March 25, 2011 by   | 19,485 views | Comments (41)

As a motion designer it’s always good to have a large assortment of stock footage in the toolbox. Video Blocks is a resource that could conveniently help you out of a tight spot or deliver your design message with some extra impact.  As the sister site of FootageFirm, which offers stock footage for purchase on DVD (Check out our review  here)  Video Blocks has a subscription download model, offering over 30,000 clips across various categories.

Although some categories were limited, (surely to grow with additions in time) I found that there was generally quite a reasonable selection. Main search categories include US Cities and Locations, International Locations, Nature and Animals, Timelapse, Ariel, Slow Motion, Speciality and Looping backgrounds.

The Timelapse category has loads of useful clips including a range of clouds that we use regularly in our work at Foxtel On Demand. I did notice that some of the cloud footage was posterized, possibly to disguise upsizing to HD.

In the looping background category there were plenty of pieces to choose from although personally I found many to be too complex and fast paced to use. Ideally I would like to have the option to layer a couple of clips to create my own complexity within a project.  Some loops I tested were seamless whilst others such as ones with a sky or simple 3d models were a dissolve transition.  I probably wouldn’t use many of the the backgrounds with 3D models as I found them to be very basic and unrealistic.

There are are good range of looping light effects which always come in handy either by themselves as quicky backgrounds for text or combined with other layers.

A few pieces that I came across were probably a little short (around 5 seconds duration) which could be a problem depending on your project timing, and some of the graphical backgrounds appear to have been created using Adobe After Effects and not always in the best way, note the black border around the shot below where the background appears to have been blurred without the “Repeat Edge Pixels” setting activated. Check out this tip for more on blurring and Repeat Edge Pixels.

In the Slow Motion category there was a limited selection of fire, water, smashing, splatting and exploding type footage. As this is the kind of footage I tend to use most often in my projects I hope the selection grows because at the moment it could be a tad limited for choice.

Overall, for the convenience to download whatever you want, whenever you want and for $49/month, Video Blocks is a good design resource that with some additions over time could prove to be quite valuable. The 7 day free trial at least is a no-brainer, allowing you to download 20 clips a day for 7 days, so you can try before you subscribe.

We asked to Footage Firm to clarify how VideoBlocks.com and FootageFirm.com differed. Joel Holland sent the following reply:

Basically  VideoBlocks.com is the answer to our customers who requested the ability to download content instead of having it shipped on DVD.    VideoBlocks.com is wholly owned by Footage Firm, but the two sites continue to exist  simultaneously with two distinctively different models: Footage Firm offers topical content by the collection, and still ships all orders on hard stock because of the sheer size (each of our give away collections typically contains 10 DVDs and about 40 gigs of content). While  VideoBlocks.com doesn’t yet offer everything in the Footage Firm archive, we do have over 30,000 clips of footage, backgrounds and effects, and are adding almost 1,000 more per week. For $49, Video Blocks users can download as much as they like.

One of the reasons that Footage Firm and Video Blocks content will never be exactly the same is because we work with a variety of third party contributors with Footage Firm, but all of the content on Video Blocks is wholly owned by us (or licensed in perpetuity). That is why  VideoBlocks.com is able to allow for unlimited downloading: because we own all of the content, compared to the majority of our  competitors  who rely on contributors.
Also worth noting is the fact that we just completed the purchase of a 1,400 track production music library that we will be adding to  VideoBlocks.com in upcoming weeks, along with 6,000 sound effects. This will further broaden the offerings, while making the low monthly price even more appealing.”

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