Artbeats Clip Collections
Issue: Volume: 27 Issue: 8 (August 2004)

Artbeats Clip Collections

Many situations can require the use of stock film and video footage, and many sources from which to acquire it exist. Few companies, however, offer the wealth, breadth, and quality of selections provided by Artbeats.

Established in 1989, Artbeats quickly made a name for itself by providing affordable, high-quality, royalty-free still images; and in 1996, it added royalty-free video footage to its product line. Soon after, Artbeats released the first high-definition, royalty-free stock collection. Today, with well more than 200 royalty-free stock footage collections from which to choose, including 61 in high definition, Artbeats is a video producer's best friend. Whether you need NTSC or PAL, SD or HD, Artbeats should be on your shortlist of vendors.

Working with Artbeats footage, such as unique Ultra Motion clips (above), proved easy and problem-free.

Artbeats offers royalty-free footage on a wide range of subject matter, from high-definition cityscape aerials to African animals to time-lapsed flowers. Its original source material is shot on 35mm film, 16mm film, or HD-CAM, or is computer-generated; and, its V-Line products contain footage from various sources, including DV, Digi-Beta, and Betacam SP. Each file goes through a preparation process to remove flaws and for color correction. The final clips are delivered on CD or DVD in QuickTime format (NTSC 720x486, PAL 720x576, and HD 1920x1080 pixels at 30 fps), accompanied by a full-color reference sheet with thumbnails, file numbers, and clip duration information.

When bringing the clips into a 720x480 non-linear editor (NLE), you'll need to allow the NLE to scale the clip or you'll have to crop it. If you choose to crop the clip, make sure to do so while maintaining the lower field first. Because most NLEs support QuickTime importation, format shouldn't be a problem. Just in case, every Artbeats collection ships with a converter that will translate the QuickTime file to a Targa sequence; or, you can use QuickTime Pro. The CD sleeves and reference sheets are three-hole punched to make organizing in binders a breeze.

Visitors to Artbeats' Web site are able to browse the Artbeats collections by category, volume name, or keyword search. Using the keyword search field, you also can specify category or format. There's a lot of footage to go through, so be prepared to spend some time on the Web site. Alternatively, after registering for a free account on the Artbeats site, you can request a free demo DVD with which you can browse content off-line.

Importing the clips into your project is straightforward. If you were to run into any challenges or issues, however, help is only a click away. Artbeats offers e-mail technical support via a Web-based support form and provides an online FAQ page, which answers some of the more basic questions.

During the evaluation period, I spent a significant amount of time working with a number of Artbeats collections, including New York City Aerials HD Vol. 1, Seascapes 2 HD, Forest Rays, and Ultra Motion. I experienced no problems importing the clips into Sony Vegas 5, Pinnacle Liquid Edition 5.5, and Adobe Premiere Pro 1.0. Whereas all of the clips reviewed—from slow pans through beautiful forest environments to breathtaking Statue of Liberty aerials—were of the highest quality, Artbeats' Ultra Motion collection was the most impressive.

In its Ultra Motion offering, Artbeats has successfully captured the essence of motion. Using special high-speed cameras, Artbeats was able to capture every nuance of fleeting moments that the human eye would normally miss, such as the flapping wings of a hummingbird, water droplets landing on flower petals, glass shattering, milk spilling, and the like.

With the wide array of topics covered by the Artbeats royalty-free stock library, you're sure to find something for just about any video project. The variety combined with high quality and reasonable pricing makes Artbeats an attractive option. In fact, Artbeats is so confident in the quality of its product that the company offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on royalty-free stock collections (not individual clip sales). That confidence is well placed. Each clip that I used was absolutely stunning in its beauty and quality. Anyone in need of high-quality, affordable, and unique royalty-free stock footage should strongly consider Artbeats.

David Singer (singercreativeservices@ is a founding partner of Singer Creative Services offering photographic, video, and other services.

Price: From $149 to $199 for standard-definition clips, and from $299 to $899 for other collections
Minimum System Requirements: CD-ROM or DVD-ROM drives