Life encompasses big moments, sweeping gestures, and dramatic moments. These are the moments that a photographer or a videographer aims to capture and treasure forever. While the big moments are important and are the very essence of a video, whether it is a wedding film or something else entirely, the little moments truly add depth and cinematic glory to the piece! This is where B-Roll comes in. A B-roll video, when used just right, adds value to a video and is a valuable asset to a videographer. It adds context, reference, and emotional depth to a video and makes it a more cinematic experience overall. A B-roll of the bride arriving at the wedding venue on her wedding day, or the aerial shot of the wedding venue is not something that one will say is necessary, but when woven together with the rest of the video, adds to the viewing experience tremendously. If you are a videographer and are excited to learn more about B-rolls, read on because we have a lot to say! But first, let’s learn what exactly B-roll is!

Introduction To B-Roll

Back in the early days of Hollywood movies, the phrases A-roll and B-roll were dubbed. In general, secondary video footage, also known as your B-roll or B-reel, is any video footage that is not the primary film, or A-roll, which typically includes the subject. The footage that isn’t a “talking head” whenever you watch a movie, a documentary, or even a video ad is known as B roll. Observe the news; it makes extensive use of B roll to help contextualize what is being reported. B roll is equally important when putting up any video because it may be used to complement your main material. The material in your B roll can be used for filler and transitional edits. Think of it as a backup video repository. B roll is frequently recorded while filming on a different camera, but it is also readily available through stock footage banks.

B roll may help businesses express their stories and give movies a more theatrical feel. You can improve the caliber of your video editing, regardless of whether you’re a vlogger or a firm with a strong video strategy. B-roll offers cutaway photos and imagery to assist create the scene or transition between two different shooting sites. These are images that “clip away” from the primary action to a different image that provides additional visual information before returning to the original image with a new context. B roll can be used in cutaway views to convey a mood to a location. For instance, portraying rainy weather can suggest a dark or depressing day. Your B roll can fill in any gaps or mistakes in your A roll. When a subject stumbles over a few words in a story, for instance, you can edit the mistake out and cover it with a B roll to hide any gaps or flaws in your A roll.

Why Do We Use B-Roll?

If you have been wondering why exactly you need B-roll clips to do justice to your video, the reasons are listed below:

  • Tool for Editing: If you had to choose just one practical use for B-roll, editing would be it. When editing a video, a B-roll gives the editor alternatives and a technique to hide cuts, when using the main material isn’t an option. There may be times when dialogue has to be edited or thoughts need to be combined while a video is being filmed. When editing, B-roll is layered over the cuts to provide the editor more freedom and possibilities if the primary shot isn’t what they want to utilize. B-roll can hide the edit and give the impression of a smooth production overall.
  • In Transition: B-roll can also be utilized in transitions, such as those that take place between scenes or towards the end of a video. Using a strong B-roll shot to introduce a scene and then inserting dialogue from an exchange can result in some exceptional, next-level transitions. An editor may decide to leave a scene by keeping a chosen B-roll shot on until the voiceover has concluded and continued with the B-roll shot as the following subject’s talk enters.
  • Pacing: Not every cut and piece of information needs to be delivered quickly and consecutively. Allow the tale to breathe a little bit and allow the graphics to do some work. B-roll can be the ideal approach to pace a narrative and give the audience some time to process the information being presented. The video should be enjoyable; it is not a race to the finish line. You can let the voiceover stop while keeping the B-roll going for a while. The B-roll might serve as a space for the viewer to exhale and relax. As an editor, pacing is a skill that must be developed, and B-roll may make it much simpler.
  • Giving Context: Giving the audience the background knowledge necessary for the story is crucial while narrating a narrative. As we get away from the B-roll’s functional nature, we begin to consider its narrative elements. B-roll is a crucial component of narrative construction and a technique that has the potential to be more effective than the sum of its parts. When done right, B-roll can give the viewer background information or context for the video’s main subject. B-roll might depict the actual activity that is being addressed on camera or the setting of an event.
  • Engagement: When B-roll is used in a video, viewers are more likely to pay attention to the content. B-roll is mostly used to increase audience engagement. B-roll enables the editor or director to inject new imagery into a visually monotonous scenario. If all you could see in a documentary was the people being interviewed, just picture how dull it would be. B-roll enables greater inventiveness, higher viewer engagement, and an all-around better viewing experience.

How To Plan A B Roll?

Finding out that some of our favorite movies and TV series aren’t linearly shot is fascinating. It all boils down to careful preparation during pre-production and editing afterward. The same is the thing with B-roll. Think about how and when you’re going to shoot the B roll while you’re also shooting your main content, just like you would with any script or storyboard you produce for your video. Don’t go overboard with your B roll shooting; while you want it to act as a second lens to what is happening in the action. More B roll is preferable to less, but you don’t want to spend time and money on material that doesn’t advance the story. Therefore, make a good plan and film as much as you can while keeping in mind that you’ll need to set up your B roll afterward.

