally speaking, some RF places have a lot of the same footage, though Shutterstock really stands out in the RF arena.

Lewanne Jones: There is a tremendous amount more accessible, so my initial response is yes. The footage companies have seen the writing on the wall and made things available for viewing online, which is good. Some places not so much. There some retrogressive situations out there, but overall there has been more footage acquired, databased and made accessible, either on YouTube channels or internet sites.

Jodi Tripi: In terms of archival and news archives, there is room for improvement. They are not on par with the larger commercial stock footage libraries in terms of digitization and online tools. There are still lots of text records to sift through and shots that are not yet digitized. This can be especially challenging in the context of the YouTube mentality, where productions think everything is on line and the meta-data is readily available, but it really isn't.

Overall, the tech advances have been a huge benefit in being able to have access to material to review and license quickly. The footage companies have done a remarkably good job. And I hope their operations will grow as the needs for footage increase. An example is the advent of the viral video companies. I think it’s a brilliant business model. Now instead of sifting through thousands of viral cat videos on line trying to track down whomever from wherever,  
I can contact one of the companies to find something.  

FN: Generally speaking, is this a good time for archival researchers and other footage users? Why? Why not?

Lewanne Jones: Yes. I think there are a lot of interesting productions. Over the past twenty years the whole value of archives has increased tremendously. Everywhere you go there are people talking about archives, giving special recognition to the value of archives and the efforts people make to use the archives. So there is a greater sense of value. And there seems to be more material opening up, people giving access to things that were not accessible, and the internet has been an amazing tool for this. The tools were so much more limiting before. On the other hand, while there is a lot of production out there is not a lot of money. I was just contacted for a job that was perfect for my background, but I was considered over-qualified, or over-expensive. Often the producers are looking for someone who can learn on the job.

Barbara Gregson: It’s a good time for researchers because of online access to many sources around the world to find material.  The caveat is to always know what the source is and do you trust the source. Many non-pros have the mistaken belief that everything on the internet is Public Domain.  One of our new jobs is to educate producers and companies that this isn’t necessarily so. Just because someone posts a video online, they don’t necessarily own it. Going to trusted sources is beneficial because you’re not wasting your time pulling something from an unidentified source or owner. That doesn’t mean to say it doesn’t happen. We then have to spend additional time to source and track down the proper owner. 

Jodi Tripi: Yes and no. On one hand, there’s generally more demand for footage as the average viewer or consumer is now accustomed to “consuming” a lot of imagery throughout their day so projects are imagery rich. Then, the more productions and editors try to find footage themselves, the more they realize it is not straightforward and they need help from professional researchers. Just because you have Quickbooks does not mean you don't need an accountant. And they are using so much footage now to lend credibility, and a sense of realness so the current style of filmmaking incorporates a lot of real footage. On the other hand, when you are working with people who don’t understand the process, sometimes it is difficult because you just can’t get the clip they expect within the time or money allotted.  So In terms of access and creativity it is better. In terms of the “Selfie-Stick” society, I-Found-It-I-Want-It style of research, it is more complicated. Everyone in the business is complaining about that.

FN: I spoke with a group of independent archives back in November, and most seemed to think the demand for their footage was pretty strong, driven in large part by documentary filmmakers. Have you found that to be the case as well?

Jodi Tripi: It’s not just documentaries. The demand is very big in features, commercials and titles sequences. It’s just a very, very big time for footage. I work on many feature films that need footage of real events - The Big Short, Patriots Day, Deep Water Horizon, 13 Hours Benghazi, Money Monster. I worked on the Academy award nominated documentary  “The 13th”, and a huge percentage of the archival shots were cut from YouTube and other third party sources. There were something like 1200 shots and it took three professional researchers including myself to organize, find, clear or replace everything in a dizzyingly short period of time. 

Lewanne Jones: I would necessarily agree because that is the part of the world I see. I focus on docs and I rarely work on anything else. Maybe museum exhibits. Rarely on features, or advertising. It seems like everybody is using footage now. You go to these events, like ACSIL, and it seems like everyone is looking to put moving image material on their sites. There is a lot of production at the moment.

Barbara Gregson: There are many creative filmmakers who are always coming up with great ideas and topics to explore. Archival documentaries are very popular as well as documentaries about current events, but they can’t always shoot everything they need. That’s why we love stock footage libraries. It certainly keeps me busy.

FN: What are some of the major differences in how you do your work now as opposed to, say, five or ten years ago? What has improved for you? What has gotten worse? Generally speaking, has it become easier to find footage?

Lewanne Jones: The biggest difference is the amount of material online. I don't ever have to get out of my chair! So I miss going to the archives, like ABC, NBC. I can’t even think of the last time I did that. I kind of miss that. I like going places and handling the media. I do recognize that there is a certain efficiency in not having to go to a specific place. But you often got a lot of benefit from the people at the archives who were helping you, just by chatting, you got more immediate guidance.

Jodi Tripi: I think it is a societal difference. Maybe a neurological difference. Digital immediacy has taken things to a pace that is nearly maddening, and I hear this from a lot of people in this business. So managing expectations, educating about parameters and pitfalls of copyright & permissions are now a big part of the job. It might be easy to find footage, but the clearance level it is often more difficult. I miss anyone having the headspace for waiting, simple patience. I need to remind my clients that we are not the only clients requesting approvals or materials at any given vendor. As professionals we usually get our questions answered sooner than someone they’ve never dealt with, but it can’t always happen in five minutes. The pace is faster and faster in the smartphone  “face-tweet-chat” society where everything is instant. It can be almost undoable. Some productions are reasonable and wide open to options and replacements and others not as much. Clients inevitably wind up having to deal with the realities of the process. Nobody is going to release a feature film with uncleared footage. So at the end of the day it has to be legally signed and sealed, or it gets cut and everyone wants to avoid that. And with all the mega libraries, the editors sometimes just pull what they want, then call the footage researchers for the really hard to find stuff. So we have lost work on a lot of fluffy easy requests like time-lapse clouds. Oh, how I long to spend a day pulling clips of clouds and laughing babies! 

Barbara Gregson: I definitely now spend more time on the internet researching as opposed to being on the telephone or in the past actually going to an archive, pulling cards or files and then ordering up the film to screen. In some ways I miss the personal contact.  I still always talk to my reps at the various libraries or meet with them if possible. The ability to do online searches helps streamline the search process. Zap requests are great because you can reach out to multiple libraries at the same time. This has certainly made searching easier.

FN: A lot of footage companies are making their collections available online. I’m assuming this has benefited you. Are there downsides? Anything you really miss about the old, pre-internet days?

Jodi Tripi: I love being able to do my own research online and work on my own schedule.  But I miss the old workflow where as a researcher you presented what you found based on your clients needs and they could say yes or no or give new notes and directions. Technology has changed the process. When editors or clients provide their internet pulls it sometimes results in double the work load. I have to track down their shot and simultaneously try to find a replacement since there could be all kinds of restrictions or problems with the requested shot and deadlines. Technology has brought us interesting access to footage from around the world and history but we can’t always get the proper permissions in time or at all. 

Barbara Gregson: Again, having the collections online and being able to do the research is great. But it is always important to speak with the librarians because they know their collections really well. You must remember to utilize the personnel at the libraries because they want to help you find the best footage for your project. They are truly an asset.  

Lewanne Jones: It’s important to remember that film and video are time-based media and it takes time to look at it, incorporate it, etc. This is not a result of anything in the way footage companies are operating, but more about the way the speed of digital technology has affected production. It’s so easy to get stuff without figuring out what you’ve gotten, so it takes time to organize, catalog. At some point somebody has to do that work and figure out what is where. It is so easy to drag and drop and WeTransfer and you end up with these huge production libraries. We used to be the eyes of the project and we would only bring the best stuff into the project. The cost of transferring the stuff was so high, so there would be a smaller production library. I was just working on a big project and there was a database of 2,000 items in the project library! Anything from a 30-second Getty clip to a one-hour doc from NBC, and rather than a description, an entry would be an evaluation of the footage, like “great narration,” but nothing like a shot list which would be searchable for finding relevant visuals. So trying to find replacement footage, I didn’t have a way of knowing whether it was there or not. It goes back to where time and energy and money are spent for the purpose of utilizing archives. Not something the footage industry could do anything about, except more work on the databases.

FN: There are still many footage suppliers that have not made their clips available for search online. How does that affect your work? Does that make it more difficult or less appealing to work with these companies?

Lewanne Jones: It does make it inefficient and hard to compete with the places that do have their stuff online. It could mean that it will cost something to get a screener. It used to be standard to have a budget for screeners. Which was fair as making the screeners took work. If things are digitized it is so much faster and easier. One of the bigger changes is that even places that don't have stuff online do offer low-cost or no-cost screeners. There are still places that do charge and there is a waiting time for screeners. That is very off putting. If you are doing a big survey of sources and you want to bring in stuff very quickly, if a place does not have an online presence, it is going to go on the back burner, the end of the list.

Barbara Gregson: Libraries that don’t have their collections online can be at a disadvantage to those who have online collections. Researchers want immediate gratification to satisfy the needs of their producers. Waiting for someone else to do the research and then send you a list and then order takes a certain amount of time. That’s not to say there are some libraries that are very efficient and can provide material pretty quickly. There is a tradeoff, a connection with the library that provides this personal service where they will pull the footage for you and can come up with some interesting material that you might not have thought of to ask. That personal connection is very important. 

In my interview last month with Jim Pickerell, he said “[image] oversupply creates too much choice and makes it harder for customers to find the right image for their project. Many customers are spending hours on research and they’re getting frustrated.” He was referring specifically to the stock photo industry. Do you find footage oversupply to be an issue?

Jodi Tripi: There can never be too much footage for me. I am always happy to find new vendor or source of footage.

Lewanne Jones: I guess what I would say that might be true in terms of stock clips, which is not an area that I explore very often. With historical material there is what there is and if you go back in time there is diminishing amounts. I do get a little overwhelmed on contemporary news -- there is so much, even personal collections and cell phone video. There is sort of an overwhelming amount of material at a certain point in history. And the idea that it is possible to bring in so much stuff and not know what you have. It’s a challenge. There is only so much stuff you can keep in your mind, and the editors, who rely on assistants, can forget what you have in the production library. 

