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Stock Footage Failure

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The U.F.O. flew contemptuously through the ack-ack bursts of a destroyer. A beam of energy stabbed down, and the hapless vessel was instantly transmuted into an exploding WW2 battleship.

Stock Footage is a Necessary Weasel in most broadcast productions. Your average studio just can't afford to have 42 cars on hand to be blown up on camera (108 backups for when the take goes bad). So they have 13 scenes using 4 models of cars. These are supposed to represent all of those 42 cars the show will be going through this season, in all of the various settings the show will go to.


The cars and settings are usually similar enough that it takes a while (and perhaps multiple viewings) for the viewer to notice a discrepancy.

This trope is for when the viewer notices it right off. Without having to leave the couch. It's also for when the error is so obvious, it has the viewer screaming "How did they slip that up?!"

Often, using the wrong car, setting, clothing, person, hairclip, etc., will call the series' continuity (or at least the writer's grasp thereof) into question.

Compare Special Effects Failure, where the pretty lights and sounds added to a scene filmed for the production are not up to par, and Obvious Stunt Double, when it's obvious that a stunt double is being used instead of the actor.



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  • While Sailor Moon was usually very good with the stock footage for the transformations, attacks and pre-battle speeches, there were a couple background errors with the Inner Senshi's "Star Power" sequences in the R season. The first happened in the very first sequence; although the colorful whooshing background shouldn't fade in until after Sailor Mercury's nails are colored, the sequence didn't start with a black background the first time. There was also a group transformation a few episodes later where Sailor Mars was given the wrong background for part of her transformation. Ordinarily it would look something like this, but she got Venus's background for the first part.
  • Sailor Moon Crystal has a sequence where Sailor Moon shouts out one attack but the footage uses another.
  • In Fist of the North Star, the third episode of the rather detailed and well-animated Season 4 re-uses a shot of Kenshiro cracking his knuckles from Season 1, back when the animation was stiff, simplistic, and sort of stylized. The contrast between this shot and the rest of the episode is quite jarring, particularly because this is the only time in Season 4 that something like this occurs.
  • Lampshaded in Puni Puni Poemi.
    It doesn't flow very well visually, but this is the bath time version!
  • The Idolmaster - The last episode uses several footages from the first and second openings, but when Azusa and Takane are dancing they appear to be in front of a set of stairs, just for in the next take they be shown to be still descending the same stairs.
  • In the third and fourth Pretty Cure All Stars movies, they constantly show Yuri's transformation sequence with her Pretty Cure Seed being rebuilt... despite the fact that, at the end of her series, the seed was fully repaired after she retrieved the other half of it.
  • Akazukin Chacha has stock footage of the Power Trio using their artifacts to transform Chacha into "Magical Princess." Normally these are fine, but they use the same stock footage even when Shiine and Riiya are chained to a wall and shouldn't be able to move.
  • A few Season 1 episodes of Pokémon show Ash with his hat backwards while throwing a Poké Ball—even when he didn't turn his hat backwards.
    • The episode "Battle Aboard the St. Anne" had a sequence where multiple Pokémon of the same species gang up to fight Team Rocket grunts. The Pikachu team up is shown by recycling part of the scene from "Pokémon Emergency" where every Pikachu in the Viridian Pokémon Center team up to protect and help Ash's Pikachu, with the background changing in an obvious way (the inside of the Pokémon Center has off-white walls and roof, while the St. Anne's interiors have a blue roof and upper floor walls)
    • "Pallet Party Panic" features a really funny example of this, when Ash is stuck in a true with a bunch of scared Pidgey. Deciding to release his Pidgeotto to protect them, the same clip of Ash throwing his Poké Ball is used, right after he is clearly shown to be hanging onto a branch, and therefore physically unable to move like that.
  • In the last episode of Digimon Frontier, when the Chosen Children fuse together into Susanoomon, the evolution footage shows Takuya and Koji's first Digivices rather than their current ones.

    Films — Animation 
  • Towards the end of Felix the Cat: The Movie, stock footage of Princess Orianna getting captured from the beginning of the film is used near the end of the film; the animators didn't even bother to change the background.

