What is B-Roll footage?

What is B-Roll footage? Well, depending on what you are filming, B-Roll footage is one of or even all of the following…

  • The narrative lifeblood of your video
  • The plasters to cover edit cracks
  • The visual variety to retain engagement

B-Roll footage is supplementary or additional material which is used to accompany the main footage filmed for a project. In the past, this would have been called A-Roll material but that phrase is no longer used. Maybe it’s time to bring it back…?

The name of B-Roll is mainly used in reference to additional footage used in interview, testimonial or corporate-based video productions. It’s the content used to back up what a speaker or interviewee is talking about and visually show the audience what is being referred to. For example, in our Behind the Scenes video for an NS&I advert shoot, we interview key members of the team and feature shots of them in action to back up and visually show what they are talking about. Likewise in this cast interview video for the touring production of Champions of Magic, live show footage is used to showcase the magicians in action and show off their tricks.

Earlier, we referred to B-Roll as the plaster with which to cover edit cracks – by this we mean this footage can be incredibly useful to cover cuts made to interview footage when the interviewee is umming and ahhing or has fluffed and needs to start talking again but the previous part of the interview was usable. If an interview is cut up and shuffled around to restructure the story or make it more dramatic, emotive or powerful, the B-Roll footage can again be immensely useful to cover these edits and make the narrative flow.

We feel that in this modern age, viewers have short attention spans and expect to be actively engaged when watching a video to maintain the watch time. By having frequently changing visuals the brain is stimulated by the changes and attention is retained. B-Roll footage enables a video to be visually interesting in a way that an extended shot of what might be an admittedly beautiful location and interesting interviewee but doesn’t move or change.

Often times, B-Roll footage will have audio recorded but it won’t be used in the finished video. This means that direction can be given to the people in front of the camera, safe in the knowledge that it won’t be used in the end.

When we are out shooting any video which involves an interview, it’s vital to get a good range of B-Roll footage to give options in the edit so that should we need to show something to match a topic of the interview or convey important information, we have it in the footage library. Also, shooting this content helps generate what can be the beginning of a video library which can be used to make ancillary content in the future – maybe a Facebook video banner, a montage for your website or even cutaway B-Roll content in a new video.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what B-Roll footage is, so next time you’re looking to get a video shot, talk to us and see what we can do together and work out what B-Roll will best benefit your video…



Posted in Video Production Tips, Behind the Scenes, Corporate Video.

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