So, what the heck is B-roll?
Essentially, video production is a game of show and tell. We begin with our primary footage which is known as – you guessed it — A-Roll. This part of the video tells the story through interviews, hosts, or narrators. The additional footage collected to supplement the A-Roll is known as B-Roll. The B-Roll shows what the A-roll tells. The origin of the terms comes from the olden days of using 16 mm film in productions.
And why should I care about it?
Let’s say you are a brilliant orator. You could inspire nations to unite and employees to barrel through an 80-hour work week with pride. But even clever wording and passionate phrasing can fly right over your audience’s head if there’s no change of scene.
That’s where B-Roll comes in.
Though the name implies a secondary nature, B-Roll could be the biggest chunk of your video – depending on the project. Documentaries and interviews are obvious productions that rely on B-Roll to tell a story. But there are other projects that benefit from good use of B-Roll.
Hour-long PowerPoint lectures could make any student cry. B-Roll not only makes the video more interesting – it gives students a visual reference to the subject being taught. Instead of being told how to fill a cavity, they can actually see it done.
Sometimes the best advertising is letting the customers speak for you. Social Proof is a powerful phenomenon where people look to others for how they should think or act. As your customers are testifying to your great service, involve cutaways to show your excellent customer service, vast array of merchandise, or tight-knit staff.
A picture is worth a thousand words. And when you’ve only got 30 seconds to tell a story, moving images can come in handy. Instead of telling someone about a beautiful garden, you can show them.
Choosing video as a medium allows telling a story that appeals to all the senses. It’s always worth the extra time to collect B-Roll on video shoots. As with most things; More is always better. Different angles and camera motions of the same subject will ultimately make your video more dynamic.
So, why should you care about B-Roll?
Because it’s the difference between a good video and a great one.