    Films — Live-Action 
  • All Monsters Attack is basically just one big "stock film".
  • The octopus in Ed Wood's Bride of the Monster is a classic example. The stock footage shows a real life octopus swimming around underwater, but in scenes when actors tangle with it, it's a limp, unmoving and obviously fake one made of rubber sitting in a puddle of water.
  • Godzilla vs. Gigan was quite infamous for its over-use of stock footage. Particularly grating is the fact that the fight scenes would randomly shift from day-to-night due to the film using footage from Destroy All Monsters and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster. Likewise, there's Mothra's accidental cameo within said stock footage of GTTHM... even though she wasn't even supposed to be in the film Godzilla Vs. Gigan at all.
  • Gigan, in turn, is a source of stock footage for Terror of Mechagodzilla. Note how the orange muscle car belonging to the Interpol agent turns into the orange hatchback from Gigan when it blows up.
  • Like All Monsters Attack, Gamera: Super Monster re-uses fight scenes like mad.
  • Likewise, Godzilla Raids Again has out-of-place stock footage. One of the most baffling examples takes place during a nightclub scene, when Tsukioka is taking his girl out on a date prior to Godzilla's attack. One of the shots includes an elaborate stage show consisting of a number of women with umbrellas. All of this is fairly normal, except for one important detail. The footage was very obviously sourced from pre-1945 propaganda films, as evidenced by the presence on either side of the stage of Japanese, Fascist Italian (the pre-1943 flag with the arms of the Kingdom of Savoy) and Nazi German flags. As this presents a fairly large problem for anyone who wants to release the film or show it on TV, a common expedient is to digitally cover the swastika note  with a grey or black disc. However, as the digital disc is stationary and does not move with the film's frame jitter, this ends up letting the offending symbol peek through slightly.
  • In one of the Batman movie serials there's a scene where a black car goes over the edge of a cliff. But the stock footage used for the car actually going over is a black van.
  • In the 1966 Batman: The Movie, stock footage of a Polaris missile is used twice. Unfortunately, the second time it appears, it's been horizontally flipped, meaning that the letters on the missile labelling it a Polaris all appear backwards.
  • Invasion of the Neptune Men uses footage from the 1960 nuclear war film World War III Breaks Out in what is supposed to be a kid's movie. "They blew up the Hitler building!"
    • That particular shot was not an example of stock footage failure. Apparently, this was a reproduction of the giant billboards for 1960 Swedish documentary "Mein Kampf" about Hitler which were scattered through downtown Tokyo. Still weird to see it in a kid's movie.
    • Kevin Murphy has said that not only did they cut every scene of the stock footage they could out of the movie for its MST3K riffing on moral grounds, but that the stock footage was so abhorrent to them that they riffed the film a new one with a vehemence that made merely bad films like Manos: The Hands of Fate, Monster a-Go Go and The Castle of Fu Manchu pale in comparison. He even has a song for the occasion...
  • Manos: The Hands of Fate itself has a notable one near the end, where the family is trying to escape into the desert at night and the father shoots his gun at a snake—which is shown in close-ups shot in broad daylight.
  • Star Trek: The Motion Picture: A lot of the film's many many many Leave the Camera Running sequences were used to depict the Enterprise from then to the very end of the TOS movies. Even Star Trek: Generations uses Klingon Bird of Prey footage, and at one point the Enterprise-B is the Excelsior. That's the one that really doesn't work, as some tweaks were made to the model, and the scene of the Excelsior at warp is very recognizable.
  • Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan reused several scenes from the previous film. While the Klingon ships are an in-universe recording of the V'Ger incident and therefore excused, it's amazing how in the 12 years since the previous film that guy in the spacesuit is still standing on spacedock doing flips.
  • In The Hunt for Red October, a damaged aircraft crashing on the deck of the carrier changes from what should be a modern (for the time) jet to an F9F Panther, an aircraft 30 years older than the one it is supposed to depict. The look of both the footage and the plane is obvious. Also, a Soviet torpedo launched from a turboprop splashes down looking precisely the same as the American torpedo later dropped from a helicopter.
  • In the James Bond movie You Only Live Twice, for an American rocket launch they used stock footage of a Soviet Soyuz rocket, and for a Soviet rocket launch they used stock footage of an American Gemini rocket.
  • As a necessary inclusion to this list: the So Bad, It's Good Plan 9 from Outer Space features stock footage of Bela Lugosi walking. It is, sadly, an appropriate metaphor for both the actor himself and the movie he was to appear in.
  • Birdemic: Shock And Terror uses chunks of stock footage from Getty Images during the in-universe news broadcasts. Fair enough, right? Except they did not actually shell out the money for the footage, and some of it as a result has a great big Getty Images watermark plastered over it.
