Stock Footage: Ready to use

Stock FootageThe multiplicity of platforms has created a whirlwind of issues for the stock footage sector; with the digital world advancing faster than anyone can keep up, new challenges are surfacing over screening rights and increased demand in various formats, writes Georgina Pearson.

For the archive footage industry, the explosion of social networking and video sites creates an endless headache over royalties and copyright. Hundreds of films, documentaries and clips go up daily worldwide – many of them utilising footage without permission. However, there are positive ways for stock footage
companies to harness such a huge resource.

Cyrus Irani, library sales manager for ABC Content Sales (ABC, AP Archive, Opera Australia and other collections), sees YouTube and Facebook as an opportunity for the public broadcaster: “We have uploaded some amazing bloopers and music clips on Entertainment on ABC and regularly refer people to them. Researchers often find this material so the site presents many opportunities for us to showcase our clips. As we licence producers for online streaming, we are of course happy for this material to appear on YouTube or Facebook.”
According to Asha Oberoi from ITN Source (representing Reuters, ITN, ITV Productions, Fox News and Fox Movietone, Channel Nine News, UTV, Asian News International and other specialist collections), whilst keeping track of royalties is hard, it is certainly not impossible – and maintaining a good relationship with clients is crucial.
“The editorial footage marketplace operates on a declaration model, where producers licence a minimum volume and then declare any coverage. This is a long established process and there has to be high levels of trust between us and our established customers.”
But it’s not always so transparent. Oberoi continues, “However, it is impossible to know if a customer who is licensing a clip for one use, i.e. corporate, then uses the material in another capacity, for example broadcast.”
For Getty Images the way forward is royalty free material – and it appears to be a growing trend within the industry. “In terms of volume, royalty-free imagery is the most frequently purchased content among our customers as it has a lower price point. The growth of the internet and other video-capable new media platforms has dramatically expanded the usage of stock footage. The result has led to the transition of advertising spend to these platforms and utilising footage in online media campaigns, on corporate websites, within digital signage platforms and other productions traditionally serviced via static print,” marketing manager Jane King told Encore.
The global financial climate affected the budgets of many films, and this in turn affected the archive footage – in a good way. Oberoi reports an increase in the amount of material being sourced for film productions. “We typically supply one or two film productions a month with footage, which is definitely an increase for us on previous years; however the majority of our client base around the world is still from the TV production industry.”


Accessibility is another issue that will continue to grow. While there is increased demand for footage, there is also increased access to illegal and unlicensed downloadable material, so the need to make stock footage readily and digitally available is critical to the industry. Oberoi explained how ITN simplifies the process: “We publish some of our broadcast content -packages from bulletins – on sites such as Blinkx. People can view all our digitised content on our site without registering, and platforms such as Facebook and Stumble Upon are big referrers to our site. The key to giving customers what they’re looking for is making sure the right search results come up, so that they can narrow down their search. We have a specialised team of cataloguers in house, who make sure that all the right metadata is attached to each clip en to ensure the search ability of the content is correct.”
Increased multiplatform demand means archive companies continuously have to update and streamline their material. Where once online archives served as merely padding to the wider company, they now play a central role. “Going well beyond traditional mediums for film; innovative web-usages and new digital platforms have emerged as key visual communications vehicles,” King said.
The race to become entirely tapeless is ongoing. According to Kevin Schaff CEO of Thought Equity Motion (NRL, Tourism Australia, The New York Times, NBC News, National Geographic, Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures, MGM Studios, HBO, among others), the process will take years for Thought Equity Motion, and the company may never be 100 percent digital. “There will always be material on tapes. We have over 10 million hours of material in our collection so it will take years to digitally master it. We’re focussing on digitally mastering and storing in 2K our most popular content. ”However, for ITN Source the collection should be completely digitised by next year: “I believe the more content we digitise, the more choice we give our customers. We are really simplifying the process as customers can go to our website and they can start their search and preview content straight away,” Oberoi said.
“We have invested significantly in a digitisation project to preserve and make available to our customers, the full ITN archive from 1955 to the present day. We are half way through digitising our collection from the 1950-1980s and the full project will be complete by September 2011,” she added. Oberoi also pointed out that a vital part in keeping the archive industry afloat is the preservation of old footage. “I don’t think there is any question remaining in our industry that digitisation of our collections is the key to preserving, growing and developing the archive footage business, so I foresee many editorial archives held by broadcasters around the world requiring
digitisation services and monetisation strategies, to create business opportunities from their assets, as we have done, in the future.”
As there such an huge abundance of history not only stored in the archives, but being uploaded each day (ITN uploads over 20 hours per day) the first priority will of course be the digitisation of the


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