What Is B-Roll Footage? Why It’s Important, Plus B-Roll Examples

You might be asking yourself, “What is b roll footage? And why is it important?”

You know videos are one of the best ways to tell a story. For businesses, they can serve as engaging marketing materials that connect to audiences and increase brand awareness. The most effective ones convince your target customers and help you drive more sales.

However, these take more than just holding a camera and showing off your products or services. There are many elements to consider, and one of these is B-roll footage.

You might’ve heard this from filmmaker friends or popular YouTube channels, but it applies to every type of video out there— even ones used for your business.

At ClearMix, we want to share in-depth information about what B-roll is and how you can use it for your marketing materials. Read on!

Defining B-Roll Footage

So, what does B-roll mean? In the simplest sense, B-roll footage is supplementary footage edited into the A-roll (primary, or main) footage. The latter is your main story; the one that the narrative follows.

A pure A-roll footage will look and sound monotonous.

B-roll removes this issue by adding more scenes that complement whatever is being discussed on the A-roll footage. It’s used to emphasize certain points, add more visual detail, establish settings, and incorporate an artistic flair. With it, the video becomes more dynamic and has more depth. It keeps the watchers engaged throughout their watch.

In summary, A-roll footage is the main footage, and B-roll footage is complementary footage. Keep reading to learn more about how to use B-roll footage.

Where Is B-Roll Used?

Every professionally made video needs B-roll footage. It’s a standard element in filmmaking that adds dimension to the story. However, different industries will have specific uses for B-rolls.

  • Feature Films: Most movies will have multiple cameras to achieve a director’s vision about the scenes. B-roll—shot from a secondary camera—is one of the most heavily utilized footage as it adds dramatic depth and tension to the scenes, among many other purposes.
  • Corporate Marketing: Similar to films, corporate and business videos need B-roll to add more personality to the scenes. When the footage is interspersed with the main story, you can add layers to the narrative and give your customers a better understanding of the message you’re trying to say.
  • News and Documentaries: Since news and documentaries are based on factual events, b-roll footage is used to reinforce ideas and add more drama and variety. This is necessary since these types of videos can be rigid due to their true-to-life nature.

 

To help you better understand B-roll footage, let’s elaborate briefly on corporate videography. Think of a typical corporate video message from a CEO. Do the best corporations have their CEO sitting, speaking into the camera for 5 minutes straight? Or do they have their CEO on camera talking, and edit in B-roll footage of what he’s talking about to keep the audience engaged? That’s right! The best videos strategically use B-roll footage.

Well-Known B-Roll Examples

There are many types of b-roll, each with its own function in storytelling and filmmaking. Below are five of the most common ones and their purpose.

Atmospheric Shots

Setting can be tricky to establish narrative-wise, as characters can’t just say where they are in the middle of a conversation. This becomes a major concern when people are traveling to other places or in settings that happen in small or generic spaces with no distinguishing features.

Atmospheric shots have been the workaround for this issue. These are usually wide, establishing shots that show the audience where a scene is taking place, whether in the middle of the mountains or a bustling city. Filmmakers can also use famous landmarks instead of wide shots for more intimate settings.

Archival Imagery

Some films will call back to past events—especially documentaries, biographies, and news stories. To add a level of realism and authority to these videos, filmmakers will splice archival footage into their scenes. These can include iconic moments, coverage of scandals, and everything in between.

However, the use of archival imagery can be limited. Video recording was only invented in the last century, and some footage may be too damaged to contribute anything to a scene. Others will be protected by copyright. Still, this type of B-roll footage is very useful to emphasize the historical aspect of a story, especially when grainy footage is juxtaposed to today’s high-definition videos.

Undirected Footage

Another way to add realism to videos is by adding undirected footage. As the name implies, this type of B-roll is filmed without any direction. The cameraman will simply point his lens to a scene and capture events as they unfold.

In most cases, undirected footage is used in documentaries and news stories. These B-rolls reinforce the realism and add authenticity to whatever subject matter is being discussed. Even corporate videos can take advantage of this “realness” in order to connect with the audience.

Visual Detail B-roll

Films are treated as works of art, so filmmakers will try to make every scene as aesthetically pleasing as possible. That’s where visual detail footage comes in. These contribute to the story being told and add visual appeal that help the audience better understand and stay engaged.

These come in many forms, and depend on the topic of the video or film. For example, if it is a product overview video where the designer is explaining the product to potential customers, you could use close up footage of the features and benefits of the product while the designer speaks.

Another example of using visual detail B-roll in business videos is customer testimonials. Would you rather watch a customer on screen talking for 5 minutes? Or see them here and there to know they are a real person giving a real testimonial, but have engaging B-roll footage on screen to help you better understand what they are talking about?

Dramatic Reenactments

Dramatic reenactments are a great alternative to historical scenes that don’t have archival footage, or for recreating actual events a camera didn’t capture. They also serve as storytelling devices that “show” an event as a speaker off-cam narrates it. With these small recreations, filmmakers can emphasize details, put faces to names, and add more depth to the story they want to share.

Filming and Editing the Footage

B-rolls are more diverse in terms of settings and visual cues. That’s why filming and splicing them into the A-roll can take a lot more work or planning than usual. For businesses, it’s best to work with experts to avoid any issues and get the best results.

In most cases, proper planning is vital to avoid delays. Some locations will have bad weather and can look different during certain times of the day. Once shooting takes place, factors like angles, camera lenses, and formats need to be considered. That’s why it’s always a good idea to take extra footage to cover your bases and produce quality outputs.

In the filming stage of the process, you can ask the videographer to capture extra footage to use as B-roll. For example, if you are filming a video in your office, ask them to film employees and colleagues going about their usual activities, or film the outside of the building to capture the setting.

If you don’t have any B-roll footage from your filming, you can always find stock video footage that helps illustrate what your video is about.

Let ClearMix Handle Your Video Production Needs

ClearMix is the reliable partner of businesses for their video needs. We can produce media in various sizes and uses, whether you want a company overview, a product launch, customer testimonials, or educational content. We’ll help shoot B-roll footage, make use of what you currently have, and even source stock footage, if needed or desired.

With our sophisticated software, advanced equipment, and experienced team, we’ll deliver a quality output that stays true to your brand under budget and ahead of your deadline. Please get in touch with us and let us handle your project.

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Our video strategy team will help walk you through a project. Typically we deliver videos within 10 days of scheduling a shoot.

“I can't emphasize enough the high-quality caliber of the video. We were blown away. ”
Ashley Jennings Managing Director, UT Austin

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Our video strategy team will help walk you through a project. Typically we deliver videos within 10 days of scheduling a shoot.

Let us know how to reach you

Professional Video Production Record anyone, anywhere

👋 Introduce yourself

Our video strategy team will contact you to help schedule your video shoot at one of our ClearMix Studio at WeWork locations!

“I can't emphasize enough the high-quality caliber of the video. We were blown away. ”
Ashley Jennings Managing Director, UT Austin

Let us know how to reach you

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