  • In Mortal Kombat: Annihilation, when Baraka is thrown into a fire-pit in the shape of the MK logo, it shows an earlier scene of Rain falling in before being consumed in flames.
  • Proving no film is above this, at least in the pre-CGI era, Citizen Kane has a jungle picnic scene in which the background footage is lifted from The Son of Kong. You can plainly see pterodactyls flying around. Maybe Charles Foster Kane founded InGen...
  • In Gokaiger Goseiger Super Sentai 199 Hero Great Battle (an HD movie), during the battle against the Black Cross King's evil Ranger clones, the clones of the Changemen, Flashmen, Turborangers, Livemen and Maskmen attack the Gokaigers and Goseigers with their BFGs...and by "their BFGs", we mean unremastered stock footage from their original series in The '80s of them firing their BFGs. Considering how amazingly gorgeous the rest of the movie was, the jump to mid-80's quality stock footage was jarring. This happens again later, in the battle against the Black Cross Colossus, with every mecha joining the fight. Nearly all of the finishers used by the mecha are the stock footage of the finishers from their respective series. It can be jarring when it goes from a finisher used in a 2000's series to one used in the early 1990's. Adding insult to injury, the non-mecha vehicles from Goranger and JAKQ, Variblune and Sky Ace, respectively, get shiny new CGI models (and Variblune even gets a combo with Gokai-Oh), yet none of the mecha (that didn't already have CGI models) do. On the other hand, at some points it's subverted within the same scene, with certain finishers being seamlessly edited together (such as Battle Fever Robo and DaiBouken).
  • The Day After lifts tons of footage from First Strike (a documentary speculating about nuclear war). At one point, a character mentions that Beale Air Force Base has been nuked. Later, in First Strike stock footage, Beale Air Force Base is reporting that Soviet missiles are incoming.
  • All over the place in Midway. Mitigated somewhat in that casual audiences might miss them, but stick out blatantly to anyone with even a little knowledge of WWII aviation:
    • A crashing SBD Dauntless dive bomber at the end of the film uses what may be the same footage of an FH-1 as in The Hunt for Red October, as listed above.
    • When Ens. George Gay is forced to ditch his crippled TBD Devastator the clip is of an F6F Hellcat.
    • Speaking of the F6F, stock footage of Hellcats is used for pretty much every scene intended to depict the F4F Wildcat. The Hellcat wasn't deployed in combat until September of 1943 (the Battle of Midway was in June of 1942) and though sharing a family resemblance, there's really no mistaking a Hellcat for a Wildcat. This includes takeoff, landing and dogfighting scenes, and the famous scene of Tom Garth crash-landing his damaged fighter and splitting it in half after striking the tower.
    • Most combat scenes of the Devastator torpedo bombers instead uses the TBM Avenger. While there were Avengers involved at Midway, there were only six, all of them from a squadron on the island.
    • For that matter, the American dive bomber attack tends to replace the two-seater SBD Dauntlesses with single-seat F4U Corsairs. The Dauntless looks pretty much nothing like the Corsair. Other times SB2C Helldivers were used. Much like the Hellcats-for-Wildcats example above, the Helldiver appeared much later in the war. Unlike that example, it bore no resemblance to the Dauntless whatsoever.
    • A B-17 crash-landing at Midway was stock footage also used in Tora! Tora! Tora! Doubly egregious because the aircraft not only is flying an earlier-war paint scheme, but because the runway it was utilizing was at a large and fully-paved airbase. Midway was... not.
    • The same B-17 crash-landing stock footage was also used in the 1990 film Memphis Belle. While closer to actual (the runways looked correct), the early-war paint scheme and the poor CGI slide, in the opposite direction to the spin in the stock footage, afterward makes this one stand out also.
    • Generally averted, surprisingly enough, with the Japanese aircraft. Most footage of Zeros, D3A Dive Bombers and B5N Torpedo Bombers utilizes the modified T-6 Texan Aircraft Understudies rather than stock footage, and what footage is used tends to depict the correct aircraft.
  • A Hard Day's Night: When The Beatles get into the cab to their hotel, they're all wearing suits and ties, but when we cut to them driving off, John Lennon is inexplicably wearing a turtleneck and jacket, in footage taken from one of their tours.
  • During the surgery scenes in Night of the Bloody Apes, taken from a medical instructional film, three sets of hands are present — two operating and the third administering anaesthesia — even as the long shots indicate that only the protagonist Dr. Krallman and his assistant Goyo are present in the room.
  • The 2013 horror film Friend Requestnote  includes an establishing shot of a police car driving past a police station, represented by Shutterstock footage. We know this because there's a giant Shutterstock watermark over most of the frame, suggesting the filmmakers were too cheap to buy the stock footage in question.
  • The In Memoriam opening of Spider-Man: Far From Home has a lot of stock transition effects that anyone who has ever played with Windows Movie Maker will recognize, and a stock image of some clouds with a giant Getty Images watermark stamped over the top. Justified, as it's created by high-schoolers in universe, and is thus a case of Stylistic Suck.

