Great Stock Video? A review of three new affordable stock video sites

Without fail there is something that I almost always need for every video I make for a church.  Sometimes I have the time and/or budget to go out and capture it, but often times when I’m dealing with a tight deadline or heavy workload I don’t have that luxury.  What am I talking about?

Lifestyle footage.

Nothing brings a video to life quite like footage of people doing everyday stuff (I know that sounds weird), but if you’ve ever set out to capture some yourself you know how hard it can be to get footage that feels authentic, looks great, and captures the emotion or idea that you had in your head.  And if you’ve ever searched the web looking for stock lifestyle footage that you can use in your project you’ve probably discovered that finding footage that looks good is almost impossible and if you do find some it is crazy expensive.

Luckily I have found some new stock video resources that I have been using lately that actually have some great lifestyle footage that’s super affordable.  I’m going to go over 4 resources – one that you’ve probably heard of and three up and coming sites that you may have not heard of yet.

The Gold Standard

There is a reason that Filmsupply has some of the best, most aesthetically creative stock video in the world: their video clips are coming from some of the best, most creative filmmakers in the world.  I love Filmsupply and everything they do, but outside of a few bigger projects that I’ve done, I usually can’t afford them.  As of this writing, the cheapest clip you can purchase (if you’re a church or ministry with less than 500 employees) is $139 for an HD download or $159 for a 4K download.  You can do the math and see how quickly this can add up.

Now, if you’re Dodge and your spending millions on a Super Bowl commercial for your trucks, and you want some beautiful lifestyle footage then it makes total sense to buy a handful of Filmsupply clips like they did here: 

Otherwise, if you’re a church on a tight budget, you may only want to use Filmsupply how I do – when you need one very specific clip that you can’t shoot yourself or purchase anywhere else.  I have personal friends who are contributing artists on Filmsupply and I love seeing their work in projects and knowing that they’re getting paid for their hard work, I just can’t afford them for most of my church projects.

(However, I do highly recommend their blog & their annual filmmaking conference!)

Pros:

  • great website that is well organized
  • full previews of every clip available before purchase
  • visually stunning footage
  • high production value
  • unique clips that you can’t shoot yourself or purchase anywhere else
  • each purchase supports our fellow filmmakers

Cons:

  • expensive

 

My Personal Favorite

 

I discovered Filmpac about a year ago and I have a completely biased confession: I’m a big fan of Filmpac.  I have personally purchased every collection that they have released and have used their lifestyle clips in several of my church projects over the past couple of months. I caught up with Caleb, the founder of the site, a couple of weeks ago and had a good chat with him.  He is a filmmaker himself and Filmpac was formed organically out of his own need for lifestyle footage for a lot of his own projects.  What started out as a single collection has blossomed into a full blown stock video company.

When looking through stock video resources online one of my biggest problems is finding footage that matches my style of shooting.  For most of my projects, I’m just looking for a few shots to supplement my existing footage so it’s really important for the stock video clips that I purchase to feel like they belong in my film (although you could certainly build out full promos or sermon bumpers out of stock video).  What drew me to Filmpac was that the aesthetics and cinematography most closely resembled my own style of shooting, that and the fact that it’s incredibly affordable compared to Filmsupply.

Another thing that Filmpac nails is its clips’ singular focus.  It’s kind of hard to put words to because it’s more of a feeling thing, but let me attempt to break down my problems with stock footage and how I think Filmpac has solved some of them….

There’s two major problems I have with stock footage: it either feels completely unintentional (ie. somebody pulls their camera out in public and just starts filming and the result looks like home videos or local news B-roll) or it feels way too unnatural and staged (a non-athletic person who doesn’t have a drip of sweat on them training in an empty gym where there are no other people).  I have some theories on why these two situations are so common, but I won’t bore you with them, so for now I’ll just say that for the most part Caleb has done a great job of choosing people, locations, and activities that for the most part look and feel natural and unstaged and he has intentionally chosen a specific style of framing that shows just enough of a person or activity to convey a situation or feeling, but also hides parts of the environment that isn’t important to that shot and/or would give away that the footage is staged.

Now to be completely transparent, Church Filmmakers has become an affiliate for Filmpac which means that if you purchase any stock video collections from them by clicking their links on this website, Church Filmmakers will receive a portion of each sale.  (100% of everything earned through those affiliate links will go towards paying for this website and making new content for you.)  That being said, that’s not why I am recommending Filmpac.  Caleb is a rad guy, his content is killer, and I’ve spent my own money and paid full price on every Filmpac purchase because I think it’s well worth it.

