Subscriptions, Subscriptions

In the comments on my last post, John asked what I think about Digital Juice‘s upcoming “get everything for 10 bucks a month” project. Well, subscriptions suck, especially for digital content. Let’s first consider a few points for the people actually creating the artwork.

  • It devalues the creative work. Stock footage/ art is already so dirt cheap, some people do entire corporate videos just with that. I see no need to further that trend.
  • Based on the previous point, many artists will have a hard time to make a living when they are forced to compete with such models or the actual distributors force their terms on the creators. Under such conditions you will have to sell thousands of licenses to even come close to making a decent cut.
  • Only the distributors make the real money, taking their percentages and fees from the creators’ share.
  • With all the previous in mind, I don’t think it is a sustainable model in the long run. When there is no money to make, people will not be interested in contributing to such pools. They will either move on to the next company that promises them better conditions or never be seen again.

The second part is of course you as the actual user. The pertinent questions to consider are as follows.

  • When everyone uses the same pieces of stock content, everything ends up looking the same. We already live in a time where you have so many videos e.g. on YouTube that use the same templates for intros or lower thirds. Would you want your work to fall into that same category?
  • If you want to remain unique you need broader choices, so you will eventually end up perhaps using multiple such subscriptions and then it may quickly amount to quite a bit of monthly fees.
  • Browsing through all that content takes time. A lot of it. I always hate that part when e.g. searching a specific font and that alone is often enough a reason to go with things I already have or create things on my own.
  • Despite your best efforts you may never be able to find the one perfect piece you need and still end up shooting a custom clip or creating custom artwork. Nothing has been achieved.

What does it all mean? Per se there is nothing to say against using stock elements, but the line between overdoing it and sensible use is a fine one. Using a pre-made graphical element when you don’t have time to draw it yourself is certainly a different story from building entire videos from pools of footage. I also vote for an “educated” use. I often see some of the lens flare presets I created for Sapphire or Optical Flares being used in the strangest ways and as much as I appreciate people liking my stuff, sometimes it’s painful to watch this misuse. So whatever you do, consider presets, templates, stock art etc.  a small part of your work, not a substitute for your own creativity.

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