Stock shopping

Producer/distributors can have thousands of hours of potential archive footage at their disposal. Thus, when they do open archive divisions, they often boast diverse, quality collections. Here are a few stock options that are available, created by production/distribution companies.
May 1, 2010


Many archives rightfully boast about the quality of their footage, playing up the HD content and the beauty of the visuals. But for those who want raw and candid shots of everyday urban life, check the archive of UK prodco Raw Cut Television.

Raw Cut is best known for creating gritty crime programming using CCTV footage of shocking events, such as ‘caught on camera’ shows like You’re Nicked, in which Natalie Pinkham presents dramatic footage of police chases and busts, and Disaster Eyewitness which features CCTV and mobile phone video of airplane crashes and natural disasters. After years of creating its own programming full of shocking footage, the company found it was getting many requests for clips.

‘[Selling our footage] is something by and large we tried to play down because we didn’t want our shows to get devalued,’ says Steve Warr, company director. ‘They have long tail, they get sold abroad. But then we realized we were getting in more archive than we were actually using, and we started getting even more requests. Clearly it’s something that people want, so we looked to do it properly.’

At the end of 2009 Raw Cut officially launched its online archive full of CCTV, amateur video, and helicopter and police car video footage. When the archive launched Warr says Raw Cut expected the uses for the footage would be somewhat similar to its own. Instead, the stock footage from the company has appealed to a wider clientele than just crime-programming producers. ‘I have literally just put the phone down with someone who’s making a feature film that wants crowd or fighting scenes to make the film look more realistic,’ says Warr. Raw Cut also gets requests from entertainment and game shows that use clips as well as comedy programs that want to use the footage in a sketch. ‘It’s much more varied than we thought,’ he says.

Containing just under 1,000 clips, the most popular footage in Raw Cut’s catalog are those of riots or fight scenes, says Warr. One in particular is a long sequence from a riot in Nottingham. ‘It goes on for a long time so you can pull small bits out of it and it looks quite varied,’ says Warr. ‘[Also] the angles are quite good, the light is quite brilliant for CCTV, and if you tried to stage it you wouldn’t get it as nice as it is.’



Beyond Vision was launched in 2002 with footage from Beyond’s group of production companies including Beyond Productions, Eurocam, dSP Beyond and Beyond Fiction. Specializing in non-fiction material, the archive features genres such as science and technology; health and medicine; wildlife and natural history; history; lifestyle and people and society. Additional partners that have come on board to boost the archive include David Ireland (also known to television audiences as ‘The Wildlife Man’) and producer Sorrel Wilby, both of whom supply HD footage of Australia’s diverse landscapes.

‘Beyond Vision has the unique advantage of being part of a vital production and distribution company, giving it access to a constant flow of new material,’ says Brian Trevarton, general manager of Beyond Vision. ‘Over the past 20-odd years Beyond’s library has grown to include an extensive range of subject matter, containing specialized genres and topics.’

As Beyond works with broadcasters internationally, the archive features footage taken from around the world. A growing array of international clients is also using the footage for programming, ads and educational tools. Recent clients include The Oprah Winfrey Show in the U.S., Nine Network Australia, Princess Productions in the UK, Story House Productions in the Netherlands and ZDF in Germany.

Currently, the most popular clips in the archive of 65,000 items hail from the company’s flagship program, Beyond 2000, which launched in 1985, was relaunched in 2005 as Beyond Tomorrow, and examined advances in science and technology. Trevarton says clips on industrial and medical subject matter have also proven to be some of the more popular items in the catalog.


This past April, Paris-based prodco Gedeon Programmes officially launched a new footage bank consisting of thousands of hours of documentary footage. The Picture Factory is a collection of documentary footage not only from Gedeon’s catalog but also from the collections of other French prodcos such as Bonne Pioche (March of the Penguins), wildlife producer MC4, India doc specialist Sangha Productions and Underwater Cam.

Gedeon has been producing documentaries for 15 years, and in that time has amassed a collection of 20,000 hours of footage which is all part of this collection. ‘The other producers’ catalogs are very rich too,’ says CEO Stéphane Millière of the other prodcos contributing footage to The Picture Factory to date. ‘We did not count [those hours] so far, but it’s a lot.’

The decision to create an archive division came about when the city of Epinal, France began putting together the Image Pole, a home for French audiovisual collections. This created an opportunity for Gedeon to come on board and share space within an historic site covering 500 square meters. Support for the endeavor comes from the Epinal-Golbey Community Council, the Lorraine Council, OSEO, an award for Territorial Development from the French State, and the European Development Fund (FEDER).

The collection is made up of wildlife, environmental, archaeological and cultural footage as well as re-enactments and aerial and submarine views. ‘This image bank is a unique way to preserve the world’s scientific, historical and cultural heritage,’ says Millière.

While the new website currently houses only 10% of the footage from the collection, customers can register to use the online editing tool, which allows the user to select, cut and edit clips through the website, or an archivist can be contacted to do a personalized search.

About The Author
Jonathan Paul is a Toronto-based writer into creativity, content, advertising, tech, comics, video games, film, TV, time and space travel.