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Chromakey Stock Footage from Ribbit Films

New York company offers keyable stock footage for download By Charlie White

As high definition production continues to gain in popularity, stock footage providers have also begun to offer more of a selection of HD clips. Until now, though, theres been a shortage of blue screen, green screen and keyable stock footage. The selection is growing at Ribbit Films, which is offering a variety of stock footage for download. We took a look at the selection of HD shots, and noticed that not only are they reasonably priced, they are of high quality as well.

While not long ago stock footage in high-definition was a rarity, now, companies such as Getty Images, RoyaltyFreeHD, Footage Bank, and Film Disk are offering a variety of shots in high definition. But there was a niche that has so far gone nearly unfilled until New York-based Ribbit Films decided to begin distributing composite ready-footage for broadcast design and visual effects around 18 months ago. The company has attracted considerable interest with its new composite-ready shots, with big-name clients including Microsoft, DirecTV and IBM using clips. Ribbit Films, whose only competitor thus far is, is offering the new footage on its Web site, consisting of a selection of hundreds of sports clips, dozens of business clips, and so far some lifestyle clips as well. Theyre priced at $299/clip, with 5 clips costing $1299 and 10 for $1999.

Ribbit Films shoots all of its footage using a Panasonic VariCam at 720/60p, a format which may disappoint some producers who insist on 24p native footage. Thats of little importance so far, though, because according to company president Navarre Joseph, all of the requests have been from broadcasters who are completely satisfied with the companys chosen 720/60p format. The company includes mattes for each one of its blue- and green-screen shots, with its background channels Alpha-embedded. Users can either download the footage from Ribbits Web site or receive it on a DVD.  

Looking at the footage on the Web site, the emphasis so far is on sports clips, of which there are a multitude. Nearly any sport you can imagine, including soccer, football, baseball, golf, boxing and many others are depicted in high quality action shots, many of which are in slow motion. The athletes, models and actors depicted in various races in both genders, are quite convincing, and are dressed in generic uniforms where appropriate.

The business category contains a variety of useful shots for those who are doing presentations, including setups such as handshakes, people passing paperwork to each other and business people commuting to work. I did notice that two of the four scenes of people using cell phones were a bit dated, though, where the actors could be seen pulling out antennas before speaking on the phones. An interesting idea included in this section are shots of models holding a generic product, which would be of limited usefulness unless you have a product thats exactly the same size as that which the model is holding. The lifestyle section contains the fewest clips, including couples hugging, dancing, and waving. There were also some good shots of models that could be used for display purposes.

The technical quality of the footage is pristine. The clips are easily keyable using a variety of NLE software that supports Alpha channels such as Adobe Premiere Pro, Vegas 6, Avid Xpress Pro and Final Cut Pro and many more. The fact that all the backgrounds are Alpha embedded is a great way to save yourself a lot of work?all of the tweaking and keying has already been done for you; just use the included alpha channel to cut the hole, and the key is done. We downloaded a couple of the clips, which are delivered as a sequence of Targa (tga) files, along with their mattes. Placing them on an Adobe Premiere Pro timeline, the clips keyed easily and instantly, and were of very high quality (see graphic below) .

Some customers might be annoyed by the fact that the Ribbit Films Web site is not yet capable of electronic commerce. The company requires payment up front, and will only accept Paypal or cashiers checks. The explanation on the Web site is that Ribbit is building out the e-commerce functions for its new site, and company president Navarre Joseph said it was a priority. He also mentioned that the company had so far avoided credit card charging capability because of security reasons. Nevertheless, its a joy to call the company and speak with Joseph, who is well-versed in the trials and tribulations of effects production, and is willing to negotiate rates for those who require more than just royalty-free rights to the footage.  

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