Going Pro: Video

Posted on 9/24/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The "Going Pro" series
The Wedding Option
The Freelance Challenge
Are Great Images Enough?
Demand by the Numbers

Image Oversupply
State of the Internet Market
State of the Print Market
Photography as a Career

In theory, there should be major growth in demand for video in the near future. However, people have been making that prediction for more than a decade, and it still doesn’t seem to be happening. In fact, videographers who were among leading sellers of video clips a decade ago are now reporting that their sales are down 50% from what they were just three or four years ago.

Why should video demand be growing?

The principal market for imagery is in supplying information. The chief reason for believing that video demand should be growing is that today people get an increasing amount of the information they consume from the Internet and correspondingly less and less from print publications. There is every indication that these trends will continue.

But why video? Why won’t customers just use stills on the Internet the same way they have been using them in print? The use of stills will remain to some degree. And in the last few years, we have seen tremendous growth in the number of stills used on the Internet, although now the volume of paid uses seems to be flattening. But the Internet offers the opportunity to also use video, something that is impossible to do in magazines, newspapers or any print medium. And as more and more people learn how to effectively use video on the Internet, we will see explosive growth of video and a further decline in the use of stills.

There is another factor that will lead to less use of professionally produced still images on the Internet. The fees paid for most Web uses are so low that it becomes impractical for professionals to produce images solely for this market, and it seems very unlikely that the fees for such uses will rise significantly.

We can already see that lots of the information supplied on the Internet is in video form. According to Alexa and Comscore, 68% of all U.S. Web sites use video. That doesn’t necessarily mean they all have lots of video, but at least they have some links to YouTube and Vimeo. Statistics say that 91% of all traffic on the Internet is video, though this probably refers to bandwidth, not the number of times people visit a Web site.

eMarketer believes that online video will be a $5.2 billion business by 2014, up from $734 million in 2008. If it reaches that level, the market for short-form video will be about 4 times the size of the still stock-image market, which today generates approximately $1.4 billion worldwide.

According to Kelsey Group, small businesses alone spent $10.9 million on Internet video ads in 2007 and could spend as much as $1.5 billion in 2012. Video ads are becoming the main form of brand advertising in the digital space.
According to ad research firm Kelsey Group, small businesses alone spent $10.9 million on Internet video ads in 2007 and could spend as much as $1.5 billion in 2012. Video ads are becoming the main form of brand advertising in the digital space, as marketers recognize the effectiveness and value they offer. Compare the online video growth rate with that of banner advertising, which is expected to be $5.8 billion in 2014 and was $4.88 billion in 2008.

Some argue that a still image, frozen in time, can have more impact than a moving picture. In some cases that’s true. However, Generation Y, or the Net Generation, has grown up with the Internet and information technology. A Kaiser Family Foundation study recently found that kids in the U.S. spend 6.5 hours with media per day. Video presentations—such as math and social studies videos created by Discovery Education—are being used to a much greater degree in school systems.

This generation is used to creating video with their cell phones. In the future, these consumers will expect to receive more of the information they consume in video form. Video can supply a continuity that is impossible with stills. A video presentation with sound and narration in addition to images is often more compelling than still images alone. The following generations will demand this type of story telling.

Still image uses will not disappear completely. Many newspapers are currently publishing a single picture in the paper and then sending readers to their Web sites to see a series of stills on the same subjects. That is one way to get more exposure for lots of still shot on a particular story, but seldom will such multimedia presentations tell the story as well or as effectively as could have been done with video.

Usage trends will certainly be in the direction of video and away from stills. Brian Storm points out that story trumps technique. First, there must be an important and compelling story to tell and then the image creator must determine the best technique to tell it. Two stories that demonstrate how both stills and video can be used in the same video presentation are MediaStorm’s Common Ground” and “Intended Consequences.”

Are sales really down 50%?

Getty Images has traditionally been the biggest supplier of footage clips. While we hear that sales are down significantly for some of the company’s footage suppliers, there are no hard figures to substantiate this—or that overall sales are not down this significantly for everyone.

The three definite, observable trends of the current footage market are supply exceeding demand, large distributors adjusting the search-return order to favor higher-producing content (often wholly owned), and microstock taking a share of the traditional footage market.
Nevertheless, there are three definite, observable trends.

First, there are a lot more footage suppliers now than a few years ago, and supply far exceeds demand. This provides customers with a lot more choice and lowers the odds that the work of any single videographer will be chosen.

