Below, we've shared how B roll footage can make a huge difference in your video production quality, whether you're shooting a news story or a YouTube series.
A Roll vs. B Roll Footage
Let's say you're working on a local news story about a high school science program, and you want to make the footage as entertaining as possible. Of course, you'll need to interview the faculty behind the program, as well as a few exceptional students. Think of these primary shots as your "a-roll" footage. Without them, viewers won't learn much about the science program, and they won't be able to see how it directly benefits their community.
On the other hand, an entire video of "talking head" interviews is a bit bland, so you'll need some extra shots to spice things up. This supplemental footage is known as "b-roll", and it can be used to provide more context, show locations and activities that the interviewers are talking about, and cover up unwanted moments in your a-roll material. Essentially, b-roll gives you more flexibility in the editing booth, so you can add nuance to your story and clean up mistakes.
How Much B Roll Should I Shoot?
In most cases, we recommend making a list of potential b-roll shots before heading to a location, so you don't waste any time. The amount of b-roll you shoot will depend entirely on the project. If you're filming a feature-length documentary, you'll probably want to shoot more b-roll than a-roll, because those supplemental shots will make your film infinitely more watchable. On the other hand, if you're creating a short YouTube series with monologues and interviews, you might only need a few b-roll shots to use as cutaways from the main topic.
How Can I Use B Roll Seamlessly in My Project?
B-roll should enhance your main narrator, whether it's an interviewee that needs a visual explanation, or a voice-over that you've recorded in the editing stage. It's easy to get carried away with b-roll, however. You should only use shots that have the necessary context to be understood by the average viewer, and make sense to your story. In most cases, you'll want to continue playing your a-roll audio while cutting in muted b-roll footage, so that the audio stays seamless throughout your sequence. In short, b-roll should never feel disruptive.