Taking stock of 2010

Four execs from the footage field weigh in on the past year and the future challenges ahead for the stock footage community and the producers who work with them.
January 1, 2011

Josh Rucci – Senior director, media & broadcast, Getty Images

In the wake of the economic crash, have more producers and broadcasters been utilizing archive as a means of lowering production costs? Is that a viable option for them?

Yes, especially as libraries digitize an increasing amount of visual material that had only been available on film or tape-based formats. We committed to an investment in 2008 to increase our Archive Films library by over 50% (to 50,000 online clips), which included a conversion of pre-World War II-shot 35mm film to HD. This not only made new storylines available – obviously a hard requirement for any program commission – but also provided a preferred format, as so many broadcast networks launch HD channels and analog services are retired.

What areas in terms of content are growing in demand for Getty Images UK?

Editorial. We are seeing substantial growth for archive, news and actualities, and entertainment footage against what was already a solid business. In addition, we have signed new contributors like Agence France-Presse and Sky News. We have also seen double-digit percentage growth in global destinations, wildlife and film studio content from our partnerships with Discovery, Universal Studios, and Warner Bros. Entertainment.

Is there much of a call from broadcasters for HD restoration of vintage archive?

There is some, and hopefully there will be more as broadcasters and production companies take inventory and understand the value that is within their vaults. The process around restoration, digitization, and metadata is not simple, but there are companies that we partner with to perform the heavy lifting, after which our sales force and digital distribution provide the royalty payments. The key for the broadcaster is to have a solid inventory of their archive and understand that many elements, including general views, aerials, nature footage and celebrity interviews, can provide a return.

What are some recent non-fiction/factual entertainment/documentary projects in which your catalogs have been featured?

Some documentaries include Moguls and Movie Stars from Wilkman Productions in the U.S., America: the Story of Us from Nutopia in the UK, and Le Jeu de la Mort (The Game of Death) from Yami 2 in France, plus hundreds of others around the world. On the education side, we provided 3,000 hours of footage to a national education database, and were involved in both the licensing and production of a digital book companion to launch in 2011. I think 2010 was one of the most rewarding years in seeing our factual footage content appear on such a broad swath of programs and platforms, which we see continuing in 2011.

Claribel Torres – Manager, video business development, new media markets, Associated Press

With the recent economic turmoil, have more producers and broadcasters been utilizing archive as a means of lowering production costs? Is that a viable option?

Indeed, we are seeing an increase in requests for stock shots, which are more cost effective to license than sending out a crew to shoot a location.

Are you looking at employing, or have you already employed, new pricing models?

Yes, especially with all the new media platforms that are emerging. We are assessing different pricing models such as adding an optional per clip price.

Are you noticing a steady demand for deep content?

Since many producers and content creators do not want to use the same shoot over and over again, we are still seeing a demand for deep content. We are making every effort to keep as much of our raw B-roll as possible and making it available to our clients. One example is the BP oil spill, for which we have over 30 hours of unedited HD material.

Are there any areas you want to tap into in the year ahead – 3D footage, etc.?

Our goal for 2011 is to digitize more of our content and make it available online including expanding our HD archive.

Which of your catalogs have been featured most recently in non-fiction projects?

The BP oil spill and the earthquake in Haiti were both two of our most accessed events within our catalog within the last year.

Kevin Schaff, Founder/CEO, Thought Equity Motion

With the recent economic turmoil, have more producers and broadcasters been utilizing archive as a means of lowering production costs? Is that a viable option?

Yes, many producers today are seeing the value in archives and realizing that they can create compelling content without having to shoot everything themselves. Advances in quality and technology have increased access to archival footage and enabled producers to find, download and publish a wide range of content more efficiently. Some kinds of less replicable “moment in time” footage of people, places and world events will always be in high demand regardless of costs, as this type of footage can be crucial for storytelling and context in many productions.

Is HD restoration of archive material a priority for broadcasters, in your experience?

Since most archival footage is in SD there is value in having higher quality versions of archival material as the quality of productions increases and HD becomes more of the standard. For example, with our March of Time collection we’re replacing SD material that’s film-backed with HD versions.

For non-fiction/documentary producers, what footage within your catalog has proved the most popular over the course of the year?

NBC News Select, BBC, CBS News, NHK, CCTV (Central China Television), ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation), Smithsonian Channel, National Geographic, March of Time, HBO Archives, Cinesound Movietone, The New York Times Company and the NCAA.

Are there any areas you want to tap into in the year ahead?

Our technology platform and “smart content” metadata are enabling more advanced delivery models, including “production through metadata” where the right content or moment can be delivered dynamically without manual editing and manipulation.

What are some recent non-fiction/factual entertainment/documentary projects in which your catalogs have been featured?

Content from our library is used in hundreds of non-fiction, factual entertainment and documentary projects every year. A few recent productions that feature content from our library include Proper Television’s Inventions that Shook the World (Discovery Channel Canada) and New Animal Productions’ JFK: 3 Shots That Changed America (History).

Jessica Berman-Bogdan – President, Global ImageWorks

Are you looking at, or have you employed, new pricing models?

In 2010, we started working with the ACSIL licensing grid guidelines, which we helped to develop. With the grid, pricing models take into consideration the cost of the production, its visibility in the marketplace and its funding instead of basing the rates on technical platforms used to deliver the content (broadcast, cable, Internet, mobile, etc.). We look at the nature of each production, the production’s potential for revenues and the sources of these revenues. Additionally, to better service our clients with flexibility and variety of choice, we have added a high quality, royalty-free line of footage including both historic and contemporary imagery.

Last year you introduced digital effects and animation footage into your roster. Are there any areas you want to tap into in the year ahead, such as 3D footage, etc.?

Several of our filmmakers are always on the cutting edge of technology. In fact, a few of our filmmakers have already started to experiment with and delivered some incredible 3D footage. But 3D is currently a huge challenge, not only for filmmakers but also for the licensees. It is still a niche product which needs to get some standardization, cost controls and find its role in the production marketplace.

Are you noticing a steady demand for deep content, or are most requests increasingly clip-based?

We’ve always focused on being a “deep content” library. However, our clients who come to us for “clip” requests always express their gratitude for providing longer running shots with both heads and tails of every shot complete. Sometimes those few extra seconds make all the difference!

What are some recent factual/doc projects that have featured your footage?

Our footage was used in the award-winning documentaries Bhutto; Immigrant Nation: The Battle for the Dream and Harry Shearer’s The Big Uneasy, as well as several 9/11 documentaries including Discovery Channel’s After The Towers Fell, Nat Geo’s Giuliani’s 9/11, and History’s 9/11 State of Emergency. Other projects included History’s Swamp People, ‘NOVA”s Stonehenge and Nat Geo’s Cameramen Who Dared, as well as a variety of soon to be released feature films.

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