Second, Getty has adjusted the search-return order of clips on its site, putting its wholly owned work and the work of several other companies—such as Universial Studios, Discovery Footage Source and Warner Bros., with whom the company likely has more favorable royalty agreements—in preferential position over clips produced by individual videographers.

In addition, microstock video is taking a share of the market. Simon Krzic, a videographer represented exclusively by iStockphoto and Getty, told the audience at the recent CEPIC conference in Ireland that he had 15,000 clips with iStock and 3,500 with Getty—a collection he has built from scratch in about four years. Many of those that are on iStock were not accepted by Getty. At one point, 10% of the clips on iStock were his. Now, his represent about 5%, meaning that iStock has in the range of 300,000 clips. Krzic’s current iStock earnings are 4 to 5 times what he receives from Getty on a monthly basis. iStock sells clips for $7 to $9 for Web uses, and from $75 to up to as much as $400 for HD1080.

Because Krzic is exclusive with iStock, he receives favored positions in the search-return order and a 40% royalty rather than the 20% that non-exclusive videographers receive. But, even taking these facts into account other non-exclusive photographers who have video on iStock, Pond5 and other microstock sellers tell me that they can earn more from their combined royalty free sales than they earn from Getty.

Clips or stories?

The future may bring more demand for short stories than stock clips, such as those often used in advertising and corporate presentations. The online medium seems to be heading towards short videos that deal with very specific issues and are shot start to finish by one photographer.
A general rise in demand for video does not mean a rise in demand for stock footage. In the future, there may be more demand for short stories than clips. Stock footage is all about supplying very short clips of a few seconds that can fill out the story the producer is trying to tell. For one reason or other these shots were not, nor could not have been, captured by the primary videographer who put together the main story. Such clips are used a lot in advertising, and corporate presentations.

Increasingly Internet demand may be for short videos that deal with very specific issues and are shot, start to finish by one videographer. These videos may not be as dependent on clips of difficult to capture situations. They may lack some of the polish of professionally produced videos, but the obvious realism may give them more power.

It is worth considering the work being done by TurnHere.com. The company has a network of over 8,000 freelance videographers working in over 70 countries. By May 2010, it had produced more than 27,000 short videos for local businesses around the world and was adding to that number by over 1,000 new videos a month.

Most of TurnHere’s projects are designed to be shot in 60 to 90 minutes. Videographer fees can be as low as $200 for a shoot, but are sometimes higher. There are different opportunities for filmmakers to get involved at different pay levels. Clients pay on average $1,000 for each video. (A recent Selling Stock story offers more information about the company.)

David Scott Smith of Billings, Montana, offers another example of where video demand may be headed. Smith started out as a still photographer but has transitioned into mostly video production, shooting video ads for small businesses in his community. The ads are placed on the Internet and cable TV. His stories are simple but powerful, demonstrate his talent for creating a compelling narrative, and have absolutely no need whatsoever for third-party footage: Smith shoots entirely in his customers’ environment.

Other good examples of short videos can be found on Gail Mooney’s site.

Disadvantages of video

One reason still photographers resist moving to video is that video stories are much more of a team effort than shooting stills. A still photographer can operate totally alone on a project and get excellent results, which are then supplemented by someone who writes the story. Often, the writer operates totally independently.

With video, the images, sound and story have to meld together seamlessly. In addition, video often includes interviews and narration. It is very difficult for one person to do all these jobs simultaneously and well. A still photographer who is also a good writer can produce a script and if the video doesn’t need any live sound, he may be able to do everything himself. Smith is such an example. But if there is going to be any interview or narration, having a second person to capture the sound is certainly a big help.

Video can be a difficult transition for a still shooter. It tends to be more of a team effort, because it requires sound and narration. It also demands a different set of technical and conceptual skills—for instance, filling out scenes with transitional sequences.
In producing a video, the videographer also needs to be much more conscious of transitions than is the case with a still shooter. A one or two second transition may by itself be a rather boring photograph, but it can be critical in helping the viewer seamlessly track the story movement from A to B. The still photographer may photograph points A and B but will never bother to take a picture that shows the transition. Another thing that can happen is that even A and B may not be all that exciting as individual frames, but when they are strung together with proper transitions they can be both powerful and critical to the overall story. Such a sequence can also provide the viewer with a much more accurate understanding of what is really happening.

The videographer’s job requires a very different type of thinking, planning and approach to the subject matter than is required of the still photographer. While this is an inhibiting factor for many experienced still shooters, it is something they will need to overcome, and a new skill they will need to learn, if they expect to be in the image creation or storytelling businesses in five, ten or more years.

Copyright © Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff