THE TERM “B-roll” refers to footage that adds meaning to a sequence or disguises the elimination of unwanted footage.
B-roll is not your primary footage, it supports and establishes visual evidence for what the speaker or narrator is referring to and sets the scene in which the story unfolds.
If the speaker is commenting on the wealth of fresh local produce, the B-roll would probably include shots of people shopping for fruits and veggies at farmers market.
B-roll is usually not scripted but is discovered. It is improvisational. You must develop an eye for it. Understand what story you want to tell and look for people and actions that will bring the viewer deeper into that story.
WATCH THIS VIDEO AND NOTICE THE GOOD USE OF B-ROLL FOOTAGE
B-roll can be captured after your primary footage has been shot and reviewed. For instance, in an interview you may hear something that compels you to capture more visual evidence to enrich the story. You would then shoot B-roll footage that supports the speaker and cutaway during the interview to your B-roll, placing the narrative audio over the footage.
B-roll is not only a storytelling device, it is also your band aid. Cutaway to B-roll footage to hide a zoom, cover verbal or visual tics and to add life to a interview that may otherwise not be visually compelling.
OTHER NOTES ON B-ROLL
In order to have B-roll, you must have A-roll footage, or footage that is your narrative thrust.
Shoot lots of B-roll. Especially if you are traveling and will likely not see your location again soon. You don’t have to use it and you never know what footage will come in handy to illustrate a point or provide further evidence for your narrative.
Shoot your B-roll from different angles and perspectives. Close ups, pans, ground level, over head…when capturing B-roll cover your bases.
It should be noted that many travel videos consist only of B-roll. These are usually montages and have no real narrative thread. Go beyond the basic travel music montage and develop a narrative thread while you chronicle your adventures. The result will be a much richer and rewarding travel video.
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Tips for Travel Video: Use Voice Over To Tell Your Story