Monday, November 7, 2011

Free video

I did a post last week on free stock footage and I was really surprised to discover how much nice, free stuff is out there. Not long after I posted that entry, I was approached by a man offering free stock footage, if I ever needed it. Now certain shots most of us won't make, like shots from a plane for instance. But they can really add some production value to your film: like an aerial shot of a big city, for instance. So I tried downloading a few of these aerial shots.
I had some issues downloading clips with Firefox on a PC and contacted the website. The response was very fast and personal and that made me curious about the person behind the website. David Schmerin, owner of the website, has been in the business for a long time. I asked him a number of questions, among which: "Did you shoot the footage yourself?" and "How can giving away free footage be a viable business enterprise?" This is David's candid response:

"Yes, I shot almost everything on the site. The footage on the site varies from SD to HDCAM and almost all flavors in between. Right now most of the HD is HDV, and yes we used a Sony Z1U for most of our HDV work. We have long since retired our HDV equipment so all new footage coming will be from much higher end equipment including full 4:4:4 materials. We currently use EX3 cameras with NanoFlash recorders, F3 with a Gemini for our 4:4:4 acquisitions, and a CineFlex V.14 with 4:4:4 outs to the Gemini for our aerial productions

So the answer is, yes, there is no catch beyond you have to follow the terms and conditions of our EULA which is all pretty basic stuff… Don’t use may material in porn, don’t resale my clips, etc. Most important of all, if you use my material, give me my credit. That is all there is to it.

I have been doing this just about 20 years now. My website a is the oldest royalty free stock footage company on the internet. I started my company before most people knew what the internet or a .com was which is why I have a single word Pronoun as a domain name.

Concerning the pay for sites, this is a complicated issue. While everything that can be found on can also be found on and, not everything on or can be found on Further, there are differences of deliverable formats. utilizes an H.264 codec, while the pay sites deliver in a Photo-JPEG codec.

So basically, after 20 years of watching the Stock Footage industry decimated by low cost hardware, everyone thinking they can shoot stock footage resulting in some really bad stock footage being sold, aggregators like IStock and Pond5 who will sell anything from anyone so long as they get their cut every time something sells, and network executives who have no problems dropping $600 on lunch but won’t pay a $50 fee for footage, I just got tired of it. So I created where over time we hope to migrate all of our pay for footage over to Totally Free… Why because I can. Because after 20 years as a small business who created many of the models the current mega sites use, you are the first who has ever said anything like, hey we may want to write about you. Its time shake up the industry like I did 20 years ago as the first 100% royalty free stock footage agency. Also because I spent too many years having to tell people I am sorry I can not help you if you can not afford to pay. I have a lot of Karma to make up for and people now more then ever need a break."


David Schmerin
Fearless Leader


  1. Thank you so much. I had not expected to be quoted to such an extent so I am glad I kept my rant to polite conversation.

    Come to find today that the Firefox update to V. 8.0 seems to resolve all the Google API issues and the site works now with out any issues when using Firefox 8.0 on a PC.

    Also, if I may ask, in all honesty, how was the quality of the clips you downloaded?

    David Schmerin
    Fearless Leader

  2. I downloaded a few nightshots, overview of SF..? You can see the high gain/compression(?) when I go fullscreen on my 24 inch but for web use they're fine. Daytime shots were great.

  3. I came accros a few days ago, and couldn't believe my eyes. When I read the ELUA, and realized it was completly legal to use this footage in my cororate videos. I was in heaven. I found that trying to build a corporate hobbie in an industry that is based on brains per hour is difficult. But this hobbie is starting to crystalize with management as the way to go forward in corporate communications. - an area that is not well funded, and making headway against the likes of IT and the systems guys screaming about bandwidth and server locations is hard, but the end result, is you can't beat a short corpotate video to communicate a message.

    - One thing I have found difficult, as fantastic as is, it is difficult look for clips that are HD only. An embeded google search result helps somewhate. but when browsing a catagory, indentifing if it is HD takes some reading. -maybe that is the point. but it would be great if there was a separation between standard def. and High def. in some way.

    The volume of footage for the standard def is amazing, and perhaps this catagory class may inspire more people to shoot HD and upload for the masses. - or in this case, and small and aspiring corporate hobbiest who hopes to change the company from a 300px by 200px box in the of the corner of a sharepoint site!

    1. I like what BottledVideo is doing. And I thought that video's acceptance as one of the most important forms of corporate communications happened a long time ago..!