The purpose of this article is to help you find and chose the best free stock video sites for your very own project.
Working on your video project can be as complex as you deem it to be, or as simple as you’d plan for it to be. By employing stock footage into your video project, you lessen the challenges involved in successfully completing your creation.
Today, stock footage is a gem we all keep running to when we want to enhance and enrich our creations. Your finished work should engage and captivate your audience. To help you get there, we decided to scour the web and made a list of some of the best free stock video sites you can explore.
There are many free stock footage sites that offer free videos and most of these are updated on a daily with new refreshing pieces.
What is stock footage
To take care of any newcomer, stock footage, in essence, is already made video footage that can be reused by another party in their project. The footage may or may not necessarily have ever been used before in other films.
In short, you’ll have the advantage of utilizing footage you were not responsible for making/creating, in your own video project. The author of the material makes it possible for other parties to use their creations by enforcing a license.
This license outlines terms and conditions under which an end-user is permitted to build upon, alter, share or distribute the author’s work. It is often referred to as a Creative Commons license.
Most times, you’ll come across terms like ‘this video clip is rights-managed’ or ‘this site has royalty-free stock footage’ or ‘the footage is available in the public domain.’ This is what people mean when they say so on some stock video sites;
Stock footage and different types of licenses
When a piece of work is royalty-free, it means that you can acquire it for a one-time fee that covers multiple usages of the footage. You’ll not be required to pay royalties. You’ll be granted a number of rights over the material usually at a small fee.
Get royalty-free stock videos and you’ll have limited restrictions over the use of the material. It could be in terms of duration, location or the number of times you decide to use the same footage. This, however, doesn’t mean that there will not be some terms and conditions to adhere to while using the footage.
When a stock video clip is rights-managed, it often implies that the video is only for one-time use. The fee will defer, depending on factors like where the video will be distributed, how long you intend to use it, the footage’s resolution, and other specified aspects.
Under this license, you can even go for an exclusive license which limits the number of users who can access or reuse your freshly acquired footage. This gives you exclusivity over the work, and that puts you in a position where you’ll unlikely discover other existing users with the same footage in their projects.
As such, rights-managed stock footage tends to be more expensive than royalty-free material. This kind of rights-managed license is usually preferred and better for businesses since originality and exclusivity are maintained.
When footage goes into the public domain, its copyrights may have expired, been waived, forfeited or inapplicable. Whenever you want to use video stock footage in the public domain, it is recommended (but not required) that you give attribution to its author.
Before we dive into some of the sites that have free stock videos, let’s take a brief look at what ‘Creative Commons license’ means.
What are Creative Commons
Creative Commons licenses help creators retain copyright over their material while allowing others to make use of their work. These licenses enable the original creators to maintain value and credit for their work – You’ll find that while most sites offer free stock videos, they tend to require that the owners be credited for their creations.
Creativecommons.org further explains that:
“A Creative Commons licensor answers a few simple questions on the path to choosing a license — first, do I want to allow commercial use or not, and then second, do I want to allow derivative works or not?
If a licensor decides to allow derivative works, she may also choose to require that anyone who uses the work — we call them licensees — to make that new work available under the same license terms.
We call this idea “ShareAlike” and it is one of the mechanisms that (if chosen) helps the digital commons grow over time. ShareAlike is inspired by the GNU General Public License, used by many free and open-source software projects.”
Types of Creative Commons
- CC0 Aka Creative Commons Zero. This means you are free to use, alter, distribute and display the footage for both personal and commercial uses. There’s also no need to pay attributes or compensate the original owner or author of the work. Under this license, the owner/creator of a work waives all his rights to their work.
- CC BY – Aka Creative Commons by Attribution. This license is the most common and second most generous after CC0 Users who get the footage can distribute, alter and build upon the footage for either personal reasons or commercial ones. The only catch is that the original creator of the work is credited.
- CC BY-SA Aka Attribution-ShareAlike. This license allows you to reuse a creator’s footage as long as you credit him/her in your creation. When licensing your new creation, the terms should be identical to those set by the creator of the original work.
More Types of Creative Commons
- CC BY-ND Aka Attribution-NoDerivs. You can reuse the work for both personal and commercial projects. However, you are not allowed to share the footage in any adapted form. You must also credit the creators of this material.
- CC BY-NC Aka Attribution-NonCommercial. This one allows you to reuse an author’s work but restricts you from using it for commercial purposes. You must credit the author in your creation but you don’t have to license your derivative work under the creator’s terms.
- CC BY-NC-SA (Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike). The license permits the reuse of a creator’s work in non-commercial settings and credits must be given. You must license your creation containing the author’s work under terms identical to those set by the author.
- CC BY-NC-ND (Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs). This license only allows users to download and share the creator’s footage. As a user, you are not allowed to alter the footage or to use it commercially. You are also expected to credit the author of this work.
Stock footage is the best thing that can happen to anyone on a tough budget, without time or resources. It’s also such a great find for people who want to add creativity, vibrancy, and inspiration to their creations.
Merits of using Stock Footage
- No experts needed since the footage is present and ready for use.
- No escalation of costs that you would have otherwise incurred in multiple stages of film production.
- You have an abundance of sites showcasing incredible stock footage.
- Availability of a variety of footage to pick from.
- You won’t go looking for unique filming locations. This is because there are thousands of video stock footage depicting unique unforgettable places.
The Cons of using Stock Footage include:
- The stock footage may not entirely completely address your needs.
- It often comes with terms and conditions, some of which may be complex in nature.
- You may have to credit the creator in your film, which is the decent thing to do, just not something we may want to have in our videos.
- Sometimes, when terms and conditions have been poorly stated, you might find yourself facing unplanned for legal costs. Always know and understand the license attached to any video stock footage you want to use.
While stock footage works out for individuals and in cases where it’s not meant for commercial use, it doesn’t always work well for businesses. This is actually not the case at all.
Stock footage can efficiently be used for businesses as long as you’re keen to select footage that best showcases your products and services. Every business has unique special features that make it tick.
Stock footage is so broad to such an extent that there are so many styles of videos for you to explore. After establishing a strategy for video marketing campaign, failing to find the right videos for your commercial project is a very rare occurrence thanks to lots and lots of free stock video sites.
You must observe the terms and conditions/licensing arrangements attached to whichever footage you decide to choose.
These are some of the cases under which stock footage will work for businesses:
- You’re on a tight budget and need to make the impossible happen.
- You’re working within a strict short timeframe and do not have enough time to start creating videos from scratch.
- You do not have enough resources like expert videographers and equipment to complete the deed.
- You’d love to get footage from unique locations that are not within your reach.
- This is a one-time video project so you’re not likely to repetitively seek out videography.
- Even when you have the money, you’d rather have a variety of footage available for your business.
- You’d like to showcase your product/service with top-notch quality videos that compliment it seamlessly.
- You’d like to explore different types of video options rather than sticking to what’s been used in the past.
Stock footage may not be the answer for your business if:
- You prefer videos specifically tailored to address all aspects of your unique product or service.
- None of the stock footage availed to choose from is accomplishing the objective you have set. This is very rare.
Finally, we are going to explore the sites you can go to when shopping for free stock video footage:
Pexels is one of the leading sites on the internet you can run to when you are looking for free video footage. The site is widely known first for great free images from its community members and second for its striking videos.
Bloggers, vloggers, designers and basically anyone looking for gorgeous video footage will love this site.
Pexels has some of the best free stock videos you’ll come across while on the look-out for free stock footage.
All the footage you’ll acquire on this site is free to use for both your personal and commercial projects. Under Pexel’s simple license policy, you don’t have to attribute Pexels or the owner of the footage, although appreciation is always a welcome gift.
One more thing that you’re going to love about Pexels is that you won’t have to create an account to download their free videos.
This site has refreshing high-quality free videos and images. The 4k and HD clips are stunning and can be used in both commercial and non-commercial instances.
Some of the categories you’ll find include business, backgrounds, food, emotions, people, etc.
You can make alterations to the clips plus there is no need to give attributions.
What’s more, is that you don’t need an account set up to be able to download the free video stock.
The stock footage is royalty-free and licensed under Creative Commons Zero (CC0).
With this site, you can download clips for free in HD quality or purchase 4K clips for $99.
Their footage is provided under a Royalty-Free License and the site retains the copyright.