Barbara Gregson: I think you have to have a clear idea of what you want, if you’re not sure and are looking at hundreds of images to be inspired, then yes that might be overwhelming. Sometimes there can be a lot of choices to wade through, but I’ve worked on projects where the Producer/Director wants lots of choices. Granted I do the first pass sending what I think they want based on our discussions.  I think I have a pretty good track record of finding what my Producers and Directors need and I’m happy to have many choices.

FN: Jim also said “lower prices make it difficult to offer customers research support, so the leading agencies don’t really offer much in the way of picture research services.” Is this true in your experience? How important these days is access to knowledgeable staff members? By which I mean people at the agencies and footage houses that really know their collections.

Barbara Gregson: Lower prices can be great and on many productions, the budgets for footage and stills are very tight. So lower priced libraries to fill a need. I usually do find someone that can help at the libraries that I work with.  That’s why I said earlier that it’s important to call the libraries, get a rep, make a connection. This is invaluable to what we do. It’s important to work with the reps and from my experience they want to help you find the perfect shot or locate that important historical picture or footage. I work with many of the large agencies and have found them to be very helpful. It’s important for the libraries and agencies to have experienced researchers and reps because they know their collections. That knowledge is priceless and is a very important asset to the libraries.  I’ve seen many layoffs over the years at some agencies and they’ve lost that knowledge which is a shame.

Jodi Tripi: In my niche I am rarely looking for something standard stock-ish, except maybe for a fake commercial within a film, so I am not concerned in features with the lowest cost, per se, I care mostly about content. I definitely don’t want to see low prices drag the business down - most especially not the smaller boutique libraries with small, dedicated staff. We need all the libraries to stay in business and keep as much material available as possible.

Lewanne Jones: Doing research online and having access to the material without talking to someone is both an advantage and disadvantage. It goes back to the discussion we were having about proximity. I don’t get much support from people at the archives, but maybe that is because I don’t ask for it. I do call some of my longstanding contacts at some of the networks – it feels like my personal privilege! It is really important, but at some of the bigger places the person who helps you is a sales rep, not a knowledgeable researcher. I am dealing with a place now that let their research staff go, and so I am not sure if there will be access to someone who really knows the collection. So it does feel like something has been lost. 

FN: Jim noted that “the [licensing] industry has already consolidated to the point where there are really only a few platforms for professional producers to consider. A number of mom and pop platforms that have access to specialist material may survive.” Have you found that there are fewer footage companies these days? How has consolidation affected your work?

Jodi Tripi: There are advantages for people on the editorial staff that can grab their own shots. If you’re a professional footage researcher, it is not always an advantage. Am I happy that all the news is going to stock libraries? A little. But mostly I’m bummed because I’ve seen what happens when they do. I’m still recovering from the loss of the BBC library after shutting down it’s own site  and getting shuffled around. It got ruined. I don’t think a news archive belongs in the same place as Royalty Free time-lapse shot of clouds. Not all content is a commercially developed or devised. Some material needs a different type of care-taking and overseeing than a commercial stock house. 

Barbara Gregson: There are so many libraries and companies. It always depends on what you’re looking for.  You can’t limit yourself to just the few large platforms. The world is my resource and I’ve found and licensed material all around the globe. Small boutique archives, regional libraries and historical societies, foreign networks, filmmakers, scientists, museums. The list is exhausting.  And people are very helpful.  I think the internet has actually made many more libraries and resources accessible. 

Lewanne Jones: Yes it has. I find that a lot of places that I used to deal with more or less directly are being swallowed up and becoming a system within a system at a larger company. There is a difference when the collections are repped and not fully absorbed. It adds layers. If they’ve bought it and own the rights as opposed to being the agent for it, it’s a whole different ballgame. I do enjoy dealing with places that sell their own stuff. It feels like a primary source, more authentic. Every time I hear a big company is buying something, my heart sinks.

FN: What changes/improvements would you like to see as the industry evolves? How could footage suppliers make things better for you as an archival researcher?

Jodi Tripi: Digitize as much footage as possible. I know they can’t do it all, but the more the better. And better and better metadata. The rest is up to me and my colleagues about educating the clients about the speed, process and legalities. I am a bit of philanthropist at heart. If I could save every piece of nitrate I would. I’d love to work full time on film preservation. I have a reverence for the materials, for the art form. I studied Art History in Italy, I’ve seen the attention to detail in their art restoration. Film is our American historical art. But what we do here is toss what does not make money. The 80s and 90s tend to be more sparse and difficult footage to find, I think mainly because the quick changes in  recording technology of the time, and  the changes from Beta to VHS to Digital, wound up not being treated like historical preservation materials. 

Lewanne Jones: The single most important thing would be better metadata, better text descriptions on records. Up till now you can only search dates and that sort of thing. The old CBS cards were so specific. You knew what you were going to see. There is really no way to search on images. You have to screen it. So more metadata. It would be nice to be able to export the data into a spreadsheet, as well. Maybe more standardization in the licensing terms and practices, how markets and terms are defined. I know that the industry knows this, and there were some efforts, but there were a lot divergent views. 

Barbara Gregson: I’d like to see more of the older footage digitized a made accessible online. I’d tell the libraries, don’t negate some of the collections that have been purchased or may be considered “too old” or make collections inaccessible or costly to access.  There is a wealth of material out there but if it’s shuttered away, no one will see it and it might be very useful to many filmmakers. I’ve seen this happen and it’s a shame because all of this material is our history.  Not just the news and sports footage but all of the nature shots, and location shots and creative footage. They all tell a story. They are just waiting for a filmmaker to access it. 

Any final thoughts?

Jodi Tripi: I want to give a shout out to my colleagues and vendors, who diligently keep up with often hilariously absurd requests, crazed deadlines and fast changing media landscape. Somehow we keep pulling it out of the hat like magicians.  

Barbara Gregson: Researchers and Libraries have a similar goal. We want to find that perfect shot or news footage or photo to help tell a story.  Libraries want to sell you their material and want to help you find what you’re looking for.  All of this is done to satisfy the needs of our Producers/Directors. I think it’s important that footage suppliers keep that door open and be accessible to their clients and help them when they can. It not only builds good will, it will build loyalty.  When we can depend on libraries to help us with our needs, everyone wins.

Lewanne Jones: More money for productions!

NatureFootage Now Representing Alucia Productions

NatureFootage now exclusively represents the stock footage collection of Alucia Productions. As part of the Dalio Ocean Initiative, the mission of Alucia Productions is to create world-class media that educates and inspires people to connect to the ocean.

The Alucia is a 56 meter research and exploration vessel built to broaden scientific understanding of the ocean and illuminate its myriad of natural wonders. She boasts the latest in technical diving, filming and research equipment.

From the exploration of deep sea hydrothermal vents to 4K aerial cinematography, Alucia Productions offers a vast collection of premium cinematography from across the globe. This exclusive collection has never been made available online until now, and will expand rapidly with new submissions from ongoing expeditions.

Framepool Highlights Oscar Winning Collections

Framepool is proud to highlight their Oscar winning collections Popular Science and other series from the early to mid 1900s. With 5 Academy Award nominations and 2 Oscar wins, the Theatrical Short Subject Series were produced from 1935 to 1950 and premiered as one of Paramount Pictures biggest theatrical feature films of the day.
More details about the wonderful collections:

POPULAR SCIENCE® historic film series:  A tour de force of Science & Discovery, Invention & Technology. Click here to see the Popular Science collection. 

UNUSUAL OCCUPATIONS: Astounding profiles of Amazing Individuals, Weird Workers and Crazy Collections. Click here to see the Unusual Occupations collection.

SPEAKING OF ANIMALS: A two-time Academy Award-winning Talking Animal Series created by Tex Avery. Click here to see the Speaking of Animals collection. 

Read more information on how Framepool came across this wonderful footage as well as more details about each collection on Framepool's blog
 

NBC News Archives Launches New Website with Innovative Video Player and Lower Pricing

NBC News Archives, the oldest television news collection in the United States, is launching a new distribution platform at www.NBCUniversalArchives.com.

The NBCUniversal Archives platform provides customers with new functionalities and an enhanced user experience. With an extensive collection of compilation reels and a new video player, clients can clip out frame accurate selections for licensing.

Enhancements include the ability to view metadata and download screeners directly from the video player. “Related clips” is a new feature that displays other clips and compilation reels from the same source material or with the same keywords. Clients now also have the ability to share master orders with their editor who can download the content without having to register on the site. Customers, especially independent researchers, now have more control in their workflow and the ability to work with others more efficiently. 

In addition to the launch of their new website, NBC News Archives is introducing a new competitive pricing structure for e-commerce clips. NBC News Archives was the first news archives to set up a fully e-commerce enabled site years ago. 

With a dedicated sales and experienced research team, NBC News Archives has the ability to provide easy access to digitized content and digital delivery for their deep file content.  NBC News Archives provides unprecedented access to rare and unique content, documenting the changes in American society through The Today Show, Nightly News, MSNBC and its many programs going back to the late 1940s.

Search, license and download at www.NBCUniversalArchives.com.

What's Ahead for the Footage Industry?

A conversation with veteran stock photo industry analyst Jim Pickerell on the future of stock photo/footage licensing. 

Jim Pickerell, Photo Industry Analyst

Jim Pickerell, Photo Industry Analyst

Jim Pickerell began his career in 1963 as a freelance photojournalist, and has been working in the photography business ever since. Through his online news service Selling Stock, Jim has established himself as one of the most respected analysts of the stock photography business. We spoke with him recently about his views on the current state of the stock photo business, as well as lessons for the future of the footage industry.

Footage.net: You’ve studied the stock photo business for many years. How would you describe the condition of the industry at the current time? Is this a good moment for the industry?

Jim Pickerell: In general, the demand for still images and video clips is growing. However, the pace of usage growth is very slow for stills and faster for video. In terms of revenue generated we are seeing a slight decline in revenue from stills and an increase in the revenue generated from video.  

FN: Why is the revenue declining in the stills industry? What are the big issues and trends?

JP: For the stills industry as a whole, revenue has probably plateaued. I expect to see a slow, but steady decline. There are several reasons for this. 

There is a huge oversupply. Since customers can get something that will more-or-less fit their needs almost anywhere, they are demanding lower prices. For a long time the suppliers have been selling images for whatever the customer is willing to pay. 

Oversupply creates too much choice and makes it harder for customers to find the right image for their project. Many customers are spending hours on research and they’re getting frustrated. Lower prices make it difficult to offer customers research support, so the leading agencies don’t really offer much in the way of picture research services. They are not tightly editing their collections. Some smaller specialist libraries, offer a more personal relationship and research, but it is unclear whether they can charge high enough prices, and get enough business, to sustain themselves long term.

In theory data, algorithms and good keywording were supposed to solve the search problem. Thus, customers would do their own research and the agencies could eliminate that cost. It is not working out that way. Reliance on data and search algorithms have not made it as easy for customers to find the right image as they were supposed to.

More customers are turning to small, well-curated collections like Stocksy and Aurora Photos in order to save research time. Customers are willing to pay somewhat more for images from a curated collection, but most of the big guys haven’t figured that out yet.

Oversupply also makes it difficult for individual creators to make enough sales to justify continued production. Lower prices and declining royalties make production less profitable for producers. Many of the best producers - those trying to earn a significant portion of their living from image production – are finding that they can no longer justify the time and expense and are moving on to other ways to earn a living.

Meanwhile the agencies are trying to suck up as many images as possible from amateurs without regard for how useful the images might be for customers. The amateurs will not earn significant revenue and will soon get tired of submitting new content. Another big question is whether the amateurs will produce enough of the kind of imagery the major users need. Personally, I don’t think amateurs will, because most of what is needed requires cost, planning and risk.

Creators are expected to produce without any guarantee that they will receive any compensation whatsoever for their efforts. Agencies are not sharing enough specific data relative to what customers are actually buying. Such data could help producers focus on creating more of the images in greatest demand. Producers need to be able to review images that have actually sold. 

It has also become easier for many potential customers to create more of the content they need themselves. And, of course, image theft is a factor.

Do you think that footage has reached the oversupply level?

Video may not have reached the oversupply level yet, but it is much harder to rely entirely on keywords to find the right clip. Thus, while a customer may be willing to review 500 still images that are returned in a search, when it comes to video clips they may only be willing to review a much smaller number of clips because it takes much longer to review each one.

FN: How much gross revenue does the photo industry generate?

Based on an analysis I did in 2013, I thought gross revenue for the industry was about $2 billion (http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/stock-image-sales-survey-results). In early 2016 I estimated it at about $2.4 billion (http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/global-market-size-for-stock-images). I don’t think there was really that much growth in 3 years. Rather, given all the consolidation and the fact that I have talked to more agencies I believe I have a  better handle on the real size of the market than I did in 2013.

The above figures include footage. I have been relying on the ACSIL Global Survey for figures for the size of the footage market - $394 million in 2011, $550 million in 2014 and possibly $700 million by end of 2017. However, I am somewhat skeptical of these numbers. I do believe the demand for footage is growing, but I question whether it is growing that fast.

I published a list of top footage distributors back in April (http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/top-footage-distributors). I think Getty does about $75 million, Shutterstock less than $50 million. Getty’s annual footage sales have been about the same since 2010. This could be because Shutterstock was taking market share with lower prices. I believe several of the top-ten footage agencies generate less than $10 million from footage sales, so maybe $200 million for the top ten companies combined.

I know there are a lot of specialist suppliers, but I have trouble believing that combined they generate $400 million. I wonder how much double counting is occurring. For example, Getty represents 33 different brands in addition to its house brands. When Getty makes a sale of a clip from one of these brands they report the gross fee as part of their revenue. Then they retain a percent (+/- 50%) and send the remainder to the brand. The brand reports what they receive as their revenue. That revenue is being double counted.

Who are the leading companies in the photo business at the moment? 

According to a recent VisualSteam Art Buyers Survey (sales@visualsteam.com) the top 10 favorite destinations for searching for images are Getty Images, iStock, Shutterstock, Pond5, Alamy, Thinkstock (a Getty property), Dreamstime, Masterfile, Photoshelter and Aurora Photos. I also think AdobeStock should be somewhere in that mix.

See this link for Top Footage Distributors (http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/top-footage-distributors )

FN: Are any of the larger stills companies growing?

Some companies, like Shutterstock, are growing. I think they have been growing by taking a larger share of a static/shrinking market.

Much of Shutterstock’s growth has resulted from taking market share, in terms of gross revenue generated, from Getty Images and iStock. The market may have seen some overall increase in demand for images in the last few years, but that has been offset by lower average prices. After years of struggle, Getty and iStock have finally got their pricing in line with Shutterstock. As a result, it will be much harder for Shutterstock to take additional share in 2017. In addition, AdobeStock is likely to become a stronger and stronger competitor to Shutterstock.

FN: How are the smaller players doing? Are they able to compete?

JP: If we’re talking about agencies, most are trying to cut costs to keep their doors open. That tends to limit the kind of service they can provide and their ability to edit their collections. It also puts limits on what they can afford to spend on marketing, so the only customers who know about them are the customers who have used them in the past. There is huge turnover on the customer side. Finding a way to make the new hires aware of the agency’s existence is difficult.

If we’re talking about creators, most of them are suffering greatly. In November I published a couple stories about how bad things are:
http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/cautionary-tale
http://www.selling-stock.com/Article/making-up-for-declining-stock-photo-sales
Most major, experienced producers have seen a steady decline in annual revenue since the peak around 2000. Many are only earning 10% to 20% of what they earned in 2000 and have been forced to find other ways to make a living.

FN: How closely do you think the stock photo business and the stock footage business align in terms of business trends and growth potential?

JP: The footage industry will have to deal with all the same problems that the still business has faced. Footage will grow to some degree while the use of still photos will decline. 

There will be growth in video usage on the Internet while the proportionate share of paid still image use online will flatten, or decline. It will become increasingly easy for image users to either create what they need themselves, or steal what they need.

FN: Do you see any issues that are unique to the footage industry?

It is harder to create good video than it is to shoot stills. That may allow video producers to thrive and prosper a little longer before amateurs overwhelm the market. However, the big question is whether most of the Internet users will need much in the way of video clips, or will they be looking for complete packages that hang together as a unit in style and quality. 

The need for complete packages that tell their specific story may drive customers toward hiring a freelance producer to put together what they need. Or they may shoot what they need themselves. There are many young videographers out there hoping to make a mark. They will work for peanuts. When preparing something for the Internet, customers may be more interested in content that personally connects with their story, rather than possibly higher quality clips that have no relation whatsoever to the people and operations they are trying to promote.

For this reason, I question how much real long term growth potential there is for the footage industry, particularly as it gets easier and easier for part-timers and amateurs to produce what is needed.

FN: What lessons can footage companies learn from watching the stock photo industry? 

JP: I think the two industries face similar issues. Footage is simply replacing stills in a lot of media. People will get more of their information and advertising online rather than in print. 

As for lessons, first and foremost, footage companies must keep prices high enough to enable them to supply curation and customer research. They need to understand that footage creators will not be willing or able to produce high production-value clips unless they are earning enough to justify the investment in time and equipment necessary to produce such work.

They will need to do a much better job of letting freelance creators know exactly what is selling (a database of clips that sold this month) rather than making creators guess at what the customers are really buying.

The still business may be able to survive on images produced by hobbyist and amateurs. I don’t think the footage business can.

Lastly, they will need to do better editing and curating their collections than the still image companies have done.

FN: It seems like more stock photo companies are adding footage to their portfolios. Is this making a significant contribution to their businesses yet? Or is it more of a sideline? 

It’s a sideline, but it may be the only growth segment of their business.

FN: If more photo companies are adding footage, where is the footage coming from? 

JP: More still photographers are turning to producing footage. The revenue per clip licensed is higher and there is less competition in the marketplace. It makes more sense to spend one’s time producing video rather than stills because the chances of making a return on the time invested is greater. Nevertheless, there is no guarantee that either will be profitable. And the learning curve and cost of equipment is greater. Additionally, more amateurs are starting to produce video. Companies like Shutterstock are certainly encouraging amateurs to submit their video clips.

FN: Does diversifying into footage help traditional stills shooters earn a living or become more competitive?

JP: It may, but there is a big learning curve and there can be significant expense. It is not the same as shooting stills. Prices for video clips seem to have fallen so low, that it is hard to understand how a videographer can earn enough from sales to cover the cost of production.

FN: Have you spoken with any stills shooters who have successfully made the jump to producing footage? 

JP: Sure. Recently, I talked to Jesse Hughes, sales manager for Jim Erickson, and asked what kind of prices per clip they are able to get when a customer is buying a series of clips for an ad. Erickson makes most sales direct, so they keep 100% of the fee charged. 
Jim Erickson has been a leading commercial photographer in the U.S. for over 30 years and is known for his ability to capture spontaneous and unexpectedly telling moments that connect with the viewer in a way that makes you want to be there. Initially, Erickson was a still shooter, but in recent years he is spending more and more of his time on video production.  

Hughes said that he prices all videos as RM and very similar to what he has been charging for RM stills. i.e. $1250 per clip for a homepage video, $800 per clip for a secondary page video. Facebook/YouTube would be extra - $500-$750 per clip. Hughes said that most times people license multiple clips… so they get a 10% discount for 2-4 clips, 15% for 5+ and 20% for 10+ video clips licensed.  

If the customer wants to go for broadcast usage, Hughes reminds them that they need to consider contacting talent if their (the buyer) agency or client was a SAG signatory, or if they decide they want to cover their butts in case a talent decided to complain to SAG regardless of status. They pay talent direct for broadcast usage. Erickson’s usage fees, as an example, for a small regional/local spot for 13 weeks is $2000 per clip, and then consider the discounts on that.

Now, compare those prices with what Shutterstock, iStock and others get for clips (in the neighborhood of $79 or less) and it is easy to see how most shooters are going to have a tough time selling enough volume to justify continued production of clips.

According to Hughes, video revenue at Erickson as a percent of sales was 7% in 2013, 11% in 2014, 7% in 2015 and up to 17% in 2016.  While they are licensing more videos, a big factor in the variance in these stats is the fluctuation and decline in stills licensing revenue, especially given that 2014 was Erickson’s best year in history. All content has been licensed as RM until mid 2016 when they split off a collection subset of stills to an RF model.

