Top 10 Best Royalty Free HD Stock Video Sites
As web video gains momentum, stock video is becoming an essential part of every video editors toolkit. We are constantly asked by freelancers if we know of any good HD stock video websites to use for their last minute corporate shoot or music video.
The majority of the time, if you use a professional production company or freelancer, they will shoot their own HD footage in-house however if required they sometimes supplement this with a bit of stock footage. Over the last 5 years the quality and sheer volume of online stock footage has increased dramatically, providing video editors with the flexibility to play with a wide variety of footage. There are countless HD stock video sites on the web, but the video content they offer varies dramatically in quality and price. Here are our top ten favourites, with a quick review of each website.
The Most Flexible → VideoBlocks
Average HD clip price: $149/Year (Unlimited Downloads) or 7 day free trial
HD stock video is generally sold file-by-file, so VideoBlocks is interesting as it sells clips based on a subscription model. That makes it ideal for heavy users that need a constant supply of fresh video content for their projects. Use the filters to search for video and audio across a range of categories; VideoBlocks even offers Ultra HD (4K) video content on the site.
VideoBlocks offers more than 100,000 HD stock video clips, and there’s a 7 day free trial available. If you use the free trial and then cancel, you can continue to use the clips you downloaded. The same applies if you sign up and then cancel. With such interesting terms and diverse content, it has to be worth a try.
The Most Popular → Shutterstock
Average HD clip price: $51
Shutterstock offers simple package and single file pricing which makes it ideal if you want multiple clips or just one. You pay slightly more for 4K and HD over standard definition clips however with 1.4 million video files on offer, you’re guaranteed to find something perfect for practically every project.
The HD stock video on Shutterstock is of an extremely high quality; it’s hard to imagine any user that would grumble about the content here. The pricing has changed recently and is very reasonable with the ability to buy packs of HD stock video clips (which makes a huge saving!).
The Most Reasonably Priced → VideoHive
Average HD clip price: $10
VideoHive is part of the Envato network, an interconnected range of content marketplaces including CodeCanyon and ThemeForest. Stock video is located in its Stock Footage category. At the time of writing this blog, VideoHive offered more than 40,000 HD stock video files, and all are displayed in a handy list format with useful categories.
The HD stock video on VideoHive is very affordable, so it’s a great site if you just want to dip your toe into stock video or grab a quick clip for a beginner project. But as with many stock media sites, the quality does suffer slightly at a lower price point, so be careful what you spend your credits on.
The Most Extensive → Adobe Stock
Average HD clip price: $49
With a clear layout, good quality stock video and friendly pricing, Adobe Stock is one of our favourite HD stock video sites. Previously named Fotolia it has an extensive library of footage. It strikes the right balance between quality and price, and the selection is wide enough not to be limiting. If you need a mix of media types for a video project, Adobe Stock also offers images files.
According to its website, Adobe says every video clip is vetted and individually approved, and its team are continually working on the search algorithm to make the perfect stock video easy to find. The site is also committed to offering a fair deal to customers and video producers, and Adobe pays up to 35 per cent of the sale price to the creator. That’s worth supporting.
Adobe now offer a 30 Day free trial which allows you to download 10 free images and then cancel within the first month!
The Most Well-Known → iStock
Average HD clip price: $60
iStock was previously known as iStockPhoto, but it has recently been rebranded to account for the diverse range of content on the site (images, vector graphics, sound, video and more). Bloggers, brands and creative flock to iStock to obtain quality stock material.
While iStock isn’t the cheapest or the most reliable, it’s a trusted brand backed by a well-established company. To find affordable content that fits your requirements, you’ll have to use the search filters and pick the appropriate meaning for your keywords. The credits system is fiddly, though, and it takes a little getting used to.
The Most Helpful → 123RF
Average HD clip price: $59
If you’re pushed for time and need content quickly, 123RF could be your ideal HD stock video website. It has a simple search function which allows you to sort clips into groups. It also has a collaborative feature (called Corporate +) which gives you a centralised login so you to share, pay and licence clips within under one company.
Overall, 123RF isn’t the most polished HD stock video website, but is quite flexible wih payment options (offering monthly and on demand subscriptions). For speed and convenience, we think 123RF is hard to beat.
The Most User Friendly → Pond5
Average HD clip price: $35
With almost 2.1 million HD video clips on offer, Pond5 is a massive marketplace for stock video content. The site features a nice split interface with its catalogue at the top and the Collections pane at the bottom. You can use Collections to bookmark video without leaving the main screen.
We enjoy sourcing video on Pond5. It offers a good selection of HD stock video and is reasonably priced. Every video has a mouse over effect that displays a handy preview, and the pricing is simple and clear.
The Most Impressive → Dissolve
Average HD clip price: $79
Dissolve is a stock video site that was posted in the comments below. We love it. The quality of the clips is very impressive, and that’s partly because the HD footage is shot on very high end equipment (e.g Red Epic, Arri Alexa, Canon C300). These cameras produce stunning shots and crystal clear 4K video – many of the clips on Dissolve have been transcoded from this resolution so look great at 1080p!
There is a bit of a trade off: you’ll pay more to achieve this high quality video content. However, if quality is your primary focus, it’s always worth investing that little bit more. Head to the site and explore some of the content in the Ideas Blog.
The Most Specialised → Motion Elements
Average HD clip price: $29
Motion Elements is a highly accessible site that provides content inspired by Asia. It’s a large marketplace that offers a wide range of content, from After Effects templates through to animated characters.
So, what does ‘inspired by Asia’ mean? Well, Motion Elements is based in Singapore, and its target markets are Europe, the USA, Japan, Korea and the wider Asian continent. While it’s useful for Westerners, people living in the Far East will find a wealth of great HD stock video.
The Most Varied → BBC Motion Gallery
Average HD clip price: $60
The BBC vaults contain all kinds of professional HD stock footage that gets video makers salivating. From black and white clips through to wildlife footage from the Amazon, it’s all here. The BBC Motion Gallery site collects content from the BBC, CBS, CCTV (China), ABC (Australia) and a range of other broadcasters and media companies.
As you’d expect, the quality of the clips on the BBC Motion Gallery is second to none. Some of the content is of a very fine vintage, and you’ll find quirky footage here that’s impossible to source anywhere else. Many of the HD clips have been contributed by professional camera operators that used to work for the BBC, so the calibre of the content is extremely high.
The downsides are the pricing and the license arrangements; it can be expensive and complicated to obtain what you want.
** Update – Since writing this post, the BCC Motion Gallery has now entered into a partnership with iStock and you will find all of our their online content in the link above. This means that licensing is now much easier, the only problem is the pricing has gone up substantially! **
Your Suggestions for HD stock video
Got a HD stock video site to recommend? Did we neglect to mention your favourite? Post a comment and let us know.