Tag Archives: things i want to know what their deal is

What’s the deal with online stock videos?

Let’s just cut right to the chase: watch this.

What you just watched was a stock video. The title of the video is “An old man with hypnotic glasses witnessing the destruction of a world, hiding his face. Close-up shot, red background.” Yes, the last bits are part of the title too, not the description.

The video is eight seconds long. The aspect ratio is 16:9. And you can buy it for £14 in a “426 X 240 @ 25 fps MOV” format.

It is also inexplicable.

Now, we all know that stock imagery is a world of madness. Pop over to /r/wtfstockphotos for an idea. “Blank-faced man deflates and loses his spine”, “Woman licking a cactus”, and “Green alien traveler in white desert lunar landscape reading electronic map on future technology flexible display tablet” are just some of the current highlights. So, WHAT IS THE DEAL?

The business model of stock imagery is fascinating to me. You just take hundreds and hundreds of photos of absolutely anything, in the hope that one day some of them will be useful to someone. You can then make some money from that use.

For instance, “An old man with hypnotic glasses witnessing the destruction of a world, hiding his face. Close-up shot, red background.” appears to be part of a video series of similar clips. These include:

  • An old man with hypnotic glasses, pre-keyed with pure green, looking at the viewer. Close-up shot, red background.
  • An old man with hypnotic glasses, with analogue old CRT TV test card with color bars, full of noise, static, grain, scanlines. He hides his face. Close-up shot, red background.
  • An old man with hypnotic glasses, looking like he’s got bigger funny eyes, hiding his face. Close-up shot, red background.
  • An old man with hypnotic glasses, looking at the viewer. Heavily distorted stylized eyes move into his eyeglasses. Red background.

There’s no indication that the ‘model’ in the clips is also the person who made them. But that is what I choose to believe. And fair play to him, he’s providing a public service. For, as the old saying goes, it’s better to have an eight second clip of an old man with hypnotic glasses, with analogue old CRT TV test card with color bars, full of noise, static, grain, scanlines and not need an eight second clip of an old man with hypnotic glasses, with analogue old CRT TV test card with color bars, full of noise, static, grain, scanlines, than need an eight second clip of an old man with hypnotic glasses, with analogue old CRT TV test card with color bars, full of noise, static, grain, scanlines and not have an eight second clip of an old man with hypnotic glasses, with analogue old CRT TV test card with color bars, full of noise, static, grain, scanlines. 

And there’s the whole SEO thing. The reason the title is so full of words is that it makes it more likely to come up in search results.

But I just don’t think anyone will ever want to use any of these videos. They’re just not very good. And if you really were desperate enough to want one, you’d probably be able to make one yourself for less than they’re asking.

So, what’s the deal with online stock videos? They’re weird, bad, and basically entirely stupid and useless.