FN: What are some of the specific challenges for photographers looking to begin shooting video? Did you get any insights from your conversation with Jesse Hughes at Erickson?

JP: Given that many still photographers are turning to video as a way to offset their losses in still revenue I asked Jesse to outline some of the issues that need to be considered when planning a video shoot compared to a still shoot.

He pointed out that first and foremost, video is not just about capturing decisive, standalone moments; the videographer needs to understand how to craft a narrative and put together a series of shots that result in footage that supports the goal of the story being told. The mindset is around leading the viewer to the narrative/story/idea. 

Talent direction is a bigger factor for video than for stills. Video is more literal and less forgiving than stills. Over-actors who may look great for stills often smile over-the-top to where it looks cheesy on video. Video demands more natural, introspective, subtle, relaxed and restrained talent.

As far as equipment is concerned, technology changes so fast that it is hard to know what you might need. A drone? A 360VR? Sony 4K? A Canon? There are decent camera bodies under $1000. Who’s to judge that that 1080p/4K is better/worse than the footage coming out of a Canon 1DC if its only going on the web? Or do you shoot everything with a mind for broadcast?

Videographers may also need a follow focus rig, a glide/steady cam rig or a jib. If sound or dialogue are involved that adds a whole additional level of equipment and complexity. 

The crew for a video shoot involves a slightly different mix than for a still shoot. For example, best results are achieved when one guy is handling the camera and another guy is pulling focus. A 2nd AD crew is great to manage the timing/shots and when to transition from shot to shot.

The still photographer may be accustomed to using strobes. With video they will need continuous lighting. Many may rely on all natural light. In such cases time of day becomes more important.

Video editing is much more time consuming than a still shoot. Ideally, hire a freelance professional who knows your style and cuts for the story you have in mind. Being well prepared on set can save a lot of time and grief in the editing room. Ideally, the shooter will storyboard in advance so they can be efficient and get all the shots needed in the available time/light, and position their cameras so that everything makes sense and cuts well in post. 

When shooting for general stock it is important to have an idea of what sells and how long the clips should be. Customers like to have more than just the final two seconds for a given clip. They want to see and find that middle sweet spot within the clip. Watching existing TV and web spots is key to see how much footage from any particular scene is used. It tends to be a series of 1-3 second bits that make the final pieces.

When it comes to keywording it is not only important to provide a literal and emotional description of the content, but to also include words that talk about how the footage was shot such as VR360, Drone, wide angle vs tight, aerial, underwater, GoPro, Canon, 4k, 720p, 1080p, 24 or 60FPS.

FN: Ultimately, do you foresee the industry consolidating to a point where there are just a handful of stock image providers/platforms, which control both the stills and footage market?

JP: The industry has already consolidated to the point where there are really only a few platforms for professional producers to consider. A number of mom and pop platforms that have access to specialist material may survive. In addition, there will be an increasing number of platforms aimed at the amateur that will muddy the waters. For the platform operator it is an intriguing business. You get all your content at no cost and take the lion’s share of any sales. If you can keep the cost of platform operation low, you can make a profit even with relatively few sales. The image providers won’t earn enough to make it worth their while, but there will be a steady stream of new providers to replace those who give up and move on to something more interesting.

FN: Will increased consolidation benefit the customers?

JP: No. But, most of the agencies aren’t worried about doing something that really benefits customers. They are simply interested in earning as much as they can for as long as they can. The hell with suppliers or customers.

Aerial Stock Footage Specialist HOsiHO Joins Footage.net

Preview clips and still images from aerial footage specialist HOsiHO are available for viewing through Footage.net's stock footage search and screening platform. 

Launched in Marseille in February 2014 by professionals in audiovisual and piloting, HOsiHO is dedicated to shooting and representing the best aerial footage of France. The HOsiHO collection includes over 3,000 videos and stills shot by a pool of more than 40 professional contributors from across the country, capturing the outstanding natural and architectural sites of France, shot at every season, with creativity and innovation. 

"HOsiHO is an exciting new addition to the footage industry, and we are very pleased to have them on the Footage.net platform," said David Seevers, Footage.net CMO. "HOsiHO has done a remarkable job in assembling this niche collection of unique aerial images, and we're looking forward to helping them bring their images to our global community of footage users.”

While HOsiHO’s aerial images and videos are produced using a variety of aircraft that are fully empowered to operate in France, including drones, microlights, helicopters, aircraft, paramotors and hot air balloon, most of the footage is captured by drones, which opens nearly unlimited creative possibilities when used by experienced pilots, cameraman and photographers.

“We’ve spent the last several years curating our collection of aerial footage and stills, and expanding our network of world-class aerial shooters,” said Sami Sarkis, president of HOsiHO.  "This is a truly fresh take on the unique landscapes and landmarks of France, and we’re thrilled to partner with Footage.net to bring these images to creatives around the world.”

Because the HOsiHO collection is at the very beginning, the agency is also offering a Shoot-on-Demand Service, providing clients in need of footage or photographs not currently in the HOsiHO collection an innovative model for obtaining custom images. 

“With our Shoot-On-Demand service, if the customer cannot find the image in our collection, they can ask us to use our network of professionals to shoot the video or photography for them,” said Sarkis. “The principle is simple: if we consider that the image is capable of generating multiple sales, and will be profitable, then we send the request to the author in nearest available place in France. If he wants to make the images, at his own cost, we provide them quickly to clients to secure and finalize the sale.”

HOsiHO’s website (www.hosiho.com) is currently available in both English and French. Their royalty-free pricing is based on the size of the clip: US$259.00 in 4K; US$165.00 in HD; US$61.00 in SD; US$19.00 in low-res (web). They also provide a free research service.

Footage.net works with a wide variety of stock footage companies to enhance their visibility across the global production community. HOsiHO clips will be available for screening through Footage.net alongside motion content from other leading footage companies.

Cinematographer Martin Lisius Explains What Makes StormStock Unique

Since 1993, StormStock has been the “go to” footage library for producers and directors who need something special in the weather imagery category. The collection, created by cinematographer Martin Lisius, features hard to find material including the only Super 35mm (to HD) footage in the world of Hurricane Katrina making landfall.

“Katrina was a very difficult and dangerous storm to cover,” Lisius said. “Of all the hurricanes I have shot, nothing compares to what I witnessed that day.”

Lisius, along with assistant Brandon Jennings, watched as record breaking storm surge reached several miles inland from the sea, engulfing cars and tossing dozens of refrigerators onto Interstate Highway 10. The shots captured that day helped to establish the top anthology of Hurricane Katrina footage anywhere.
 
“To do what I do, I have to not only be a skilled cinematographer, but I have to understand how to operate in and around storms safely. That’s a pretty unique set of skills,” Lisius said.

Lisius has taken what he’s learned about extreme weather and shared it with the public in a book titled, “The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide.”
 
Although StormStock offers some editorial-style footage, it’s the cinematic elements that set the brand apart.

“Storms are incredible to me. I share my appreciation for them through the way I film them. I see storms as an incredible part of nature, not as disasters. They are disasters only if people are not prepared for them. Given that, I feel they deserve to be explored and revealed in a beautiful, cinematic style.”
 
Recently, award-winning writer/director Terrence Malick contacted Lisius to acquire footage for his new IMAX movie “Voyage of Time: Life’s Journey.”

“Terry contacted me because he specifically wanted something cinematic, something amazing,” Lisius said.
 
Speaking of ‘something amazing,’ Lisius just completed a short film titled “Wakinyan,” which is Lakota for ‘thunder spirit’. It features spectacular storm footage he captured earlier this year. The film is an official selection by Dallas VideoFest 2016 and the Raw Science Film Festival 2016
 
What’s next for StormStock? Lisius said he will make available some elements from his upcoming documentary about storms to a limited number of clients. The production is being filmed entirely on 4K.
 
Search, purchase and download now at www.stormstock.com

Sherman Grinberg Film Library Joins Footage.net

Preview clips from the Sherman Grinberg Film Library, one of the world’s most revered and historically significant film archives, are available now for viewing through Footage.net. Located in Los Angeles, California, the Sherman Grinberg Film Library is among the world’s oldest and biggest privately held film archives with over 40 moving image libraries.  The archive has over 20 million feet of classic 35mm black and white film with content dating mostly from 1895 to 1957, when the television era began.  

"The addition of the Sherman Grinberg collection greatly enhances the scope and quality of our archival footage offering," said David Seevers, Footage.net CMO. "Sherman Grinberg has done an amazing job restoring the film and digitizing it to 4K, and we're very excited to help them directly market to their end users, the global community of footage users.” 

The Sherman Grinberg collection includes the historic Paramount Newsreels, first called Eyes of the World (silent era) and later Eyes and Ears of the World (the “talkies”). The collection also includes the entire American Pathe’ newsreel library, which is America’s oldest footage collection (1895-1956), the Industry on Parade series, Allied Artist Scenic stock footage, and over 3,000 mid-century television and movie theater and television commercials.  Genres include celebrities, royalty, entertainment (including the Oscars), sports (including the Olympics, boxing, horseracing, baseball, college and pro football, golf, tennis, etc.), World Wars 1 and 2, politics, fashion, science and inventions, natural disasters, culture and daily life.

Sherman Grinberg has undertaken a major renovation of its archival collections, working to upgrade its metadata and digitize much of the collection to 4K on an ongoing basis.  Special orders from its analog holdings can be digitized in-house within 24 hours and delivered electronically. Through new technology Grinberg can also create incredible historic still photographs from the moving images.  

“We are making the famous Sherman Grinberg archive available to production professionals worldwide and instantaneously,” said Karen Clark, president of Sherman Grinberg.  She added, "We are thrilled to partner with Footage.net to directly reach our customers. We are digitizing millions of feet of film, and adding it to Footage.net daily, but if we haven’t yet digitized any particular film clip a customer might need, we can research, locate, digitize and deliver it customers within 24 hours.”  

Sherman Grinberg Chief Archivist Bill Brewington has been with the library for over 40 years and is available for consultation.

Footage.net works with a wide variety of stock footage companies to enhance their visibility across the global production community. Sherman Grinberg clips will be available for screening through Footage.net alongside motion content from other leading footage companies.

Tape is King at DC Video

David crosthwait and the crew at dc video.

David crosthwait and the crew at dc video.

