Use CriticalPast to find, order, and receive video footage, screeners, and photo images easier and faster than ever before. We license our clips and images royalty-free, worldwide, in perpetuity, for all media:
1. Use the Search or Browse features to find footage and stills.
2. View the video. Pricing for each video is listed at the base of the video player. If desired, view the still photo images below the player. You may click the "View large photo" link below any still image to see a larger, higher resolution version of that photo.
3. Click the "Add to Lightbox" button below any video or still image to save the item to a lightbox. The lightbox allows you to hold clips and images that you may wish to order or save for future consideration. You may access your lightboxes by clicking on "My Lightboxes" from any page.
4. To order: Select the items you desire within your lightboxes and then click "Add To Cart". You will be prompted to choose the format you desire for the items in your order. For video clips you may select broadcast-ready professional clips, full-resolution screeners, or low-resolution proxy clips. A variety of codecs and framerates are available. For still photo images we offer JPEG files.
5. Choose your delivery method. Want your images fast? Choose "download" and your files will be ready for download within an hour. Or, if you wish, choose "Shipping" and we will load the files you order onto a USB flash drive and ship your order anywhere in the world via FedEx.
6. Checkout securely to complete your order. We accept most major credit cards and PayPal. A printable license agreement is presented to you before you remit payment. See a sample License Agreement here.
A lightbox allows you to hold clips and images that you may wish to order or save for future consideration. You can create different lightboxes for different projects, manage their contents, and share them with friends and colleagues.
Click the "Add to Lightbox" button below any video or image on CriticalPast to add it to a lightbox.
To see and manage your lightboxes, click the "My Lightboxes" button in the red navigation area atop any page on CriticalPast. In the "My Lightboxes" area you can you can view and manage the contents of your lightboxes, name and describe your lightboxes, and send lightboxes to friends.
When you click "View & Add to Cart" to see the contents of a lightbox in the "My Lightboxes" area, you can choose any or all of the items in the lightbox and add them to your "Shopping Cart" for purchase. You can also enter notes about specific clips and images for future reference. These notes are included when you use the "Send to friends" feature to send a lightbox to colleagues via e-mail.
If you are a registered and signed-in user on CriticalPast, you may create multiple different lightboxes and the contents of each is saved automatically so you can access your lightboxes anytime, from any computer.
If you are a guest user (not signed-in) you have a single "Guest Lightbox". Please note that the contents of the "Guest Lightbox" is not saved across your sessions. We recommend that you register with CriticalPast and sign-in so that your lightbox contents will be saved.
We license by the clip, not by the second. Our full resolution media is instantly transcoded, on demand, to fill your order in minutes. The formats we offer are displayed at the base of the video window and beside each item in your lightbox.
We offer video clips in High Definition (HD), and in Standard Definition (NTSC or PAL system), for Windows or Mac users. All files are available in the following formats:
1. Full-resolution, broadcast-ready Master clips.
2. Full-resolution "Screener" clips.
3. Low-resolution "Proxy" clips.
Following is a description of each format:
1. Full-resolution, broadcast-ready Master clips
These clips contain no markings. They are priced between $105-$350 depending on clip duration and format. In standard definition, we offer NTSC and PAL clips as either AVI or Quicktime DV files, with AVI most commonly used for PC applications, and Quicktime for Apple/Mac applications. In high definition (HD), we currently offer both ProRes and XDCAM files in many various frame rates. The ProRes files are usable in both PC and Apple/Mac systems. The XDCAM files are more restricted in compatibility and are designed primarily for input to Avid and Vegas edit systems, although they should also import into other edit systems equipped with special options. As for frame rate and interlacing options, generally the 1080x1920 60i , 24p, and 30p files are used by those editing programs to be broadcast in the U.S., Canada, Japan, or Brazil, while the 1080x1920 50i and 25p files are used for broadcast in Europe and the rest of the world. The "i" and "p" designations for these files denote either interlaced or progressive scanning of the image. We are open to hearing more suggestions on formats. Choices of available formats are limited by download bandwidth constraints, so we generally avoid offering files with data rates higher than 50 Mbps. All media is made available in file form only. We do not offer media in videotape form. You may choose to receive your files via download or shipping. For shipped orders, we load your files onto a USB Flash Drive and ship them to you worldwide.
