Cover your Backside with B-roll

B-roll is the supplemental footage that provides greater flexibility when editing video. Think of the footage used to cut away from an interview or news report to help tell the story. That's B-roll. When filming something static, like an interview or a news anchor reporting on-location, having shots of the environment makes the end-product more interesting to watch.

The footage from which you cutaway with B-roll is, naturally, called A-roll. As Vimean Dave Dugdale says in this video, A-roll doesn't have to be an interview. Whatever you've filmed as your main subject can work as your A-roll footage. Check out his explanation of B-roll here:


B-roll is also referred to as "safety footage" — and for good reason! If you've got moments that work for audio but not video — perhaps something distracting in the background or a necessary jump-cut — B-roll can help save the project by covering up these edits.

Check out Jeanious's B-Roll from a document he worked on in Cape Town, South Africa. There's a wide assortment of slow pans, timelapses, and static shots:

Here are a few tips for shooting B-roll:

  1. • The most important thing is to capture as much variety as possible! Cover your bases by filming a good selection of wide shots and closeups, and try out some interesting angles, such as below the subject, or maybe a bird's-eye view of an event.

    1. • Don't be afraid to move! Using only static shots can slow down the pace of the video.

      1. • It's better to shoot more than is needed — you don't want to be left without enough to edit.

        1. • Don't forget to capture B-roll of the person you are interviewing. Switching from an interview to a voice-over with footage of the person going about their business can help connect your audience with your subject.

          1. • Make sure to get some B-roll on location after the interview; there may have been details mentioned that will inspire footage. For example, if you're interviewing a mother and she mentions her children, get some shots of those kiddos in the backyard, or of their photos around the house.
          2. And remember, although the industry term is "B-roll," this all-important footage shouldn't be dismissed as "B-list." B-roll can be creative and beautiful, and truly helps to produce a more well-rounded, engaging final piece.

Category:
Shooting
Difficulty:
Beginner

9 Comments

Rodney Ifill

Rodney Ifill

Thank you Mr. Christopher for this very educational and insightful explanation on the use of B-roll and A-roll footage. I truly love this site for the opportunity to learn from professional persons like your self. Both videos are beautifully shot. Thank you again.

Glory Sandoval Arrogante

Glory Sandoval Arrogante

Will someone help me how to improve this video Never Alone by Glory Sandoval Arrogante and no no one will make a copy or use it in a different purpose?

Ted Vandell

Ted Vandell

When shooting your B-Roll, try to get as many different aspects of the subject material as possible. In other words, remember to get lots of wide shots, medium shots and close up shots as you can. Editing the parts together will flow much better cutting between wide to close up shots. Lastly, if you your video looks boring, you're not close enough. Extreme close ups of detailed objects are much more interesting to look at, than wide or medium shots.

Jim Bonito RC Obsessions

Jim Bonito RC Obsessions Plus

Thank you Chris , very helpful for someone who has no idea how to get started making videos ,but who wants to learn Thanks Jim B

Laura Isabel Martinez

Laura Isabel Martinez

i like it beacuse i'm using my camara 700d and i sitll learning about the video and the edition so this thing help me to do doc and video arts. Thanks

Jazzinho

Jazzinho

Cheers for the tips. To be honest tho I thought the second part of video was better as it was more focussed

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Lesson Summary

If you find your video lacking pizazz, B-roll footage can play an important role in rounding out your final product and smoothing out the edits. In this lesson, we'll go over some examples and tips for shooting excellent B-roll.

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