The stock footage site has its motion elements arranged into videos from places like the US, Canada, Europe & Asia. They also have attractive themes and colors. For those projects that require clips from specific locations, MotionPlaces is one of the stops you’ve got to add to your list.
If you don’t wish to create an account with MotionPlaces, you do not have to. You’ll still be able to freely download the videos you have selected.
Like most royalty-free stock footage sites, you’re not allowed to sell their clips. Also, you must credit Motion Places as the source of the videos and link to www.motionplaces.com
Their elements are royalty-free so they can be used in multiple projects across different media worldwide. The video stock can be used for commercial purposes unless they’ve been marked with the ‘Editorial use only license’.
Currently, MotionElements has over 4000+ free stock footage available for its users to explore. You’ll spot a variety of footage like video backgrounds, nature, aerial views, abstract, water, travel, sky & clouds, cityscape, etc.
Setting up an account for the video stock footage is a must but the process is easy. Once you’re all set up, you’re free to download 5 videos per week. But, if you want to have more, you can invite a friend and your number of downloads will move to 35 downloads per week.
Coverr is loved for its captivating cover/background videos. If you don’t already have a homepage video for your website, it’s time you picked out one for yourself.
A homepage video never fails to instantly engage your prospective clients. It smoothly nudges them to find out more about your product or service. This stock video site has superb authentic pieces arranged under categories like food, moods, people, tech, nature and more. Depending on what kind of theme you are looking for, Coverr is one sweet stop.
The site is vigilant in updating footage every week and its creators are also keen on making videos for their site. So, you can definitely expect to find something new every time you pass by.
“Coverr.co grants you an irrevocable, nonexclusive copyright license to download, copy, modify, perform, and use videos from Coverr.co for free, including for commercial purposes, without permission from or attributing the Videographer or Coverr.co.”
Just to get a bit more reassurance, you can look through Coverr’s license page here. It’s straightforward and quick to understand.
6. Life of Vids
This site from the get-go just draws you in with their fab homepage videos. They offer free videos, clips & loops. Their stock footage like city videos is epic and some look like it were made for top-notch films.
You can get the footage and use it for both personal and business purposes.
The only restriction that seems to exist is that you cannot redistribute more than 10 of their videos on other sites.
There is no need to pay respects to the authors but you can do so if you feel driven to. Besides, appreciation tends to go a long way and speaks volumes about your character or your business’s character.
The footage on this site has been organized into categories, some of which include aerial footage, transitions, overlays, old film looks, lens flares, film burns, backgrounds and then some more. There is a variety to choose from and quality is cool.
The only condition attached to these clips is that you credit the site wherever you intend to publish the footage.
The site’s library has incredible HD stock footage as well as 4k videos! They have great after effects templates and cool web header videos. The library is equipped with both free stock footage and video footage for purchase.
The clips that you’ll find with a Pro attachment to them have got to be purchased. If you decide to buy, you’ll be free to use the videos without adding attributions to your creations.
Those clips without a Pro attachment give you the freedom to get the footage for free on the condition that you add attributions in your video project.
Each clip has its license terms attached, so it won’t be difficult determining whether or not a clip can work out for you.
Videvo offers free stock videos and motion graphics for use in any project. You may use these video clips free of charge, in both personal and commercial productions. Video clips that carry the Creative Commons 3.0 license must be attributed to the original author.
With Videvo, there is no need to register for an account but the option is open. This free stock footage site majorly operates under 4 licenses but most of its content is available under the Royalty-free license. The other three include;
Videvo Attribution License: You are able to use clips on a royalty-free basis but must credit the author of the clip. You are not allowed to re-upload these clips or make them available for download as stock clips on other sites.
Creative Commons 3.0 Unported (CC BY 3.0): It’s similar to Videvo’s Attribution license but allows you to adapt, share and redistribute the clips. What you’re not allowed to do is sell them.
NASA License: Summarily, if you alter footage from NASA, it has to be mentioned. You’ve got to give credit to NASA as the author of the work used. In case a public figure appears in any of the NASA clips, you’ll have to seek permission from that public figure especially if the finished work may result in commercial use. You can look through these guidelines for more details concerning NASA’s license.