  • The Hunger Games has an in-universe example of this. The stock footage of District 13 has the same mockingjay in it: it ends up being one of the factors in the revolution movement. Also that same clip is shown every year for seventy-five years, and somehow the background is always burning.

  • Jon Stewart once called out The Sean Hannity Show on a story they did about an anti-healthcare-reform rally in Washington. The rally took place in the fall, when the surrounding trees were full of orange and red leaves, but some of the footage showed that the trees were fully green. What had actually happened was that they mixed in footage from a much larger, totally unrelated rally from months before to make the present rally look bigger (it was even reported that there were four times as many attendees than there actually were). This actually prompted an apology from Hannity for falsifying the story.
  • Many a space documentary uses the footage shot during an unmanned early Gemini mission when talking about re-entry, however, when they're using it while talking about something like the Apollo missions, it's extremely noticeable.

    Puppet Shows 
  • Team America: World Police features the song "Freedom isn't Free" accompanied by footage of Gary visiting American memorials. Except there are normal people walking in background - in a puppet film. Considering the film is full of Stylistic Suck, this was most likely intentional.

    Video Games 
  • The animated cutscenes of the Philips CD-i game Mutant Rampage: Body Slam frequently reuse the same animations of the host character and the champion he interviews. This results in bad lip-synch and odd moments, such as the host saying "All right!" in a enthusiastic voice while facepalming.
  • If you use the Satellite Cannon attack on the scenarios where Tifa is kidnapped in Super Robot Wars Alpha Gaiden, her picture and voice still appears.
    • Salamandinay is clearly visible when they use certain attacks against our heroes in Super Robot Wars X before it's revealed who she is. Not as bad as some, since either anyone familiar with the show probably knows who it is already from what little is given from their hidden picture, while anyone not familiar with the show STILL wouldn't know who it is after seeing their face.
  • Until Dawn:
    • The ending credits will show all the death scenes that the player viewed as a montage at the end... except that the player may notice some details are off, such as bruises and the background.
    • Chris can die many ways ...except not really. Almost all of Chris's death scenes are the same footage with different backgrounds. He can get decapitated at the lodge, in the forest, in the mines, but if you removed the background it would basically be impossible to tell the difference between the scenes.