2. Full-resolution "Screener" clips
These low cost $4 "screener" versions are for use in evaluation and edit approval. "Screener" clips are rendered at full resolution, and are different from full price clips only in that they they have timecode and our logo burned into the image. The timecode obscures the center of the image.
3. Low-resolution "Proxy" clips
Offered at $4, low-resolution "proxy" clips are smaller in file size, allowing for faster download. They have a semi-transparent CriticalPast logo across the center of the image, and a logo in the lower right corner. The semi-transparent logo allows you to view the image beneath. Proxy clips are ideal for personal research.
They are offered in iPod / Mac compatible format, and also as Microsoft Windows Media clips. Proxy clips are available for download only. We do not offer DVDs. The iPod clips (file extension .m4v) can be loaded and played on any iPod, iPhone, or iPad. They can also be played on Apple/Mac computers, or on Windows computers that have Quicktime for Windows installed. Our Windows Media proxy clips (file extension .wmv) can be played on a Windows PC, or added to Microsoft PowerPoint presentations. They can also be played on Mac computers equipped with Windows Media Player for Mac.
We offer still images as downloadable JPEG files 1382x960 pixels in size for $25 (Standard license: Royalty-free, perpetual, worldwide, all media) or $5 (Personal use only). Most of our images comply with a printing standard of 300 dpi at a little over 4x3 inches.
To judge the subjective quality of any still image, click the "View large photo" link below the image thumbnail. The "Large Photo" images are presented on the website at 760x528 pixels. That is a lower resolution than the 1382x960 pixel images we deliver in fulfilling your order, but it can help you judge the resolution and quality. The subjective quality of archival footage can vary widely, so always choose carefully. If the quality of the still image does not meet your needs when you view it at "Full Size" on CriticalPast.com, do not expect the subjective quality of the photo to be markedly improved when delivered to you in full resolution form.
To Search the collection: Enter your search term(s) in the search input field and then click the red "Search" button.
Are you getting too many search results? Follow these tips to narrow your search:
Tip 1: Use Search Operators:
Apply search operators like + - " " ( ) * to direct your search more precisely. Here are some examples:
Enclose your search terms in double quotation marks (") to search only for exact matches to your exact terms in the order you entered them.
Example: Bowling Ball...would yield all results that have either Bowling Ball, Bowling, or Ball.
But: "Bowling Ball"...with quotation marks....would yield only results that include the two words Bowling Ball together in that order.
Enter + (plus symbol) to limit the scope of the search. Do not add a space after the symbol.
Example: Roosevelt Democratic Convention...yields results that include any or all of those 3 words.
But: Roosevelt +Democratic +Convention...yields only results that include ALL 3 of those words.
Example: +farm +tractor ...yields only results that contain both the word farm and the word tractor.
The minus symbol (-), with no preceding space, can be used to represent NOT.
Example: +farm -tractor ...yields results that contain the word farm but not the word tractor.
Use parentheses to help you find synonyms for your search terms, without having to run many separate searches:
Example: Say you want to find a press conference by President Eisenhower in 1957. Entering simply Eisenhower 1957 yields too many results. Try instead: +eisenhower +1957 +(press media reporter)
This approach has two benefits: 1) It yields a small, focused result list; 2) It will find clips that express the idea of a "press" conference in different ways, using synonyms such as "media" and "reporter". The search engine interprets this entire search term as:
Must include Eisenhower, must include 1957, and must include any of the words press or media or reporter.
Enter the asterisk (*) as a wildcard to find alternative spellings.
patent* retrieves patent, patents, patented, patentable, etc.
behavi*r retrieves behavior as well as behaviour.
wom*n retrieves woman as well as women.
Tip 2: Use the "Refine Your Search" tools:
After your search results are displayed, you may further narrow the results by clicking one or more "Refine Your Search" choices, located to the left of your search results. These help you quickly narrow the pool of results based on decade, location, color, or sound.
Tip 3: Use the "Advanced Search" features:
You may access Advanced Search features by clicking on the "Advanced Search" link, located to the right of the main "Search" button. To close the Advanced Search panel, click the "Advanced Search" link again.