DC Video provides high quality video migration services to the television industry as well as to the general public, recovering television programming that exists on older, obsolete broadcast and consumer videotape formats, and transferring them to more modern digital or analog tapes and computer file formats. We sat spoke with DC Video owner David Crosthwait about his work and critical process of preserving aging tape-based media.

Your service is quite specialized. What is your background?
Experience in the field of broadcast television and post-production is essential. It really lays the foundation for understanding why procedures and standards are so important. I am now in my forty-second year in the post-production industry. But my time working with videotape goes back even further into my high school days in Texas. Over those many years, I’ve developed a respect for what it takes to produce and edit a television production, even with the tools of the trade changing every few years. I grew up with all of these different video formats which really helps to decipher technical challenges with a particular recording or set of recordings. In my case, I remember how good many of these television broadcasts looked when they first aired. It's our goal to make the restored media appear like it is a ‘live’ production. We just want to get the job done right.

It seems like tape preservation gets less attention within the archival community than film preservation. Do you agree?
There seems to be a prevailing thought that film is king and only film should be elevated to a restoration status. It would be better for the archival community to understand that videotape preservation is just as important as film preservation. They both hold equal value. It's not whether it's on film or tape that's important. It's the content itself that should be properly recognized and preserved.

What kinds of clients do you typically serve? Do you work with a lot of stock footage archives?
Basically our customers are anyone or any organization who has material on one of the obsolete videotape formats but needs this material accessible on a more modern-day platform. This includes TV networks, producers, independent content owners, university archives, individuals, research companies, clip licensing firms, international organizations and many more.  

What media formats are most at risk?
Any and all material that has been neglected and/or exposed to harsh storage conditions is the most at risk. Long-obsoleted formats such as Panasonic MII and some esoteric digital tape formats are at the highest risk level also. There are many two-inch Quad recordings and one-inch recordings on unstable stock including the notorious 3M foam flange. The best chance of recovery for each of these formats is to store them in a climate-controlled environment at the industry recommend temperature and humidity levels. But procrastination will do no good. Transfer them very soon if not now or else the technology to recover these old tapes may be forever lost. Also, the older media is only going to deteriorate over time. It will never get better or ‘self heal.’ Now is the time to transfer old tape to new media.

Which is a bigger problem, deteriorating media or obsolete formats? 
They are both of the same problem level. As noted, damaged and deteriorating media can be very challenging to recover. But at the same time, very rare machine formats require unique parts, which in some cases have not been made for 40+ years. 

Walk us through a typical project. How do you get started? Is there an assessment process? What does the client get back in the end? What is the end result?
Generally speaking, with new clients, we will discuss their needs by phone or email to get a sense of how the material appears to them physically and how it has been stored. Once we have the videotape on site at our facility, it goes through a physical inspection process first, then we use preparation routines developed in-house. The tape is then transferred with 100% attention to audio and video quality in a controlled environment. It is in this step that we will judge technical quality, making the determinations such as ‘Is this the optimum it can look and sound?’ Since we know that we have best-in-class equipment, we’re confident that the end result is a superior product. And it would suffice to say that most of the material that is undergoing a modern-day transfer and A to D process in our facility is going to look and sound better than it ever did before when one considers the limitations of the analog broadcast and the analog television sets the public watched these shows on when they originally aired.

Do clients typically want to migrate to a fixed media or go digital?
Approximately 50% of our deliveries are on broadcast quality digital videotape and 50% are on digital files on hard drives.

How big is a typical project? 
It varies. It could be a single item of extremely rare material to hundreds of tapes. We've seen it all.

Can you provide some examples of really tricky projects? Why are they challenging? What is the hardest format to work with?
Due to NDA's, I can't name specific projects, but any tapes damaged by neglect are the most time consuming and have the most wear and tear on a machine. Additionally, some physically edited tapes, such as spliced videotape programs take what amounts to open heart surgery to transfer and to recover frame by frame. 

Click here for some examples of DC Video's recent work. 

What are some of the key tools for doing this work?
It really depends on the project. In other words, we are fully equipped to handle most every videotape migration project that is handed to us. We have Mac Towers, Final Cut Pro, Bosch-Fernseh B format VTR's, third-generation Ampex 2" Quad tape machines including the Cadillac: The Ampex AVR-1, Sony EIAJ and CV, 1", U-matic, D1, D2, Digital Betacam, DV Cam, Hi 8 and Digi 8 VTR'S plus Panasonic D3, D5, DVC Pro and MII machines just to name a few. We have time-base correctors, video noise reducers, standards convertors and up-convertors to convert SD original to HD, as well. 

Click here for a complete list of the obsolete videotape formats DC Video can handle.

What is the typical timeframe for a migration?
It depends on the project. Some tapes can play right out of the box while others need special preparation before recovery. Ultimately, the complexity of a project underway dictates what the turnaround time will be for new arrivals. In other words, first come first served.

I am assuming this kind of work is not cheap. Can you give us a sense of a typical budget for a migration? 
Our pricing is based on client needs and is not published anywhere. We urge those with media to migrate or reformat to contact us to discuss what they have and what they need to go to. We welcome both large and small projects.

For a really big project, do you think an archive can recover the investment?
Our job is not to determine the value of content but rather to obtain the best quality possible so that the content owner can maximize their assets. In our opinion, it's up to the content owner to market their media in the fashion that best fits their organization's goals. We provide reformatted media that meets or exceeds their expectations.

Can you handle multiple projects at once?
Yes we can handle multiple projects depending on the machine usage within a specific job. We have multiple bays and a duplicity of hardware so that all workflows can be efficiently accommodated.

Is all the work done on site?
Yes.

Can you do a project at a client’s facility?
No.

What is the gold standard for a migration project? Are there clients who want both a fixed media migration and a digital file?
Every client has a different need. Digital Betacam is certainly still a major player for SD archiving while Apple ProRes is the most popular codec. 10-bit uncompressed is considered the highest quality in SD work. Some clients wish for their media to be migrated to both digital videotape and to digital file. This could include multiple hard drives sent to different locations to protect the newly created assets against calamities. Some clients who are working in a 1080p 23.98 project want their archival SD material to be up-converted to HD. This can be accomplished and has been done so many times within our facility.

Anything else you want to add?
I'm thankful for each and every one of our clients over the years. We will continue our work within the archival community preserving, migrating and reformatting our magnetic media heritage.

Indie Archives Going Strong!

The rise of large, online footage platforms has disrupted the stock footage industry, offering footage users immediate online access to huge troves of low-cost clips and putting pressure on smaller, independent footage archives to keep pace. So how are the independent providers faring in this new licensing ecosystem? To find out, we spoke with a group of independent footage industry leaders, who very generously shared their insights and experience. The upshot is that while they are feeling competitive pressure from the larger platform sites, especially on pricing and digital delivery, they have rallied by investing in technology and focusing on their core strengths, which include deep experience in the footage business, a commitment to customer service and the cultivation of specialized footage collections that are often difficult for the larger companies to duplicate. And their hard work, tenacity and operational upgrades are paying off, enabling them to capitalize on the current uptick in demand for footage from both traditional and online channels. 

State of the Footage Market

How would you describe the state of the current footage market? Is this a good moment for independent footage archives? Has the market become more challenging?

Layne murphy, president, budget films

Layne murphy, president, budget films

Layne Murphy, president of Budget Films: “It’s the best of times, as ratcheted up production has generated a much greater need for archival footage. It is the worst of times, as the big corporate companies undercut smaller libraries and have the capacity to fully license materials without any human interaction whatsoever. It’s not just our industry but the entire economy has shifted. But despite the proliferation of cut-rate behemoths like Walmart, some folks prefer the quality and personal service of a ‘mom and pop’ concern.”

Edward Whitley, North American president of Bridgeman Images: “Broadly speaking, the current market in archive for documentary is strong. Archive-driven docs are very much in vogue, as producers turn to historic footage and away from reenactments and recreations.”

mark trost, president, film archives

mark trost, president, film archives

Mark Trost, president, FILM Archives: “The state of the current market has improved over the past two to three years due to the influx of pay streaming services (Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, etc) adding to the number of programs with good budgets and need for footage (both vintage and current). So, it is a good moment for us. I can't speak for other independent firms, but I do hear there has been improvement all around. The biggest challenge has been the rise of royalty free collections driving down pricing. Price always drives the market since so many libraries have similar material. So, it is a challenge to maintain a decent price on footage.”

StormStock's Martin Lisius filming Hurricane Katrina

StormStock's Martin Lisius filming Hurricane Katrina

Martin Lisius, president, StormStock/Prairie Pictures:  “The stock footage market is the most competitive it has ever been in terms of numbers. When I created StormStock in 1993, there were only a handful of stock footage brands. They tended to be small and focused on quality product and quality customer service.  Now, there are many, with some being huge image distribution factories, while others remain small and focused. That said, it has not become more challenging for me. I work as hard as I ever have to turn out an excellent product and provide human-based customer service. Nothing has changed for me in that way.”

dominic dare, co-founder, lola clips

dominic dare, co-founder, lola clips

Dominic Dare, LOLA Clips: “It’s not a good time in terms of the last 20 years of video and archive. I’ve witnessed several smaller companies either sell out or go bust and that’s the tough reality for smaller independents. However, there is opportunity outside of traditional revenue streams finally. Tech apps and online opportunities do finally have the ability to pay for content. The market has definitely changed. I left the footage world for a number of years after 2008 and it’s a different world. The driving shift without doubt is technology. It has enabled non-traditional companies to create video platforms that are fully automated and require a server and some management but their sales are completely online. This along with cheaper cameras and microstock, as well as increased competition, have absolutely changed the paradigm.”

