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6 min read

What Is B-Roll And Why Is It Important?

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Video is becoming more and more important for content creation. Did you know that 72% of people prefer learning about a product or service via video? So if your business isn't already incorporating video into your marketing content, it's maybe time to get started! If you're just beginning on your video content creation journey or looking to improve your current offering, you may have come across the term b-roll.

WHAT IS B-ROLL?

B-Roll footage (also referred to as B roll and broll) is the secondary video content that accompanies the main message.

The B stands for "background" or "behind" and originates from the early days of film. For your marketing video content it is the footage used in a video that gives the audience the unspoken context to a clip and is secondary content next to the key subject of the video. For example, if you were a recording an interview with an office manager, the b-roll surrounding the clip could include a shot of the building, interacting with employees, shots of paperwork, all to paint a bigger picture of the individuals role and help embellish the message the video is trying to convey.  

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT?

B-Roll helps to create a more engaging video for viewers. Video content is so important for an effective content marketing strategy, that unfortunately means there is a lot of video content to compete against. Effective use of b-roll can ensure your video grabs and maintains the attention of the audience so they hear the message and don't scroll on.

Similarly, it is also a great way to communicate more than what is being said. It provides context and background to your message. It demonstrates aesthetic values that should further the message being delivered via the video or provide illustrative context of who/what is providing the message. For example, if a video was showcasing a zoo, the most obvious b-roll to include would be of the animals, however including something like a happy family on a day out demonstrates this zoo is a fun day out and appeals to families. When used well, b-roll can communicate more than the initial message the video was intended for.

It can also be an effective way to save time and money in future video projects. Producing video content can be both timely and expensive for a business. B-Roll gives you footage you can use time and time again, and knowing what footage you already have will save time during the planning and storyboarding stages. Knowing you have a shots of your building, employees chatting or part of your production line already filmed means that part of the video is already complete, so that time and resources can be focussed and utilised on the main subject.

DSLR camera filming b-roll footage in a modern office environment

WHEN SHOULD I USE IT?

The purpose of b-roll is to embellish the main message or subject of the video. This can be at the start, end or during the main content. Focus on what you want to communicate? B-roll helps give additional information than what is being said and can help make a video feel more authentic. Using b-roll at the start can help establish the tone and the environment of your business. If you are communicating a corporate image, establish this with footage of an office, people in suits and paperworks. Using b-roll footage within a video can help maintain an audience's attention and really illustrate a point. If you are promoting the benefits of a product, cut to a clip of the product in use by a happy customer. Where ever you decide to incorporate it, use it to ensure your message is communicated and your viewer is kept engaged to hear that message.

Bonus use: Filmed a clip that has a dodgy looking transition or an error you want to hide but just cutting part looks odd? Using B-roll is a great way to hide those mistakes!

HOW DO I CREATE IT?

There's a wide range of different shots you can use as b-roll, so experiment and see what works best for your business. Sometimes the best b-roll happens organically, filming something in the moment that just so happens to work for footage. Often, however, it is as just as carefully planned as standard video content. Think about the different shots you would see in films or television, establishing shots, close ups, tracking shots, these could all have a part of your b-roll library. Consider all that makes up your business and products, whether this is a shot of a happy employee to demonstrate the importance of wellbeing at work or a tracking shot down a conveyor belt with products to show the making of the product, it can all demonstrate what makes up your product or business and more importantly why the viewer should be interested in you and your service.

It is also important to consider, the method you are using to film videos to ensure consistency in quality, form and dimensions. Something filmed vertically for TikTok or Reels, isn't going to work in the more traditional landscape orientation used for videos on something like YouTube. Planning can help to ensure you utilise the most from footage and in the most appropriate way. A change of frame size or large drop in quality could cause the audience to disengage and move on. B-Roll should feel natural and not be jarring to the viewer when it plays. 

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Additionally, there are numerous services available offering stock b-roll footage, which can be a great option to access some high quality, interesting clips which you may have not have been able to create yourself. For example, a coffee shop celebrating the quality of their coffee beans may not be able to create their own footage of the farming process, but wants to communicate the quality and origin of the product. By being able to buy stock footage of the process that gives the cafe the quality, illustrative content they would not have been able to create themselves (or at least without a large cost to themselves!). Some great options for royalty-free stock footage are Storyblocks, Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, but there are plenty of other providers out there. Most allow you to search their content before subscribing so you are able to ensure the content you need is available to get the most from the membership. 

B-roll gives you endless opportunities to create quality, immersive videos which are going to engage and communicate with your audience. Consider what core messages you want to communicate, examine the suitability of both subject and form of the videos and plan what footage you want to incorporate and when and you'll be using B-roll to delight your audience and standing out of the crowd with quality, immersive videos for your marketing campaigns.

 

Interested in how we use video in our work? Have a look at our case study when we helped Grainger & Worrall help Santa and save Christmas!

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