RevoStock – Stock Footage, Audio, A.E. Projects and F.C. Projects

I’m reading through old posts today and it occurs to me that I’ve been pretty hard on RevoStock and it might seem like I don’t like them or recommend them… which couldn’t be farther from the truth.  So, I’ll take some time to review RevoStock, both the good and the bad.

RevoStock sells Stock Footage, Audio files (music and sound effects), After Effects Projects and Final Cut  Projects.  They offer a 45% commision on non-exclusive items and 60% for exclusive items (you can make individual items exclusive).  Which, while not the best/highest rates in the industry, it does put them in the top sites for revenue sharing (iStock, ShutterStock, Fotolia, etc.. being at the bottom).  While I can understand the reason for wanting exclusive content, they simply don’t sell enough volume to make it worthwhile. At least not in Stock Footage.  They might in AE/FC projects or Audio.  And RevoStock lets artist set their own prices for items they sell.  But for some strange reason, they have an upper limit which means if you have a unique piece of editorial footage worth lots of money, you’re better off waiting to submit to Revo until after things slow down elsewhere.

RevoStock has been spending a lot of money and effort on site improvements over the past year.  They were among the first sites to support embedded meta-data in QuickTime .MOV clips.  And they’ve added support for clips with Alpha channels (PNG or Animation encoded clips).  Most recently they’ve added support for revenue sharing between artists which promotes collaboration (more about that shortly).  And while the site is still one of the slowest to use, they have made big improvements on speeding things up.  Most importantly, like Pond5, they support the artist community and treat artists like partners and not indentured servants (*cough* iStock *cough*).

Unfortunately, in order to sell anything on RevoStock you have to go through a stupid quiz process to show them your L33T enough to join their group.  It’s not a difficult quiz as they make you read a few pages of info then simply quiz you on that info.  It’s just a real PITA to go through.  I am selling AE projects and Audio on Pond5, but it’s not likely I’ll sell them on Revo simply because I think the quiz process is ridiculous and I’m not going to do it again (I had to for Stock Footage).  The process does not weed out anyone who doesn’t want to sell there and even if you pass the quiz and get approved, you still have every single submitted item being reviewed for approval.  RevoStock is just snobbish and the quiz process helps them to feel superior (which, based on their low volume of sales is not warranted).  However, once you get past the quiz process and get approved to sell, they do treat artists well, as I’ve stated before.

Once you are accepted and you upload your items to the site, it’s a simple matter of adding title, description, keywords, etc.. to each item and submitting it for review.  RevoStock recently added the ability to copy data from one item to another, so if you upload a lot of similar items, you can get through the submit process pretty quickly.  After that the review process can take from a few days to a few weeks depending on how many uploads they have to go through.  So far it appears there is just a single reviewer for footage, so at times she gets behind and it can take weeks to get items reviewed and online.  The reviewer is very nice and unlike many other sites, you get a detailed reason when something is rejected.  That gives you an opportunity to correct any issues the reviewer finds.  Unfortunately, they reject a lot of stuff for reasons that make no sense.  I shot video of a yacht race from the deck of a boat.  My clip was rejected for being hand-held (which it wasn’t but even with a tripod on the boat deck, there was a bit of swaying).  The clip was accepted on Pond5 and sold numerous times.  I’ve also had clips rejected for harsh sunlight that have also sold numerous times on Pond5 and ShutterStock where they were accepted.  I have no problem with rejections for technical issues or because a given subject is oversaturated on the site, but reviewers should not make decisions based on what they think will sell.  Because in WAY TOO MANY cases, they are wrong and the stuff sells on other sites.  I think their lack of vision is one of the reasons why they lag behind on the number of clips available and the low sales volume compared to other sites.

RevoStock recently added the ability for artist to collaborate on a project and share the revenue.  So, I could use footage from one of my friends (with permission), add some CG elements and upload it to RevoStock.  Then I can designate that a specified percentage of each sale be given to the other artist.  So if I sell a clip for $40 and give 50% to the collaborating artist, we’ll each get $9 added to our revenue (at 45% commission).  This is a huge deal and could promote a lot of cooperation between artists… Maybe even increase the number of exclusive items on Revo if artists choose to only sell collaborative works through Revo.

