Do you need a particular video clip but don’t have the time or resources to shoot it yourself? Royalty-free stock footage may be the answer.
And if you’re working on a project with a small budget, you might be interested to learn that there are a number of websites offering free royalty-free stock footage.
Because, you know, free is pretty great.
All the sources on this list offer free videos under either the Creative Commons Zero (Public Domain) license or a custom license that offers the same freedoms. That means you can use the footage however you like. You aren’t required to pay or include attribution unless you just feel like it.
Let’s dive in!
Pexels aggregates CC0 footage from a few other sites—including some on this list—which makes it a convenient place to look if you’re short on time.
Videos are usually around 30 seconds or less, and they cover a range of subjects and moods. You can browse the library by clicking on categories, which range from broad, such as time-lapse, to pretty specific, such as rocks (yes, rocks).
A handy little feature—if you hover over a video in the library, a truncated preview plays. And once you click a video, you’ll see more specific tags and similar videos, which allow you to dive even deeper in your search. When you find a video you like, simply click to download it, no registration required.
Pexels offers free stock photography, too, should you need it.
Pixabay is an awesome source for free CC0 photos, illustrations and videos. Video quality is excellent—in fact, you’ll even find some 4k footage here! With a search functionality and several categories, the site is a cinch to use.
And you can browse footage by user, too. So if a videographer has a particular style you really like, you can see what else she’s uploaded to Pixabay. From a user’s profile, you also have the opportunity to message, follow, comment and even tip.
Every 10 days, Distill curates 10 CC0 videos submitted by its registered users. At the time of writing, it looks like there are about 100 HD videos to choose from (with more coming every 10 days, presumably).
Since multiple videographers submit footage, the Distill library is fairly diverse. Nine categories make finding the right video easier. To play a video, simply hover over it (or tap, if you’re on mobile).
You can create an account for Distill, but it’s not required for video downloads.
In terms of ease of use and sheer inventory (more than 3,600 HD clips), Videvo takes the cake. You can find the video you need by clicking through numerous categories and tags or using the search function. Videvo also features motion graphics, which sets the site apart from most others on this list.
The catch? To download a video, you must first create a free account and “pay” with either a Tweet or Facebook post. But if you find the perfect video, it’s worth that much, right?
A note about licenses: every song in the Videvo library uses one of two licenses. Here’s a basic overview:
- Videvo Standard License – Allows you to use the clip however you like (you just can’t sell it as-is), no attribution required.
- Creative Commons 3.0 – Offers essentially the same freedoms as CC0, but you must include attribution.
So if you don’t want to worry about attribution, makes sure the video you’re downloading uses the Videvo Standard License.
Seemingly built with websites in mind, Coverr posts seven new free CC0 videos every Monday. Hmm… sounds familiar. 😉
You’ll probably notice there’s a lot of blurred footage. I assume this is because text is more legible on top of blurred video (and if you’re using a Coverr video on your website, you’ll likely overlay text).
Coverr allows you to browse the video library using eight pre-defined categories, including “people,” “tech” and “nature.” When you find one you like, click “download,” and, presto, the file is yours.
6. Life of Vids
At the time of writing, Life of Vids—presented by LEEROY, a creative agency—offers more than 100 videos for free download via Vimeo. You’ll find several excellent scenic shots (more than just cows, I promise) in the library. Video length varies, and there’s currently no way to search the inventory.
Worth noting, LEEROY also runs Life of Pix, a site for free CC0 photography.
You may already know about Pond5. After all, the site has a massive library for stock video, photography and audio. If you are familiar with Pond5, you’re probably thinking, “but Pond5 isn’t free…”
And for the most part, that’s true. But the Pond5 library does include media from the Public Domain—stuff so old that its copyright has expired. And that footage is free.
So if you’re looking for antique (somewhat trippy) videos in black and white, Pond5 is for you! The site actually has several clips from the Apollo 11 lunar landing, which is pretty neat.
You’ll need to create a free account to download anything from Pond5. But the process is pretty painless.
You may notice Vidlery looks and functions a lot like Coverr. And that’s no mistake — the project was inspired by Coverr (according to Ritu at Animations World, the company responsible for Vidlery).
But there’s one key difference: Vidlery offers only video animations.
At the time of writing, there are 30 different animations in the Vidlery library. There’s no way to filter them, but with such a small number, you really don’t need to.
I expect the number of animations will grow. In the meantime, there’s already a pretty fun variety to choose from.
Over to you
Know of another site that I missed? Share your tips in the comments below!