A few well-placed snippets of high quality footage can really bring projects to life – whether they're presentations, websites or your own home-made videos.
Finding the right video clips can be tricky, though. Many stock video sites charge a subscription fee for their best content. Thankfully, there are also places where you can download high quality video clips completely free of charge for both personal and commercial use, with no royalties or strings attached.
We've put the best free stock photo sites under the microscope and picked those that offer the best combination of video quality, variety of clips, and flexible licensing.
It's worth bearing in mind that even if a video clip is in the public domain, you shouldn't use it to create that shows identifiable people in a bad light.
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There are some truly spectacular videos available on Pexels – all under a Creative Commons 0 (ie public domain) license, which means you’re free to use them for personal or commercial projects without attribution.
The time-lapse videos are particularly lovely, and there are plenty of fun clips from GoPro-wearing divers and climbers. Pexels also include a handy ‘mockup’ category for footage of mobile devices with green screens that can be easily replaced via chroma keying.
Search results include premium videos from Shutterstock, but unlike most stock video sites, Pexels displays these at the bottom so you’re unlikely to mistake them for free clips.
Videos are provided in MP4 format in HD. The only drawback is the lack of clips in 4K, but if Full HD is enough for your project, Pexels should be your first stop.
If you need stock photos, Pexels also offers a great selection of stylish premium-quality stills under the same license.
Stock Footage for Free feels like the video equivalent of free stock photo site Unsplash, focusing on quality rather than quantity. The footage is extremely impressive; we particularly like the selection of landscapes and looping backgrounds.
You’re given a detailed description of the video so you can be sure it’s the right one before downloading it. This is a sensible decision; downloads can take a while because of the large file sizes. The site’s HD videos are provided in MOV format, but there aren’t currently any 4K clips available.
Video clips are free for personal and commercial use, unless it’s a seriously high-budget production. Stock Footage for Free provides a detailed license agreement that makes explicit all the intellectual property information you’re likely to need.
Before you can download files you’ll need to sign up for a free account or log in using Facebook. At the time of writing, an error meant that we were unable to log in using an email address, though the Facebook option worked fine. We’ve reached out to the company to find out if this is an issue that can be resolved.
The videos are all submitted by Pixabay’s community of users, and are generally under a minute in length. The site is a good option for abstract images like clouds, as well as somewhat niche clips (the video of a man preparing pieces of beef is a particularly odd example).
There’s a small selection of 4K video too, motion graphics, and some infinitely looping clips that are handy for websites.
All clips are provided free for personal or commercial use, with no attribution necessary. The files are provided in MP4 format, in a choice of resolutions.
Clipstill is dedicated to cinemagraphs – still photos containing a small repeated animation that plays on a loop. The effect is hypnotic, and a great way to grab viewers' attention. There's only a small selection of cinemagraphs available free (most of the videos on the site are premium content), but they're high quality and change each month, so it's well worth keeping Clipstill bookmarked.
Clipstill's cinemagraphs are available to download as small video files, and are particularly well suited to web design.
It's not essential to provide credit when using Clipstill's videos, but a link back is appreciated. You're free to use cinemagraphs in your own projects unless you're making a commercial product in which it's the main attraction, such as a greetings card or website template (see the licensing page for full details)
Footage from Videezy is royalty free for personal and commercial use, but users are asked to credit ‘Videezy.com’ in their projects.
Most videos are provided in HD resolution, but there’s also a good selection of 4K clips – mostly landscape scenes and abstract clips rendered using Adobe After Effects.
The quality is mixed, but generally high. We particularly like the selection of aerial drone footage
All videos are supplied in MP4 format, and you can see the resolution below the preview on the download page.
Keep an eye out for search results marked with a green 'Pro' tag; these are premium clips only available using paid-for credits. The first two rows of search results are also sponsored videos from Shutterstock, which also require a paid membership to download.
Videvo offers thousands of videos contributed by its community of users. Quality is variable (a few clips have clearly been shot without a tripod) but they’re generally good, and there’s a huge selection to choose from so it’s highly likely you’ll find something suitable – even if it takes a little while.
If you'd like to contribute your own videos for others to download, you can do so after signing up for a free account.
Videos on Videvo fall under one of three licenses, so be sure to check which one applies to your chosen clip before you start working:
Videvo Standard License, which lets you use the clips in your own work without attribution, provided you don’t redistribute the footage.
Videvo Attribution License, which is the same as the Standard License, but requires you to credit the clip’s creator.
Creative Commons 3.0 Unported, which lets you share and adapt the clip, but requires you to credit the creator and indicate if you’ve made any changes.
Clips marked ‘Editorial use only’ can’t be used commercially, but those labelled ‘All projects and media’ can.
As with many free stock video sites, the top row of search results are actually premium samples from an advertiser (in this case Shutterstock). Scroll past these for Videovo’s own clips.
Some clips are provided as MP4 files, while others are delivered in QuickTime format. There’s a small selection of 4K clips, but half of these are Christmas-themed motion graphics. If you’re specifically looking for 4K video, you’re better off looking at one of the sites listed above.
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