Where Can I Get Free Video Clips for Podcasting

Where can I get free video clips for podcasting?

"Where can I get free video clips for podcasting?" A few years ago that question wouldn't have made sense - podcasts were audio, bandwidth couldn't support video, and what's with this "free" stuff, anyway? Things change, though, and today the question is relevant to the extreme.

The Rise of the Vidcast

Podcasting revolutionized the delivery of content in much the way that the web did - that is, podcasting made it very easy for people to share their voice (or music or noises) with the rest of the world via the Internet. It was a confluence of several advances in technologies that allowed podcasts to really take off:

  1. High-speed bandwidth became cheap and very commonplace, even through wireless technologies such as 802.11g and 3G cellular networks.
  2. Hard-disk space became cheap and very commonplace, with multi-terabyte storage devices becoming more and more common. Since podcasts were only about 50mb at most, it was easy to store and listen to many of them.
  3. Really Simple Syndication (or RSS for short) became refined and perfected, enabling people to "subscribe" to podcasts instead of having to hunt them down on the web.

While these technological advances were impressive, the real thing that they created was an ease of production. As digital video has also become easier to create (with things like Apple's iPod Nano able to shoot video) and edit (again, Apple has two entry-level programs, iMovie and GarageBand, that make polished video shorts elementary) the other factors that made podcasts popular also apply. That is, people have more ability to download and store the larger files that are associated with video podcasting (or "vidcasting").

50 Million Channels and Nothing On

Vidcasting has the same problem that cable TV, desktop publishing and the Internet has: just because you can create something doesn't mean it's going to be any good. Plus, while it's easier than it used to be to create video content, there is still more technology to be wrangled - things like lighting, sound, camera angles and composition. Then there are the legal aspects - model releases, copyrights, soundtrack, people in the background, title generation… it's not a light undertaking to produce a video podcast.

Yet people do produce the content, add it to RSS feeds, and more than that, they hold to the Internet tradition that a great deal of it should be free. Even better, people have taken many classic films - such as works by Buster Keaton, Charlie Chaplin, or B-movies - and translated them into digital forms that can be downloaded and inserted into your own video production.

This is different than the common occurrence of people simply ripping off video to post to YouTube with no regard for copyright infringement. If you are producing a podcast or vidcast, you have to be aware of copyright and fair use policies - you are becoming part of the media, after all, and the rules apply to you, too.

So Where Can I Get Free Video Clips for Podcasting?

The following sites all feature content that is royalty-free and available for any use (even commercial). The clips vary in quality, from simple MP4 to Hi-Def clips in 720p. Make sure that you know what you're working with before you download - not all video editing software is compatible with all formats.

  • i-Movies has nothing to do with the Mac application of the same name. Instead, it is a blog which features clips from shows (or entire episodes or movies) that have become public domain. These include things like Bonanza and early Alfred Hitchcock films.
  • Public Domain Comedy contains more than just comic shorts, but tends to lean towards early Warner Brothers cartoons, Groucho Marx, and the very amusing government films warning against marijuana use.
  • Public Domain Torrents are a little different than the other sites - rather than linking to the actual video files, it links to a "torrent," which is a peer-to-peer technology that enables file sharing. This is sometimes illegal, but public domain means that these particular torrents are completely legal and free to distribute and use.
  • Creative Commons is a licensing mode that allows creative people to choose the means by which their work is distributed and used - for example, non-commercial only, or attribution. Their site includes a search feature using Blip.tv, a video sharing site that contains many other video podcasts, as well.
Where Can I Get Free Video Clips for Podcasting