Shutterstock Select is the perfect way to discover high-quality, royalty-free premium footage. Go behind the scenes with our Director of Creative Video Kyle Trotter, and unearth what went into the creation of Shutterstock Select.

Shutterstock Select brings premium footage to the Shutterstock royalty-free footage library — all shot by experts using top-quality equipment. This premium footage features locations around the world, filmed by industry leaders utilizing the top technical standards in film. Back in 2006, Shutterstock was the first company of its kind to offer royalty-free footage. Since then, demand for video has grown exponentially. Today, there’s an increasing need for high-quality premium footage.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — High-End Footage

Image by Jacob Lund.

On Shutterstock Select, each video was created by industry professionals, expertly curated by our staff. One of those curators is our Director of Creative Video Content, Kyle Trotter. We sat down with Kyle to learn a bit about what customers can expect on Shutterstock Select, the top-of-the-line equipment required to create this premium footage, and how contributors can develop their skills to start shooting footage like this new collection of Shutterstock Select footage filmed in Italy.

Here is a behind-the-scenes look into the making of Shutterstock Select.

And here are a few additional words on the making of Shutterstock Select with our Director of Creative Video Content, Kyle Trotter.


Tell us a bit about yourself, Kyle, and your role here at Shutterstock.

I started my career in film as a Production Assistant, just like anybody who starts out in this industry. I went to film school, started making some things myself, and built a commercial spec reel. Most of my experience came from working on some internal productions, commercials, and then later in broadcast news. After that, I started building my own brand and content series, where we produced a micro-series about craft cocktails.

The idea of stock became really interesting to me. There was a problem to solve about how you can make stock footage work across multiple verticals and use cases. They have to be generic, but also specific. Stock essentially means everything, not just one thing. I learned how to apply that knowledge from my technical background in film and that medium. I built that into my role here, with a goal of how to make the quality of stock footage rise. That’s what intrigued me, and that’s what I’m working on executing with the team and talented filmmakers on Select.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Video Production

Image by guruXOX.

How has video production in stock footage changed since you started?

There is a misconception that stock footage can be lower quality and that it isn’t executed by professionals. But that’s not the case. We receive professionally produced content from contributors daily. Our Select collection is a great opportunity to feature that exceptional content.

All stock is a digital marketplace for people to find the content they need.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Defining Good Stock Footage

Image by Avigator Fortuner 887.

In your professional opinion, what defines good stock footage?

It’s somewhat subjective, but there are standards you can associate with stock footage. When you’re searching for commercially viable content, you are looking for good resolution, color space, composition, camera movement, and camera dynamics. All of that works together to help tell stories that are authentic and create meaningful connections with audiences.

What goes into creating high-quality premium footage for Shutterstock Select?

With premium footage, you want that quality level to be there, therefore there’s a lot of steps to get to that quality level. Things like sourcing the right camera, which may mean renting the right gear to maximize the best visual aesthetic you can create. You need to understand the scene, so sourcing the right location in relevant cities. Finding actors in those places who understand what stock is, and how to create for stock. And then finally, on Shutterstock some contributors work in teams, so it’s finding the right team that’s able to move at the speed you need.

What contributors can we find on Shutterstock Select?

The contributors on Select are contributors that we have known and worked with for a while. We’ve seen their work evolve on Shutterstock, and we know that they are using the right equipment. That they are working at the technical level that we require for Shutterstock Select.

There is a certain level of commitment to producing premium stock footage that we see with these contributors. Producing high-quality stock footage is their full-time jobs, and you see that passion in the work they create.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Inciting Creative Passion

Image by Gaudilab.

The contributors currently on Shutterstock Select are creators who spend time, effort, and creative energy daily to creating good content for stock. They meet both our technical as well as our aesthetic specifications.

What are the technical specifications for contributing to Shutterstock Select?

While there are no black and white specifications, on an essential level, it’s a RED camera. That being said, there are other options out there. A highly technical camera, combined with prime lenses. For lenses, you’re looking at Cooke, Zeiss, Sigma, and so on.

What are the differences between Shutterstock and Shutterstock Select footage?

With Shutterstock Select, the use of cameras like the RED as well as executing at the level we require. We’ve curated the best of the best on Select. On Shutterstock Select, we’ve guaranteed that it’s shot at a technical level and exceeding that level. On Select, you can find experts in the motion-footage fields that are dedicated to improving their content constantly. Then, the team at Shutterstock goes over the content and curates it to ensure it’s the best stuff available.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Diverse Use Cases

Image by Dmitry Pustovalov.

How do you see customers using the premium footage on Select?

The use cases are wide, so everyone should be using this footage. The first converters will be the people that previously may have thought that stock didn’t provide the technical level of quality they needed. Now, when they hit that button to Select, everything they see is of the same commercial value that they are used to going out, producing, and costing a fortune.

