The tech world exists outside of Silicon Valley. In fact, it exists right in MediaFile’s backyard; Washington, D.C. – and the surrounding area – was named the number one “New Tech Hotspot” by Forbes in 2013, and tech companies are thriving in the typically governmental town. One company in particular is drawing everyone from students to freelancers to longtime professionals to their company.
VideoBlocks, an online platform that provides access to stock video, music and graphics, is located in Reston, VA since that’s where its founder, Joel Holland, grew up.
“Personally, I think it’s an advantage to be outside of Silicon Valley,” said Senior Content Marketing Manager, Melissa Mapes, in an interview with MediaFile. “We’ve maintained a down-to-earth vibe at VideoBlocks and the tech community in D.C. is super friendly. There’s a lot of camaraderie rather than cutthroat competition.”
The only drawbacks? “We’re not as close to California beaches and redwood forests.”
VideoBlocks was established by Holland in 2009, but he had the idea in high school. Mapes explained that that Holland “discovered that high-quality b-roll and graphics were way too expensive and inaccessible.” He got started by traveling across the United States filming stock footage and selling DVDs on eBay. Now, with the help of his 80 employees, Holland is able to provide access to studio-quality stock video, music and graphics to everyone.
The VideoBlocks service starts at $99 per month and can go up to $198 per year with the premium plan. The premium plan, in addition to the unlimited downloads included with all the plans, has access to collaboration abilities and access to 4K content (which is one of the highest forms of Ultra High Definition available to consumers).
They also offer access to 360/VR content, seeing the potential in virtual reality content. According to the company’s Video Trends Guide 2017, VideoBlocks saw an 817 percent increase in the downloads of 360/VR video since it became available last April. Mapes attributes this rapid increase to two factors: Adobe Premiere Pro supporting VR video editing, and major social media platforms’ video players supporting the video format.
In fact, their 2017 trend analysis shows growth of over 100 percent in everything from 360/VR footage, to Drone footage, to mobile footage.
Another section to the trend analysis which showed significant growth was “authenticity.” VideoBlocks has a section of videos called the “Authentic Collection.” According to the trend analysis, creators want “People. Videos of ordinary people going about their lives—and representing diverse groups that make up the world.”
“We created [the Authentic Collection] to encourage diversity and inclusion in digital media,” said Mapes who oversaw the branded content and marketing for this collection. It’s also to show more stock footage that includes people and searched categories like “family,” “LGBT,” “diverse” and “lifestyle.” The findings shown below were developed based on data from user search trends seeking out more diverse content of people.
Mapes explained that these new offerings are a part of a plan to try to figure out what’s next for digital media—and for everyone to participate in it.
“We aim to make it easy for everyone to participate in new mediums and contribute to the evolution of media,” said Mapes. “If you’re telling any story and need royalty-free creative assets, we’re here to make it easy, affordable, and high-quality.”
But VideoBlocks doesn’t just provide its own stock content. Members can sell their own stock content in the Contributor Marketplace and keep 100 percent of the profits. According to Mapes, they have paid $5 million to the contributors and cut comparative costs by 40 percent because they don’t take any of the money in the Contributor Marketplace.
Fostering this sort of exchange is something the company is really proud of, according to Mapes. “One of our core values is ‘when the community wins, we win.’ We believe that if we put our entire creative community first, that it’ll ultimately be good for business. We want our members and contributors to trust us and stick around.”
This affordability and access has allowed VideoBlocks to be utilized by anyone. “Our members come from a really wide variety of backgrounds, from freelance designers to filmmakers to advertisers to students,” said Mapes. And that variety of backgrounds means she has seen their work just about everywhere. “I love recognizing our content in all sort of projects. I’ve seen our footage on major network TV shows and in viral videos with millions of views. It’s inspiring to see what people create and it makes us want to keep pushing boundaries.”
VideoBlocks is about providing a rewarding experience for both is members and its employees. It’s been named a Hall of Famer for the Coolest Companies in D.C. by DCInno, and Mapes echoes the sentiment.
“I can honestly say that working at VideoBlocks has been the best learning experience of my professional life. It’s never boring and always keeps me on my toes. On top of that, the emphasis we put on company culture has led to a really awesome environment. We work hard, but we have so much fun together.”
VideoBlocks’ encouragement for everyone to become a part of digital media and hard work has paid off with over 100 million downloads between their content and the Contributor Marketplace. Their growth within the world of content contribution is continuing to help the growth of the D.C. tech community.