Stocking up

Also in 2014 Getty Images entered into a deal to support Tropfest NZ as the official photography, video and production music partner. The deal saw Getty supply free images, clips and music to filmmakers entering the competition as well as providing prizes.

This year’s Tropfest winner, Hannah Taylor’s Back o’ the Bus, took full advantage of that opportunity.

Announcing the initiative Getty’s Arran Birchenough noted the Sarah Cordery’s doco notes to eternity (then recently-premiered at the NZIFF) had also used stock footage. Like fellow NZIFF 2014 title Orphans & Kingdoms, notes to eternity is now returning to cinemas, opening on 12 May.

A couple of years on from the Tropfest deal, Getty has seen substantial growth in stock video consumption, particularly in New Zealand.

Worldwide, Getty has approximately 4 million video clips, with another 45,000 added every month. The company’s video revenue in NZ grew by 60% in 2015 – and that after more than 100% growth the previous year.

The number of NZ customers buying video grew almost 40% in 2015. So far this year, it’s up 35% year on year in the first quarter.

All of this is good news for Getty, but also for local content creators and rights holders. There’s an opportunity to generate additional returns from existing material as well as from work specifically to create stock content.

The increase in use is partly driven by improvements in tech, especially online, over the last decade. Metadata is a big deal, and makes for better search capability (or, if you’re a provider, better discoverability).

Searching for exactly the right thing online doesn’t get any easier with the exponential growth in the amounts of everything on the internet. User expectations have also grown: if people don’t find what they’re looking for quickly they move on, either by searching in a different way or – even worse as far as suppliers such as Getty and its suppliers are concerned – by searching somewhere else.

Getty’s collection extends to over 20 million stills and four million video clips, so putting appropriate metadata, or tags, on that content is as important as the content itself. Without it, it’ll sit in a digital drawer gathering dust. Not surprisingly, metadata has become big business – one of the many jobs online that large-scale content creators outsource to Asian suppliers.

Another way in which tech is growing Getty’s video business is the development of easier-to-use and cheaper digital cameras, for still and video work.

Solo operators can now afford to produce material of broadcast standards, something that’s been a great leveller. Getty no longer needs to rely on broadcasters and major production companies to create stock clips.

As Hannagan notes, new technology and new users push the boundaries. Tony Forster notes in A Doco and a DSLR, smaller cameras can do things and go places others can’t. And that’s even before contemplating things like UAVs and wearable cameras like GoPros shooting 4K.

All of those advances mean more content can be created more easily. While Getty sets high technical standards for its collection to make its content as usable as possible, it’s not searching to fill specific niches, certainly in NZ. Getty simply doesn’t have enough NZ content, which is good news for content owners and creators.

“We’re trying to be all things to all people. We want to make the world turn a little easier when it comes to finding imagery and clips.”