Why you need more B-roll

Written by Fiona Thomas
Originally posted on Tuesday 23rd January 2018

Thinking about working on your own video project? Awesome!

We love creating videos and we’ve made a fair few of them over the years, so we’re here to tell you how to get the best possible end result.

There’s a wealth of knowledge out there on the latest cameras, lights and lenses to use but we’ve got one piece of advice that will always be important.

Here’s one of the best tips we can offer you. GET LOTS OF B-ROLL!

What is B-roll?

It’s alternative or extra footage which can be used to break up one single shot.

The main purpose is to help build a better picture of what you’re trying to say, make your viewer think/feel a certain way and just make the whole thing more enjoyable to watch. 

When would I use B-roll?

You can use it to set the scene – especially in the opening of a video – in order to give the viewer context for where your story will take place.

It can set the tone by depicting a lighthearted atmosphere, create curiosity or even using a well known landmark to give clues and context without having to use any dialogue or text overlays.

It gives the viewer a more accurate idea of the environment where the video takes place, breaks up long sections of dialogue and creates a more emotive experience for the viewer.

What exactly should I film?

Your B-roll should include different angles of your story.

So for example if you want to show how biscuits are made in a factory, you might start by asking an employee to describe the entire process whilst talking to camera.

But just using that same shot for the entire video would be incredibly boring for our viewer.

It would also be hard to get a true picture of how the biscuits are made.

To help tell the story more effectively you could get some footage of the factory opening first thing in the morning, or maybe in the middle of the night when the very first workers come on shift at 4am.

Get some time lapse footage of the local skyline as the sun comes up and you’ll help explain to the viewer that the process of making these biscuits takes time, and the employees so dedicated that get up at the crack of dawn!

PRO TIP: Shoot B-roll at 120 fps and slow down to create a dramatic effect

Then you might want to show how the employees get prepared for work, showing them taking health and safety precautions by washing their hands, putting on specialist uniforms and hairnets to ensure no contamination occurs.

Here’s an example of how including B-roll can make a video more engaging:

Then in the factory, you’ll want lots of wide shots to show the scale of the machinery but also mid range and close up shots to show how precise they are and how appetising the biscuits look.

Some footage of the employees doing spot checks and filling out paperwork would also be good to show that although the machines are efficient, the staff are always on hand to find even the tiniest of error.

The perfect end would be come footage of the biscuits being delivered to stores, purchased by a customer and them enjoy one with a nice cuppa at home.

All of these enticing images cut with the original talking head make for a much more interesting video that actually tells a story.

PRO TIP: There’s no such thing as too much B-roll

The great thing about generic B-roll – drone shots of a forest for example –  is that you never know when you might need it.

You can have it stored and ready to make an existing project longer, create something more dramatic for social media or just add a little oomph to a piece which is lacking that cinematic edge. 

Having ample B-roll allows you this flexibility and gives you the opportunity to use it in future videos that you’ve not even started yet.

Want to shoot your own film? Rent your kit here.