Incorporating videography into your marketing strategy is a huge but wonderful step. One aspect that many take for granted is quality B-roll footage. When done well, B-roll can enhance any videography work done for you and be used again in future projects which saves you time and money. Let’s learn more about making the most of your B-roll video footage. 

What is B-Roll Video Footage?

The term B-roll originated in the early Hollywood movie days. While A-roll is the main video footage, B-roll footage includes everything else. Using A-roll footage alone in videography may make the video feel off-balance and I dare say boring. B-roll enhances the storytelling experience, smooths transitions, and is what makes the viewer feel the impact of your message. 

When done correctly, B-roll footage helps to strengthen the characters and/or setting, highlights the services or products, gives context to voiceovers, and covers any gaps or errors in the storyline. 

The Impact of B-Roll 

“Good B-roll keeps the film engaging and provides essential context. I recently watched Free Solo, the Best Documentary Oscar winner from 2019, and there was a part where free soloist climber, Alex Honnold said something like ‘I don’t care about money or comfort very much, I just want to climb,’ and it cut to him in his tiny RV as he ate some chili directly out of a frying pan with a spatula. A statement like that would sound extremely cheesy and disingenuous without a visual representation of it. 

A lot of people get hung up on trying to make their shots cinematic. Some of the best documentaries ever made are mostly composed of amateur video and news coverage. The way I think of B-roll is to focus on showing the story over everything else and if I can get a nice cinematic shot along the way, that’s great, but it isn’t my biggest priority. The most beautiful footage ever has no place in your film/video if it doesn’t elevate the story.”

Mark Denham, Video Production Specialist at Dogwood

Types of B-Roll Footage

When your videographer is at work, you may notice them taking random shots in addition to the specified video content- this is B-roll footage happening. Good B-roll footage is at least 10-15 seconds no matter what the videographer is shooting. This extra footage is crucial to the final edit.

A great videographer understands what B-roll footage will have the most impact and they will always shoot more than they need. Trust the process even if you don’t understand what they are doing or why they are doing something. 

Some B-roll examples include:

  • Location shots or object/product shots
  • Undirected footage of people
  • Reenactments
  • Establishing shots
  • Archival imagery

Ways to Incorporate B-Roll Footage

If A-roll footage is the cake, then B-roll footage is the icing on the cake. It is what brings all the main footage together and connects it together seamlessly. Without it, you would have sharp cuts back and forth between people talking or settings changing that can be dizzying and complicated to the viewer. B-roll footage adds interest to dialogue and truly brings the subjects to life because of their visual impact. 

B-roll footage is used by:

  • Smoothing transitions between segments
  • Covering gaps or errors in speaking
  • Establishing characters or settings
  • Highlighting services or products
  • Giving context to voiceovers

The use of after-effects can easily be incorporated into B-Roll footage. This involves motion effects, captions, and text or graphic additions. Our Creative Director, Kristen Wallace, offered this valuable insight on the use of after effects and B-Roll footage: 

“Adding motion graphics to a video can really take it to the next level. If done well, even the simplest lower third or information pop-up can create a more polished look and work alongside the b-roll to communicate important information”

Never Throw Away B-Roll Footage!

Videographers always shoot more B-roll footage than they need- in fact a good rule of thumb is to shoot enough B-roll to cover 4-6 times the length of the final video. While this may seem overkill, that B-roll footage is golden. It can be easily used for future content such as short video clips for social media, video graphics for your website, special promotions, and much more. 

If you are looking to incorporate videography into your marketing strategy or have an upcoming videography project, contact Dogwood Media Solutions to get started. Our crew has the creative vision and technical expertise to bring your dream to life. 

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