Yes, please do! You may submit corrections and additions to the information we display about any video clip. If you have specific interests or expertise that can help enrich the clip details, we welcome your improvements! A small percentage of clips in the collection came to us with little or no historical records. This has made some of them difficult to describe. Your observations and contributions are always appreciated in making any clip's description as complete and accurate as possible.
To submit an update, go to the clip's page on CriticalPast.com, and then click the "Edit Now" link. A window will appear where you can see and edit the clip details. We will review your changes and then post an updated version. Please understand that we may need to edit your submission for length, grammar, style, or content. When submitting an update, please provide details that pertain to that specific video clip only. No hyperlinks or advertising. Thanks for contributing!
The full resolution professional clips that you order from CriticalPast will always look better than the same clips viewed on the CriticalPast.com website, because the clips on our website are optimized for quick and easy playback at a variety of connection speeds; not for high resolution viewing.
The following two video clips can help explain the difference between the low-resolution preview clips you see on the CriticalPast.com website, and the higher resolution media that we deliver in fulfilling paid, professional orders for both unmarked footage and full-resolution "screeners". You may wish to view each of these at full-screen (click the icon in the lower right corner of the player) to better evaluate the differences in quality. The first clip shows the low-resolution preview quality that plays on the CriticalPast.com website. This is a compressed standard definition file in archival 4:3 aspect ratio. The second clip shows the same video clip, but at higher resolution in HD 24 fps. The quality of this second clip is closer (but still a bit lower) to the quality of what you would receive if you placed an order for a screener of that clip in high definition format. "Screener" clips are the best way to discern the absolute quality of a given clip, and can be ordered for just $4 each. Screener clips are rendered at full resolution in the broadcast quality format and frame rate that you choose. They have timecode and our logo burned into the image, but are otherwise identical in quality to the final master clips. This makes them ideal for quality evaluation, and for use in rough-cut edits.
Sample low-resolution preview clip as seen on CriticalPast.com:
Same clip in high definition, nearly full resolution, similar to a 1920x1080 24p screener version:
(Note: This clip shows the CriticalPast logo and timecode because it is simulating a "screener" clip. Full price master clips you order contain no marks.)
Our primary video files are 1920x1080 progressive clips at a frame rate of 23.98 fps. Other than some material from the 1970´s that was never shot in film and is derived from the original video formats used at the time, such as 2" Quad and U-Matic videotape, all footage was derived from telecine transfers directly from 35mm and 16mm films. The most recent additions to the collection came from film run on a Spirit Datacine outputting 1920x1080 at 23.98 fps progressive. Other clips in the collection (still the majority) were transferred using Rank Cintel telecine machines outputting to 4:2:2 digital at 720x480 23.98 fps with 3:2 pulldown. These files were then reverse telecined and resized using our proprietary process to create the final 1920x1080 23.98 fps progressive clips.
Because the original image aspect ratio of almost all archival material is 4:3, we offer 16:9 HD with the image stretched horizontally, linearly, to fill the width of the HD screen. This allows for maximum formatting options for final edited productions without cutting height from the image. Altering these clips to suit the needs of the producer is easy. For example, within most edit systems, simply selecting the clips in the edit timeline and reducing the horizontal dimension by exactly 25 percent produces a 4:3 image "pillar boxed" with black on the left and right, and no loss of image resolution. We offer clips in many different frame rates and standards, all derived from our 1920x1080 23.98 fps base files. Our powerful transcode engine can adjust frame rates or add interlacing to output HD interlaced formats such as 50i or 60i, as well as standard definition formats such as PAL and NTSC. Codecs delivered include ProRes or XDCAM at around 50 Mbps for HD files, or AVI and Quicktime DV at 25 Mbps for SD files. We do not offer clips with data rates of more than 50 Mbps because the resulting files are generally too large to download.
