Video has been embeddable in web pages since Vimeo and YouTube hosted their first postage-stamp-sized four minute movies, but they’re rarely completely “free”: videos have traditionally come with commercial or geographic restrictions, or (increasingly) inserted advertising or tracking. If you want videos that are entirely your own - movies that you can edit, remix, and place in the background of web pages without fearing copyright issues or paying licensing fees - you have to look further afield, or complete a few specialized searches:
- Pexels Video
The excellent Pexels, which previously specialized in providing free stock photographs, has branched out into providing shortform HD video at video.pexels.com. Video is released under a Creative Commons Zero license, meaning that you can edit the videos and use them for free in personal or commercial projects, without attribution.
A wall of free videos, featuring a mixture of nature and urban themes; right-click to download any.
Videvo offers a wide range of stock footage and motion graphics, most in HD Quicktime format. Video download requires registration or social share.
Collects and curates HD videos submitted by members; videos range widely in theme and quality. Videos are available in .mov format, and available for download after a short (four second) advertising pop-up.
Provides .mov videos in SD to HD resolution; videos are free so long as the end-user is not charged for the associated site, app or service.
Offered five royalty-free pieces of looping video footage every month for free. The service is sadly discontinued, but past videos are still available from the company’s Dropbox.
- Free videos, with seven new ones released every Monday.
There are other free sources for motion graphics and video, but I’ve eliminated some contenders due to the fact that they (a) watermark their videos or (b) have unclear restrictions on video use.
In addition to these, both YouTube and Vimeo have a great deal of Creative-Commons licensed content, if you know where to look. Vimeo, in particular, makes it easy to download CC videos: just click on the Download link beneath the video. Some users collect these videos into groups, FreeHD being one example. Otherwise, filter your search for videos on Vimeo to different licenses and the “is downloadable” option.
Note that almost all of these services provide videos in just one format; you’ll need to convert the downloaded video into at least one other format in order for the it to be reliably displayed cross-browser and cross-platform.