#Step up your Filmmaking: The Importance Of B-Roll

What’s up, everybody? Daniel Brain here and today, we’re talkin’ about B-roll. What it is, what it ain’t. How you can use it to make your footage, your films, and your videos, VLOGs, whatever, way better. And now that I think about it, I should have probably cut some B-roll over that intro.

So maybe we should redo that? What’s up, guys? Daniel Brain here and today, we’re talkin’ about B-roll, what it is, and how you can use it to make your footage and your videos better. What is B-roll? B-roll is the alternative or supplemental footage that you can use to cut on top of your main angle. So if this frame was my main angle, I could use B-roll to overlay and cut on top of this shot, anything I want, to make something more interesting, to tell a point, to bring you in a direction that I wanna bring you into, or simply to just cover up the fact that this is my face rambling for the next 10 minutes.

Because let’s be honest, I tend to do that. So to start, as an example, I’m gonna use the VLOG. A lot of VLOGs I start with a cinematic sort of intro, using B-roll shots to kind of tell the mood, portray how I’m feeling that day, where I am, what the weather’s like, and it kind of sets the tone for the episode. So let’s say I’m gonna go do a photo shoot in a forest. We’re gonna start the VLOG off in my car, but I’m not gonna use any B-roll.

This is what that would look like. Choo! What’s goin’ on everybody? We are outside a really cool forest right now that has some awesome light. So we’re gonna pack up our gear, and we’re gonna go inside and shoot, let off some smoke, get some cool B-roll, and yeah, we’re gonna go do that right now. Okay, so that was fun. We are freezing. We’re gonna get back in the car now and go do something else ’cause it is way too cold outside.

The wind is just killing… Okay, pretty boring. Not much substance, not much to look at. It wasn’t very much fun to watch. Yeah, just not feelin’ it at all. Let’s see what that looks like again using B-roll. Choo! What’s goin’ on everybody? We are outside a really cool forest right now that has some awesome light. So we’re gonna pack up our gear and we’re gonna go inside and shoot, let off some smoke, get some cool B-roll, and yeah, we’re gonna go do that right now.

Okay, that looks a lot better. The problem is, I only shot B-roll of us. Me taking pictures, my friend taking pictures. You don’t really know where we are, what we’re taking pictures of, what we’re doing at all. I didn’t really give you enough information. So that’s when we gotta shoot B-roll with the environment that we’re in as well. Cut those two together, it’s gonna look like this.

So now, we’ve got something. Now you can see that we’re taking pictures of this forest. You can see what we’re looking at when you see footage of us looking at something, which just helps fill in the blanks. It helps fill in the gaps and it gives you a whole experience. How do we take even more B-roll footage? Well, you can use drone footage, you can use your iPhone. Anything goes at all.

So let’s see what some drone footage would look like. It looks pretty good but because this is a VLOG, I wanna shot footage of me using the drone as well because I’m trying to tell a story of my day. I’m trying to tell a story of this photo shoot. So if it’s only shots of the footage, if it’s only shots from a drone, I’m not really giving you the full picture. So, let’s take a look at the drone shots with me operating the drone.

Nobody’s listening. Now we’ve got the B-roll of us shooting, we’ve got the B-roll of our environment, we’ve got the B-roll of the drone, we got the B-roll of me using the drone. So, how else can we make some cool footage? Well sometimes, you just gotta do cool sh– that looks awesome on camera. So for us, we used some smoke grenades. These things are awesome.

You’ve probably seen them before. I’ve used them in many photographs on my Instagram. I’m sure you’ve seen other Instagramers using them. They are all the rage. If you’re gonna use them, don’t do it inside or in an area that’s gonna get you into trouble. Be smart about it but I’ll drop a couple links below on where you can pick them up for yourself. So, what do they do and why do I use them?

They do, they just billow smoke, they just billow colored smoke and what’s the purpose of them? They look dope, that is it. If you’re not into that kinda thing, skip forward. No hard feelings. I’m into that. Pop a flare billows a bunch of colored smoke, looks badass, yes please, I’ll take five. So let’s see some footage of this smoke and what that looks like. So there’s not really much context there.

