B-roll is used in video production to capture moments that enrich the overall production value of the story. B-roll is an asset that provides layers of interest and is a skill to master. Here is a guideline to use in preparation for capturing b-roll.
The first step is to break down the script and create a bullet list of words that describe each shot needed to convey visual details of the story. For example, the script may read “Sara sits on a bench near the lake”. In addition to capturing this one shot, list a few more shots that coincide with the visual environment to increase the non-verbal narrative interest of the scene.
Additional descriptions for b-roll during this scene may include, close up of lake with ducks, wide shot with lake in the background, close up of trees near by, and medium shot of Sara sitting on bench. Now that the scene is broken down into multiple shots with b-roll, the flexibility to edit in post-production increases with variety and allows for creative visual storytelling.
Once the shot list is created, the next step is to create the equipment list. It is important to plan ahead and make a specific outline of the type of gear needed. Typically the gear used for b-roll is lightweight, versatile and easy to operate. This will include a camera, tripod, monopod or shoulder rig, zoom lens, prime lens, led light and on camera audio. Here the camera operator’s main goal is to capture interesting, dynamic, creative images that support the overall concept of the video. Often times, especially at events or live functions, the opportunity to capture certain scenes only happens once, so it’s vital that the camera operator have all the tools needed to record when necessary. Overall, these are several ways to prepare to capture b-roll and enhance the production value of your next video.