In destination marketing, B-roll footage is a huge part of the video creation experience, as it can spur some of the most emotionally compelling material. Not sure how to plan or use your B-roll footage? Here is a brief introduction to B-roll film, in addition to important dos, don’ts and tips.


What Is B-roll?

A-roll is film footage that tells your story through interviews, dialogue or text. B-roll is film footage that shows your story or message without dialogue, interviews or text. B-roll can include people, objects, signs, an environment or a specific location. For example, you have a new attraction launch video and your VP is talking about the how ground-breaking and beautiful this new attraction is; this is the A-roll. The B-roll shows the sweeping city landscapes, the people laughing and having fun in the background and all that atmospheric footage that showcases your destination’s beauty.


Where and When to Use It

B-roll should be used when dialogue or text isn’t enough to explain the ins and outs of your story. It makes your video dynamic and adds depth to your narrative, and should be used when an interview or acting scene is not enough to express the emotion, intention and evocative nature of your story.

Compare a static vlog or interview to a dynamic video piece that features B-roll, and you can see the difference in style and purpose. For instance, interviews on their own can be long and require careful attention to everything the speaker says, whereas interviews that are interlaced with B-roll are easier to follow, artistic in composition and reveal many details of the story through relevant imagery and shots.


B-Roll Dos

Do Shoot Tons of Footage—The More the Better

You always want copious amounts of B-roll footage because it helps with the editing process. During A-roll shots, interviewees and interviewers can mix up their sentences, have awkward pauses or struggle to explain clearly what needs to be said. If this happens, and there is no time for re-shoots, editors turn to B-roll footage to fill the blanks. Moreover, experienced directors take many shots of the same B-roll setting or object from different angles. Sometimes during the shooting process, one shot may seem ideal, but after viewing all the footage, a different angle can represent the narrative much better.


Do Use a Variety of Visual Techniques

You can film B-roll using a variety of visual techniques. For instance, your shots can be:

  1. Abstract: These shots are more atmospheric. They feature the wind gently rusting tree leaves, children laughing in the background or any minor details that set the mood for a video.
  2. Literal: This is a shot that reflects directly what is being said. So, if your speaker is talking about a rollercoaster, you show the exact rollercoaster they are talking about.
  3. Symbolic: Symbolic shots get the viewer to think more deeply about the meaning behind the video, and thus can be useful for cultivating strong emotions. A vibrant green tree can symbolize health and vitality, whereas a bare tree might represent illness or loss.
  4. Metaphor: A metaphor on film is any imagery or footage that help us understand abstract concepts that aren’t easily created through narrative, text or dialogue. For instance, sunlight breaking through the clouds often represents hope in a story, while rains across a grassland represent rejuvenation or rebirth.
  5. Portrait: These are the little details in a person’s demeanor, features and actions that add to their character development. You could show the elegance of an interviewer’s poise when they sit, or their anxiety in the way they bite their lip. Much like how a portrait painting reveals a character through the little details, a film portrait can do the same.


B-Roll Don’ts


Don’t Plan Shots at the Last Minute

Whipping together a video seems easy to the inexperienced, but if you’ve ever been through the process first-hand, you know it’s hectic, strained for time and always in a rush. Real pros always plan, plan and then plan some more to ensure they don’t miss any important steps in creating the video—and this includes the list of B-roll shots (in order of importance).

If you are attempting to shoot everything in one day, then you should visit your site before shooting to assess which sites/attractions/etc. are actually easy to shoot, and which are not. In many cases, people who don’t have permits for shooting encounter un-planned construction, activities, groups, poor lighting, people, pets, protests, roadblocks…you name it! Planning and taking test shots beforehand will save you tons of time when the real deal occurs.


Don’t Forget to Factor B-Roll into the Script

Scripts generally don’t have B-roll written into them. Instead, these shots are inferred based on the director’s management of the project. That being said, most professionals carefully plan their B-roll in conjunction with their script, and know exactly where they will use their B-roll, and for what purpose.


Don’t Dismiss Stock Footage

Depending on the purpose of the video, stock footage is often a cheaper and faster route for many destination marketers. It saves the hassle of getting film crew, cameras and tools to record the footage, and more often than not, can give any video high-end, B-roll that is really impressive.


With Barberstock’s Full-Service DAM solution, our in-house production team will cut un-edited b-roll into usable clips to be uploaded directly to your library and available for immediate download. Our system supports all 8K, 4K, HD and 360 video files. Want to learn more – get in touch!