This guy’s just playing with smoke and it, alright cool, yeah it looks cool but it’s completely useless because we didn’t show the whole picture. ‘Cause we gotta smash together these shots of us shooting, the drone, me using the drone, the smoke, the whole mood, the environment, you gotta use these pieces to complete the meal. Right, it’s like throwing all this stuff into one big soup to finish off the dish so that everyone can jump in and enjoy it.

Really weird analogy and I think it makes sense, but now something to keep in mind is, I shoot my B-roll, a lot of it at 120 frames a second. Now, why do I do this? Because I feel that it inherently makes your footage look more cinematic when it’s slowed down. Do you have to do that? Absolutely not. There’s still great B-roll and everything to be shot at 24 frames a second or 30 frames a second.

I don’t really like 30, I feel it looks a little weird. I don’t know why, it just makes me feel like ugh, creepy inside. So if you’re gonna shoot 24 frames a second, that’s perfectly fine. That would definitely give off a whole different vibe. The slowdown of the frame just inherently makes it feel and look more cinematic, my opinion. Now, what you’re saying, I don’t have an expensive, fancy camera that can do 120 frames a second.

Well, if you have an iPhone, the seven-plus does 120 frames a second. It does 240 frames a second and it shoots in 4K. I know the Pixel phone has a ridiculous image stabilization. I saw a shot from my friend the other day of him literally one-handed driving down a driveway holding his phone out and it looks like he flew a drone, it’s insane. So, phone’s have come a long way.
Don’t underestimate them. Now when you combo a 4K smartphone with image stabilization and throw it into a DJI Osmo, you basically got yourself a 4K steady cam rig right there that you can bust out at any time to shoot incredible B-roll. I use mine, I throw it in the backseat, I throw it in the camera bag. Anytime that I am somewhere where I’m like, “Woah, this looks so good.” I put my phone on it, I run around for like 20 minutes, my wife’s sittin’ there waiting for me.

This is not a sponsored post, I was not paid to say that by DJI, I just think it’s a great product. I get the B-roll because here’s the thing. Just because you’re not shooting a project doesn’t mean that you’re not going to need that or could use it down the road. It’s important and sometimes, it’s real, really helpful to actually shoot a ton of B-roll throughout different trips, throughout your day, throughout the months.

Because you can backlog that into an archive and then if you’re shooting something or you’re running into a problem and you’re editing and you can say, “Do I have any, “I have like 20 minutes of B-roll that I shot “when we were going for that walk in that forest “’cause I had the Osmo in the car “or I just stopped at a traffic light “and filmed the clouds for two minutes “’cause they looked insane that day.”

That’s a really good pro tip for something that you guys can do to just make your stuff better and make sure that you have enough material. You can never shoot too much. The worst thing is when you get back and you’re starting to edit and you realize, “I’ve got a 10-minute clip of this guy in his kitchen “talking about B-roll, but I only have “like two minutes of actual B-roll to cut on top.

That’s the worst scenario to be in. I would rather be like, “I’ve got a 10-minute clip “of this guy talking and I have like 15 minutes “of awesome B-roll footage “and I’m not even sure what not to use “because I love all of it.” That’s where we wanna be. That’s the sweet spot. So, all in all now, when we take everything that we’ve shot and we mash it into one final piece, using the footage at the beginning of me saying we’re gonna go on a shoot and then, using all of that B-roll to right at the end, you’re gonna get away more whole experience of our experience on this photo shoot.

That would look something like this. What’s going on everybody? We are outside a really cool forest right now that has some awesome light. So we’re gonna pack up our gear and we’re gonna go inside and shoot. Let off some smoke, get some cool B-roll and yeah, we’re gonna go do that right now. Okay, so that was fun. We are freezing. We’re gonna get back in the car now and go do something else. So that’s it, guys.

That is the crash course in B-roll. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you got something out of it and I hope that you start to use some of these tips and tricks to start applying these concepts to your own films and VLOGs and projects. Remember, it’s the details that matter. When we add all the different layers of details, that just gives us a more rich experience as a viewer and as a filmmaker when we’re trying to tell our stories across the world. So, that was a nice deep exit. I think I will leave it there. See you again.

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