How to Enhance Your Video Production with B-roll Footage

In the world of video production, you may have come across the term "B-roll." It's a common phrase used by industry professionals to refer to additional footage that complements the main content, adding depth, visual appeal, and seamless transitions to your videos. But what exactly is B-roll and how can you use it effectively in your video production? Here we'll explore the concept of B-roll video, its uses, and how you can incorporate it into your projects. We'll also mention the benefits of using stock footage as a cost-effective solution for acquiring compelling B-roll footage.

What is B-roll Video?

The term "B-roll" has its origins in the early days of TV broadcasting and film production. In those days, motion imagery was captured using two 16 mm film rolls: the A roll and the B roll. The A roll contained the main content, while the B roll consisted of secondary footage such as establishing shots and cutaway scenes. Today, B-roll refers to all the additional footage used to enhance the overall production value of a video.

B-roll serves multiple purposes in video production. It adds richness to the content, improves storytelling, covers editing tricks, and enhances visual appeal. By strategically incorporating B-roll footage, videographers and filmmakers can create more engaging and professional-looking videos.

How is B-roll used?

To fully master the power of B-roll, you want to use it methodically and purposefully. Here are some key ways in which B-roll is commonly used:

Adding Richness in Content

You will use B-roll footage to increase the depth and context of the main footage, thereby enhancing storytelling. For example, in a commercial video showcasing a new office software, you might want to include custom-shot footage of the product in use, along with additional scenes of office environments and people working with computers. This contextual footage helps your viewers understand how the product fits into real-life scenarios.

Covering Editing Tricks

Editing plays a vital role in video production, and B-roll footage can be a valuable tool for smooth transitions and masking editing techniques. Cutaways, J and L cuts, and zoom-ins during interviews can all be enhanced with well-placed B-roll. By using B-roll effectively, you can create a polished final product that captivates your audience.

Improving Visual Appeal

One of the primary objectives of using B-roll is to make your videos visually interesting and appealing. By editing and trimming out less-relevant portions of your footage, you can maintain viewer engagement. For example, if you have a 5-minute interview, it's more visually impactful to cut away to related footage while keeping the interviewee's voice in the background, rather than showing the entire interview uninterrupted.

5 Errors in Dealing with B-roll

Let's chat about some common mistakes when shooting B-roll. Trust me, we've all been there, so don't sweat it. Let's learn together!

This YouTube video helps understand how to identify (and avoid) b-roll related mistake.

Here is a quick summary that we reworded for you.

Not Shooting Enough: You know what they say, "The more, the merrier!" This couldn't be truer for B-roll. You can never have too much of it. So, don't be shy, keep that camera rolling. You'll be surprised how much of it you'll end up using. Remember, your video is a visual story, and you need enough material to tell it right.

Lack of Creativity: Now, this is where the fun begins. Don't just go for the obvious shots. Be a little adventurous! If you're making a video about coffee, don't just film someone brewing it. Explore different coffee shops, get up close and personal with the coffee beans. Let your creativity run wild!

Inconsistent Direction of Movement: This one's a bit tricky. If your subject is moving from left to right, stick with it. Don't suddenly switch directions. It's like reading a book; you wouldn't start reading from the right, would you? It keeps things smooth and easy for your viewers.

No Sequence: B-roll isn't just about pretty shots. It's about telling a story. So, shoot multiple clips in the same location. It's like piecing together a puzzle. It makes your B-roll more engaging and helps your story flow better.

Lack of Focus: Last but not least, make sure your B-roll has a clear focus. Your viewers should know exactly where to look. Play around with depth of field, contrasting colors, lighting, framing, and leading lines. Make your subject pop!

Remember, practice makes perfect. 

What to do if you are not able to shoot b-roll due to different reasons: no equipment, no time, no team available? Read on to see what alternatives you have access to.

Stock Footage: The Cheapest B-Roll Resource

While B-roll is a valuable asset in video production, producing custom B-roll can be challenging, time-consuming, and costly. This is where stock footage comes to the rescue as a cost-effective solution.

Let's spend a minute talking about stock footage as a creative asset. Stock footage is pre-shot footage that is ready to use. It is intentionally generic and versatile, making it suitable for various concepts and projects. Most stock footage is created by professionals and is of high quality, ranging from HD to 4K resolution. Additionally, stock footage is available at a fraction of the cost of shooting custom B-roll.

Depending on the length and image quality, stock footage clips can range from $10 to $500 with a Royalty-Free license. This flexible licensing agreement covers most commercial uses, allowing you to incorporate stock footage into your projects without any legal concerns.

Where to Buy B-Roll Stock Footage

When it comes to purchasing B-roll stock footage, numerous stock websites and dedicated stock video licensing companies offer a wide range of options. There are pros and cons to using these resources. But cost-wise, stock footage is a good option to consider. 

Start with this list of sites offering unlimited video subscriptions. What's this? For a monthly fee you can tap into the wealth of their video library. Such subscriptions may be scary, but they offer a better price per video clip than any ondemand video library (where you pay per each download).

If your budget is low or zero, try these free stock video sites to get more practice in using b-roll in your edits.

Don't forget to take advantage of available discounts and promo codes to save even more money on your stock footage purchases.  Sign up to receive emails from your favorite stock videos sites like Shutterstock or Filmsupply.

Save time by also learning to find the best stock footage fast. That's a skill to master if you work with stock video sites (which have millions of video clips).

Final Thoughts

B-roll video is a powerful tool in video production, allowing you to enhance your storytelling, cover editing tricks, and improve visual appeal. Stock footage provides a cost-effective solution for obtaining compelling B-roll footage without the challenges and expenses of shooting custom footage.

By leveraging the versatility and affordability of stock footage, you can elevate the quality of your video productions and captivate your audience. Whether you're a seasoned videographer or a beginner, incorporating B-roll into your projects will undoubtedly enhance the overall production value and create a more compelling viewing experience.

So, what are you waiting for? Start exploring the world of B-roll video and take your video productions to the next level with stock footage!