Why is B-Roll So Important?!

At the time of writing, we think it’s fair to say that the whole of the United Kingdom is obsessing over “the B word”.

Radio, television, newspapers, websites – whether you have an interest in politics or not, you just can’t escape “the B word” (we’re deliberately not typing it out) at the moment.

Here at Stone’s Throw however we’re trying our best to be a safe haven from THAT B word, which is why in this blog entry we want to talk to you about ANOTHER B word.

Yes, we need to talk about B-Roll, and why it’s important!

B-Roll? What the heck is B-Roll?

Don’t know what B-Roll is? If so, don’t worry – neither did I when I joined Stone’s Throw, and now look at me. I’m practically a walking encyclopaedia on the subject.

Back in the old days, filmmakers would use two rolls of footage (called, yes, you guessed it, A and B) to create transitions between shots.

Here in the digital age we don’t have to worry about that any more, but the terms have hung around – A Roll is the main footage/primary focus, whilst B-Roll is supplemental footage used to support the A-Roll.

I’m still not with you

That’s OK! Let’s watch this video together and we’ll try to show you what we mean.

 

In this video we created for the charity Leukaemia CARE, we featured two case studies revolving around young people diagnosed with forms of leukaemia and the impact that diagnosis had on the individual and, in particular, their parents.

As you can see, at 0:15 our video focuses on Sophie – the mum of Jenson – as she begins to give her thoughts.

Whilst we hear from Sophie over the next 90 seconds or so however, what we see on screen switches from her to shots of Jenson playing. This is the B-Roll footage – it’s not the main focus but it’s helping it.

OK, that’s interesting. But why is it important?

Every video producer will use B-Roll footage, and here at Stone’s Throw we’re no different in that regard. There’s a number of reasons why we do this, and why it’s important.

Firstly, B-Roll keeps viewers engaged.

There are some YouTubers out there who can make good videos solely doing “piece to camera” stuff, but normally they’ll be talking about something their target audience find fascinating, such as Fortnite, makeup, or Kylie Jenner (ask your kids).

When it comes to corporate videos however, where the speaker is describing a product or a service (i.e. something a bit “dry”), this form can make viewers lose interest quickly. The B-Roll footage is needed just to give the video a bit of life.

Secondly, B-Roll is the ace up the video producer’s sleeve. To quote Terry the Chef in ‘Fawlty Towers’:

“What the eye don’t see, the chef gets away with.”

B-Roll covers up errors and gaps perfectly.

Now the speaker doesn’t have to nail a perfect take, now it doesn’t matter if a fly lands on their nose halfway through, now they can make errors at will – the cutaways take all those potential problems off the table.

Finally, our old favourite – “show, don’t tell”.

As I mentioned earlier, if your corporate video is all about a product your company has produced and how wonderful it is, show us!

20 seconds of showing the product and what it can do/its benefits for the customer is far more powerful than 2 minutes of somebody prattling on about it to camera.

Here’s one final example to show you – a video we created for the University of Wolverhampton regarding a course it delivers in partnership with the West Midlands Ambulance Service.

 

This video could easily have just been an interview to camera. Instead, all the B-Roll footage really makes the video and ultimately helped the University sell out the course in question.

So, that’s B-Roll – and its benefits – in a nutshell. Get ready to notice it being used in every video you watch from now on!

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