Those customers can now depend on stock, and know that when they come here they can find premium footage that is of the same caliber as using a high-production company.

From that standpoint, you trickle down from anyone who may want to use stock, because although it may be at a higher price point, the collection is still very affordable and far cheaper than anything you’d produce yourself.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Building an Affordable Library

Image by Evgeny Atamanenko.

How does Shutterstock maintain a high level of quality for assets on Select? Can anyone apply?

At this time, Shutterstock Select is invite only, allowing us to prioritize quality over quantity for this footage collection. We will continue to tap people on our main network who we think are great and meet those standards we’ve set for Shutterstock Select. Not only that, but we’re going to keep pushing the bar up. While the status may be 4K right now, it might be 6K soon, and it might need to be shot on something new in a number of years as camera equipment advances.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Pushing the Bar Higher

Image by WAYHOME studio.

What type of content excites you the most on Shutterstock Select? 

I’m excited to showcase the collection of aerials. They are excellent. The aerial footage is shot on some of the best equipment available. I’m looking forward to showing how contributors on our network have created and shot the content. Instead of just shooting single clips, a lot of the content that contributors are showcasing on Shutterstock Select is shot with themes in mind. With these shots you can purchase more than one piece of stock footage, and build a complete story out of it.

That’s a key paradigm shift. That content is available in this level of quality, and then use cases will expand from there. Right now in the marketplace, it may be hard to tell the story of a guy having breakfast with his kids and then going to work because you can’t find the same models, or the necessary shots covered to tell that story.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Telling Stories

Image by Jacob Lund.

As contributors on Shutterstock Select start to produce whole scenes, at this level of premium quality, people will be able to use this content to tell narratives. It expands the use cases for premium footage to tell an infinite number of stories.

So the clips on Select are able to tell more stories?

Yes, telling stories through stock has been a problem, but now it’s an opportunity. The trick is, how do you make something universal so that a clip can be used in isolation, and that can be placed like lego to tell a greater narrative?

Part of the solution is making premium footage with consistency and technical specifications so that when you cut it, it has visual consistency. It’s finding a balance of telling different stories within that. That’s going to be an evolving challenge that I think the contributors on Shutterstock Select are looking forward to tackling.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Directing Growth

Image by Monkey Business.

How do you see Shutterstock Select growing in the future?

We plan to expand with more contributors who participate in our marketplace. There are so many talented filmmakers out there, you see them creating impactful short stories all the time. You just don’t see them thinking about stock as a place that they should be involved in. As potential contributors come across Shutterstock Select, I hope people will see the type of content that exists and the level of passion that’s behind it. We hope that will free other creators’ trepidation about becoming a contributor.

Do you have any tips for filmmakers who currently contribute to Shutterstock on how they can start producing premium footage to be considered for Shutterstock Select?

As with anything, it rolls down to just doing it. Look at other filmmakers on Select, and evolve that knowledge into your own style and skill. Even if you can’t shoot on a RED, you can still make fantastic compositions on other cameras, or even your cell phone! You can still have a good composition, good acting, and the ability to capture the right angles. Practice on other equipment until you’re able to play around with bigger tools.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Growing Skills

Image by WAYHOME studio.

As many skills as you can develop will simply transfer over once you have the technical gear to really make yourself stand out.

Any last thoughts on Shutterstock Select?

Our goal is to switch the paradigm of how people use stock footage. The best way to use stock is to at a script on something you’re trying to create and say “What can I shoot with stock right from the get-go?” That question will free up extra time and budget for producers and directors around the world. From a production standpoint, those people can take the rest of their budget and use it to spend more time with actors on tougher scenes.

While the idea of flying a helicopter around Los Angeles may be fun, it’s more essential to tell a good story by spending an extra day working with actors that you can’t replace with stock. We’re empowering storytellers by freeing up the demands and costs of production by having these clips available.

Making Shutterstock Select: Premium Footage Shot by Industry Pros — Empowering Storylines

Image by santypan.

Special thanks to our Director of Creative Video, Kyle Trotter, for telling us a little bit more about Shutterstock Select, our new premium footage offering. The quality of videos on Shutterstock Select are the best we’ve ever offered, with the same straightforward licensing as the rest of our footage.

We’ve launched with a highly curated set of videos and contributors filmed around the world. Check out the newest collection on Shutterstock Select featuring footage filmed in Italy.

If you’re a talented filmmaker looking to grow your skill set and become a Shutterstock Select contributor, check out this interview with cinematographer Bevan Goldswain. As a Shutterstock Select artist, Aila Images’ Bevan inspires our team through his collections of model-released stock footage, as well as his ability to capture subjects so powerfully.

Discover the unique quality of Shutterstock Select for yourself today.

Featured image by LALS Stock.


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