The Most Interesting "B-roll" Ideas in the World
I don’t always shoot b-roll, but when I do, I want it to be the most interesting B-roll in the world.
If you’re not familiar with the video production term “B-roll” click here first.
Interesting b-roll makes videos better…
B-roll makes the video far more engaging, effective, memorable, sharable. To break it down, B-roll really serves two main purposes:
- To cover any edits that have been made in the interview or voice over. (For example: if an edit was made to a video interview mid-sentence, it would create a jump-cut)
- To show the audience direct/indirect representation of what is being talked about.
The first reason is more utilitarian but the real opportunity is in what and how you illustrate the points being made. If you have the opportunity to plan out what’s going to be said in the video, you’ll have a much better opportunity to plan out what you want to show when it’s said. By having interesting b-roll that corresponds with what’s being said, you have much more potential to engage audience emotion, get them excited, communicate your points in a powerful and visual way.
Why B-roll is Challenging
There are two big tricks to producing video content, of course:
- Planning exactly what’s going to be said. If you are using interviews, it’s hard to put words in people mouths and make it authentic, unless they are actors.
- Planning out what’s being shown. If you don’t know what the interviewee is going to say, or what’s being said, it’s very hard to know how to show it visually.
If you can create a script outline ahead of time of what all the main points are and how they can be covered very briefly, you’ll be much better prepared to get b-roll that corresponds, looks interesting/beautiful/etc. and makes sense.
Some of my favorite tips for b-roll are:
- If the shot ain’t interesting, you’re not close enough/not far away enough.
- Even mediocre shots, can be really interesting if edited together in a cool way, maybe fast, tiled, perhaps treated with effects/color correction or in motion somehow.
- With the advent of DSLR’s that shoot video and stills, timelapse has become increasingly popular and frequently look great.
- Slow motion is a great way to increase the dramatic element of just about any shot
- Symbolic shots and metaphors work well. Elements like water, the sky, fire, etc. are ubiquitous and ripe for poetic use.
- Hero shots of people, looking into camera and looking happy, serious, etc as appropriate
- Motion: anything that’s moving is a good bet
- Change: just like things moving but can be something like a light turning on/off.
- These days, it’s frequently relevant to show people using mobile devices, computers, etc.
- Magic hour: Can’t go wrong by shooting outside at dawn or sunset, it makes anything look better.
If you are able to either plan ahead – or get the time/budget together to shoot b-roll after an initial edit has been made – you can be in position to more artfully shoot footage that represents exactly what is in the video, ideally in the most interesting way.
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Please feel free to reach out to me with any questions and I’ll do my best to help answer them.