Joe Lauro, President, Historic Films

Joe Lauro, President, Historic Films

Joe Lauro, president, Historic Films: “We are a specialty archive focusing on pop culture and music performance footage and do not really compete with the general run of stock footage archives. Our business is determined by the number of projects out there that need the type of footage we specialize in.  As most of the larger companies offer what we have, and we do not attempt to sell royalty free type material we typically have a good year if there are a healthy amount of music and history based projects in production – it changes from year to year – this year has been good as was last year. The primary challenge used to be on the technical end. The expense of digitizing and offering our own platform for making footage available. Now that we have achieved that, it is a matter of keeping up with the technology shifts and adapting our platform to fit into the current trends.”

jeff goodman, president, producers library

jeff goodman, president, producers library

Jeff Goodman, president, Producers Library: For Producers Library I’d say this is a good period in time for us and many other independents. The current market is a mixed bag.  On the one hand increased production from all genres means more demand for both current location shots and high-end feature / TV out-takes as well as archival material.  On the other hand, there are new archives popping up every year to compete with and they often discount heavily.  Ubiquitous inexpensive cameras shooting HD & up have made this happen.  The new production standards for HD, 2K and 4K mean you can only provide older standard definition video footage if the content is highly valued, even though up-conversion is sometimes an option. However, besides having the desired content, those with film-backed archives are now in the catbird’s seat in that 16mm and 35mm can be scanned to 2K and 4K DPX files.”

Ben Jones, Science Photo Library

Ben Jones, Science Photo Library

Ben Jones, Head of Motion, Science Photo Library: "It’s hard to speak for other companies but we are still seeing good growth in revenue from our footage product. I would say that the increased use of video across the media has provided a new market to access, for instance book publishers now producing online or electronic products featuring video. Increased mobile bandwidth has also driven huge growth in online and especially social media use of video, which helps drive demand for unique viewing experiences. These new clients can be tricky to reach as the web is so vast, but there are opportunities there. There are many companies exploiting these new markets who have a great hunger for unique footage. The more traditional TV and film markets are still important also.

"The constant pace of change of technology certainly keeps us on our toes. One minute it’s 4K and the next it’s HDR, H264 gives way to H265, suddenly petabyte is not a dirty word… keeping up while not buying everything requires understanding of the issues and careful spending. Web-based marketing (eg AdWords) is expensive for small companies, and it is hard to compete with the search engine presence of the big generalist archives. Maintaining distinctiveness in the face of a sudden explosion of video production, both professional and amateur, is also a challenge. 

"The rise in technology-based stock video platforms presents both an opportunity and a threat to Science Photo Library. Such platforms are reaching new customers and introducing them to licensing stock video, but average fees are under extreme pressure, especially in the royalty free space. Thus, part of the battle for a small specialist library is trying to maintain a healthy price without the technological solutions and economies of scale available to the larger players." 

michael goldberg, president, Celebrity footage

michael goldberg, president, Celebrity footage

Michael Goldberg, president of Celebrity Footage: “In the traditional TV market, people are looking to squeeze minimums and pay lower fees. So the challenge is convince them that the quality of our footage is worth paying a somewhat higher price. Monetization of video online is growing, and digital outlets are willing to spend more to get better quality footage, at least on some pieces, to produce a better overall product.”

Responding to Market Shifts

Footage.net: What unique factors about your business have enabled you to overcome these market shifts and challenges? 

Ed Whitley, President, North America, Bridgeman Images

Ed Whitley, President, North America, Bridgeman Images

Ed Whitley: “While the market leaders certainly still dominate, independents like Bridgeman Images can offer a point of difference to the giant libraries. We offer a collection of tightly curated content that is fresh and relevant and, in recent years, major calendar anniversaries have afforded opportunities for researchers to turn to footage libraries for inspiration and information to make content. The market is currently big enough for major libraries and independents to coexist together, complementing each other by offering a diverse service to filmmakers and researchers on all types of budget and project requirements.” 

Michael Goldberg: It never stops. I have to act as assignment editor, videographer, rights & clearance supervisor and company president. And the events don’t stop so there is always more to cover. Because of the launch of new website, where clients can download high-res files, we’ve been able to add new subscriptions clients, mainly web based news outlets, who pay a monthly fee and can use what they want. When the news broke of Brad and Angelina’s divorce, subscription clients reached out to us, and the footage was immediately available.  Typically, these clients care about the quality of the footage, so it is worth it to them to use us. Our shooting style is different, we have a great position on the red carpet, and will typically take longer shots. When a story breaks, we send out an e-blast alert letting our clients know what we have on the subject. When quality is an issue, we get more orders. 

Mark Trost: “We have stressed to our clients, particularly on the pay streaming, cable and network side, the fact that most royalty free services give them no formal copyright or any other type of indemnity. This leaves them liable to third party copyright claims, legit or otherwise. We make it a point to note to the client that we do indemnify on copyright and will give full rights to clips if desired.”

Dominic Dare: “We’ve taken a very careful look at the entire industry and decided that we need to have a curated repository of content that is shot on great quality and/or hasn’t been seen as clips. We don’t need or want to compete at $200 a clip. There’s no value there. We also have developed new ways of working with stock and shoot bespoke stock footage with our aerial drone partners. We take a qualified risk when doing this to provide our clients exactly what they want but at stock prices. Additionally we think getting the content out in other ways is key and we have an archive-based production company as well as several online channels.”

Layne: “We have experienced, professional researchers and provide individualized service.  We ask the right questions and insure that our materials fit with the client’s vision and budget. The area of licensing and rights has grown much more complicated and it is very important to us to stay on top of legal trends and create licenses that meet distribution requirements. Furthermore, we've evolved from providing masters on 3/4” tape to creating 2K or 4K digital files from our enormous collection of physical prints.”

Jeff Goodman: “Since Producers Library has a wide and varied set of collections of different subject matter we can cater to a broad customer base.  And, as I mentioned above, having quality 16mm & 35mm film shot in previous decades is a boon for us. So many TV shows and features are set in the past that the obvious response was to start scanning.  We jumped into the fray a little late but started sub-contracting to have select footage scanned over three years ago and a year and a half ago purchased a LaserGraphics scanner. As they say, we haven’t looked back.

Joe Lauro: We’re investing in technology and broadening the scope of our library.  We are also continuing to offer the services of an extremely knowledgeable sales team and researchers to all of our clients. We still answer the phones here and try to encourage people to ask questions. It is a service industry and we are fighting to keep it that way by offering the assistance of knowledgeable human beings to all of our clients.

Ben Jones: Science Photo Library (SPL) is a paradoxical company: our greatest strength also presents a challenge.  We specialize in difficult-to-source, challenging-to-shoot content in science, medicine and technology subject areas. Whilst this gives SPL a unique niche in which to operate, having a specialized niche is limiting in breadth.  However, we love what we do and we have tried to focus on our strengths rather than get caught trying to chase the next big thing, or spreading ourselves thinly with content that’s available elsewhere. This means a focus on searching for and creating unique and relevant material, working with experts and people with a unique vision, and listening to our clients when they ask for things we don’t have. We have a lot of specialist knowledge in-house and we leverage this expertise to give us an advantage when clients are looking for media in our area.

Unique Footage Collections

Footage.net: How important to your success is your collection itself? Would you say that your collection is unique? Does this make it hard for larger companies to duplicate? How important is it to develop your collection to fill a specific market niche?

Ed Whitley: “Bridgeman Footage has not necessarily carved itself a niche collection; rather it has built on the mantra of ‘Art, Culture, History’ that has made Bridgeman one of the foremost independent image libraries in the world. Using these tenets, the Bridgeman Footage collection has evolved to reflect and supplement the image collection so that filmmakers and producers can use the Bridgeman name for stills and footage.  As a traditionally stills-based archive, the biggest hurdle has been making the market aware of all the incredible footage we now offer. That perception is changing, thankfully, as we continue to add more collections whilst archive researchers and filmmakers realize we can offer a different, cross-platform, bespoke service to suit their project’s needs.” 

Martin Lisius: “StormStock is a very niche product. We specialize in weather footage, and have been doing it for nearly 25 years. There’s an old saying that goes, "Jack of all trades, master of none.” I think to become really good at something, you have to focus. But when I established my company in 1993, I didn’t do it to create a stock footage collection. I filmed lots of severe weather footage for documentaries I produced. Other producers came to me to license my work. I created StormStock as a means to serve that need. It was the egg before the chicken, so to speak. I think that’s the best way to start any business. Keep in mind that StormStock is not a company. It’s a collection and brand of Prairie Pictures, a film production company. We are production people. We actually understand the three phases of making movies and know how cameras work down to the physics of optics.”

Mark Trost: “The collection is the cornerstone of our success. Our niche is vintage footage of all genres 1890s-1990s and news video (1986 to present). That is what we are known for. We have many vintage titles that are virtually impossible to find elsewhere. We also have a large library of 1980s era footage. This appears to be the lost footage era, as local TV stations, networks and film producers simply threw out their prints as they switched to tape and then threw that away when they went to digital. So, there is a lot of 80s era material that is hard to find. We have made an effort to find industrial films, news footage, home movie lifestyle material, and other genres to fill this gap. We also represent the local New York cable news service NEWS 12 LONG ISLAND whose footage goes back to 1986. So, that attracts a lot of documentary filmmakers and series to our library.” 

Dominic Dare: “Yes and No. Filling a specific market niche is hugely important and as a young company we’ve been lucky enough to find that out organically. We do find ourselves being known for our drone and viral video, but interestingly that’s a much smaller element of our content and we do compete on content that is not ultimately unique, especially with the Studios here in LA. We now have 16 media partners and a lot of material from news to sports, as well as a wonderful new home movie collections from the 1920’s to the 80’s.  Our viral video collections are by nature unique, but even then there are other options if you want a clip of someone doing something stupid at Christmas, for example. I think if you have the rare opportunity to own a one-off music performance or exclusive access to a news event, then you can legitimately claim a higher price and the collection becomes valuable. But nowadays there’s pressure on budgets and there’s always an alternative through stills or simply a different creative approach, which means the collection is part of the equation but by no means all. The vast majority of our revenue is based around proactive sales, relationships and ultimately whether the client wants the footage or not. Ultimately Sandra [Coelho] and myself are the unique element for LOLA. As someone who has always loved this industry, I find intrinsic interest in archive footage but from a commercial standpoint it’s actually more about our clients and finding them what they want.”

Layne Murphy: “Our collection has been, and continues to be, amassed with an eye towards servicing documentaries and providing materials for on-the-set playback.  That said, we also represent a number of filmmakers and have a good collection of HD materials, strong particularly on the subjects of food, cooking and dining. We have the sophistication and historical knowledge to have mastered our collection, which is primarily archival. Most of our library is backed up with film.”

