How to Shoot B-roll with OpenReel and What Types of B-roll You Need
We’re often asked about b-roll: how to shoot it, what should be captured, and more. We understand the hesitancy. Even seasoned producers can be stumped in planning b-roll that ensures a good movie becomes something truly great.
What is b-roll?
B-roll refers to any extra video, detail shots, or scene-setting footage that enhances or supports your story. Interviews that feature one person speaking to the camera can be more dynamic and interesting when they cut away to footage that illustrates key talking points, locations, or products.
B-roll is also used to cover edits or scene changes, which is why even simple talking-head style interviews need this footage. Even with a teleprompter, plenty of practice, and a lot of takes, your best video may still have moments when your Subject shifts awkwardly, scratches their face, or uses a strange expression. If your audio is perfect, you can save the clip by swapping in some b-roll.
The challenge for creators starts with determining what type of shots may be needed in post-production editing. It can also be difficult to plan how, when, and where to capture this footage. Here are some ideas for taking advantage of b-roll opportunities during your video shoots
Five types of b-roll footage to film
If location is significant to your main story or message, it’s a good idea to capture some footage to set the scene. For example, corporate or brand videos should feature video of the physical office or location; you can also capture action shots set in the space, such as employees working or the busy start of the work day as employees file into the building. Is the location particularly eye-catching? Grab a few panning shots of the surrounding scenery or the energetic cityscape. If your video follows your Subject to a different location, get video of him or her entering that building.
If your video has a main Subject or multiple Subjects, take some video of their day-to-day routine. Whether you’re shooting an artist, real estate expert, or CEO, look for opportunities to capture them embodying that persona. For instance, a testimonial for a brand or product can feature your Subject utilizing that brand or product. For corporate videos, record your Subject or Subjects working at their desks, interacting with employees or presenting in a meeting.
Any product video would utilize shots of the product, but remember that variety is key. It’s always best to have too much footage than not enough options. Mix up your shots with different angles, wide shots, and closeups. Look for opportunities to capture people interacting with the product itself.
If your video involves a live demonstration, then you have an excellent opportunity to capture other live shots. Capture the time before and after the demonstration to add atmosphere and movement, and record audience reactions throughout. If this is a product demo, you can also capture footage of the product being used outside of the demonstration; it can add beneficial illustration to see the product in action, instead of just on stage.
When gathering additional footage, look for shots that will add movement to your video. This can be as simple as capturing the Subject in their most comfortable environment, rather than putting them in a studio. An ad for home insurance, for example, will be more lively and interesting if the couple’s kids are filmed playing in the house where the interview is taking place. Likewise, while a social spot for a hotel should show off enticing scenery, actually showing guests enjoying the space will add additional benefit to the video.
How to plan b-roll to shoot
Pre-production is not simply when you plan equipment and logistics with your team and Subject. These meetings (or singular meeting, if that’s all that is necessary) is also an opportunity to do pre-interviews with your Subjects. Learning more about how the crucial role that they will play in the video will help you script your interview questions, plan for what they need to be doing on camera, and, yes, plan for b-roll. For example, if you are filming a product testimonial, this is when you should get to know your Subject’s experience using the product.
Once you have important information from those meetings, you can outline some of the b-roll you might need to make your video engaging. Think about what imagery would bring your Subject’s story to life and start to make a shot list. B-roll can also always be filmed after your main footage is captured and more key ideas are discovered, but it’s beneficial to plan in advance, too.
How to film b-roll with OpenReel Capture
Utilize OpenReel’s Multicam feature
Whether you’re filming a large event or a small brand video, tapping into OpenReel’s Multicam feature is a great way to capture multiple scenes at once. With a phone focused on the presenter, one panned to the audience, and one set up for a wider angle shot of the stage, you’re capturing b-roll and the main event all in one shoot.
Use an on-site technical director
Even if you’ve filmed the talking portions of your video remotely, that doesn’t mean you have to stay remote for the whole shoot. Whether you send one person from your team or hire an on-the-ground freelancer, a single technical director is an incredibly affordable option to capture footage while you direct the shots remotely. A Gimbal can be a great filming accessory for these moments, too.
Use your Subjects themselves
With OpenReel, your Subject can help you capture b-roll footage. Have a brand video that features high-security areas that your subject can access? They can capture necessary shots inside without the added logistics of getting you permission. Even with simpler scenarios where the Subject is in their own home or office, the Subject can film set-up a tripod to film some day-to-day moments or capture specific locations that would improve the video — all without needing to invite a crew or a technical director into their personal space.
Need more ideas for filming the best video possible? Your dedicated Account Manager is here to help. Not a customer? Let us know how we can help you start planning your next shoot today.