Tip #1543: Use B-Roll More Effectively

… for Random Weirdness

Tip #1543: Use B-Roll More Effectively

Larry Jordan – LarryJordan.com

B-roll illustrates what your audio is talking about.

(Image courtesy of Pexels.com.)

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This article, written by Anthony Najera, first appeared in PremiumBeat.com. This is a summary.

B-roll, in a straightforward definition, is supplementary footage or alternative shots used in a video, in contrast to your “A-roll,” which is your main footage or primary shot. By definition, B-roll is secondary to the main image, but that doesn’t mean it’s not important to the storytelling. I’d argue B-roll can be just as important—or even more impactful—than A-roll when used properly.

The importance of B-roll is multifaceted. There are quite a few reasons we use B-roll in video creation—in practical terms, for storytelling, and for aesthetics. But, if you boil B-roll down to one practical purpose, it would be its importance in editing. B-roll gives the editor options when cutting up a video and a way to mask cuts when just using main footage won’t work.

Not every cut and piece of information has to be rapid-fire, back-to-back. Let the visuals do some work and let the story breathe a bit. B-roll can be the perfect way to pace a story and give the information on screen a little time to settle in with the viewer. The video isn’t a sprint to the finish line, it should be an enjoyable experience.

[ Editor’s Note: AMEN! So many editors cut like they are being paid by the edit. Drives me nuts!!! ]

When used correctly, B-roll can supply the audience with information or context to the main subject of the video. B-roll can show the literal act of what’s being discussed on camera or show the location of where an event is taking place.

Types of B-roll:

  • Exteriors/Establishing Shot
  • Cutaways/Inserts
  • Reenactments
  • Stock Footage

Although its called “B” roll, that doesn’t mean it can’t be the main visuals doing most of the storytelling. B-roll isn’t inherently second string—give the B-roll footage an opportunity to do the heavy lifting within a project. An editor can create a sense of tone and environment through the use of B-roll that the main footage wouldn’t be able to accomplish. Lean into that.


The article has lots more ideas on how to use B-roll effectively, along with several links on capturing and editing effective B-roll.

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