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How to make stock videos that won’t suck

Wojtek Jeżowski

October 10, 2022

Let's talk about making [buying] good stocks. Luckily, this isn't a finance blog, and we won't be talking about the tumultuous world of the Dow Stock Exchange. Frankly, we wouldn't touch that topic with a 10-foot pole. The stocks we're talking about have a stigma around them for being bland. Yet you can find them everywhere. You know, the ones. 

 "Guy without a personality talking into an office meeting and high-fiving his friends."

Everyone has a smile plastered on their faces for so long it gets kind of creepy… We know. But all is not lost. Times have changed, and stock imagery has become less generic with each passing year. Some are quite cinematic.

So, do you want your stock videos to look less like stock videos and more like content your audience would enjoy watching? Here are a few tips on mastering the new and changing landscape of stock footage content:

 

Avoid tropes

This means handshakes. Business meetings. Diverse team laughing at a computer screen. Look for footage that is personal and interesting. That stands out.

Use high-quality stock footage

A lot of your run-of-the-mill type images have been used a million times. Some of them are expensive, and some are not. Instead of price, try to focus on quality. Use footage that's been made with care by a reputable source - these sources are sprouting up everywhere now. Folks are really leaning into making varied and attractive footage.

Answer me this, can your brand be associated with low-quality content? There you go. Take time and care to find the right images for your brand and story with good framing, lighting, colors… and acting.

Here are some examples of different takes on the same idea …from the same stock shop! (hint: 2 are total sh*t. Can you spot them?)

Have a story

We know - this one seems like a no-brainer, but in reality, people often get trapped slapping a series of shots together just to get the damn thing done and over with. When choosing your images, ensure they correspond with your story and message. And to the previous and next image. It'll be more meaningful for your audience.

More and more stock sources offer a sequence of images depicting an ongoing situation. Use that to your advantage.

Make it seamless

Stocks are made on various devices (from iPhones to 4K RED cameras) and in various lighting conditions. An easy way to take your stock edit to the next level is to color-correct the images so that they have a consistent look throughout the piece.

It’s all bout balancing the colors, exposure, and contrast to make the transitions between images seamless.

Here are two image sequences. Two are color-corrected so that it looks like they are part of the same story, and one is not. Can you spot which one is which?

Add your brand's flavor

Every brand has something distinct about it visually. Think of adding a little bit of that into the video to make it look like an extension of your company's visual language. It could be a distinctive color used throughout your brand book or graphic overlays with your logo. These small details will make it pop and elevate the entire piece.

Music

For the love of all that is holy, do not ever… ever… ever… (and we mean ever) use the run-of-the-mill corporate stock music. You know the type. It pops up in search engines when you type in generic words like "dynamic," "inspiring," "confident," and "modern." (We feel horrible just writing this.)

Think outside the box, and don't be afraid to experiment. Imagine your audience doing their research. They've gone through countless videos. Now your video comes on, and they hear…another "corporate tune." Can you feel it? We can. And it hurts.

Take it into your own hands

Sometimes, stocks showing specific emotions or actions can be hard to find. If you need to add anything specific, consider filming it yourself. Chances are the phone in your pocket is just as good as what was used to make the stock. So channel your inner Spielberg, get a few friends together, and yell "Action!" You can always do it again if you don't get it right the first time. That's the magic of cinema. 

So, are there any good videos out there that use stock footage?

Sure. Here are some of our favorites. 

This one is embedded in the website > Check it out.

This is from a cybersecurity company.

And, of course, the master meme

*PS since you made it to the end, we might as well reveal which were the sh*t stocks. 

 

Point 2. These two are sh*t. Why? 

First of all, the reactions portrayed are over the top and still somehow lifeless. These models are doing what the producer wants, but their expression says it all. There is no genuine emotion. You want to connect with your viewers, right? Showing poor acting isn't the way. Unfortunately, it might only prove you have difficulty distinguishing fake emotions from real ones. 

 

Secondly, look at the image quality itself. The first one is unnaturally bright. Plus, we can see the lights' reflections on the tv and the wall in the background. It's a filmmaker habit, but when you look at the other examples, they look very different, don't they? They look natural and seem to have been created with better skill and taste.

The second image is just ugly and dull. White walls with awkward shadows on the left and on the right. It's just sloppy craftsmanship from the creator of this video. 

True, you don't need to have experience as a cinematographer or photographer in marketing... But the people you hire to do the videos, bloody well, should.

Point 4. The middle sequence is uncolored.

Do you see how each image has its own color and contrast? Something like that breaks immersion for the viewer. Even if it's on a subconscious level, their brain just says that something is off. Today's sales cycles are getting more and more complicated. Why not grab every minute detail and make it work in your favor instead of against you?  

 

You don't see any differences? Ok, let's take a closer look at the images. The trick is to focus on two things: the shadows and highlights. They should have similar tones. You can see that in one of the color-corrected sequences, the dark elements of the images have the same blueish hue and intensity. Likewise, the highlights have similar colors and strength.

 

Now take a look at the uncolored one. Not only do the shadows have different tones, but they have different intensities. The same goes for the highlights.

I hope this will give you an edge in creating interesting stock videos. 

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