If you watched the video posted above, you wasted 96 seconds of your life, and for that, I apologize. There’s so much more that you could have been doing with your time, and nearly all of it would have been of more value to society.
I put the above video together using footage I found on a website called Internet Archive, which is a free resource that contains public domain, archival movies (and other media). The primary reason I put the video together is that it was more fun than doing actual work. But also, I wanted to test out how to work with materials from this site, which I learned about from Dr. Chris Mayer, interpretive consultant and director of the National Association for Interpretation’s Spanish Section.
It turned out to be surprisingly easy. I searched for certain terms (like “baseball” and “park ranger”), found some videos with narrators who sounded like they wanted to be my friend, downloaded them at the resolution of my choice, and spliced snippets of them together in iMovie.
The original footage comes from four different movies—Story of a Forest Ranger, a 1954 US Department of Agriculture film; Heading Home, a 1920 silent film starring fat old man with little girl legs Babe Ruth; Good Eating Habits, a 1951 instructional film; and a classic Tom and Jerry cartoon called Piano Tooners—all of which (along with many, many others) are available for free download, some at high resolution.
All of the videos I’ve used are in the public domain, either because their copyright has expired or they were produced by a government agency, so they can be used for the sort of nonsense I’ve posted here (or they can be used for something of actual value). The Internet Archive offers versions of these videos (and many, many more) at varying resolution free of charge for reasons that are not entirely clear to me, but I’ll certainly take it. On its website, the organization describes itself like this:
The Internet Archive is a 501(c)(3) non-profit that was founded to build an Internet library. Its purposes include offering permanent access for researchers, historians, scholars, people with disabilities, and the general public to historical collections that exist in digital format.
And the Internet Archive features more than just video:
The Internet Archive includes texts, audio, moving images, and software as well as archived web pages in our collections, and provides specialized services for adaptive reading and information access for the blind and other persons with disabilities.
Some of the content found on the Internet Archive is not in the public domain, so it can’t be used in media that you produce, but it’s still awesome and you just want to watch it over and over instead of doing real work. The stop-action video Extreme Lego Breakdancing falls into that category.
I’m not sure just yet how I plan to use this resource in any real way, but it’s a great way to track down free stock footage or create a certain tone for historical pieces. If you use this resource in the future (or if you have in the past), please share your product with us. I’m curious to see what the possibilities are.