Pros

  • consistent 4K quality downloads (every clip is shot with the same camera)
  • full previews of every clip available before purchase
  • very affordable (“pacs” of 30+ clips are $99 & “collections” of 1,100+ clips are $499)
  • $50 coupon & 5 free clips for signing up for their email newsletter
  • natural performances
  • good range of ethnic and life stage diversity
  • each purchase supports a fellow filmmaker
  • clips come color graded and ungraded

Cons

  • pricing for teams (Extended License) is much more expensive than the Standard License for single users – personally I hope they come up with a church specific license in the future
  • sometimes the .mp4 footage doesn’t hold up to heavy color grading and it isn’t as sharp & robust as the 4K raw footage that I’m getting these days with my Canon C200

Something To Keep Your Eye On

If you’ve been in the church marketing & communications world for a while you’re probably familiar with Brady Shearer and Pro Church Tools.  If you are not familiar, they are a young company that for the past several years have produced an insane amount of helpful content geared towards helping churches improve their engagement with their congregation and beyond.  I would definitely check them out if you’re in a role at your church that also includes social media, email, marketing, etc.

Brady & his team’s latest big project to help churches is a stock video resource called Story Tape.  Now what is impressive to me is that Brady is probably in his early thirties and has already built an impressive company that is helping thousands of churches all over the world.  He’s taken that same infrastructure and built out an entire team that is dedicated to growing their stock video library as well as creating tutorials on how you can utilize the footage (with provided motion graphics templates, etc.).

Where other services offer clips or bundles for purchase, Story Tape makes their entire catalog available to you when you sign up for a monthly (or yearly) subscription.  As of this writing they have over 7,000 clips available and have committed to adding 1,000 new clips every month and I believe they will continue to hit this goal.

I watched their launch of Story Tape very closely and even signed up for a month to peek behind the curtain and look at their entire catalog and I will say this: their business infrastructure, marketing & communication, and entrepreneurial spirit are all top notch and I have no doubt that Story Tape will be successful and continue to grow and improve, but their actual footage isn’t a good fit for me personally.  The style and content of the videos are just too different than what and how I shoot to work for me.  As I mentioned earlier for my projects I’m usually just looking for a couple of clips to supplement my own, whereas Story Tape is really built around the idea of being able to edit entire videos using their stock videos.  I can totally see Story Tape becoming a great resource for getting content for sermon bumpers, background plates for motion graphic pieces, worship backgrounds, social media posts, etc.

They seem to be very proactive in getting feedback from their users, so I’m sure their video content will continue to improve, so I’d definitely recommend checking them out and keeping an eye on them for the future.

Pros

  • access to entire collection starting as low as $29/mo
  • great search/filters functionality on website
  • huge catalog
  • specifically designed with churches in mind
  • consistent quality, everything is filmed with the same 4K camera
  • clips come graded & ungraded
  • high quality aerial drone footage

Cons

  • almost everything is slow motion
  • a lot of the footage feels like stock footage
  • lacking ethnic and geographic diversity

The Wild Card

To be honest I’m not even sure how I stumbled upon Stokhub, but I’m glad I did.  Whereas Story Tape is full-time stock video company serving churches, Stokhub is more of a collective of church filmmakers (and a missionary pastor) who are licensing some of their footage on the side to help raise support for their ministry roles.  In that sense, it is more like a Film Supply for churches where there are multiple contributors shooting with different equipment and different styles, so the quality and content is more varied.

In my communications with the Stokhub guys, they’ve told me that they’re planning to add 1,000 clips per month, so their collection should continue to grow and become a more valuable monthly subscription as time goes on.

Since Stokhub isn’t a full time job for anyone, I’ll be interested to see how their catalog grows and how their infrastructure develops, but on the flip side of that, their price is incredibly low and for only $300/yr you get unlimited access to their entire catalog.

Pros:

  • free previews of all clips before purchase
  • lowest price out of all services @ $300/yr
  • good resource for missions footage
  • Prores & MP4 download options

Cons:

  • limited search functionality
  • inconsistent quality with older content
  • lacking ethnic and life stage diversity

In conclusion, I’d recommend checking out each of these resources and seeing if they would be a good resource that would help you in your church video projects.  The beauty of these new resources is that they are very affordable so you could easily utilize all of them to supplement your upcoming projects or to create entire videos out of them.

Visit Filmsupply
Visit Filmpac
Visit Story Tape
Visit Stokhub

If you know of another great resource to check out, post a link in the comments below.

  • Tim-Alicia Johnson

    Fantastic info. Thank you!