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. 

Producers Library Represents BANG Showbiz Celebrity Footage

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Los Angeles-based Producers Library now exclusively represents the footage of BANG Showbiz, the world’s premiere entertainment news agency. BANG Showbiz has furnished exclusive entertainment and celebrity-themed news footage to media outlets around the globe since 1997, focusing primarily on premieres, press conferences and other celebrity-related events in London, the UK and beyond. The addition of the BANG Showbiz library further expands Producers Library’s ongoing specialization in Hollywood and entertainment footage. All of the Bang Showbiz footage available through Producers Library is in HD. To see recent footage click here.

Reelin’ In The Years Productions and Double 2 BV Acquire Rights to Countdown, Europe’s Legendary Music Show

Reelin’ In The Years Productions, one of America’s largest footage archives, and Double 2 BV, a Netherlands production company, have acquired the rights to the Dutch music program Countdown. Often referred to as “Europe’s #1 Rock Show,” Countdown was on-the-air for 16 years (1977-1993), and was broadcast in 18 countries, making it one of the most successful music shows in the history of television.

The archive contains over 3,000 hours of musical performances, interviews and concert appearances by the greatest rock, R&B, pop, new wave and rap/hip-hop artists of the era, including: Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Prince, U2, Michael Jackson, The Police, David Bowie, Beastie Boys, George Harrison, Billy Joel, Whitney Houston, Run-DMC, Depeche Mode, Culture Club, Duran Duran, Blondie, The Cure, R.E.M., and thousands more. 

Click here to view a 12 minute demo of a small sampling of the archive.

With the launch of MTV in 1981, many music artists started appearing less frequently on American television, instead preferring to send music videos to promote themselves. However, in Europe MTV did not premiere until August 1987, so the best way these artists could reach a wide audience was to appear on music programs such as Countdown.  Because Countdown was broadcast in 18 countries and seen by millions of viewers, the artists realized the power of the Countdown audience and made sure to make an appearance on the show for maximum promotion.

In addition to thousands of in-studio performances, Countdown went on location to capture concert performances by artists such as Prince, The Rolling Stones, Bruce Springsteen, Eurythmics, Steve Miller Band, Jacksons, De La Soul, Madonna, Bon Jovi, David Bowie, Pearl Jam and AC/DC, who in 1979 debuted their classic “Highway To Hell” on the program. In the course of conducting on-location interviews, many times the Countdown film crew would capture unique moments such as Aerosmith’s Steven Tyler and Joe Perry performing “Walk This Way” in a music store, and U2’s Bono improvising a country ballad on guitar backstage. 

While a small fraction of the Countdown tapes had been transferred many years ago, most of the archive was not accessible. Reelin’ In The Years Productions and Double 2 BV have now begun the monumental task of transferring and cataloging the full archive, which contains nearly 3000 master tapes. In addition to the footage that was edited for broadcast, a massive amount of raw tapes have been discovered, featuring songs that were never broadcast and unedited interviews lasting up to 30 minutes. This will be the first time that the full Countdown library has been available for licensing to all forms of media.

For licensing information or to search their database regarding the Countdown archives or other RITY libraries please visit their website at www.reelinintheyears.com.

Framepool at Fifteen

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"As filmmakers, we always found it really frustrating that finding good footage was so hard. That was how we came up with the idea, back in 2001,” CEO Stephan Bleek recalls, “of making work easier for ourselves and our colleagues by setting up an Internet portal to bring people together – the people looking for absolutely excellent film material and the people who have precisely that to offer.” Framepool began work on a visionary database that would draw on the most modern digital technologies to make finding and licensing footage easier and more creative.

Today, 15 years later, Framepool is the largest footage agency in Europe. Its inspiring archive is packed with exciting current, historical and futuristic video and film footage. Simple or opulent, serious or humorous, scientific or creative – they have it all. The ability to license individual still images from every shot (one still per frame) is unique and valuable in the context of the increasing significance of cross-media projects.

“Often five to ten times more material is shot during the making of a film than is ultimately used in the final project. The leftover material is often of excellent quality, and we archive it in our database”, Stephan Bleek explains. Finding stock footage is easy, as shot lists organized by topic can be created for free in the Framepool webshop and a comprehensive research service is available. Customers can directly license the material they require online. Framepool’s customers are filmmakers in the fullest sense of the word: feature film producers, documentary makers, advertising agencies, TV broadcasters, producers of corporate image films, event promoters, and institutions like museums. Stephan Bleek remarks that Framepool stock footage was used "in the most recent James Bond film, for example” and that “our material can be found in television documentaries, award-winning advertising spots and everywhere video is used.”

