No Footage? No Problem: Where to Get Visuals When You Can’t Go Out to Shoot

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Some days, you have to get a story out really fast, and you don’t have time to go on a shoot. Some days, you’re covering a story that is far away. And sometimes, COVID-19 is raging outside.

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Pixabay, Flickr, Giphy, Wikimedia
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November 2020

Some days, you have to get a story out really fast, and you don’t have time to go on a shoot. Some days, you’re covering a story that is far away and you can’t travel to go get the footage. And sometimes, COVID-19 is raging outside and it’s better to just stay home. But that’s ok. You can get creative when you’re trying to make a story more visual; as long as you’re not selecting misleading visuals for your videos (more on that in another post).

Photo Source: Pixabay

Here are our favourite tools and tricks:

  1. Giphy: You can always use gifs to tell a story. Download your favourite gifs in mp4 format and you can use them in most video editing applications.  
  1. Pixabay: This website has loads of stock video and photos you can use. Though it’s better to make a video with movement and shots, it also works to make a video that’s just photos + text or photos + VO (though we always recommend adding subtitles!).  

A Word of caution: Always double-check the creative commons permissions on every photo you download.

  1. Wikimedia: Wikimedia is especially great for archival photos. In some cases, you have to credit the person who took the photo, which can be a little challenging in phone video editing apps. In such a scenario, you can add credits at the end of the video. Make sure you check what kind of creative commons license the photos are under.
  1. Flickr: You can filter through libraries of creative commons photos here. Just like Wikimedia, sometimes, you have to credit the photographer.  
  1. Ask for help: You can always ask someone for permission to use their footage. Make sure you get there ‘ok’ in writing, just in case they change their mind later. You can also ask the people related to your story to send you some video clips they might have taken or to answer your questions in a selfie video. Again, get their consent in writing. Better safe than sorry.