If you’re getting started with video production, it’s important to understand all of the parts that go into a successful video.
To do this, it’s helpful to learn about what b-roll footage is and how it could be used for your next project.
B-roll or “b roll” can be defined as stock footage that is used in place of an interview subject or in addition to an interview subject.
While an interview shot takes up most of the time in the video, b-roll is used to fill in the gaps between questions or answers.
How To Shoot B Roll Footage
What Is b roll footage?
B-Roll footage is any additional footage that you edit together with your main shots to create a more dynamic final product.
It can be used as “cutaway” or “cut” footage to help tell your story and add details that help your audience understand what’s going on.
You might use B-Roll when you want to transition from one scene to another but don’t have the right shot.
You can fill in any gaps with B-Roll, so your video doesn’t feel disjointed.
What Is B-Roll Footage?
The use of B-roll has been increasing in popularity over the years as it provides editors with more creative options when editing videos together.
This allows them to keep viewers interested in the video while they are listening to the responses given by the interviewee.
It generally refers to any shots other than the main narrative action (A-roll). You might think of A-roll as the main storyline, while B-roll is sort of like the supporting cast.
B-roll can also refer to cutaways within a scene, which is often used as coverage for audio problems or simply for better transitions.
A shot is a section of video or film that doesn’t include any cuts or edits. In other words, it’s a seamless take from one camera.
If you’ve ever filmed something on your phone and ended up with just one video file, you’ve made a shot.
And the more shots you have in your arsenal, the better the finished film will look.
So, why exactly do you need B-roll?
Well, because it’s impossible to tell an entire story with just one shot.
For example, let’s say you’re filming a scene where two characters are talking over coffee at a small cafe table.
A single camera can only capture so much of the action and interaction — which means there’s no way to properly display the setting and surroundings without using additional footage to supplement what you captured in the primary shot (the A-roll footage).
So how do you get it?
You’ll want to shoot extra footage before or after your main shot to add context and create visual interest for your audience.
You can do this by capturing:
- Exterior shots of the location where your primary shot took place.
- Interior shots of the location where your primary shot took place.
- Close-up shots of objects that help set the scene.
- Shots of people.
B-Roll Makes Your Video More Interesting
There’s a lot of videos on YouTube, but not all of them are created equal. It takes a lot more than just shooting video to make a video go viral.
That being said, there are some simple tricks that you can use to make your video stand out from the crowd.
For example, did you know that adding B-roll to your film can increase engagement by up to 65 percent?
What is B-Roll?
People often associate B-roll with boring filler footage that has no purpose other than to take up space.
But this couldn’t be further from the truth. B-roll is an incredibly powerful tool in your filmmaking kit and, when used correctly, can make your video way more interesting and engaging for viewers.
How Do You Shoot B-Roll Footage?
Here are some tips if you want to use your GoPro for B-roll footage:
Set your GoPro on a tripod.
The picture and focus will be much better if you do.
Move slowly and hold the camera at eye level. This will give your viewer perspective and add context to your video.
Turn on the video settings so that your footage is smooth, not shaky or jumpy. You will get a much more professional look this way!
The best light is natural light in daylight (cloudy days are great for filming as the light is softer). If you need to shoot a B-roll in low light, use a white balance card (available on Amazon) to correct for any color casts, but avoid using auto white balance as it can produce an odd color cast.
Keep your GoPro steady!
Even with a gimbal or tripod there will always be movement, so keep this in mind when framing your shots and moving around with the camera. Zooming in/out will exaggerate any movement of your hand, so try to keep it as still as possible while shooting and editing.
Tips For Capturing B-Roll
B-roll is great for adding visual interest and context to your video.
For example, if you filmed a chef making a fancy dish, you might want to include some video of the chef in her kitchen and cooking before she makes the dish.
A great way to capture B-roll is to use a tripod with your camera or phone. You plug it in, turn on the feature, and then walk around your subject with your phone to film the surroundings.
Then you can edit all those clips together at once into one larger video.
