As I keep film making, I realize that B-roll footage is actually your A-roll.

B-roll is a term used in film that displays shots you use in “background” to something to give off a story.  Its supplementary footage shown during a production. It can make telling a story much easier and compelling with added footage. As a general rule B-Roll can include animation, graphical elements, photographs and extra footage.

B-roll must be taken into account for the storyteller at all times. It adds to the a story and gives the viewer more to understand. The audience still needs to see visuals of the scene, settings, characters, and action of the story.

After research, I realized some directors call b-roll “cut-aways”. This describes it a little bit better, because as something is happening, there will be a cut away of something to enhance the story.

So what can you do to make b-roll? Plan this ahead when you’re making a film. Let’s say you’re doing a video on your friend who is a dancer. Of course you would get an interview, but it would be pretty boring if all you had was a video of her talking about dancing. That’s where you use b-roll footage of her warming up, dancing, competitions, or things that apply to what she is saying.

Also, remember to make the shots at least interesting too, so when people are listening to someone narrate, they can see shots to amplify the words said or a scene. B roll can also introduce a new segment into your story.

I feel like it’s the most important part of a film that people don’t realize is there until it’s not. It really should be thought of as “A-roll,” because it is the action of your story, which serves to reveal character. Without it, you’ve just got a bunch of talking heads (YAWN). I have noticed that it is better to get as much b roll as possible, because it is technically the majority of a film. Better to have extra than not enough!

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