Find Free Video Stock Footage

May 7, 2012
A black and white image of people under a tent.

If you’re creating video, stock footage can be your best friend. If you need shots of people walking around, a photo of Chicago, the sound of footsteps or a Latin soundtrack, someone else has already probably already created it and made it available for free! Also known as B–roll, stock footage is extra material that may or may not have appeared in previous productions. Be sure to read about copyright, to ensure you don’t grab licensed video or music by accident.


  • Inspect the copyright status of each and every file to ensure the author has given you free use
  • If the file’s license asks you to give them credit or not to alter their product, follow those instructions
  • Copy the URL of each file you find online so you can go back to it if needed
  • Only music that gives you the right to attribution can be used in almost all situations without contacting the owner

If you have a budget, there are countless sites that offer stock footage—just Google “royalty free stock footage.” If you don’t have the funds, here are a few examples of places to find freebies.

Free Video Footage/B-roll

More people are uploading videos with licenses allowing use of footage by adding an attribution at the end. Some examples are: Public Domain, Open Source, and Community Video licenses. The Creative Commons Attribution License is the most common symbol that denotes a work is free and OK for use.

A few places to look for free stock footage online are:

Free Music & Audio

Find free soundtracks, speeches or even sound effects. It’s helpful to know the type of music you’re looking for first.

Free Sound Effects

Look for realistic sounds, such as footsteps, to add drama to your piece.

  •—Collaborative database of Creative Commons–licensed sounds. Freesound does not have songs.

Free Photos & Images

Use images that illustrate a point or an emotion.

Disclaimer: All references to specific brands, products, and/or companies are used only for illustrative purposes and do not imply endorsement by the U.S. federal government or any federal government agency.