What is B-Roll, and Why Does It Matter?

If you’ve been involved with video production before, you may have come across the term “B-Roll.” What do we mean when we say B-Roll, and why should you care?

Before we get there, let’s start at the beginning: A-Roll.

Let’s say you want a training video for your company’s employees. KB Media has created a script, hired the perfect spokesperson, found the right location, and assembled the KB Crew. You are ready to produce a video that is polished, professional, and does exactly what you need it to do. A-Roll is what the primary camera will capture: the spokesperson relaying the scripted information. A-Roll is the essential story.

But if there is anything more boring and ineffective than a single person speaking to a camera, we’ve yet to find it! That’s where B-Roll comes in.

Now, let’s talk about B-Roll Footage

Let’s say part of your video is explaining to employees how to use a new database. B-Roll captures that database in action, showing the viewer how to use it in real-time as the spokesperson explains how to use the database in words.

Or let’s imagine you need to explain a multi-step procedure your employee must follow. B-Roll captures an employee actually performing those steps, and shows a running checklist of all the steps in the procedure. In both examples, your employee learns by hearing and seeing. B-Roll footage enhances the viewer’s experience, by showing in addition to telling. Not only does this make the video far more interesting to the viewer, it makes the video far more effective.

Here’s another example:

After raising money for two years, your organization is opening a new center to help the homeless. You’re anxious to tell your supporters about all the center has to offer. That’s the A-Roll — you, on camera, sharing this tremendous accomplishment.

The B-Roll is footage of meals being served to hungry men and women. Volunteers reading with illiterate adults. Cots with clean bedding, complete with welcome kits of socks and toiletries. Drone footage that conveys the size, scope, and location of the center. Photos of the center’s construction.

B-Roll adds depth, texture, atmosphere, and movement to your video

No matter what purpose your video serves, B-Roll is the key to making your video come alive. Whether it’s drone shots, archival photos, stock footage, reaction shots, or close-ups, B-Roll puts your viewer in the action, capturing the spirit and energy of your story.

Now that you know what it is, check out some of our work at KB Media and try to spot the B-Roll footage and how it is used. Then get in touch and find out how KB Media can bring your mission to life by showing — not just telling! — your story