  • Consider the setting: What scenes do you need to film while you are there? To assist set the scene, you’ll need establishing images, as well as a few candid pictures for good measure. A view of the bridge in the distance, for instance, might be used together with close-ups of the waves slamming into the shore and pans across the beach. If you have actors, prepare all the sequences in which they will appear, set up all the clothes and props that are required, and shoot all the material in one day rather than in a series of brief shootings. This is also the time to capture the weather of the day.
  • Variety: Take a variety of tight and wide-angle images to capture as many angles of a location as you can. When it comes to shooting B-rolls, list down a handful of different angles and a variety of shots you will want to try to capture. Having options is never a bad thing.
  • Consistency: If you’re aiming at someone who is strolling down the street, be sure they are moving consistently left or right. The same is true for the weather; if you’re filming an outdoor scene, you’ll need to take into account the natural lighting for succeeding scenes.
  • Keep your Focus: Don’t let your B roll get lost in the crowd; even while it frequently involves events that are taking place simultaneously with or in the background of the main tale, it still needs to bind everything together. To make it easier for viewers to follow along, you should capture the scene while keeping your subject in focus if the primary character is strolling along the street.
  • Overshoot: Running out of card space or film is not an option. Just keep shooting if you’re concerned that you haven’t taken enough pictures. It’s better to have way too much video than not enough for your editor. Although you may have sent way too much film, your editor won’t be as furious as they would be if you hadn’t sent enough.
  • Shot List: The first step to success in any production is to have a plan. The same is true for getting a quality B-roll. Consider the subject you’re covering and the pictures you need to get. To make sure you have them all, make a list and work your way down. You should never leave a shot without taking a crucial shot of the action.

Types of B-Roll

While we speak of B-roll as a unit, it is in fact very varied. There is a variety of different types of B-roll that you can take your pick from. Listed below are the options that you might want to explore.

  • Exterior Shot: The setting shot, often known as an outside B-roll shot, depicts the place or structure where your scene is taking place or the topic being discussed. Multiple uses can be made of exterior photos. Because they establish the external setting for the subsequent action, these are frequently referred to as “establishing shots.”
  • Cutaways or Inserts: A common B-roll style in narrative or fictional work is cutaways or inserts. The shot interrupts the primary shot to provide the spectator with a little extra context, as the name suggests, by cutting away from the main shot and inserting a second shot. A cutaway may also highlight a significant element that isn’t clear from the primary perspective.
  • Reenactments: Reenactments replicate an incident from a subject’s story in order to be included in the video and provide a more accurate depiction of what transpired. Since the filmmakers weren’t present when the incident occurred, they try their best to recreate the moment using actors in a make-believe environment.
  • Stock Footage: You simply don’t always have the resources to take care of everything yourself. Or perhaps you simply lack enough B-roll video to finish an edit. This is a situation where stock video comes in very handy. Stock footage is a term used to describe video files that are intended for general use and are frequently found in libraries.

How to Film B-rolls

Anything from a convenient smartphone to a high-end digital movie camera to drones, gimbals, and GoPros can be used to capture B-roll footage! Having fun while filming B roll with tips and tricks of the trade will help you record high-quality, smooth movement, and a range of perspectives can help you achieve new angles and add cinematic value to your video.

  • Wide-angle videos create the mood for the scene and make the viewer feel immersed in it.
  • A portrait of the subject is displayed in a medium or “waist-high” shot.
  • Close-up photos highlight specifics and can highlight an important aspect for the viewer.
  • Choose a variety of frame rates to capture your footage at; 120 frames per second will enable you to experiment with slow-motion effects in post-production.
  • Use a Drone for those location-based narratives, and this might be a great way to show off the venue or the city!
  • Don’t miss those sunrise or sunset shots, and those sparkling night cityscape timelapse, as they act as great B-roll clips too

Tips To Edit B Roll 

Okay, the planning is done and the clips are acquired. Now it’s finally time to put it all together. Listed below are some of the things to keep in mind while editing your video.

  •  Utilize B-roll footage to help with scene changes between the main footage, which will help to slow down or speed up the pacing of your video.
  • Use B roll footage as an overlay to tell a story in addition to simply telling it.
  • Who doesn’t enjoy a video slideshow or montage? Utilize your B roll to produce images that set the scene and tell your tale.
  • Find the ideal music for B-roll. B roll might not have sound, therefore you can opt to add your own music to create the mood you want!

Throughout your journey as a videographer, it will become clearer every day that B-rolls can be lifesavers and can really add personality to a particular video. If you are unsure about whether or not you will have enough primary clips, we say, take enough B-roll clips as it can be your saving grace. Just like jewelry, a good pair of shoes can bring your outfit look complete and fabulous, B-rolls can complete your video in a unique way. Whether it’s a wedding video, a day out with a lovely family, or even an engagement video, make sure you get those golden clips!

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