Almost every creator will have experienced the same issue when finishing off a project. It looks good, but it’s missing that small element that would have otherwise made it look a whole lot better, whether it’s a graphical text element or a sound effect to help your shot out. But what if you’re on a zero budget and you can’t pay for assets? Well, no need to panic. This guide will show you exactly where to go to get all the free assets you need to make your content look professional so it can stand out on whichever platform you use to share it.
The sounds of production value
One of the most important aspects of making a scene work is good sound design. Sound effects help make your shots more realistic in the edit. Having a good library of sound elements is a must for any content creator.
BBC Sound Effects
Recently, the BBC changed the game for low budget creators. The British public broadcaster has uploaded a huge library of 16,000 sound effects available free to download in WAV format. These sound effects cover an incredibly wide range of categories. You can find just about anything from mechanical sounds to nature sounds and more. There are even files as specific as ‘Two-stroke petrol engine driving small elevator,’ which is about as specific as it can get! The BBC has made a very easy-to-use website that allows you to browse all of the available categories or custom search the specific sounds you are looking for.
Another great website for sound effects comes in the form of the appropriately named FreeSound. Again, with a large library of sounds ready to download, this website provides creators on a budget some great sound options for their projects. To download the files from this site, you simply need to create a free account. The website is very detailed to the point that it gives you a description of the type of microphone used to record the sound effects as well as the geographical specifics behind the effects. For example, you can check the distance the microphone was from the sound being recorded.
Music to your ears
Whether you’re making a promotional video, a drama based piece or a documentary short, music plays a large part in keeping audiences engaged. Music is a very particular and specific aspect of any content being produced as not every track will work with your piece, which makes it slightly more difficult to find if you’re on a budget. Therefore having a diverse source for free music is a must!
One site that offers many different options for content creators is Premium Beat by Shutterstock. They have a wide range of soundtrack options available for free, simply click on the ‘Discover Free Music’ button on their music page and you’ll be on your way to finding the right music for your project.
They also have a very detailed and easy to use interface that lets you specifically search for the type of music you want. Meaning you can search anything from Holiday songs to News styled musical pieces. The free songs available are also royalty free, which means you won’t have to worry about annoying copyright strikes on certain online platforms!
Free Music Archive
But if Premium Beat doesn’t have what you’re looking for, then you can jump over to Free Music Archive, a website curated by WFMU, an independent freeform radio station broadcasting from New Jersey and New York City and even in the Hudson Valley. Free Music Archive offers an incredibly wide range of music options for your content, with public domain & creative commons licensing. They offer more than 1,500 public domain songs that have been licensed under commercial use, along with thousands more songs under creative commons, which gives content creators the ability to find the perfect song or their projects.
Most content creators these days will need to use images as either a way to put their point across or as an example of what they are referring to during their video. There are many stock image sites online that can provide great images for any type of content, however many of these charge quite a hefty price for images, which doesn’t suit most lower budget creators.
Luckily, websites like Pexels are here to help! Pexels is a free stock photo site that has new high-resolution photos added every day all curated to help millions of creators around the world. All photos are from photographers that have agreed to have their work licensed to Pexels, therefore guaranteeing that all sources from this site are verified and won’t cause any copyright issues for your content.
Another great site with stock photo resources is Unsplash. Again, with contributions from a huge community of generous photographers, Unsplash has millions of free high definition photos that can be used for any type of content that you might be creating. The licensing for these photos allows you to use and modify them as you wish with an irrevocable, nonexclusive worldwide copyright license. This means that if you’re on a budget, this is the perfect site for you!
The shots you can’t get
Sometimes when creating a video project on a specific topic, you might want to use video footage to further drive a point or to emphasize the story being told in your project. However, you don’t have the budget or location capabilities to shoot the kind of shot that you want. So what’s the answer? Well just like stock photos, you can use stock videos.
Once again we find ourselves over at Pexels! Just like with their stock photos, Pexels has a wide range of curated stock videos that you can use for your creative needs. All contributions to the website are free to use and have the same licensing as photos. So whatever your project is about, you’ll never be worried about missing shots taking your production value down thanks to their categorized search-based system.
Stock Footage 4 Free
Another great website for free stock video downloads is the very appropriately named, Stock Footage 4 Free. And yes, that’s the actual name. Stock Footage 4 Free has 100% free stock footage videos. You are free to download and use the clips on any online platform for any type of project, personal or commercial. With a library full of footage covering a wide range of categories, you’ll have your project looking professional and with high production value in no time!
Graphics grab attention
When creating content for online platforms, it helps to stand out with some high quality and professional-looking graphics or titles. A good lower third title or animated graphic can really help make your project look as professional as possible to your audience. However, graphic design and animation might not be a skill set you have, and hiring a designer and animator to do work for you might not be an option. So you’re left with free templates or sources for such elements.
One site that offers a great selection of free animated lower third title templates is Rocketstock. With ready to use Adobe Premiere Pro projects available, you are spoilt for choice when it comes to titles. You can customize and adapt them to fit the style of your project and really get your viewers interested in your content!
Another great option from the site is the selection titles and graphics templates for After Effects. They have free Poly titles that you can also customize and change up to fit your project! The best part is, you don’t even need an account; just click the download button and you are good to go!
Although really good titles will make your content stand out, adding additional effects to your edit such as animated shapes and motion graphics can really set you apart from the competition. It will add an extra “wow factor” to your video. A great source for free motion graphics is a site we mentioned earlier: Premium Beat. With the many options for different assets, it comes as no surprise that Premium Beat is one of the top choices for content creators and filmmakers working without a budget. On their website, you can find animated graphics such as shapes, icons and textured motion graphics. These assets come in the form of pre-keyed .mov files with alpha channels, meaning they can be used on various different editing or compositing programs.
As with Rocketstock, no account is needed to download these assets; just click the button and you’re on your way to smooth and professional-looking graphics in your video!
Upgrade you next project for free
So when it comes to creating your next project — whether it’s a short film or a social media video — don’t let a lack of budget scare you from trying to produce your vision. The resources and sites mentioned in this article give any creator more than enough options to make their project stand out in the large world of online content.
Therefore when you start writing your next project, think about what you would like to have in it, be it sound effects or a score that fits the scene. Then, head on over to these sites and start collecting your professional assets!