VFX Vlog 3 - Free Stock Footage Resources, Best Software for VFX

In the 3rd VFX Vlog I answer more common questions for all of you. We will discuss which software I use for all my film making and visual effect projects, where you can find great free stock footage resources and how you can use them inside of Adobe After Effects.

VFX Vlog #3 - What software do you use? Best Free Stock Footage Resources & How To Use Them

What software do you use for film making and visual effects?

I have always been a big fan of the Adobe product suite, which is now available with the Adobe Creative Cloud subscription based model. You can get trial versions of all products available from the official Adobe website .

I am on a monthly subscription for around $50 and get access to all of Adobe's products, all new versions and all updates.

Actively, I of course mainly use Adobe Premiere for all my video editing needs and Adobe After Effects for all my visual effects.
On top of that I use Adobe Photoshop and make occasional use of Adobe Audition to clean up some elements of my audio or Adobe Speedgrade for colour correction and colour grading.
Since more and more great colour correction and colour grading plug-ins are becoming available directly inside Adobe Premiere, like the fantastic Magic Bullet suite , I have stopped using Speedgrade much though.
Finally, as an avid photographer, I love using Adobe Photoshop Lightroom for all my photo editing and organisational needs.

Of course, you have to decide for yourself which software works best for your needs and your workflow. I myself am very happy with the Adobe Creative Cloud, even though there are still features I feel are missing from some of their core products - but I might do a post about that some other time.

Where can I find free stock footage for my own VFX?

All (or most) of the stock footage elements I use for explosions, fire, smoke and debris are from the Action Essentials 2 by Videocopilot . Now this pack isn't free, but for $99 for the 720p version you are getting a massive amount of amazing, pre-keyed stock footage elements. Since I've bought this pack I haven't really used anything else.

Now for all of you who are looking for free stock footage!

Go check out FootageCrate.com for a good collection of explosions, muzzle flashes, smoke and other elements. They offer paid packages, but you can get a whole lot of pre-keyed free stock footage from their website. Their site is well organised and easy to navigate.
Another good resource is Detonationfilms.com . Now their website is a bit chaotic and there are paid elements mixed in with free stock footage, but if you don't mind a bit of clicking around you can find some great stuff there! Note that most of their elements are not pre-keyed so you have to remove the lack box around the elements yourself in After Effects.
For sound effects, I still mainly use Freesound.org . They have a humongous catalogue of free sound effects, all uploaded by users. The best feature is that you can filter the sound effects by license so you can (and should) locate all files that are under the Creative Commons 0 license which requires no attribution whatsoever! Most of the sound effects I use in my videos come from this site.

I cannot import my files into Adobe After Effects! Help!

A lot of people are having issues importing .MOV files into After Effects. They usually get an error that says "The file is corrupted or not supported". While it is possible that the file got damaged during download, it is much more likely that you are simply missing the QuickTime video codec .

MOV is a QuickTime video format and if you are missing the video codec for it, your computer (and After Effects) will not recognise the file. Try playing the file outside of After Effects in your video player. Does it play? If not, go and install QuickTime and then try again. Once you can play back the file, try to import it into After Effects.

How to remove the black box around your free stock footage

Sometimes when you download free stock footage for explosions, muzzle flashes or smoke, they still have a big black box around them. This is likely going to happen with most free samples you can get from detonationfilms.com.

In order to remove the black box around the effect, simply apply a Color Key effect to the layer and pick the black colour as the Key Color. You can then increase the Color Tolerance and play with the Edge Feather to trim out the ugly black box around your stock footage element. It's that simple!

Leave your questions!

Please leave any other film making or VFX related questions in the comment section. While any tutorial requests will go on my (very long) request list, any common problems or tips & tricks will be answered in the next VFX vlog!


User avatar
6 Years Ago
November 4, 2013 @ 3:52 pm
you should make stuff like action essentials 2 and i mean you make it
User avatar
6 Years Ago
November 5, 2013 @ 2:42 am
I've been thinking of offering a few products potentially on my website. I doubt I'd make another Action Essentials though - there's no point as it already exists and I don't have the resources to make one at the price videocopilot is offering theirs.
User avatar
Johnny Moscow
6 Years Ago
December 14, 2013 @ 8:44 am
Know of any good resources for FREE stock footage of crowds, people, stuff to make digital set extensions/mattes?
User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Johnny Moscow
6 Years Ago
December 14, 2013 @ 0:26 pm
Usually those types of shots require very specific pieces of footage (or 3D assets custom built to extend your set) and you probably won't find too many free resources online that will just 'fit'. I recommend giving Google a whirl anyways and see what you can find.
User avatar
6 Years Ago
February 17, 2014 @ 4:30 am
hi sir I have watched your many tutorials and understood them but except one of them !!!! ( HOW TO MORPH/WARP AN OBJECT? ) it is easy to reshape them but how did you touch them at once like before,at the starting of the video you changed the cricket ball to football,football to a doll and a doll to a remote,the Only one thing i didn't understand that how can we touch them at once Plz sir answer me I really need your help for this !!!!!!
User avatar
6 Years Ago
February 18, 2014 @ 8:12 am
You just need to be smart about how you film your footage. I would simply stop moving mid-sentence and Celina would replace the object in my hand. I'd then continue talking and moving as if nothing happened with a new object in my hand. I then used the warp effect I show in this tutorial to do the transition.
User avatar
Mark Botha
5 Years Ago
July 26, 2015 @ 7:18 pm
Hey thanks for your great channel. Just wondering where can youget good music for videos...thanks.
User avatar
Surfaced Studio@ Mark Botha
5 Years Ago
August 2, 2015 @ 10:47 am
In this video I talk about where to get the best music and audio for your short films:

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