On the home page of RevoStock you can see the recently sold items.  So occasionally, when I’m working in my office all day, I’ll check the sales every 15 or 20 minutes to note how many items are sold that day.  Upon occasion, that number comes out to be less than the total number of sales I personally have on Pond5 for the same day.  Additionally, every single clip I have on Pond5 that has sold at least once has been submitted to RevoStock.  While a few have been rejected on Revo, most have not and while several of my clips sell almost daily on Pond5, they rarely sell on Revo.  Even when the price on Revo is lower.  That leads me to believe that buyers are not shopping around for pricing and buying clips wherever they find them cheaper.  And the same buyers are usually not buying from both Revo and Pond5.  I imagine that most sales on Revo come from buyers with corporate accounts there which makes it their number one place to buy.  Not to mention that every single buyer who has contacted me directly has done so through Pond5 (Discovery Network, Weather Channel, etc…).

Still, it’s worth it to support RevoStock and upload to them, for no other reason than their friendly partnership with artists.  Some of my friends do have good months there with lots of sales, but nobody I know has ever had RevoStock as their top seller for a month.  And while I’ve had what I would consider a few good months of sales with them, I’ve never even made half the revenue on RevoStock as I have on Pond5 for any given month.  But, again, I love their friendly attitude and their constant improvements to the site, so I keep uploading and hoping things will improve.

Pond5 adds After Effects Projects to product sales

Pond5 made a big announcement on Wednesday that they are now selling After Effects projects.  This is after adding Audio files (music and sound effects) earlier in the year.  Pond5 takes another huge leap towards being a “one-stop shop” for Video production.

The process is fairly simple, you just upload a ZIP file with your AE project, a video preview and any additional assets required.  A few AE projects are already online with a price between $50 and $100 each.

RevoStock already sells After Effects projects and has for some time.  In fact, I think it’s probably a bigger part of their business than footage. However, they require a ridiculous quiz process in order to get approved for selling AE projects.  Which is the major reason why I don’t sell AE projects or Audio files on RevoStock (I have one of the Top 10 selling music files on Pond5).

If you’re not already selling AE project files and you’re thinking about it, one thing to consider is creating them in the oldest version of After Effects that you own.  Newer versions of AE can open older projects, but older versions cannot open project files from newer versions.  So contributing CS4 ot CS5 projects will limit your buyers since a lot of buyers will use older versions.  Pond5 supports Version 6 as the oldest you can upload.  Sadly, AE does not allow you to export project files in older formats even if your project does not use any new features.

Another pitfall to avoid is using expensive plugins in your projects.  If you are using TrapCode particular or some other commercial plugin, render out the layer and include the pre-rendered video.  Remember, many buyers probably don’t have all the plugins you do.

In the Mac world, Final Cut and Final Cut Pro are quickly catching up with After Effects in market share.  RevoStock realized this and started offering Final Cut projects recently.  Hopefully, after the bugs are worked out for AE, Pond5 will consider adding FC support as well.  I also think it would be a mistake if they added Stock Photography to their plate.  I know as a producer I use stock photos in a lot of my video projects, but the Stock Photo world is a completely different animal and I don’t think Pond5 would fare well in that world.  The only exception I could see would be support for still video assets like 3D still renders, matte paintings, etc…

The only other product I could see them adding in the future is 3D models, but that’s a lot like Stock Photography in that it’s a whole other world.  Personally, I’d love to sell my 3D models and projects on Pond5, but there are too many 3D formats out there to support and do it right.

September 2010 Sales Report

With the loss of iSyndica, doing these monthly sales reports is gonna be a major pain-in-the-ass.  But I vow to keep on keeping on.

Also, a little bit of great news… For the month of September this site averaged 244 unique visitors a day dropping as low as 82 but with well over 1000 when I make new posts.  So I’d like to thank everyone for stopping by and I’ve got a lot more info coming… Plus I’m working out a way to give back to all of you (some kind of contest, I’m still working out the details).

September 2010
Agency Clips Sold Portfolio Size
Pond5 66 (+0) 1105 (+6)
RevoStock 4 (-7) 321 (+0)
ShutterStock 4 (-5) 148 (+0)
ClipCanvas 1 (-1) 231 (+4)
MediaStock 0 (+0) 78 (+0)
Can Stock 0 (-1) 46 (+0)
iStock 0 (+0) 17 (+0)
Fotolia 0 4 (+0)

September was a pretty busy month for me with other projects.  I signed on as Director of Photography on a web based TV show and I got heavily involved with several other projects outside of stock.  I did manage to shoot about 100 new clips and render out about 20 new animations, but I haven’t had time to upload them.  With iSyndica shutting down on the 10th of October, I’m taking a few days off of my projects to get the clips edited and syndicated out everywhere before the 10th.

iStock announced a major cut in pay for most of their artists in September, I’m sure  you’ve heard of it.  As a result a lot of exclusives at iStock have dropped their exclusivity and started uploading to Pond5, Revo and other sites.  The result is MUCH slower review times on most of the major sites.  Since the pay cut doesn’t take effect until January of 2011, a lot of iStock exclusives are wait until then to drop their exclusivity, so expect review times to get even worse in January/February.