Our still image captures are obtained from our 1920x1080 base files, and captured at a cadence of one image per second. They may be seen below the video player for every clip in the collection. Because these still images are 1920x1080 captures, the subjective absolute quality of a given video clip can be evaluated by clicking the "View large photo" button below any still image thumbnail. The subjective quality of archival footage can vary widely, so always choose carefully. If the quality of the image does not meet your needs when you view a clip's still images using the "View large photo" option, do not expect the subjective quality of that clip or photo to be visibly improved when fulfililng your paid order. The best way to discern the absolute quality of a given video clip is by ordering a "Screener" of that clip. Screener clips are rendered at full resolution in the broadcast quality format and frame rate that you choose. They have timecode and our logo burned into the image, but are otherwise identical in quality to the final master clips. This makes them ideal for quality evaluation, and for use in rough-cut edits.
No, with the following exceptions:
"Proxy" clips contain a semi-transparent logo watermark that spans the center of the image, and a logo in the lower right corner.
"Screener" clips have timecode burned into the center of the image, and also contain our logo.
Your download speed is highly dependent on the speed of your internet connection. With an average DSL or cable modem connection, a 1 GB video file (approximately 4 minutes running time) might take 15-30 minutes to download. Customers in Europe and parts of Asia, where prevailing bandwidth is higher, may experience faster speeds.
The still images shown on the website were pre-rendered at a cadence of one for every second of footage run time. No other still images are available at this time.
Our systems begin processing your order, automatically, as soon as it is received. Items for download are typically delivered in minutes, whereas items for shipment require handling and take longer. If you need to cancel your order, please Contact Us as soon as possible. Staff are available 9:00am - 5:30pm Eastern Time USA (GMT-5:00), Monday through Friday, to receive your requests. We cannot cancel your order if it contains downloadable items that you have already downloaded, or if your order for shipped items has already been shipped.
Due to the nature of our product, all sales must be final except in the case of defective media, such as a corrupt file, or broken or damaged file storage media that we ship to you. We will accept returns for a 100% refund or exchange -- your choice -- in the unlikely case of defective media.
Archival content varies widely in subjective quality, so always choose carefully. A good way to judge the visual quality of a video clip or its still images is by clicking the "View large photo" button below any of its thumbnail images. "View large photo" displays a higher resolution image. If the visual quality of a particular still image does not meet your needs when you view it in large size, do not expect the video or photo image to be markedly improved when delivered to you in full resolution form.
See also: What is the difference in quality between clips I view on the website and clips I order?
Please make sure you have requested the correct clip or still image when ordering. The exact media file name is displayed beside each item in your Shopping Cart.
The available delivery options are presented to you when you select your desired items from within your lightbox and then click the Add to Cart button.
For Downloaded Media:
If you have ordered items for download, you will receive two e-mails at the e-mail address you specified during Checkout. The first e-mail is your Order Confirmation. The second email will include Download Instructions, and will be sent as soon as your items are ready for download. Most orders are ready for download less than 1 hour after you submit your order. If you are a registered customer you can track your order status at any time by visiting the "My Account" area.
For Shipped Media:
If you choose to have your order shipped, we load your files onto a USB Flash Drive and ship within 24 hours of receiving payment, Monday-Friday.
If you have ordered items for shipment, you will receive two e-mails at the e-mail address you specified during Checkout. The first e-mail is your Order Confirmation. The second email notifies you of shipment and includes a FedEx tracking number. If you are a registered customer you may also track your order status at any time by visiting the "My Account" area.
To view FedEx shipping costs, add one or more items for shipment to your Shopping Cart. Then, under the "Calculate Shipping" section in the Shopping Cart, select your destination country and enter your zip/postal code. Click the "Calculate Shipping" button to view the FedEx shipping options and fees.
For shipped items, we offer the following FedEx services:
FedEx Priority Overnight -- By 10:30am next business day for video clip orders received by 1:00pm Eastern Time-USA (GMT-5:00).
FedEx Standard Overnight -- By 3:00pm next business day for video clip orders received by 1:00pm Eastern Time-USA (GMT-5:00).
FedEx International Priority -- 1-3 business days in transit. Same day shipping on video clip orders received by 1:00pm Eastern Time-USA (GMT-5:00).
FedEx International First -- 1-2 business days in transit. Same day shipping on video clip orders received by 1:00pm Eastern Time-USA (GMT-5:00).
The CriticalPast collection is sourced directly from declassified U.S. government films and then professionally telecine transferred. The collection comes from the holdings of many different federal departments and agencies, including the U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy, the Department of Defense, Department of Agriculture, and many others. Films and collections specifically gifted to the U.S. government and people, such as the Ford and Universal Newsreels collections, are also represented.
