B-roll is the technical term for footage that supplements the main shot, often used to transition from scenes or to express a passage of time. B-roll can be anything from a time-lapse to slow-motion footage, to just any non-important cuts of a video.
Today, we’re going to give you some tips for making your b-roll look pro! This will add some real value to the content you create and leave your viewers blown away by the results.
Diversify your shots
Use a diverse set of shots to add some interest to your b-roll, and help with storytelling. Close-ups, medium, wide, and drone shots, as well as any other shots you feel, may be a good fit. All these shots will offer different types of value to your project. Wide and drone shots can help establish the location or area, while the closer shots can help with building out the details. The more types of shots you have, the more flexibility you will have later during your edit. Just keep recording!
When shooting b-roll, try to add depth to some of your shots by shooting through objects. When we say ‘shoot through’, we mean use objects in front of the camera to help create layers on the footage. For example, if you were shooting b-roll in nature, you could shoot through a bush or the tree line. Get down low on the ground, and capture your b-roll THROUGH some tall grass blowing in the wind. A pole or a piece of fabric, or anything really can be used – so experiment and find interesting ways to add layers.
Shoot towards the sun
For b-roll, one of the more interesting things you can do is shoot INTO the sun. While this seems to go in contrast to every other filming tip, this is no joke. By shooting up into the foliage of a tree, you can find light leaks that look interesting as b-roll. You can also use an object such as a person, or building that as you move reveals the sun (and subsequent lens flares). This is similar to shooting through objects but makes the sun and those light leaks the provider of depth on the final b-roll footage.
Move with your camera
Rather than standing still with your camera, try to move slightly as you film. Moving a few inches towards an object will add a slider type effect, or you can move side to side, which will add a dolly type effect to the object being filmed. What this does is makes your shots look like expensive equipment was used to capture it, but in reality, it’s your handheld shot. The movement adds intrigue to your b-roll and makes it much more professional looking. It may take a little bit of time to master it, but once you start moving your b-roll, you’ll never know how you lived without.
Shoot in slow motion
One of the best tips for b-roll is to shoot in slow motion. Shooting at 120FPS alone adds 4x the length to each shot in a 30FPS timeline, and 5x for 24FPS. What this does is smooths out the footage, and adds a really cinematic quality to the final look. For b-roll, this is perfect to help bridge scenes and help tell your story. If your camera isn’t capable of such high frame rates, you can still use 60FPS (a standard in most cameras), and then slow it down further during your edit.
If you want to learn about B-roll in a more visual format, check out our video with Epidemic Sound ambassador Sidney Diongzon below.