What is “B-Roll”?

Video camera and microphone with a car driving in the distance

May 21, 2022

There are two broad categories of filmed footage:

A-roll & B-roll.

A-roll is captured by “camera A,” or the first camera. It’s the main footage. In a corporate video, commercial, or promo, it’s the interviewee telling their story, the primary storyline, the spokesperson on center stage.

B-roll is captured by “camera B,” and includes a lot of important footage that supports the main storyline or big idea. Often, it includes environmental footage that helps set the context for where someone is, what they’re doing, and other “plot points.”

In the world of corporate videography, B-roll is an immensely important resource. Let’s dive deeper into the “what” and cover the “why.”

Josh Birt digs into the ins and outs of B Roll for video production.

Interested in having a professional team that knows their way around all the kinds of -roll? JB Media Productions is an elite team of pros that can elevate your business through skillfully crafted, beautifully creative, expertly executed videos. Visit our homepage to learn more.

B-Roll Examples

Here are some examples of what B-roll is:

  • Interviewee shots (a different angle, their gesturing hands, etc.)
  • Environment shots, such as:
  • Walking down a hallway
  • Doing work at their desk
  • Conducting a meeting
  • Speaking with a colleague
  • Performing research
  • Working at a different location

This footage can be interspersed throughout an interview or presentation, breaking up the visuals and underscoring the points the person is making.

That’s B-Roll

B-roll is essential to getting a well-structured, coherent, modern video.

Why Use B-Roll in a Corporate Video?

In an effort to control the cost of professional video production, or otherwise simplify the process, you may be tempted to forego B-roll. This would be a mistake, based first on the fact that people respond best to stories. Unless you have a masterful storyteller – a professional actor or actress – it’s virtually impossible to paint a vivid enough picture just using interviews or single-shot approaches.

Consider how B-roll takes the viewer on a journey, illustrating the ideas they’re hearing about.

It’s similarly important to produce videos that the typical viewer is used to. And what they’re used to is a lot of variety, quick cuts: a visual smorgasbord of motion graphics, different elements, new views, and more. For that to be remotely achievable in a corporate video or commercial, you need to use B-roll.

When Do You Capture B-Roll?

Alternative footage, B-roll, can be shot either on the same day as a brief shoot or on day two of a more typical shoot. If you have multiple people who need to be in the video, or a second location, that will usually take up all of the first day. B-roll can be shot in-between other filming by the second camera, but your video production company should also allocate time just for capturing B-roll.

At JB Media Productions, we’ve got it down to a science: for multi-person video interviews, we’ll interview the first person, then shoot their B-roll; interview the second person, then shoot their B-roll, and so on. It’s an efficient way to ensure we have plenty of great footage to make each person’s moment on-screen pop.

Can You Use Stock Video for B-Roll?

This answer has changed in the last few years. Historically, stock video footage was prohibitively expensive. This meant that it would cost clients almost as much to buy B-roll footage as it would for them to hire us for an extra day.

That’s not the case anymore. Depending on your industry and depending on the look/feel your video is going for, the production company may be able to use B-roll to spruce it up. We wouldn’t suggest you rely entirely on this, as B-roll is open-source and not unique or branded. It may even be recognizable if you use a very popular platform. Keep the stock B-roll to a minimum, and remember that you will still have to pay for editing time for it to be spliced into your final video.

B-Roll Has a Ton of Uses

B-roll is a worthwhile expenditure, and any experienced video production company is going to use it. We like to remind clients that B-roll can have long-term use beyond the video or video series we’re creating at that time. For instance, if we shoot a couple of hours total of additional B-roll footage, you may be able to use portions of that for other videos on social media accounts, for video shorts, for other commercials down the road.

Because B-roll is more environmental and generic, it can be repurposed in numerous contexts, which really maximizes its value as part of your video production project.

Hire a Video Production Company for Corporate Videos

A-roll and B-roll are equally important to making a well-crafted video, and video can get you everywhere you want to go. It is easily the most popular medium in the world, and increasingly the way your clients, customers, and staff want to consume content.

Inform, inspire, and expand your impact… all with video.

If you’re after these outcomes, we can help.

The team at JB Media Productions is tirelessly dedicated to producing outstanding videos every time. All of our strategies are intact, and our entire team is on board with a passion to create the world’s best corporate videos and commercials.

If you’re interested in working with us, reach out anytime.