What Is B-Roll?
By definition, B-Roll is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot/scene. We often hear the term thrown around in outdoor production and although it is many times used correctly, we find it often forgotten or left on the back burner to the story. In our opinion, it is the exact part of your production that you should be taking the most time on.
What Is It You Are Producing?
What is it you are filming and what is your end goal? Are you simply filming a hunt you want to bring back and show your buddies or family? Are you creating content for your You Tube channel in attempt to promote your “Team”? Are you showing a variety of hunts in your production or is it a story based on 1 hunt? So many questions need to be asked before going out to get all the content needed to tell your story the best that you can through video. If you are simply looking to fill in the gaps from a hunt sequence (ie. looking through binos, drawing the bow, turning the safety off, looking through a scope, ranging, etc) then make sure you get these shots and please do your best to be careful and creative when shooting them. Don’t rush through this stuff as it is these very shots that will often be the ones that “wow” a viewer in the end.
If you are producing a piece about your traditional hunting camp with family and friends. Then you will want to make a list of the most important things to you about that camp. Is it the camaraderie around the fire or dinner table? Is it the old pictures from generations of hunters hanging on the old log cabin walls? Is it Grandpas old double barrel shotgun hanging on the mantle? Whatever the case may be. Be sure to capture these shots that help tell that story so that when you are cutting your story together in post production, you are not just talking about it, you are showing it.
B-Roll shots can be anything from establishing shots of a specific location to supporting shots for a scene you have already shot. They do not always require audio, as you are usually using them in an edit where the audio from your “A” camera will supply the audio you wish to use. (i.e interview, ambient/natural audio, etc). B-Roll should always be technically shot well as it is usually in a controlled situation, unlike the actual hunt/kill shot. B-Roll is often where you can break out the fun toys you purchased such as; a drone, gimbal, slider, etc.
Using high frame rates (Slo-Mo) shots can be very effective here as well. Please be careful though to not “overuse” slo-mo. Most often when we shoot something in a high frame rate, we will also shoot it in 24 fps as well. This way we have both when it comes time to edit, leaving our options and creativity wide open at that point.
To reiterate, B-Roll originated from film/television and was simply the secondary camera that captured all the medium and tight shots during a scene that the main camera (A-Roll) would not get in detail. The term A-Roll dropped off as it was a camera that was expected to do its job and capture what was needed for the main shot. B-Roll became the one that producers were concerned about getting. They know that B-Roll is what will keep the eye of the viewer interested and involved in a scene as if they were actually there.
How To Go About Shooting B-Roll
No matter what the scene is you are shooting, you should take a minute to envision that scene in its finished state. (after the edit is complete) Picture watching your favorite action scene in a movie, and imagine those shots you see that draw you in. Apply that theory of B-Roll to what it is you are shooting now, and by doing this, you should be able to see the shots you need to make your production come to life.
Make notes (physical or mental) whatever works for you. Take the time to prepare your gear technically and most importantly, EXECUTE!
See more about the education program we offer at Film The Hunt
Thanks for your time,
“Success is not created by one person, but by a team that comes together as one”