Stock footage, also commonly referred to as archival footage, is a tradition as old as the video format itself. Video stock footage allows you to use clips that already exist in your finished video product, rather than outsourcing the assignment to a film crew or even doing the recording yourself. Do you really need a helicopter shot of the downtown skyline at dusk to sell a product or service?

Instead of renting equipment (not to mention finding a helicopter pilot), finding and paying a crew and going through the hassle of getting that perfect shot yourself, just use one that already exists. Things like "time," "money" and "experience" are suddenly no longer a concern.

The decision to use video stock footage, however, is not one that can be made lightly. As more and more people report to stock footage, you run the risk of seeing the same basic shots over and over again. Suddenly everyone's videos become similar and boring and videos like yours begin to lose their sense of genuineness. If you're a marketer, an advertising agency or a designer who wants to guarantee that the videos you create will be as authentic as possible, you can customize your stock video footage in a variety of different ways depending on what you're trying to accomplish.

The Power of Text

One of the best and most efficient ways to take a stock video and turn it into a custom-made video is through the careful use of overlay text. Annotations, subtitles, explanatory text and more can all be a great way to not only make the video more interesting to watch, but also make it more relevant to your ultimate message.

Even the basic video editing software that comes built into every computer at the time of purchase is capable of adding overlay text to a video. Clicking the "Add Text" button opens a world of possibilities for adding inspirational quotes that are relevant to the images, information about your company like a logo and more. You can adjust font sizes, types and colors to make your overlay text look less like an afterthought and more like a natural part of the video. If you are looking for more advanced tools that would allow you to add text effects, highlight different words and make your message stand out, try tools like Wave.

This is a technique that is already getting more popular on Facebook in particular, as many people often watch videos in silent mode due to their surroundings. It's hard to hear a voiceover during your morning commute or while you're watching a video in the office, but you CAN easily read text without disturbing anyone around you.

Also consider the fact that people are over 300% better at following directions when those directions are paired with some type of relevant image. What situation would a viewer need to follow directions, you ask? That's right - a call to action.

Don't Forget About the Audio Experience

None of that is to say that you should ignore sound altogether, however - remember that there will be SOME people who listen to your video at full volume. Adding music, sound effects and even a voiceover track can all help elevate your stock video into the custom-made video you want it to be.

All video editing software also allows you to accomplish this easily. Simply add a new audio track from the menu on screen, drag your relevant sound clips to the precise spot where you want them to play and you're done. You can even start with the song first, then find stock video clips that match the mood and feeling you're going for.

Animation Is King

Animation over video

Animation offers a huge variety of different ways to make a video unique. You could combine people and animated characters, for example, similar to the classic film "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?" You could also experiment with animation styles depending on what you want to accomplish - whiteboard, 2D, cartoon (Disney-style) and stop motion are a great way to inject new life into video stock footage.

Once you've had your animation produced, you would essentially add it into the video the same way you would if you were combining it with other existing video content. Just add each element as its own layer in your editing software, then combine the two and rearrange them the way you want.

Animation effects can also be very valuable when used properly. Most editing programs have drop-down menus for this, too. Entrance and exit effects, as well as drops, spins, pulses and more, can all add dynamism and emphasis when it is desperately needed.

Combining Stock Footage With Other Visuals

Combining stock footage with other visuals is also a great way to give it more of a custom look and feel. Consider inserting a video in a static image, for example. By shooting your own static image of a TV set, you can use video editing software to insert your stock footage into the frame - making it look like the TV is broadcasting the clip. You do this by adding each video element as its own individual layer, then combining the layers together in video editing software.

Transition Effects and Filters

Along the same lines, transition effects can also be a powerful tool to give a stock video a whole new life once you've finished the editing process. You can add filters in most video editing software (look for the "Filters" drop down menu) to make a stock video feel crisp and clean, or add film grain to make it look old and timeless.

You can also use transition effects to underline a particular feeling you're going for. Do you want to leave a viewer with a sense of hope and optimism? Consider a fade to white to transition from a piece of stock footage into a screen with text, or into footage that you have actually shot yourself.

In the End

Video stock footage is a great way to save yourself the time, money and effort of shooting video elements yourself - but you have to be careful regarding how its used. You'll still need to put a bit of work into the finished product to help elevate it and make it unique. Thankfully, modern day editing software has you covered in this arena in more ways than one.