In addition to 20 employees in Munich, the company also has teams in Paris, London, Zaragoza, New York and Los Angeles as well as distribution partners in all key world markets. The founders are, however, quick to emphasize that Framepool still has a close-knit small-company culture. In the words of Stephan Bleek: “We communicate directly and personally. We process all our material by hand – and our keywording is also performed by people, not by machines that cannot pick up on the emotions images convey. This allows us to offer qualitatively excellent footage that can be found through optimal keywording.” Professional documentalists working in six languages categorise images on the basis of the associations they evoke as well as by their content – and a seventh language will soon be added. The in-house Rights Clearance Department takes care of securing rights of use and third-party rights around the world and for all uses and purposes.

Stephan Bleek has a doctorate in history and curates a special category of historical videos that includes collections occupying a prominent place in film history: the videos of American cinematographer Shirley Clarke, German “Heimatfilms” from the 50s, and rare footage of Adolf Hitler’s personal life shot by Eva Braun. Framepool also has the largest available selection of Unesco World Heritage videos.

“We also have an excellent international network and connections to all the major archives. That means we can get hold of practically any material we don’t already have in our digital library”, Stephan Bleek adds.

“Exclusiveness, legal certainty, customer service, quality and fairness towards our customers and licensors are all top priorities for us at Framepool,” Stephan Bleek stresses. And of course the archive is still forging ahead with new plans even after 15 years: “We want to expand within our industry by also supplying photographs, for example shots taken on set during the making of films. Many of our film suppliers also have very exciting photo collections which we will soon be able to offer to our customers as an additional service.”

The Wrath of Hurricane Matthew Captured on 4K by Martin Lisius

Cinematographer and StormStock founder Martin Lisius has a very unique job. For nearly three decades, he has tracked and photographed some of the most violent (and beautiful) weather in the world. Last week, it was business as usual as he followed major Hurricane Matthew along the Florida coast, bracing against 90 mph winds, and enduring stinging, horizontal rain.

"Yes, the rain actually stings if you aren't completely covered," Lisius said. "To me, filming a hurricane is like standing in front of a fire hose with a camera for several hours. It's invigorating!"

Lisius, who captured the only Super 35mm film, and some of the only HD video, of Hurricane Katrina making landfall 11 years ago, uses special techniques to film hurricanes.

"Rain protection is critical," he says. "I carefully tape my cameras and lenses and then add rain coats to them. And, as soon as I can, I rinse them in fresh water to remove sea salt."

And, what about safety? "Just read the hurricanes chapter in my safety book," he says, referring to "The Ultimate Severe Weather Safety Guide" which he wrote based on his personal experiences to help save lives.

His new material is available for licensing exclusively through StormStock, which he founded in 1993, now one of the oldest stock footage brands in the world. You can see a sample of Lisius' Hurricane Matthew footage on his Vimeo channel.

Films Of The Real Florence Foster Jenkins Discovered

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Fans of the recent Meryl Streep movie Florence Foster Jenkins will be delighted to learn that a batch of eight films, commissioned by the real Florence Foster Jenkins and documenting seven of her performances, have come to light and are in the process of being restored by Historic Films archive in Greenport, New York. While there are a number of photographs of Ms. Jenkins, not to mention the infamous 1941 recordings, these films are the only motion pictures of Ms. Jenkins known to exist.

Discovered in 2008 in the attic of the 1920’s home originally owned by Ms. Jenkins executrix were eight cans of 16 mm film. These one of a kind films document seven years (1934-39, 1941) of Ms. Jenkins’ recitals.

Documentary filmmaker Donald Collup was aware, through information he gleamed in a Jenkins recital program, that Madame Jenkins did indeed film her 1934, 1935 and 1936 Ritz Carlton recitals. He and everyone else assumed the films were long lost.

Upon attending a recent tribute to Ms. Jenkins and her mother held by the Daughters of the American Revolution, Mr. Collup was approached by a family member of the executrix of the Jenkins’s estate who said to him “we have movies of Jenkins.”

Besides footage of Ms. Jenkins in recital and greeting her fans, the films include glimpses of her husband St. Clair Bayfield and Ms. Jenkins long-time accompanist Cosme McMoon. These films did not meet the light of day until after the movie Florence Foster Jenkins was released.

Historic films archive is now offering excerpts of the footage for licensing.  Historic Films archive is also planning on working with Mr. Collup on a new documentary.  Historic Films archive can be contacted at www.historicfilms.com or by calling (631)477-9700.

Bridgeman and Epic History TV Present a Timeline of US Presidents…Who Gets Your Vote?

