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Think back to last night when you were watching the evening news and saw all the footage the news-team shot of the beautiful weather outside. That’s what we call b-roll. It’s literally all of the filmed visuals you see in a video or on the news that supports the story being told. It helps keep viewers engaged in the content being presented on-screen.

When is b-roll necessary?

It all comes down to the goal of your video. If you’re interviewing employees about your company for a recruitment piece and want to showcase your brand in a positive light, including b-roll footage of employees happily working will help convey your message. We’re a visual society; simply stating facts or opinions without showing the audience what you mean isn’t very effective on video. B-roll footage spices things up rather than just showing the “talking heads” discussing a topic, so we suggest adding enticing footage to most interview videos. Promotional and training videos also usually require b-roll to keep viewers’ attention spans in-check and interested. Additionally, b-roll in promo and training videos allows for necessary shots of the product, location, services, or specific elements of the training.

To see an example of engaging b-roll, take a look at the Patient Safety Documentary we filmed for Transparent Health. Would simply talking about the beauty of Telluride have been as effective as supplementing it with b-roll footage?

When can we skip the b-roll?

Keeping the goal of your video in mind, omitting b-roll mainly comes down to the editing style of the production. If your video is cut in a fast-paced, engaging way like this ASUG Conference promo, you don’t have to show supporting footage because the message is strong, and the goal of the video is focused on showcasing the ASUG members. If you’re going for a deep and emotional type of testimonial video, showing only the interviewees speaking direct-to-camera is sufficient. This Retirement video is a perfect example of strong interviews that do not require b-roll.

Keep an eye out for b-roll

Next time you’re watching the news or an online marketing piece, pay special attention to the b-roll and its necessary qualities. You’ll get the hang of when b-roll is needed and when it’s not as important. Remember to always consider budget and the time it takes to shoot an adequate amount of b-roll footage. You can always fill out a Free Video Consult form and talk to one of the SolidLine Media Producers if you need help establishing your video’s direction!