You can also use a cellphone mount and a Bluetooth remote so that you don’t have to hold up your camera while taking B-roll footage. The remote will free up your hands so that you can move around while still filming what’s going on around you.
If there are sounds in the room that are distracting (someone talking on their cellphone or someone watching TV) use a simple wind muffler to drown out those sounds so they don’t get mixed into your audio track.
B-Roll For Every Type Of Film Production
B-roll is used to make your film look more professional and interesting. It is a series of shots that can be used in conjunction with the main footage of your video.
B-roll can be used to add context, to describe what viewers are viewing, or to set up jokes, or give background information on a certain subject or character.
There are many different types of B-roll that you can use for all different types of video projects. Here are just a few examples:
This is a shot of the actual location that you are filming at. This can be used in a travel video, where the narrator talks about the different locations they have visited and what they liked about each one.
It would also work well in any type of video that talks about a specific place, such as an educational video about New York City.
A cinemagraph is basically an animated GIF image that contains one still image and one moving image.
The still image appears as a normal photograph while the moving image is looped continuously within it.
For example, while talking about how people get around in London, you may want to show some footage of red double decker buses going by as well as some footage of other modes of transportation like taxis.
How can I use B-Roll in my videos?
There are many uses for B-roll in a video, but we’ll focus on three main ways:
If you have some information that you want to show visually (peraps an address or location), using an image as a background could really help you achieve this.
Covering up mistakes in your edit
Your main footage might have a few mistakes in it, but using B-roll can help cover up those mistakes in post-production. For example, you may have accidentally cut off a shot while editing or missed an important detail during filming; you can make these edits seamless with proper B-roll usage.
Adding variety to your video
It’s very easy for a video to get stale if you’re using the same types of shots over and over again. Using B-roll will help spice things up by adding variety to your final cut.
What Are The Benefits Of Shooting B-Roll?
Trying to figure out what’s worth shooting on your own can be tough, but if you’re trying to get into video production as a side hustle or even as a full-time job, capturing B-roll can be very lucrative.
It gives the audience something to focus their attention on while they’re listening to characters converse. It also helps when you’re telling a story, which is why it’s so commonly used in documentaries and other nonfiction works.
Here are some examples of common B-roll footage:
- Shots of the company’s headquarters
- A reporter or host talking to employees
- An interview with an expert who isn’t involved with the story being told
- A shot of paperwork related to whatever story you’re telling (a contract for example)
If you go out and shoot this kind of footage, you could end up selling it to production companies for a pretty penny.
Plan Time To Shoot B-Roll When You Are Conducting Interviews
Telling your story without B-roll can be difficult, but if you’re shooting a long-form documentary or other non-narrative pieces, you might not have any need for B-roll.
That being said, there are lots of reasons why you should still shoot B-roll when you are conducting interviews. Here are a few:
B-roll helps keep the viewer engaged
In the same way that photos give a sense of place in print journalism, B-roll does the same for video journalism.
You don’t have to use it all the time, but if you’re having trouble keeping an audience’s attention, try tossing some B-roll into the mix.
B-roll adds emotional impact to your story
Sometimes you want to get across how something feels or looks in addition to how it sounds. B-roll gives you another avenue to explore those emotions with your audience.
B-roll varies the pace of your video
When you’re shooting interview after interview, the pace can start to feel monotonous and slow down your documentary.
Shooting B-Roll Footage – Wrapping Up
If you want to add some variety to your video and make it more interesting, then B-roll footage is a must.
Trying to explain something in words is hard enough, but when you start adding video footage on top of that, the whole process becomes even more difficult.
There are a few different techniques for shooting B-roll footage that can help you with this process.
Techniques for shooting B-roll footage:
Panning is a great technique to use if you are trying to get across a certain mood or feeling towards a subject matter.
You start by filming your subject matter straight on and then pan along with them as they move; this will allow you to capture the movement and flow of what they are doing in one wide shot.
A cutaway shot is used as an insert shot within a larger scene. This technique gives you the freedom to add in any kind of extra footage that will help with the overall production value of your video.