Bridgeman Footage, Bridgeman Images and Epic History TV have teamed up once more to create a two part video on the history of the 43 Presidents of the United States, just in time for the upcoming election. Epic History TV is the leading historical YouTube channel adept at crafting informative videos that are well received by all audiences. The use of images and footage from Bridgeman showcases how the archive positions itself to build quality content around specific historical figures, such as each of the American Presidents.

Bridgeman always looks to add depth to every topic in the archive through its connections with the thousands of Museums, Artists and Collections they have worked with for over 40 years. In combination with a tireless search to unearth historical and cultural content that compliments what is one of the world’s leading art archives, Bridgeman is the perfect partner for an innovative producer like Toby Groom, who created Epic History TV.

Click to see Part 1 and Part 2.

 

Archives Speak in Eight Days a Week

The Beatles: Eight Days a Week – The Touring Years, directed by Ron Howard, leverages the power of archival footage to take viewers back to the origins of Beatlemania, pulling the audience along with the Fab Four on their journey from local Liverpool band to global superstardom. The film’s producers took a remarkable journey as well, beginning their quest in 2003 with the idea that, given the growing ubiquity of handheld cameras in the early sixties, unseen archival footage documenting the Beatles touring years must surely exist in private collections and obscure archives around the world.

And they were right. Over a ten-year period, the original research team at One World One Voice (OVOM), headed by Matt White, Stuart Samuels and Bruce Higham, scoured the globe for these unseen films, tapping into an international network of Beatles collectors and historians and assembling a massive, crowd-sourced cache of rare, lost and amateur-shot Beatles footage. Throughout, they maintained the unconventional approach of building their production archive first, and letting the archival materials drive the story forward.

“We flipped the model,” said White at the London premiere. “What we were saying is we don’t know what’s out there, let’s just find as much as we can, let’s not limit ourselves to a story first. Let’s find that and see how the archives can speak, how they can do it. So then Ron Howard becomes the one who is listening to those archives. And he's going on and he’s finding these amazing stories and he’s starting to put that through.”

The effect is riveting. From the films first concert sequence at the ABC Cinema in Manchester in 1963, with the youthful Beatles performing “She Loves You” before a throng of screaming teenagers, the excitement still resonates, and not simply as nostalgia.

“If it allows people to feel what they felt back then, that’s what it’s all about,” said White.

The film captures the Beatles personal experience as they encounter global fame on an unprecedented scale.  No band had ever achieved this level of international popularity before, so they had no script to follow.  The scenes at Shea Stadium are remarkable not just for the collective madness of the crowd, but also for the vision of the Beatles performing on a bare-bones stage, their music barely audible over their modest amplifiers and the stadium’s in-house PA system against the backdrop of the screaming fans. The phenomenon of the stadium band was new, and the Beatles, with just three roadies on hand, were clearly making it up as they went along. 

“I thought that their idea of focusing on the touring years was really ingenious because the Beatles' story in total is epic and sprawling,” Ron Howard said in an interview with Fast Company. “But this has a narrative. As a director, I immediately identified it as sort of an adventure story. I felt like it was almost a survival story for these guys. They launched themselves into this, and the world reacted in a way that nobody could have predicted. It created all kinds of challenges for them. The way they navigated those challenges is revealing, moving, and impressive.”

Innovative Footage Search Process
While the interviews with Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr and others provide context, the visceral impact of the film comes primarily from the archival clips and performance sequences, many which, like their last concert at Candlestick Park in 1966, had not been seen before. Unearthing that sort of footage required an extensive, global, multi-year effort.

The idea of telling the Beatles story through unseen archives was conceived by Matt White in 2003. While working at National Geographic archives, White discovered a clip in the Nat Geo vaults of the Beatles from 1966, making an unscheduled landing in Anchorage, Alaska while en route to Japan, filmed by a Nat Geo camera crew. He believed that more forgotten footage like this must be hidden around the world, and pitched the idea to Neil Aspinall, then CEO of Apple Corps, not as a film first but as a global search for undiscovered materials that could be used to tell the Beatles story in a new way. The idea intrigued Aspinall, and White kept at the search over the the next few years, eventually forming One Voice One World in 2007 with partners Samuels and Higham, to build out the project, resulting in an enormous trove of home movies, newsreel footage and other found archival materials. 

Based on that work, Apple commissioned OVOM to expand their search in 2012, allowing them to set up a global crew of 30 researchers and put out a more comprehensive call to fans on social media, including a short video on YouTube. Meanwhile, Apple brought in Nigel Sinclair and his team at White Horse Pictures to produce the film, and, with Ron Howard on board to direct, announced the start of production in 2014, whereupon White Horse relaunched the footage search campaign, setting up a dedicated website to draw in footage owners and reaching out to the Beatles 40 million Facebook fans. “The result was a massive outpouring of materials,” said White Horse’s Nick Ferrall, one of the film's producers, in an interview with Variety.

Archival Sources
There are over 100 archival sources listed in the credits, with many of the big archival providers listed, including ABCNEWS VideoSource, AP Archive, Framepool, Getty Images, Global ImageWorks, Historic Films, ITN Source, NBC Universal Archives and WPA Film Library. The film benefits from access to the archives of Apple Corps and the inclusion of archival gems gleaned from untraditional sources, such as the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department and the Vancouver Police Museum, as well as many private collections. 

Audio Reengineering
The film is noteworthy for its sound quality, with audio engineering headed up by Giles Martin, son of the late Sir George Martin, the Beatles original producer. The challenge in restoring the audio was two-fold: separating the Beatles music from the noise of the fans, which often overwhelmed the band’s onstage sound systems; and working with what were often lo-fi recordings of the Beatle’s live performances. Martin used cutting-edge audio technology to re-master these recordings and bring the sound of the Beatles to the forefront, and it makes a huge difference, giving viewers the chance to actually hear the music. 

Strong Box Office
With big players like Ron Howard, Brian Grazer and White Horse Pictures involved, as well as the full participation of Apple, Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr bringing the film to fruition, the release was a hit. According to the Los Angeles Times, “in the first three days after opening on 85 screens on Friday, Sept. 16, Eight Days a Week grossed $622,410, for a per-screen average of $7,322,” according to the film’s distributor, Abramorama. “Factoring in preview screenings on Thursday, the total gross through Sunday came to $771,154,” the LA Times reported. As of October 2, the film had grossed $2,088,918 in North America and $6,071,329 outside of North American for a worldwide total of $8,160,247, according the website Box Office Mojo. The film is being held over for a third week in some theaters and will be released on DVD and Blu-Ray on November 18, according to Billboard. The release strategy was also innovative, premiering simultaneously in theaters worldwide and on-demand on Hulu. 

A Post Network Hit
This film has all the characteristics the Post-Schedule Documentary economy described by Peter Hamilton both on his blog, Documentarytelevision.com, and in an interview we published in last month’s Footage.net newsletter (Archives are Back!). It includes a big name director (Howard) and A-List production talent, brings with it a large affinity audience and has as its subject matter a group of major, global celebrities. It also includes previously unseen footage, a critical selling point for the networks. Hamilton’s Case Study on Eight Days a Week is a must read.

“Archive based ‘event’ docs are nearly always about celebrities and historical figures with huge name recognition, and therefore the film is presold to the audience,” Hamilton said in our interview. “This is important in a universe where there are thousands of channels, and networks can’t afford to market a concept from a standing start.”

Documentaries like Eight Days a Week “attract passionate affinity audiences who promote their favorite docs across their own press and social media communities,” according to Hamilton.

And the significance of previously unseen footage in Eight Days a Week as well as other signature docs cannot be overstated. “Just about every network we are working with will not accept archive-based shows unless we can say the images have never before been seen,” filmmaker Tom Jennings said in our interview. “There is tremendous pressure to do this.  Obviously, the image and sounds have been seen at least once if they were broadcast.  We have to look far beyond the usual images that an audience remembers to try and find the moments that live outside our collective consciousness.  If we can’t say ‘unseen’ many times we lose the sale.”

The film also exploits an innovative Post Network release strategy, premiering in both theaters worldwide and on Hulu simultaneously.

Production Team
Eight Days a Week was produced by Nigel Sinclair (White Horse Pictures), Scott Pascucci (Concord Bicycle Music), Brian Grazer and Ron Howard (Imagine Entertainment) and Apple Corps. Coproduction credits went to Matt White, Stewart Samuels and Bruce Highman (One World One Voice). Clearance work was provided by the team at Global ImageWorks, headed up by Jessica Berman Bogdan and Cathy Carapella.  Eight Days a Week is running now on Hulu in select theaters worldwide. 

Producers Library Adds Medieval Footage

Los Angeles-based Producers Library has recently discovered the second-unit outtakes from Errol Flynn’s last swashbuckler, 1955’s The Dark Avenger (released in the US as The Warriors). The Dark Avenger was filmed at Elstree Studios in England, using a castle originally built for MGM’s 1952 production of Ivanhoe. The colorful footage includes knights in battle, establishing shots of the castle, archers, jousting, drunken cheer and more! Producers Library has scanned the 7,500 feet of 35mm Eastmancolor CinemaScope negative to 4K. 

