How to find the best video content for your projects

Whether you’re designing an app or website, developing an ad campaign or TV project, stock video is becoming an increasingly vital tool in content creation.

Ideally, of course, we’d shoot every second of video ourselves. But time, budget and logistics don’t always allow for that. So iStock by Getty Images (opens in new tab) provides a quite amazing range of high-quality stock video. 

Known for its decades of experience in providing high-quality imagery, the company has also been in the stock video game for a long time now; since the days when contributors shot on film, in fact. But since the move to digital, they've seen it grow from a small part of the business to a much larger part, as you can see in this artfully compiled, one-minute compilation video, ‘In Search of Great’.

We sat down with William Bon, senior art director at Getty Images, to find out what’s on offer, how to find the right footage for your project, and what are the latest and future trends in video content…

What’s the best way for creatives to use stock video in their projects?

Usually, the clip is going to be about 20-30 seconds long and people are looking to use about four to seven seconds of that, to cut it into other projects. So for me, it’s about looking for that right moment, and what’s great in the content. How can I really tell a story about that quickly, and convey a message quickly? 

Mountainbike in action: PoV ride in the forest, by Paolo Cipriani

Mountainbike in action: PoV ride in the forest, by Paolo Cipriani

For us, it’s really important that the video connects to the viewer in some way on an emotional level. Because you only have a few seconds to make an impression, so it needs to say something quickly, and it needs to connect to the viewer. 

How does iStock by Getty Images (opens in new tab) make sure it’s providing the kind of video content creatives are looking for?

One part of it is looking at the data that’s coming in from customers. If they’re searching for certain topics, that can drive us to create that content. 

The second element is our creative research team. They look at advertising from around the world and find out what’s actually selling for us. So they identify trends, and we try to be as ahead of the trend as possible, because we don’t want to be creating stuff for last year. 

So with our lifestyle content, maybe we realise we don’t have enough same-sex couples, so we will work with contributors to build up that section of the lifestyle offering. 

Interracial gay parents with child by dualstock

Interracial gay parents with child by dualstock

Or we realise that we don’t have enough video of large crowds, so we’ll look for the right video contributor to drive that content. So we really try to be hands-on with these guys; to get them to make content that’s relevant. 

The third prong is the art directors and editors who work here with the videographers. We also identify what a contributor is good at, what’s missing, and how they can use their skillset and resource to create content that’s relevant for audiences. 

What’s the best way for creatives to search for video on the website?

Whether you’re looking for stills or video, you want to take your biggest concept of what you’re searching, drill down from there, and step back and forth. So if I’m looking for a lifestyle shoot then I’ll put in, say, ‘family and home’. But I’m really looking for something that’s authentic, so I’ll search ‘AND authenticity’, or I’ll search ‘AND African-American’ or ‘AND Hispanic’. 

Then I’ll continue to add multiple terms. It’s like building blocks. You’ve got to build the foundation, your search foundation, and then you narrow down to be more and more specific. And then you can step forward or backward, depending on what your results are.

Wide shot of skyscrapers, by Tomasz Wyszołmirski

Wide shot of skyscrapers, by Tomasz Wyszołmirski

Sometimes you’ll be looking for something very specific, like let’s say you’re in ‘home’ and you’re looking for ‘three-person family’ and ‘black table’. You might not get many results that meet all those criteria. So you can step back and change variables that way. 

To summarise: start with a broad term and then get specific. And step back and forth to adjust your search results. 

Any other good search tips?

Another thing I do is try to identify and think about words and keywords that are in popular culture. So like ‘selfie’, ‘mobile phone’ or ‘Instagram’ - even though we don’t represent Instagram, a lot of times our contributors will add ‘Instagram’ into their metadata tag. 

Just as much as I look for a literal keyword that defines something, I also like to use more emotional keywords. It’s a little broader but it also touches on a certain feeling and that will often bring in content that’s a little more unexpected, and I’ll just go back and forth. 

One more thing I will say is that over time, as a frequent user, I like to just keep track of individual photographers and videographers that I personally think are really good. Because I know if I go back and look at their work six months months later, there’s a good chance they’re going to have new stuff that’s worth looking at. 

What are the types of video do you see film-makers submitting to your collections right now?

Timelapse is a huge one; for a lot of the contributors that’s the first type that they start shooting. The next is lifestyle content, which can be anything from being around the home to going about daily life. 

Timelapse video of germinating lettuce, by Adam Strzelecki

Timelapse video of germinating lettuce, by Adam Strzelecki

Then there’s business, which can range from small business to more corporate looking stuff. And another one is motion graphics/CGI, which is a big one for us. There’s also green screen video, which is ready for creatives to drop in what they need. 

Those are the biggest categories of videos I see when they come in. Then within and across each of those categories there are different trends. So for example, there’s POV (point of view), which is a trend that applies across the board. It’s coming from new camera technologies like the GoPro, and it really seems to engage people.

One of the wider trends I see is that cameras are getting better and better. The new iPhone shoots 4K, Samsung shoots 4K, GoPros are getting cheaper and cheaper. I think the barrier to video is becoming much lower, so we’re seeing people create content in all sorts of ways. 

As drones become cheaper and easier to fly, we’re going to see people using that kind of content in new ways. As we see the new GoPros, we’re going to see new kinds of footage. Who knows what’s on the horizon? But new stuff is definitely coming, and some of it is going to be amazing. 

Get started

Whatever you’re searching for – whether it’s footage that represents your brand essence, an inspiring symbol of human achievement, or an eye-catching scene that drives clicks and social media shares – iStock by Getty Images (opens in new tab) has stock video footage that will fit your project perfectly. To see what’s on offer, head to the website today (opens in new tab).

Thank you for reading 5 articles this month* Join now for unlimited access

Enjoy your first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

*Read 5 free articles per month without a subscription

Join now for unlimited access

Try first month for just £1 / $1 / €1

Tom May

Tom May is an award-winning journalist and editor specialising in design, photography and technology. Author of the Amazon #1 bestseller Great TED Talks: Creativity (opens in new tab), published by Pavilion Books, Tom was previously editor of Professional Photography magazine, associate editor at Creative Bloq, and deputy editor at net magazine. Today, he is a regular contributor to Creative Bloq and its sister sites Digital Camera World, and Tech Radar. He also writes for Creative Boom and works on content marketing projects.