    Western Animation 
  • Just about any Filmation production, due to their over dependence on stock footage, but especially He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1983) and She-Ra: Princess of Power.
  • The scanner sequence on Code Lyoko always uses the characters' normal outfits, even when they're wearing something else. An episode from Season 4 has Ulrich and Odd heading for the scanners in the factory; they enter with the Season 1-3 outfits and shots of them in the scanners are the Season 4 outfits. This is more egregious as the latter outfits weren't introduced until the next episode. Whoops.
  • There is an episode of Danger Mouse in which Penfold is kidnapped, but they still used the stock footage of DM pulling his car out of the garage with Penfold in the passenger seat.
  • An early promo for Ed, Edd n Eddy has Kevin call the Eds "Dorks", before cutting to the shocked reaction of the kids, including Kevin himself.
  • Super Friends (1973) episode "The Androids". Superman has been kidnapped and replaced by an android. After the rest of the Super Friends figures it out the android Superman takes off, but seconds later the Stock Footage shows him still sitting at the table. Watch it here, starting at 4:00, and watch until around 5:00.
  • The "hero up!" sequence of The Super Hero Squad Show uses Green Hulk even when Hulk is in Grey Hulk mode.
  • Taken Up to Eleven in Spider-Man: The Animated Series. At first it was reused webswinging footage, or it was applicable as a flashback. In the later seasons, everytime Spidey faced Doctor Octopus or the Lizard, the same footage from the villains' first appearances would be thrown in. Also, there'd be the times the Green Goblin would switch between his first glider and his second (much bigger, very different) one from one shot to the next. (Yes, the gliders can separate and link up. No, this is not that.)
  • Even worse in the 1990s Iron Man cartoon:
    • During its first season, Tony Stark would change into his Iron Man suit Once per Episode and we were treated to a crudely done CGI sequence of this. The problem? They only made one animation of this sequence, and Tony would suddenly be in a lab (when he had previously been in space, the desert, in a forest, etc.) and in the same clothes he wore in the first ep.
    • In The Incredible Hulk's guest appearance in Season 2, Bruce Banner's clothes inexplicably change from a khaki Explorer Outfit to a pair of blue pajamas during the scene where he transforms, while the Hulk's design looks completely different from how it does for the rest of the episode. This is because the transformation sequence was actually reused from the Hulk's earlier appearance in the Fantastic Four animated series, which had a different art style and character models.
  • There is an episode of The Magic School Bus where the kids travel inside of Arnold to learn about the human digestive system. In one of the scenes during the episode, Arnold can seen sitting in the bus with the rest of the kids.
  • Parodied in The Simpsons:
    • "Radioactive Man": In an attempt to save the production of the Radioactive Man movie, an editor provides a clip where Radioactive Man and Fallout Boy are stuck in a cave with The Road Warrior types. Shots of Fallout Boy in a grassy field and on a couch were inserted into the scene, then they end up fighting aliens.
      Editor: Seamless, huh?
      Assistant: You're fired.
      Editor: And with good cause!
    • In "Homer the Whopper", the movie's producers were forced to reuse some clips from earlier in the movie in the final fight. Problem was, in half of them Homer was fit and muscular, and in the other half he was his normal overweight self. This lead to a scene where he was jumping off a beam to attack a villain where he was fit one moment, fat the next, and at one point, while he was eating a sandwich. Lenny walks out of the theatre saying that the inconsistencies took him out of the moment and ruined the experience.
  • In the late 1980s and early 1990s a TV cartoon series was made in Flanders, based on the popular comic Suske en Wiske. While the designs of the character resembled those in the comics the cartoons themselves were so cheaply made that almost every scene was stock footage. For instance, whenever a specific character was walking from one point to another, they always played the same clip. The animators also animated only one expression of a certain emotion for each main cast member. If for instance a specific character became angry, it was always the same scene without any sort of variation. As one can imagine, watching these cartoons can become rather tedious after a while, especially since they follow the stories of the comic book albums almost frame-by-frame in extremely slow pacing.
  • To see just how little the Warner Brothers animation studio cared by this time, witness the double use of a clip of Daffy walking to a window in "See Ya Later, Gladiator" - he was in a different building both times - and neither one looked at all alike (one was a science lab, the other was his house).
  • Thunder Cats had this in chapter 62. One night, Lion-O, Wilykat and Wilykit infiltrate Castle Plun-Darr, then they're ambushed by the Mutants, but the heroes fight back and Lion-O jumps, evading all of Slithe's beam shots and lands just in front of him and then you see it: Lion-O funnily smirking, with a background of a grassy field surrounded by a forest, on daylight. Then, they're back inside the castle. Watch it here, at 4:19.
  • Episode 10 of the fourth season of Winx Club had Musa included in the Transformation Sequence even though Musa wasn't with the rest of the Winx at the time. Episode 11 did it again by having Aisha included in the sequence when she wasn't with the rest of the group at the time.
  • SpongeBob SquarePants: In "Rise and Shine", Patrick is seen watching the orange sea anemone (yes, the same one used as a stand-in for pornography in "Your Shoe's Untied) as a morning show.


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