Archived footage can be an absolute godsend. If you are creating a historical documentary or whether you just need some footage from past events then they are perfect. Unfortunately first-time filmmakers can often run into a few roadblocks when using archived footage. The following 6 pointers aim to help you avoid such pitfalls when it comes to finding and using archived footage:
1. Check Your Archive
Archival footage should never be an afterthought. If you know you are going to using archived, public domain footage then check what you’re looking for is actually available. If your video production is for a specific niche you may find archival footage hard to find. Remember that archived footage is much easier to find if you are creating a relatively broad video production.
Obtaining archived footage could start to eat away at your budget. Negotiation is perhaps the only way to help try and keep budgeting costs low. Bear in mind that once your project is completed the bargaining chip is no longer in your court. If you approach library archives early on then they may give you a good deal in exchange for including the archive in your credits.
3. Get Someone To Research Footage For You
Trying to find the right archived footage for your production can be quite a time consuming task. To help keep your film on schedule, think about investing in a professional researcher. Someone who has the expertise to help find suitable footage could be a real time saver. Experts most often have the knowledge to be able to find you cheaper footage or alternative footage at a reasonable price.
4. Extra Archival Costs
Libraries and archives may charge for their time. Be mindful that costs like this could crop up if you definitely need archived footage. You may also incur extra costs if you need your footage duplicated. Such costs can be exceedingly high due to the complex nature of trying to reproduce vintage footage. To avoid this, make allowances in your budget and set aside time and money to compensate for the use of archived footage.
5. Clearance & Distribution
Distributing a video production containing archived footage has never been so complex. With so many platforms and regions to publish to in today’s film industry, there are a lot of licenses and issues your production has to cross. There are issues of ownership and censorship that have to be taken into account depending on what regions you are distributing your video production to. Be sure to get clearance on every single aspect of your production before you even think about distributing it.
6. Choose Your Format
Poor planning in the use of archival footage can result in some real nightmare scenarios. Decide early on what format you want your footage in. Does it need to be 35mm or 16mm? Does it need to be black and white or colour? Does it need to be digital, on tape or VHS? Not establishing these formats early on could leave you with hellish editing issues in terms of cohesion and continuity in post-production.
Archival footage really can be fantastic if you’re creating a documentary or you simply can’t recreate previously recorded footage you need for your project. Don’t let any of these pitfalls deter you from using archived footage, but bear them in mind when considering them in your video production.