Jeff Goodman: We are located in Hollywood and gravitate towards Hollywood and entertainment history and the archival footage it portrays has led us to collect some very unique footage.  Hollywood history has been our forte for years.  While viewer interest in classic movie history has waned somewhat in the States, it is still going strong in France, the U.K. and Germany. Having tons of 1950’s through the 1990’s 35mm moving point of view process plates along with location shots has served us well. Right now, Seventies and Eighties footage is quite popular.

Ben Jones: I would say it’s critical to our success. While some of our clips are general stock, many of them are unique, and have either been commissioned or created by us, or sourced from hard-to-access archives. These are generally quite specific topics, and require a level of expertise to conceive and create, and hard work to locate. Even the clips that we haven’t created, we have actively pursued the creators and brought them into our collection based in a large part on our expertise. Our experience with our market niche in stills, and the knowledge that these clients were moving into using clips, certainly helped guide the development of our collection. 

Footage.net: As an independent archive, I am assuming that you and your team have a very deep knowledge and understanding of your collection. How important is this to your success?

Ed Whitely: “Because Bridgeman Footage is still growing and is relatively modest in volume (still some 20,000 clips), as requests flood in, it is a joy to search through our archival collections and find content that connects with the project; from early 20th Century home movies to WWII footage, arts documentaries and experimental animation, the Bridgeman Footage collection is a resource to fit many of the most fascinating projects. From the independent perspective, we can delve that bit further on research requests than some of the major libraries, going into extra detail and connecting with partner institutions and private collectors who may have that unique slice of archival gold that fits the brief.” 

Martin Lisius: “We know our collection intimately. It’s one of the things that separate the pros from the amateurs. I was at the Dallas Cowboys store at Wal-Mart across from AT&T Stadium last week and asked a nice employee if they had any Ezekiel Elliott jerseys (currently the #1 best selling NFL jersey). She said she had never heard of him. At a sporting goods store they could tell you yes or no immediately, and tell you when the next order will be in if they were out of stock. That’s a good comparison.”

Mark Trost: “Yes, it has been vital to our success. Any team member can answer an email inquiry or phone call with total knowledge of our library and how clients use it. There are no salespeople who have no idea what they are selling or how the client will be using the footage. Our clients do compliment us on our ability to ‘get’ what they are looking for.” 

Dominic Dare: “It’s massive. The issue for us is that we don’t necessarily even have time ourselves and that’s why metadata and online search is so important. As a small company, we outsource our post-production, keywording and metadata generation – I wish it wasn’t that way. I think if I had the luxury of viewing everything I would. One of the saddest things that has happened with footage over the last ten to fifteen years is the loss of our brain trust. We value it highly and research for us is more than a cursory glance on Google.” 

Layne Murphy: “This is enormously important.  The most junior member of our research staff has been with our firm for twenty years.”

Joe Lauro: “Extremely – we deal in history and if our researchers were not familiar with our constantly growing archive and the historical significance of the footage we would not be very effective in licensing our brand of material.”

Ben Jones: We have a dedicated, knowledgeable and passionate sales, marketing and production teams. All content is rigorously edited and checked for accuracy, relevance and authenticity. We have an in-house team of science caption writers who ensure that each clip and image is what it says it is. Even though all our media are available online, many clients still prefer to use our in-house research service, and the people involved in that do have a deep knowledge beyond that which a search engine can offer. These clients are very happy with the service.”

Footage.net: I am also assuming that you have a passion for your collection that may be missing in some of the larger, less personal companies. Would you agree with this assumption? Is it important?

Ed Whitley: “Definitely, most of us stem from history or art history degrees and utilize this specialized knowledge every day. As searching has become more and more about the metrics, it’s the intangibles that now get better recognized from the crowd. Where once personalized research by staff members was the norm, now it’s the exception. At Bridgeman we still hold this to be a crucial part of our service, fortunately that’s part of our passion too.”

Martin Lisius: “That’s totally true. I have had a passion for storms since I was a kid and shot my first lightning image when I was just 12 years old. If you have a passion for your subject, you will know it better than most. Companies that have billions of images can’t possibly know them as well as they should.”

Mark Trost: “Yes, this is a passion. I started out as a 16mm Film collector in the 1970s and the business grew from my love of film collecting (nothing arty mind you, mostly cartoons, serials, b-movies, campy educational and industrial films). So, enthusiasm and knowledge is appreciated by the client. We recently supplied footage to a documentary on the man (Bill Finger) who co-created and ghost wrote all the early Batman comic book stories. As both a fan and collector I was able to guide them to photographic and film sources to the point that the researcher said that we should have come on board as historical consultants! A great compliment.”

Dominic Dare: “I’ve been lucky enough to work in London, New York and Los Angeles and worked with some of the biggest collections and more recently with LOLA to find and unearth newer material. So I’ve worked in archives where you will never ever have a deep knowledge of everything and also smaller collections where there are only a few real nuggets that you have to find in order to make money. Personally I have a deep passion for news and current affairs and it’s role in our various societies, but for some reason I know more about dwarf tossing or the latest prank video on YouTube! Ultimately I love moving image and that’s why I do this as I get to see how it simply the single most engaging form of media for immediacy of interaction. 

Layne Murphy: “The library began in 1963 as a non-theatrical film distributor and repurposed as a footage library when videotape boded to make non-theatrical film rental obsolete.  The company has been in Hollywood for over fifty years and is a woman owned business, operated now by the founder’s daughter.”

Joe Lauro: We are historians and music fanatics here. That makes going to work fun.

Ben Jones: I feel that we do, although whether it’s missing from larger companies I couldn’t say. We do provide free access to our specialist researchers to help clients with their requests, which is a popular service and an increasingly rare one in these days of web search and automatic purchasing. As we host images and clips of arcane and complicated material, this helps to give our customers the confidence that they are selecting the correct image for their project. 

Serving Customers

Footage.net: Are you able to provide more personalized service? Is that important? For your clients, does having access to you personally or to other long-standing members of your team make a difference? Does this add value for your clients?

Martin Lisius: “Yes, we are able to provide more personal service than the large image superstores. I have quite a few clients I know well. They know they can depend on us to help them succeed. The giant collections could hire more people to interact with the client, but people are more expensive than computer servers and it would cut into their profit margin.”

Mark Trost: “The clients do appreciate that there is always someone available to speak to or email with who actually knows the library and how what we have that could help them. Consequently, we do get a lot of researchers and producers returning to us as new projects come up.”

Dominic Dare: “Along with knowing where to find the right content, either from within our exclusive agreements or through our industry relationships the lifeblood of LOLA Clips is our clients. We are more knowledgeable and have decades of experience in providing productions with content. It’s the single most important asset for LOLA. We know how to negotiate on a complex license agreement, we know how to find the actual original specs for a piece of footage and what it was shot on, we know how clients will come back again if you know where to get their material and then give that info to help simply because you can. I cannot tell you how much knowing contacts at an obscure Italian TV network or being able to find someone a contact at the NFL helps your business. That is simply our biggest asset.”

Layne Murphy: “We do an enormous amount of repeat business and our service emphasizes the personal.  Our license is vetted by all of the major production entities.”

Joe Lauro: We like to think it does. Many of our clients look to us for suggestions on footage and do take advantage of our expertise and suggestions.

Ben: I think this goes back to the research service mentioned above. When clients ask us for media we really do try to help them, contacting potential contributors and even commissioning work on occasion. They certainly appreciate this level of care and have mentioned it several times. 

Footage.net: As a veteran in this business, I am assuming that you have developed some very close relationships with buyers over the years. Is that important to your success? Further to that point, I am assuming that you have developed a deep knowledge of the footage business and buyers. How much does that matter?

Ed Whitley: “Of course, relationships are everything, in this sector possibly more than most. As individuals move between productions and production companies, it’s their personal experiences of working with an individual that’s most likely to bring them back for their next project.”

Martin Lisius: “Yes, it is. Trust is pretty important.”

Mark Trost: “Yes, the fact that the researcher community knows we are a knowledgeable resource has allowed us to build a substantial client base who will come back to us project after project. A client can sense when you really don't know what you are talking about and, conversely, when they know you can lead them in the right direction and not waste their time, they are more inclined to review your material and ultimately utilize it in their productions.” 

Dominic Dare: “Yes, as I mentioned above, for me and Sandra, my business partner in London, this is the currency that is most valuable. At LOLA, we focus our footage sales divisions on Film and TV, therefore relationships are important because London is close knit community as is LA. Sneeze something about one archive or buyer and it’ll give the whole of the industry a cold. It’s a small community but one that we love.”

Layne Murphy: “We have many clients who have done business with us for thirty years or more.  Our relationships are enormously important and we strive to continue insuring customer confidence and satisfaction. “

Joe Lauro: Of course, we work with all of the independent researchers and most of the companies producing steady slates of documentaries. They know what to expect when working with us and our long-term relationships allow us to make it easier for them. It is important to understand the business you are in. Know who your competitors are, what they offer and do not offer, which allows you an edge when acquiring new material so you can estimate if the costs might turn into profits. If you pay $100,000 for a collection of material that everyone is offering it could be a mistake. If you listen to your clients and are able to focus in on material they often ask for and have difficulty finding, well then it might be a good investment. So, yes, you need to pay attention to what your competitors offer and do not offer.

Jeff Goodman: Knowing your content well means faster response time in presenting clip-bins or links and that means happier editors who are pressured to find the just right shot or shots.  

Ben Jones: I’d say yes, and they have come to expect a level of service from us, as well as help on specifics when required. We are always looking to build new relationships as well. We’ve certainly learnt that it is a very different business from licencing photos, although there are increasingly overlaps between the two. I think that understanding the needs of footage buyers is important, in the information they need about the clips themselves, the language and terminology they use when discussing rights and metadata, the need for per second billing as well as the more photo-relevant per clip, the need for access to clips for comping purposes and more. 

Investments, Infrastructure & Technology

Footage.net: Developing and maintaining an archive is expensive. Without going into too much proprietary detail, where have you focused your investments?

Martin Lisius: “Everything has become more technology driven. But, for our company, it comes down to quality of product and customer service. We’ve focused our time on production and creating more content. That’s what matters most. Digitization is a term used by stock footage marketers and accountants. What is there to digitize? Clients rarely want standard-def anymore which leaves just a few years of HD on tape. We converted that to digital files years ago and what we acquire now is already digitized.”

