I told a friend I was going to get B-roll, later he told me that he thought B-roll was a type of sushi. Not sure why I think everyone knows what B-roll is. Just because I love filming it doesn’t mean everyone knows what I’m talking about.
B-roll is supplemental or alternate footage intercut with the main shot in an interview or documentary (in film, TV, web videos). I think of b-roll as various establishing & transitioning shots, almost like chapter titles.
I use B-roll to help guide my story. B-roll can create atmosphere and symbolize story points. For example, during the tension or conflict in your story, if appropriate add some shots of looming clouds. Just like photography, every shot tells a story. The elements I focus are composition, light, movement of your subject, movement of your camera, & don’t forget the other half of your project, audio. When filming a time lapse, I look for movement & change. Make sure there is enough change over time, or you will simply need to record longer. On windy days when the clouds are moving pretty fast, I will let my camera record 10 minutes and speed it up in post. This all may seem pretty simple and self-explanatory but I still see poor uses of b-roll out there.
Good examples of beautifully done b-roll can be found in The Hangover, The Hills, Little Miss Sunshine, Into the Wild – check them out! I’ve used the b-roll shots (in the video above) in various web videos & TV shows, including Left Turn & The Founders. There are shots I did not include that you can find in my work as well.
So find somewhere beautiful, set up your camera on a tripod, push record, have a beer, and enjoy the result… if for no other reason than to enjoy your surroundings. When you take the time to pay attention to details, you will notice a whole new world. This B-roll video consists of diverse shots from the last few years. It starts during the winter and ends in the fall. I try to bring my camera everywhere I go just in case I see something I want to film, therefore I tend to spend my time either filming or saying I wish I had my camera.