Pond5’s wait time is up to 3 weeks right now and they’re not reviewing clips every day (or even every business day), so it could get worse before it gets better.  Also, it appears that they read my comment about their lack of curating and decided to ‘punish me’ by removing all of my clips from their front page bin.  It’s probably hurt my sales as things seem a but down from last year and from reports by most of my friends that their sales for the first week of October are gangbusters.  I’m not happy about the lack of sales, but the lack of them curating is going to hurt even worse down the road.  The more clips they approve that are simply copies of what’s already online is going to hurt buyers as it becomes impossible to find exactly what they need through a sea of copycats.  Especially with all of the keyword spam going on there.  At least ShutterStock, iStock and other sites actually curate the keywords too.

Let me unequivocally state that I LOVE POND5.  It’s my favorite site, not just because it’s my highest source of revenue, but because they still treat artists as partners, not servants. at the end of the day, they prove that you can have a fair relationship with artist and everyone can make money.  My complaints about them are simply because I love them and I want to see them improve.  It’s the same reason I complain about my step-daughter chewing with her mouth open, or not saying please.  Pointing those things out so that she can fix the problem makes her a better person.  Pointing out Pond5’s faults so they can fix them makes it a better site.  Sadly, it doesn’t seem like they see it that way…

RevoStock was super dead last month, not just for me but for a number of my friends as well.  Maybe it was because I didn’t upload anything… But I doubt it because all of my best selling clips on Pond5 are also on Revo.  They just don’t appear to have a good base of buyers.  The good news is they enacted a new method for sharing revenue between artists.  So, two or more artists can collaborate on a project, then one artist uploads the project and sets up sharing with the other artist(s).  That is an AWESOME new feature and if they would promote it more, I think they’ll see a major upshift in quality submissions.  I created a clip using some footage loaned to me by a friend and I’m about to upload and test out this great new feature.

It’s definitely the beginning of Fall here in Kansas.  The pollen count is going nuts from all the dead foliage, the temperatures are near perfect during the day and the skies are mostly blue and clear.  Perfect for getting outside with my camera and shooting some footage.  I just need to make time for editing and submitting, otherwise it’s pretty useless just sitting on my memory cards and/or hard drives.

R.I.P. iSyndica, you will be missed

It is a with a heavy heart that I read the news today about the passing of the much beloved iSyndica. A tireless worker, iSyndica would spread my great cheer to many MicroStock sites without prejudice and generally with much expediency. As our relationship grew, iSyndica did more and more for me… Adding meta-data to my video and providing me with statistical feedback that helped fuel my passion for photography and video.

And I am not the only one who will miss you.  Indeed I have read numerous blogs and tweets this sad day about your premature demise.  You were indeed loved by many.  While your body may decompose, your memory and spirit will live on.  Like many before, you were simply before your time.

It is so difficult to hold back the tears… Thinking about all of those countless hours you saved me…  And now thinking about all of the time I will have to spend doing my own distribution feels me with dread and loathing, for you had spoiled me to the core.

I will not forget you, my dear iSyndica… and I will not let others forget you.  You brought me so much joy and happiness and it is those memories I will cherish for all time.

Goodbye, goodbye, goodbye, my sweet iSyndica.

More to come…

These past two months I have been very busy with a number of projects.  I worked as an Associate Producer and Director of Photography on an small Indie Film. I took a few consulting gigs as a photographer. I wrote a script for a documentary I plan to start shooting in October.  And I signed on as an Associate Producer and Director of Photography on a local TV/Web show.

As a consequence of all that, I have purchased a lot of support equipment for my two cameras.  A shotgun microphone, an external audio recorder, lav mics, lighting equipment, and more. So over the next month I’ll be posting blogs on the equipment I’ve purchased and how I’m using most of it to shoot stock photography as well as the video projects they were purchased for.

When I need something for a project the very first place I look to see what might be useful and actually work is a web site called CheesyCam.  CheesyCam is dedicated to cheap film making. It occasionally has posts about DIY projects for building useful equipment (Track Dolly, Shoulder Mount, DSLR Cage, etc..).  But they also find a lot of really good deals on cheap equipment (usually directly from Chinese distributors on eBay).  Best of all, most of the reviews posted include accompanied video which demonstrates the equipment being reviewed. I highly recommend the site.

In the meantime, here is a short film I worked on for the 48 Hour Film Festival in Kansas City over the summer.