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VideoBlocks Launches Media Program for Universities

VideoBlocks for Education gives students and faculty access to pro-quality media and teaches valuable lessons about copyright.

VideoBlocks CEO TJ Leonard

VideoBlocks CEO TJ Leonard

Recently, VideoBlocks CEO TJ Leonard let us know about a new initiative the company has launched called VideoBlocks for Education, which aims to provide students with the same studio-quality, affordable stock footage, motion backgrounds, and After Effects templates used by professionals. Intrigued by this announcement—and the teaser video the company emailed (see “VideoBlocks Backpack” video below)—we asked Leonard to give us all of the details.

“Our business’s mission is to provide premium stock media that the entire creative community can afford,” Leonard says. “We believe that every creator—whether you are a weekend enthusiast or a large studio—should have access to the same content in order to improve the quality of his or her digital projects. Because our mission focuses on what we call the ‘mass creative class,’ our customers range from freelancers aspiring to earn a living using their creative skills, all the way to huge organizations like the Discovery Channel and BuzzFeed. We also work closely with colleges and universities worldwide to ensure that their students, faculty, and administrators have access to the type of content they need in order to drive student engagement and improve learning outcomes.”

Getting into the education initiative, we asked Leonard to participate in a Q&A-style interview to which he happily obliged. The transcript of that interview follows:

Markee: Please explain to our audience what this program is, how it works, and who benefits.
Leonard: VideoBlocks for Education is a resource for everyone on campus—from students to faculty to administrators. We have supported just about every type of creative pursuit you could imagine on campus, from providing instructional designers with the raw materials they need to create a more engaging curriculum, to helping student journalists spice up their digital publications, to film students working to build the necessary skills to become the next generation of filmmakers.

We find that colleges and universities typically work with us for three main reasons:
1) Access to $10M worth of creative content
We have the world’s largest library of royalty-free stock media. That’s over 500,000 videos, graphics, photos and music tracks, all organized and searchable from a single hub. Because of our unique licensing model, universities don’t have to worry about tracking individual downloads, or running out of credits. Our partners love us not just for the great content, but for how easy it is to administer access across campus.

2) Copyright Compliance made easy
All colleges and universities work to create a culture that fosters the ethical attainment of digital media. Achieving this goal has been a challenge as students, more often than not, just grab the first content they find on the Internet without regard to copyright. Our EDU service flips the script by making it easier for users to find superior digital content, which also happens to be copyright-safe, than if they were to randomly search the Internet. Everyone wins.

3) A sustainable resource
VideoBlocks was founded with a commitment to making creative content that the creative community can afford. EDU, of course, is a major segment of that creative community. Universities appreciate the value we provide with our continuously expanding digital library and a cost-certain, sustainable license. Students, faculty, and staff have access to an unlimited number of downloads enabling them to focus on creativity and not on budgets.

Markee: Speaking of this program, how are digital media and the video industry impacting students and the future of the film/TV industry?
Leonard: We think digital media will have an incredibly positive impact on film students, and the future of the film industry. The value of including digital media, and visual literacy in general, as part of the curriculum should give today’s film students a significant leg up versus their predecessors in giving them greater access to practical experience before they graduate into the professional ranks. A lot of the privileges that larger studios have enjoyed exclusively, like access to world-class content and professional editing tools, are now available to students through services like VideoBlocks for Education and Adobe Creative Cloud. We think the result will be students who are better prepared for what the 21st-century demands of creative professionals.

VideoBlocks CEO TJ Leonard

“Our business’s mission is to provide premium stock media that the entire creative community can afford,” Leonard says.

Markee: What other projects are you working on now?
Leonard: We spend our days working with two questions in mind: What can we do today to deliver more value to our membership, and to help get the word out to everyone within the creative community about our products and content? And what can we do to improve the lives and livelihood of our contributors—how can we ensure that we are viewed as the most artist-friendly place on the Internet?

All sorts of interesting projects pop up as a result. We recently partnered with Discovery Access and are working to add tens of thousands of truly epic videos to our library. We are always reaching out to potential partners and trying to figure out a way to bring that unique content to our members.

We also are building a new product for our Education business that will enable our university partners not only to download our content, but to upload, store, and index their own content on our platform. We’re incredibly excited, as it will create a single searchable library for all digital content on campus. Much more on this soon!

Markee: Do you see any trends developing in your end of the industry? Good or bad, what’s your take?
Leonard: We see a few trends that we think are really exciting, particularly in higher education. First of all, more and more of the raw materials necessary to create professional quality visual productions are available to students across the world at an affordable price. Second, as rights-managed content yields to royalty-free as the preferred standard, creatives—students and professionals alike—will have more flexibility in how they pursue their vision. Finally, with the increased availability of affordable, legal stock media, we think more students will graduate with good habits when it comes to copyright compliance. Much like people stopped pirating popular music when affordable digital solutions like iTunes became available, we think there is a huge behavioral change taking place where fewer students will be forced to rely on pirating digital content as an input into their productions.

Markee: Any parting words?
Leonard: Businesses and higher education institutions alike tend to get caught up in what the right technology is for the moment. We think this it is a pretty simple solution. Simply follow the behaviors of your “customers” whether that is a client or a student. Today, in higher education it is clear that providing digital media to the student body is table stakes. A Pew Research study recently uncovered that graduating high school seniors are three times more likely to source YouTube than a textbook. At the same time, an American University study determined that 87% of college students make no attempt to ask permission for the right to use digital content. Put those two things together, and it is an imperative for higher education to provide students with high-quality, copyright-compliant content as they look to build the skills necessary to compete in our 21st-century global economy.

About VideoBlocks:
The Reston, Va.-based company has been providing stock media (videos, graphics, photos, music) to the creative community since 2009. VideoBlocks is a four-time Inc. 500 honoree and a three-time Deloitte Fast 500 honoree. According to Leonard, the company is the only stock media business that is built upon a large community of members and contributors. All of VideoBlock’s content is 100% royalty-free, licensed for personal or commercial use. And members receive unrestricted access to Unlimited Library, which is filled with more than $10M worth of content. Members can download anything they want from that library for somewhere between $100 – $200 per year, depending on the exact customer needs. For more information, visit videoblocks.com.

March 2, 2016