A year or so ago someone brought BlackBox to my attention. I went to their web site and checked them out, discarding the idea of signing up. But recently, I decided to go again and sign up and I’m glad I did…
First, BlackBox is a service where you upload your stock footage clips (does not support Images or Audio). You add your title, description and keywords just as you do with the agencies, and then they upload them to their account on 4 agencies (Pond5, Shutterstock, Videoblocks and Adobe Stock). When clips sell at an agency, they pay you 85% of what the agency pays them. So, if an HD clip sells on Pond5 for $79, Pond5 pays BlackBox $39.50 and BlackBox pays you $33.58 (they keep 15%).
My initial dismissal of BlackBox had to do primarily with the fact that they are taking 15% for just uploading clips to their 4 accounts and nothing else. They don’t help with editing, they don’t help with titles, descriptions or keywords. Definitely not worth 15%, in my opinion for just an uploading service. However, what I missed was that there is a collaboration component with BlackBox that allows you to share revenue with someone else on a per clip basis… so revenue sharing with models and editors is now possible.
So, instead of paying models a flat fee, you can both sign up for BlackBox and assign a revenue share for each clip you upload on a clip by clip basis. So, if you’re doing a 50/50 split on a clip that sells for $79 on Pond5, then it’s $39.5 paid to BlackBox and $33.58 split between you and the model ($16.79 each). Without you having to do all of the accounting work. Or, in my case, I do a 60/40 split with someone else doing the editing & title/description/keywording of my raw video. I upload the raw video to my FTP server, the editor downloads the video, edits it, submits it through my BlackBox account and we split sales 60/40 (I get the 60%). Totally worth it for years of backlogged video that would otherwise sit on my hard drives for more years earning nothing.
BlackBox is not for everyone, but I am only using it for my backlogged video. I’m not using it for newer stuff I’m producing and editing myself. it’s definitely worth taking a look at.
Cons for Using BlackBox:
- 15% cut for just uploading your clips into their account, they don’t do anything else
- Once you submit a clip, it’s gone into the system and there is no way to edit the metadata or do anything else
- The clips go into the BlackBox Guild account so you get no credit (can’t get IMDB credits, for example)
- You have no access to your clips once they’re submitted, so if you lose the original file, you can’t recover it
- There are major issues with “ease of use” on the web site. They have had “fixes coming” for some time with no target date.
- If a clip is rejected by an agency, there’s nothing you can do, you can’t resubmit it
- There’s no easy way to find your clips in the BlackBox accounts
- If BlackBox folds/shuts down, you won’t have your clips to upload to agencies yourself
- On Pond5, you can’t price your clips yourself since BlackBox handles pricing
Pros for Using BlackBox:
- Collaboration tools allow you to share revenue with someone else and not do all of the accounting
- You don’t have to create accounts on the 4 biggest agencies and upload to all of them yourself
- Great online community
Despite all of the cons, I still think as a collaborative service BlackBox will make me money by allowing me to quickly get my unedited backlog of footage online more quickly. And the online BlackBox community is pretty great as well.