Mark Trost: “All spare time is devoted to getting more material digitized and on line as that is the way the material is now seen. So the more they can see, they more of a chance you have to license. We have totally redone our website earlier this year so every clip is viewable on virtually every platform, including desktop, mobile, etc.”

Dominic Dare: “Yes absolutely, we are like all smaller companies working out the way forward but as a company that’s not even two years into trading we have been lucky enough to build a cloud-based online only portal and infrastructure that hopefully is nimble enough to work for us for the next 10 years. At the moment we are focused on development of an app and newer forms of video. Lots to be announced…”

Layne Murphy: “We do the best we can but we know we'll never keep up with the platform sites so we have to emphasize our many other strengths towards serving our clientele. This is our order of priorities-- family friendly wages and benefits; basic operations/media preservation; technology; advertising and promotion; and film acquisition.

Joe Lauro: Over the years Historic Films has paid close attention to how, when and from where people are accessing our content. We have responded by giving users the right tools to do their jobs efficiently.  We have re-designed our website to be 100% responsive across all desktop and mobile platforms.  In doing so, we have simplified and streamlined the research process, giving our users quick access to the footage they need 24 hours a day.  In addition, we have made a concerted effort over the last five years, in large part due to hardware affordability, to bring vast amounts of archival content online.

Ben Jones: It was evident from the outset that handling video would require much more storage and processing power than stills, so hardware was one of the first large investments. We also hired experienced video editors and systems builders to integrate editing systems with our own databases. We tried to avoid non-digital video initially as we were aware of the cost of digitization, and although we have digitized tape and film over the years, the majority of our archive remains born digital. We have to keep abreast of new developments on the technical side, including new codecs, color spaces, cameras, displays and standards. Our contributors and clients ask us about these aspects all the time so it is important to be aware of them. 

Footage.net: On many of the “platform sites” you can transact a complete order online and download production-ready clips without speaking to a human. Do you feel pressure to provide that level of online service, or does the human-based model work for you and your clients?

Ed Whitley: “In this age of often faceless communications and automated customer service, I think we are slowly seeing a reaction from the independent sector. People now appreciate personal communications more than ever before as a means to answering research queries or any specialist tech-requirements they may have for their footage. As an independent, we can offer services which major libraries cannot so easily; like transcoding clips into bespoke formats, collating time-coded edits into curated playlists, or returning to analogue masters for perfect HD transfers. However, while Bridgeman tries to give the client real human interaction, we understand that today’s archive researcher wants clips quickly and efficiently. Independents can do this by giving immediate download, high-res production ready clips at the click of a few buttons; delivered not through vast (often slow), server-intensive FTPs, but agile online download portals like the one we employ at Bridgeman.”

Martin Lisius: “I feel no pressure from the image superstores. They are quite different from us. We do have an on-line storefront. I made it for clients that have a tight deadline and need something immediately, any time of day. It accounts for about 5% of our sales. The rest come to us directly and we interact with them. Yes, we even talk to them! Phone, e-mail, and sometimes text.”

Mark Trost: “As much as the turnkey do it yourself approach does work, we find the types of projects we get involved in, like cable TV documentaries, commercials, scripted TV and features, requires a lot of back and forth with the client to get them what they need. There are also constant variations in rights needed all which affect price. So, the menu-driven on line version might work for a lot of projects, but far from all.”

Dominic Dare: “I think it’s crazy if you don’t where possible. We buy so much online and if you think otherwise personally I think you are wrong. We don’t as we have complex rights management issues but we will be rolling that out and whilst I know of very large archives who don’t see more than a handful of sales this way per month you have to think globally and how you are realistically going to sell in Korea or Australia or Slovakia without it.”

Layne Murphy: “The platform model is fine for certain projects but others have more complicated licensing requirements, need more esoteric materials and/or need to work from film elements.  We feel that if we continue to emphasize our many strengths, little companies like Budget, will be able to co-exist with the big guns.” 

Jeff Goodman: Producers Library has always steered clear of Royalty Free and e-commerce models.  We enjoy speaking to customers as you gain more knowledge of their needs.  Even the experienced researchers often have questions and we’re here to answer them.

Joe Lauro: Historic Films, being a long form stock footage archive, cannot solely be one or the other.  We must service both, and we do.  Every project and every client is unique. Our clients make it very clear to us every day that they need efficiency and speed but they also need our knowledge and our expertise to find them what they are looking for.  Stock Footage is very different than Stock Shots.  Not all projects are coming to us with a keen vision of the ‘perfect’ shot.  More and more researchers are coming to us with ‘concepts’ and they rely on our people in house, who have deep knowledge of our archive, to get the right material in front of them.

Ben Jones: We did feel this pressure and we launched a fully automated e-commerce function on our site four years ago. Revenue from e-commerce sales has practically doubled each year over the last three years. That said, the majority of our sales are still made through our sales team, with researchers coming to us for advice and shot selections.

Footage.net: Has technology become more affordable, allowing you to shift toward a more digital workflow?

Martin Lisius: “Yes, technology is more affordable, as it is in any industry. We are all digital. However, it’s the quality of our team that matters most. That hasn’t changed.”

Mark Trost: “Yes, the major expense is now in time rather than equipment.”  

Dominic Dare: “Yes. Storage for us is simply how much do we want? It’s not a big cost. We can integrate our CRM system into our digital platform with a small amount of development, but we built our business to not have to work with all the legacy issues we’ve seen first hand from working at other companies who just are dealing with insurmountable issues. I feel very lucky. The issue for us is value vs. potential revenue. We can keyword inexpensively but delivery of masters does cost for us and that’s something that we tend to keep paying.” 

Layne Murphy: “Our workflow is entirely digital.”

Jeff Goodman: Only when the price of scanners became affordable did we really shift the workflow, balancing between as-need customer sales and choosing promising footage.

Joe Lauro: Absolutely! We couldn’t have made near the progress we have made in the last seven or eight years without technology becoming more and more affordable.  Every year it becomes more affordable and every year that has enabled us to expand or better secure what we have.

Ben Jones: To some extent, and especially with storage, but the processing and delivery aspects are still quite expensive, and bandwidth has not really kept pace with file sizes. I think it would have been significantly more expensive to set up a non-digital archive though.

Footage.net: Has technology made operating an independent archive more cost-effective and manageable? If so, how?

Martin Lisius: “I would say generally yes, like a word processor versus a typewriter. It’s a more efficient tool.”

Mark Trost: “Yes, since we have 10,000 or more clip reels available for instant on line viewing, we can send clients screeners to review in minutes of receiving a request. Just a few years ago, you had to put together a tape or DVD. So, it does cut down on time and staff needed.”

Layne Murphy: “More manageable—absolutely.  Cost-effect is still a question mark.  We need less manpower than we did twenty years ago but the demands of keeping up technologically largely offset this.”  

Joe Lauro: In some ways.  Not in all.  Technology has streamlined our workflow and allowed us to do a lot more in a lot less time.  We subsequently require fewer people to match the same output we may have had 5+ years ago.  That said, technology needs constant maintenance, constant upgrades and support. What we have lost in perhaps marketing we have gained in IT.  We believe, however, that in the big picture over-all, a small independent archive like ours with manageable overhead and fiscal control over what we do and when we do it, that the answer is yes, with the right people in the right jobs it has made our business more cost effective and manageable.  Another important point to note, however, is that what technology has also done is to keep us viable in a shrinking market.  So although embracing the technology has been very good for us, it was also essential.  

Ben Jones: Yes, and for the reasons above – although there are many digital formats they can (usually) be read by any digital edit system. To set up a non-digital archive would have meant buying or hiring separate decks for Betacam, SP, VHS, 16mm, 35mm… The only other thing I can think of is the difficulty of distributing such large quantities of data around the world. Although digital files are portable, they quickly get to a size where internet-based distribution is not feasible, so transferring master files to agents and clients can be a headache. It is still easier than doing the same with tape and film though!

Marketing

Footage.net: How do you keep your company in front of customers? Is it primarily about having a long-standing reputation? Word-of-mouth? Online marketing?

Ed Whitley: “All of the above, and more! One of the key things Bridgeman focuses on is having close relationships with our clients, where we are able to combine their needs and feedback with the data from each marketing channel we use in order to continuously communicate and deliver relevant content and information about our growing archive. As Bridgeman has long-standing relationships and a reputation for high quality and exclusive content, our role with marketing is to ensure a consistent delivery across many channels for our clients to understand what is in our archive, both new and existing. This combines a close relationship internally with our collections, cataloguing and IT departments to provide accurate and relevant information as well as tools to provide our clients with a seamless experience in accessing the best content for their projects. Bridgeman's marketing covers a variety of channels that include tradeshows, client events, emails, advertising, social media and a heavy focus on content creation for our website that provides the clients with a wealth of ideas, case studies, tips, tools and anniversaries that they may be focusing on now or in the future. As Bridgeman supplies stills and footage to a variety of industries the content created by the marketing department gives clients the ability to plan and react to whatever needs they may have on any project.”

Martin Lisius: “Most of our business is word of mouth. We have visibility through Footage.net and social media. But, a lot of our clients know me personally and spread the word to others. Some people still like working with humans rather than machines, and they prefer working with experts more than anything.”

Mark Trost: “We are part of Footage.net and FOCAL and garner projects from those affiliations. We also do on line marketing. We send out tweets and post a clip of the day on our Facebook and Twitter accounts every day. Also, we find when researchers and production people move from project to project, they do remember us and tell others in their new posts about us.”

Layne Murphy: “We use social media with some degree of success.  Most of our business comes from professional researchers we've dealt with for years and referrals from these loyal customers.” 

Jeff Goodman: Word of mouth, having been around since 1957, a solid reputation and of course the stock footage portal Footage.net.

Joe Lauro: All of the above.

Ben Jones: We have a reputation on which we have built with stills clients moving into video (for instance in publishing). We try to keep our website easily findable online with SEO techniques too. We attend industry events (such as Footage Marketplace and FotoFringe) as well as events related our speciality (such as the World Congress of Science and Factual Producers, and the SMASH16 Awards). We are active members of trade bodies including FOCAL International and BAPLA, who have access to researcher organizations, production companies and publishers. We use social media and direct marketing to maintain brand awareness amongst our registered users, and to try to reach out across the wider world.