A winning video contains many key ingredients. One that is often overlooked is B-roll footage. The narrative of your video may rely predominantly on your primary footage, but B-roll is the glue that holds it all together.
B-roll not only serves a number of practical purposes — hiding cuts and transitions, and filling in any blanks — but it also adds visual interest of your video. Simply focusing on a talking head isn’t always very interesting; B-roll allows you to add context and illustrate key points in an interesting and engaging way.
If you’re not sure where to begin, here are a few tips for capturing great B-roll footage that really boosts the production value of your video!
Make sure you allow enough time after shooting your interviews to capture some B-roll footage. You might be able to get a few ideas of the shots you’ll need ahead of time, but you’ll probably get a better feel for what you need on the day. Note anything specific — objects, processes, locations — your interviewee mentions during the interview and ask them if you think there’s anything of interest that you could include.
Don’t be afraid to embrace spontaneity. Your best shot might end up being a truly candid moment!
Capture a variety of shots
Give yourself plenty of options in post-production by shooting a wide variety of shots. Get some location shots — the exterior of the building, any interesting signage, the interior decor — along with shots of your subject in action within their environment. And don’t forget to refer to your notes and capture any objects and processes mentioned by your interviewee!
Bonus tip: If your discussing computer software, try using a screen recording as part of your B-roll!
Don’t forget, part of the point of B-roll is to add visual interest to your video! Get creative with camera movements; try a few pans and tilts. Capture a variety of wide angle and close up shots. And, if you’re a seasoned camera operator, experiment with depth-of-field. All this will add to the production value of your video and keep viewers on their toes!
Choose your shots wisely
Now comes the tricky bit — editing your footage. The length of your B-roll depends entirely on the length and pacing of your video. If your video is longer, you might cut to your supplementary shots for 20-30 seconds. Whereas, shorter videos will require quicker cuts.
Most of your footage will end up on the cutting room floor. Be ruthless and only include shots that are relevant to the main narrative. Otherwise, your B-roll becomes distracting.