For all orders of unmarked full-resolution clips, we provide the exact U.S. government source ID number for each clip in your order on the post-purchase version of the License Agreement.
U.S. government films are a favored source of material for productions because they are generally free from complex rights issues. When films are declassified or willed to the American people, they are sent to central repositories, most notably the U.S. National Archives, for storage. Our researchers are experts at acquiring pertinent footage from within these repositories.
The clips on CriticalPast are drawn from telecine masters created from sources of the highest possible quality available, usually original films.
When you place an order for unmarked (no CriticalPast logo) clips and images on CriticalPast.com, they are licensed to you for use in your Production, royalty-free, in perpetuity, for all media, worldwide. The License Agreement is made available to you for review during the Checkout process (before your order is submitted), and it remains available to you after you complete your order, as long as you are a registered user. Visit the My Account - Order History area any time to review or print it.
Please click here for more information and to see a sample License Agreement.
Our Terms and Conditions agreement can be seen here: Terms & Conditions. They deal chiefly with your usage of the Criticalpast website.
This is different than our License Agreement to which you agree when ordering media from CriticalPast.
A printable License Agreement is presented to you for review during the Checkout process, before you submit your order. It is customized with your transaction details. After ordering, if you are a registered user, you may access the License Agreement for each of your orders at any time in the "My Account" area. If you are an unregistered "guest" user, you will receive a link to your License Agreement in your Order Confirmation email.
The CriticalPast collection is sourced directly from declassified U.S. government holdings and then professionally telecine transferred. For all orders of unmarked full-resolution clips, we provide the exact U.S. government source ID number for each clip in your order on the post-purchase version of the License Agreement. This serves as a detailed assurance that the content is U.S. government derived, and thus free from the rights issues that are associated with some archival stock media.
Following is the text of a sample CriticalPast license agreement:
Licensor: Critical Past LLC
Licensor address: 12100 Sunrise Valley Drive, Suite 230-36, Reston, VA 20191 U.S.A
Licensee: [Licensee first name, last name, and company, as entered in Licensee Information area during Checkout]
Licensee address: [ADDRESS]
Production: [Production name or working/temporary name, if applicable. As entered in Licensee Info area during Checkout]
1. MEDIA INVOLVED:
[LICENSOR'S MEDIA ID NUMBER(S)]
(On post-purchase version of License Agreement, displayed numbers also include U.S. Government Archive Number for all unmarked professional footage items.)
A. "Media" means a video clip, associated sound recording, or still image.
B. "Production" means a work incorporating the Media or the Media and other preexisting works, such as a translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, television production, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgment, condensation, or any other form in which the Media may be recast, transformed, or adapted.
C. “U.S. Government Archive Number” means the identifying number assigned to Media by the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, NASA, or other federal agency.
3. PERMITTED USE OF MEDIA:
The Media in Licensor's collection were sourced directly, without access restrictions, from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Library of Congress, NASA, or other federal agency. Every item in the Licensor's collection is identified by a U.S. Government Archive Number, if such number exists. The Licensor is unaware of any claims of rights infringement having arisen from use of the Media in this collection.
Licensor hereby grants the Licensee a worldwide all media (whether now known or hereafter invented), non-exclusive, perpetual license to employ for any purpose Media that does not contain Licensor's logo, including incorporation into any form of Production, and including advertising and promotion of the Production, but not for the purposes of selling, re-licensing, or redistribution as stock media.
Exception for still image Media: Any still image Media (JPEG file format or photo print) labeled as "Personal Use Only" beside the Licensor asset numbers in section 1, above, shall be used for personal research purposes only, and shall not be distributed, shared, or publicly displayed.
Licensor's logo is a copyrighted element, and lower-resolution Media supplied by Licensor that contains Licensor's logo shall not be broadcast or displayed for public viewing.
4. LICENSEE'S ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
Licensee expressly represents and acknowledges that:
A. The Media will not be used or edited in any way which will defame the Licensor. It shall be the sole responsibility of the Licensee to ensure that, in its use of the Media, it does not
(i) defame, libel or slander any person;
(ii) infringe any rights of privacy or publicity of any person (or any similar, analogous or related personal rights);
(iii) infringe any trademarks;
(iv) breach any relevant laws, government rules, or government codes.
