B-roll is the extra footage that’s used to enrich the story your telling and provide greater flexibility during the video editing process.
Having shots of your environment makes a finished piece all the more interesting and having extra “safety” footage is super important for a great edit.
For example, there may be moments in an interview piece that work for audio but not video (like when an interviewee scratches their nose) and b-roll can help save 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.
Tips for Shooting B-Roll:
1. Variety is key. Shoot wide shots, close-ups, low angles, time lapses, bird’s eye view… as many interesting shots as possible
2. Move around! Don’t just stick with static shots… panning shots will help the pace of your project.
3. Capture the details. Close up shots of relevant objects can illustrate important details in an environment or situation that can help you tell the story.
4. 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.
5. Shoot entrances and exits of the location you’re shooting. This can help add context to a video. If you’re following a subject, let them enter and exit the frame without following them with the camera.
6. Get b-roll on location AFTER an 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.
7. More is always better. It’s always better to have way too much than not enough b-roll.
For great examples of b-roll variety, check out this beautiful b-roll by Cameron Danzey: