What is B-Roll? Tips for Shooting Awesome B-Roll

B-roll is the extra footage that’s used to enrich the story your telling and provide greater flexibility during post-production.

Having shots of your environment make a finished piece all the more interesting and having extra “safety” footage is super important for the editing process. For example, there may be moments in an interview piece that work for audio but not video (interviewee scratching their nose, etc) and b-roll can help save the a piece by covering up these edits.  It’s fun to get creative with b-roll and while it may not be your first priority on a shoot, it’s absolutely vital to producing an engaging video.

Here’s few things to remember when shooting b-roll

  1. Variety is key.  Shoot wide shots, closeups, low angles, time lapses, birds eye view… as many interesting shots as possible.
  2. Move around! Don’t just stick with static shots… panning shots help the pace of your project.
  3. If you’re shooting an interview, be sure to shoot b-roll of the person you are interviewing. Alternating from the talking-head interview to a voice-over with footage of the person going about their business not only makes things more interesting but it can help connect your audience with your subject.
  4. Get b-roll on location AFTER the interview too. You’ll know what topics are covered in the interview and can be more strategic in capturing relevant footage. For example, if a man mentions his partner and kids — be sure to get shots of his family or get footage of their family photos.
  5. More is always better. It’s better to have way too much than not enough b-roll.

For great examples of the variety of b-roll you can shoot, check out this beautiful b-roll by Jeanious from a South African documentary:

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