The Licensee accordingly accepts that the Licensor shall have no responsibility or liability of any nature whatsoever with respect to the foregoing sections 4.A (i) - (iv).
B. Licensor has not knowingly included any copyrighted material in its collection and will immediately remove any that is determined to be. Nevertheless, in the event that any substantiated third-party claims for infringement of any copyright arising from the use of the Media are made against the Licensee, the Licensee must immediately notify the Licensor in writing regarding the details of such claims.
C. The Licensee's contemplated use of the Media may require other consents, clearances, releases or licenses from parties other than the Licensor, and the Licensee hereby agrees to be solely responsible for obtaining any such necessary consents, clearances, releases or licenses and for making all payments required thereunder to any union, guild, actor, writer, composer, musician, producer, director or any other person or entity whose performances have been recorded in or who have performed services in connection with the Media;
D. The Licensee is aware that some Media obtained from the Licensor are derived from historical works of the National Socialist (NSDAP/Nazi) government of Germany or an organization closely associated to it, or another party which has been banned by the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany. The use of insignia of organizations that have been banned in Germany (like the Nazi swastika or the arrow cross) may also be illegal in Austria, Hungary, Poland, Czech Republic, France, Brazil, Russia and other countries, depending on context. In Germany, the applicable law is paragraph 86a of the criminal code (StGB), in Poland – Art. 256 of the criminal code (Dz.U. 1997 nr 88 poz. 553). Licensor makes these Media available due to their historic nature ONLY, and in no way, shape, or form condones or tolerates any affiliations with the Nazi government or any associated organizations.
The Licensee hereby agrees to indemnify and to hold Licensor, its agents, employees, representatives, affiliates, parent and subsidiary corporations, harmless against any and all actions, claims, costs (including reasonable outside attorney's fees), damages, demands and expenses brought against, suffered or incurred by Licensee as the result of any breach or non-observance of any of the obligations set forth in section 4, above. The terms of the indemnification set forth, herein, shall apply to all loss, cost, damage, liability or expense of any kind, including reasonable outside attorney's fees, arising from claims of defamation, commercial disparagement or other actionable wrongs committed by the Licensee in connection with use of the Media.
The Licensor shall indemnify and hold Licensee, its agents, employees, representatives, affiliates, parents, subsidiaries, and divisions harmless against any and all actions, claims, expenses, damages, or costs of any kind (including reasonable outside attorney's fees) brought against, suffered or incurred by Licensee as a result of Licensor's breach of any of the representations, warranties or agreements contained herein.
A. Any courtesy credit to Licensor for the use of the Media on the title cards or credits of the Production should be expressed as "CriticalPast". Failure to provide such credit shall not be deemed a breach hereof;
B. Nothing in this Agreement or in the License conveyed herein shall be deemed to constitute a partnership or joint venture between the parties, and neither party shall do or permit any act to be done whereby it may be represented as agent or partner of the other;
C. This Agreement is personal to and for the sole benefit of the Licensee and the Licensee shall not be entitled to assign, transfer, license, sell or dispose of in any way of any of its rights, interests or obligations under this Agreement to any third party, with the following exception: Licensee may transfer, license, or assign the Production containing the Media in the usual course of distribution. The repeated utilization of the Media in different Productions is not permitted. In such cases, additional licenses must be obtained for each individual Production;
D. No waiver whether express or implied by the Licensor of any breach by the Licensee of any of its obligations herein shall be deemed to constitute a waiver or consent to any subsequent or continuing breach by the Licensee of any such obligations;
E. Licensor agrees that its remedies shall be limited to an action at law for damages, and waives any right to injunctive or other equitable relief.
F. This Agreement shall be interpreted in accordance with the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia and will be subject to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts, state and federal, located within the Commonwealth of Virginia to which the parties hereby submit in relation to any dispute arising hereunder;
G. This Agreement constitutes the entire understanding of the parties with respect to the subject matter hereof, and any amendments, changes or modifications shall have legal effect and be binding only if made in writing and signed by both parties.