FOCAL's Footage Awards 2017 Now Open for Submissions and Sponsorship

FOCAL International has opened the submissions phase of their annual FOCAL International Awards, to be presented on 25 May, 2017, with a call for creative professionals worldwide to submit their work for consideration in one of 15 award categories. Now in its 14th year, the FOCAL International Awards showcase the creative use of stock, library and archival footage by producers, directors and production companies worldwide, as well as contributions made to the global production community by archives, film libraries, researchers and technicians, as well as the work done to restore and preserve these irreplaceable assets. The deadline for all productions premiered in 2016 is set for 1st December but productions premiered later in the year can request a late entry.

The FOCAL International Awards celebrate achievement in the use of footage in all variety of genres, across all media platforms plus its restoration. Recent winners for their Best use of Footage in a documentary include many prominent, critically-acclaimed films such as Amy, Senna and Night Will Fall. Lifetime Achievement winners have included Rick Prelinger, Grover Crisp and Raye Farr. FOCAL International were also honored to have Martin Scorsese personally collect the prize for the Best Restoration of the Red Shoes. 

Producers, filmmakers and other creative professionals who have used library footage in a documentary, feature film or any other form of production over the last year are encouraged to submit their work for consideration. There are also Awards for best archive researcher, library and restoration work. 

FOCAL International has enjoyed support from all areas of the industry over the past 14 years and would welcome inquiries from new sponsors at all levels – main sponsorship and category sponsorship. For a brief overview of the Awards, check out FOCAL’s Awards Ceremony Promo video.

Stock, library and archival footage play a central role in many of today’s most critically acclaimed films, and, for over a decade, FOCAL International has worked to recognize and celebrate the skill and artistry with which leading filmmakers source and implement this indispensable creative asset. The world renowned FOCAL International Awards Ceremony is a magnet for all leaders of the global footage community and will take place on 25th May 2017 at the Royal Lancaster Hotel, London, UK.

The 2017 FOCAL International Award Categories are follows:
•    Best Use of Footage in a History Production
•    Best Use of Footage in a History Feature
•    Best Use of Footage in a Factual Production
•    Best Use of Footage in an Entertainment Production
•    Best Use of Footage in an Arts Production
•    Best Use of Footage in a Music Production
•    Best Use of Sports Footage
•    Best use of Footage about the Natural World
•    Best Use of Footage on Other Platforms
•    Best Use of Footage in a Cinema Release
•    Best Archive Restoration & Preservation Project
•    The Jane Mercer Footage Researcher of the Year Award
•    Footage Employee of the Year
•    Footage Library of the Year
•    Lifetime Achievement Award

The qualifying period is productions premiered in 2016 and entry is via the FOCAL website until the closing date 1st December.  Any productions being premiered during December can make a late submission, by prior arrangement.

In all the production title categories the submission fee is £75. For other categories there is no fee.

Click here for full details and the submissions entry form.  Those interested in sponsorship opportunities should contact FOCAL International, info@focalint.org or Tel: +44 (0) 20 3178 3535.

 

 

 

Global ImageWorks Celebrates the Life of Elvis Presley

"Imagine one kid from Tupelo, Mississippi gets on television and because of a performance, shakes the soul of a society"
- John Seigenthaler
 
August 2017 marks 40 years since Elvis left the building. Elvis's every move and utterance turned rambunctious teenagers into screaming fanatics- much to the dismay of their parents. Global ImageWorks affords a rare glimpse at the Tupelo man behind the American mega-star.
 
In '56, Elvis releases Heartbreak Hotel and it sells a million copies. Elvis' manager Colonel Tom Parker knew from the beginning that Elvis was capable of more than just record sales. There are no hips on the radio, after all. In the span of just a few months, Elvis was a movie star with a seven-year contract with Paramount Pictures. And to think that just three years earlier, Elvis and his parents had been living in public housing, in a town where people knew him as the boy whose clothes didn't fit.
 
Global ImageWorks represents two collections that contain unique film and still photos tracking Elvis' meteoric rise in 1956 and beyond. These unprecedented and comprehensive collections have several gems including interviews with friends, early performances (complete with the requisite hordes of screaming teens), and the only footage of Elvis wearing his famous gold suit.
 
They are still adding to their Elvis holdings with never-before-seen photos, including behind-the-scenes images of the filming of Love Me Tender, and his rehearsal for his first appearance on the Ed Sullivan Show.
 
For more information or to request screeners, please email footage@globalimageworks.com.