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Whats B Roll & How To Use It in Video Content Production

When you start learning video content production, you may end up asking yourself: Whats B Roll?

B-Roll footage is the additional or supplemental footage you overlay within your main video content.

This ensures your video content production is not only effective, but best-in-class. Because if you effectively visually represent your story, your multimedia content will be much better.

But whats b roll? How do you use it? And why does it matter in content marketing?

We'll cover this and more in this post.

Let's get started.

Two cameramen showcasing whats b roll by capturing additional footage.

Whats B Roll?

Today, B-Roll footage is mostly known as the additional or supplemental footage you use to overlay over your main footage.

B-Roll footage can be supplemental video content you filmed on-site or stock footage you sourced from online digital libraries. Either way, B-Roll shots are typically used in video editing as cutaway shots or supplemental footage to better convey your story.

What's the difference between A-Roll and B-Roll Footage?

The difference between A-Roll footage and B-Roll footage can be best explained as primary versus secondary video content.

  • A-Roll definition: A-Roll footage is the primary video content you're using as part of your multimedia content. When filming on-site, this footage is typically your interview shots or core footage you captured to convey your story.

  • B-Roll definition: B-Roll footage is the secondary video content you're using to supplement your A-Roll footage. If filming on-site, this is most commonly recorded as cutaway shots like zoom-ins or overview zoom-out shots to set the scene. You may also source stock footage as B-Roll.

It's worth noting that "A-Roll" has largely fallen out of use, so you shouldn't worry too much about knowing the history of the term as a content marketer.

Why does B-Roll matter?

B-Roll is supplementary footage you can use to better convey your message and tell an effective audiovisual story.

A good video production rule-of-thumb is to "show and tell." Meaning if you're "saying" something, you should visually represent that message with video content. That's why it's such a good practice to always film extra footage when recording video on-site—it'll save you time and headache, and make your video content even better.

For example, if you were producing a video about using a marketing automation tool, you should probably gather primary and secondary footage of business people using a laptop and conducting business.

Because that's what you're talking about.

But if you instead showed footage of people playing volleyball while talking about your marketing automation tool, you'll just confuse your audience and reduce the effectiveness of your video content.

How to use B-Roll?

The best way to use B-Roll footage is to supplement and elevate your audiovisual content by visually representing what's being convey in your voiceover.

But you may also use B-Roll to ensure you have smooth transitions between shots or to cover up bad shots featuring your interview subject. These are the Hollywood magic tricks that have been used in television production and movies for many years that'll elevate your video project in no time.

When filming or sourcing B-Roll footage, it's best to consider gathering a variety of shots like close-ups, medium shots, and overview or atmospheric shots. This ensures you've got enough video footage to cover your bases to make the best video project possible.

And of course, it's important to make sure you're capturing relevant B-Roll video—don't just capture pick-up shots for the heck of it. Make them count.

How do full stack content marketers use B-Roll?

Full stack content marketers use B-Roll similarly to any video producer or editor; to improve their video content production.

But content marketers have a unique set of responsibilities and marketing assets their entrusted to create or improve like:

  • Live webinars

  • Product videos

  • Customer testimonials

  • Leadership talking heads

  • Marketing campaign videos

All of which will require a strong understanding of how to use both A-Roll and B-Roll video to make these videos better.

For example, let's consider your marketing team hosted a live webinar, and you've been tasked to repurpose the content.

You could easily cut-up certain soundbites and ship the raw content.

Or if you wanted to go above and beyond, you could source additional stock footage to overlay over the video interview. This is a low-effort, high-return step to add to your video production process that'll take you from good to great.

And this is just one way to make better videos.

We recently shared the 5 best video production tips for you to use to elevate your video content production, too. Go check that out.

In closing

Next time you're asked, "whats b roll?" you can confidently say: B-Roll footage is the additional or supplemental footage you overlay within your main video content.

Whether you're producing a documentary film, a feature film, or a short form video production, leveraging the simple (yet powerful) benefits of A-Roll and B-Roll footage will elevate your video content productions.

And here's an extra pro tip for you: You can easily add this step into your pre - production process to ensure when you go film on-site or begin a stock footage-only video production, you know exactly what you need.

This will completely transform your post production video editing process and turn you into an elite video content editor.

Don't just read this—go get it done!

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