Let me tell you a story. It’s a story of how we set out to create awesome business videos. Armed with naught but a penchant for photography and a well loved DSLR. Over the years we’ve really ramped our video production efforts up. Not only in the amount of video we make, but also in its complexity.
Insert montage here. I’m thinking clips of us pressing record, scratching our heads whilst storyboarding, firing up Final Cut Pro, whilst “Eye Of The Tiger” plays in the background. You know the kind of thing.
As our videos have gotten more and more complicated we’ve run into trouble. We tend to shoot pretty lean. Only shooting what we need, with nothing we don’t, and with one single camera. And that was fine when we weren’t doing anything particularly complicated. But these days it’s getting more and more difficult to produce the goods.
So here’s our solution: B roll.
Using B roll can make your life so much easier…
Video Making Problem 1: Varying The Visual
Ahh, good old talking heads. Often the simplest (and cheapest!) option. But they can also be fairly dry.
The problem isn’t the talking head per se. It’s just that quite often the shot gets stale. If you’re only using the one camera you can’t vary the visual. You’re stuck with 90 seconds of pretty much the exact same shot.
It’s amazing the difference a bit of B roll makes. It gives the viewer something else to look at, keeps the video fresh and adds a bit of pace to the whole thing.
Video Making Problem 2: Not Enough Footage In The Edit
If you have a single camera set up you’re really limiting yourself when it comes to the edit. Let’s imagine that (for whatever reason) you don’t have a usable take. Maybe your talent fluffed the line, maybe a siren went by outside, maybe you accidentally had your mic in shot. If you’ve got a bit of B roll all you need to do is cut to it, and then resume with the A roll when it makes sense to do so.
If you’ve not got B roll you either have to rack your brain thinking of an overlay, or resort to a jump cut. Sometimes that’s ok. Sometimes it can get a little unsettling for the viewer. And most times it means you spend so much more time on the edit than you really need to.
Video Making Problem 3: Time Consuming Reshoots
If your jump cuts are giving you motion sickness, and if you really can’t think of an overlay, your only option is to reshoot. This is really a big hassle; you have to set up all the kit (again), badger your esteemed colleagues to give up just a bit more time to take starring roles, and so on and so forth.
B roll gives you more options to work with. In fact, in our new Christmas video we actually had nearly two hours of footage (an hour from camera A, and an hour from camera B). And I can’t tell you how much quicker and smoother the edit went.
Plus, we now have a lot of unseen footage we can choose to use again if we need to. Everyone loves a good blooper reel, right?