For a clean full look, you can read through their license page that explains how they license the video footage.
If you are into Cinemagraphs, ClipStill is your go-to site. They’ve got tons of brilliant free footage you can use in both personal and commercial projects.
Cinemagraphs are still photographs in which a minor and repeated movement occurs, forming a video clip. They are published as an animated GIF or in other video formats, and can give the illusion that the viewer is watching an animation.
Under a standard license, you can use the Cinemagraphs for personal, business, educational or even charitable motives. However, wherever you intend to use the Cinemagraphs, you are expected to add an attribution to acknowledge ClipStill.
For an elaborate understanding of the license attached to any clip you choose, take a moment to read throughClipstill’s license agreement
Mixkit has extraordinary HD stock footage that’s absolutely free.
Under the Mixkit license, you can reuse any of the footage in your commercial and non-commercial projects, for free. There is no need to credit the site but if you want to, the gesture will be appreciated.
This is another free stock footage site that’s steadily been gaining popularity for its lovely high-end quality video clips. The stunning footage is free as well and can be downloaded as soon as you make your selection.
If you compare Mazwai to the rest of the stock footage sites in this list you will notice that it has a smaller number of videos. But the ones they have are superb, quality, attractive videos.
For any of the clips you choose to use, you’ll be required to give attribution to the author of the footage. All footage is operable under the Attribution license – CC BY
The site has quality HD stock footage you can utilize for personal and commercial use.
If you would like to use their videos for commercial purposes, say, include ads in the creation containing this footage, you’ll have to buy the Extended license at a small fee.
SplitShire is known for its variety in scenic aerial video footage. You will not find only aerial footage, but that’s what is most dominant on the site. The environments captured are really charming pieces. You’ll find fine skylines as captured at different times of day, captivating landscapes, aerial views of mountains, sea footage and more.
The videos can be downloaded without setting up an account. Matter of fact, there’s no provision for accounts set up. So all you need to do is visit the site, download what you need and be on your way.
The stock footage you take with you can be used on your social media accounts like Facebook, Instagram or LinkedIn and for commercial purposes.
There are no elaborate complicated licensing terms you’ve got to adhere to. Similar to other standard free stock footage sites’ licenses, you are not allowed to misuse the content for example in portraying violence, abuse, misrepresentation, discrimination, etc.
If you are a picky person – and I mean this in a good way, i.e. you prefer maintaining stock from particular outstanding artists and don’t like footage from random people you don’t know, this just might be the site for you!
That said, I don’t mean it’s restrictive and only suits picky people – No. We all get to enjoy remarkable free stock footage from renowned artists like Master Odo, Denis DesPair and Tyler Finck for free!
The videos featured on this stock footage site are not only by popular artists. Anyone can submit their videos for publishing but these first have to receive a stamp of approval.
You receive 10 free HD videos every day for 10 straight days! if you have an account with Distill. It’s one of the first things that will grab and keep your attention.
Using online video could be an effective way to promote your business. Some of the best movies and adverts we’ve ever seen use stock footage from other previously released movies.
I’m talking about blockbusters like Star Wars, Transformers, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix. This is amazing!
It is possible to use only stock footage in businesses, educational settings, and other situations to fully captivate and engage your audience. There’s no reason not to try using stock footage and new video trends in your video project today. There are many stock video sites and the good thing is, you can get the footage for free!
You can put together your very first video by yourself using any editing tool you want.
Or you can reach out to a video editing company to help you out with the post-production process.
Sometimes, we get easily overwhelmed by the multiple options of stock footage we have to choose from. If you find yourself having a hard time making the decisions, try brainstorming the finest points you think your video should have.
Use keywords to downsize the number of videos that show up. These typically should be phrases that are aimed at complementing your product or service. This will go a long way in easing the project for you.
This is one of the most important things to keep in mind wherever you go hunting for free stock footage; always look out for the terms/license attached to any work. You will be saved from any future copyright infringements or unforeseen legal fines. This all sounds a bit too serious, but in the long-run protects both the creator and user against legal fines.
Cristian Stanciu is a freelance video editor, owner, and post-production coordinator of Veedyou Media – a company offering video editing services to videographers, marketing agencies, video production studios, or brands all over the globe.