Blog Post

The argument for B-roll

Cutbacks and coronavirus

It’s all about the visuals

Television used to be about immediacy, the publication of news ahead of the newspapers. But since online news gave television a run for its money, often getting there first with a breaking story, television needs to focus on what it does best and that’s moving pictures.

So, if broadcast journalists don’t have the same number of crews to send out, and are hampered by social distancing restrictions even when they do arrive on location, their hands are rather tied behind their backs. Yes, they can use their own library footage but, depending on the story, this might be old. Worse for you it could feature a competitor!

Enter, the perfectly produced B-roll.

Top tips for B-roll

If you watch a B-roll it is a little bit like watching paint dry. It looks basic, not much better than raw footage that needs editing. But beneath this rough and ready appearance GOOD B-roll will have been well planned out and shot. There are two golden rules to ensure your B-roll gets on air:

  1. Shoot it in a news style. Broadcasters will want to ideally mix and match it with some of their own footage, so it needs to gel seamlessly. And if they cover the story using JUST B-roll then it needs to look like something they’ve done themselves. That means nothing too fancy or glossy, not too much movement in the shots and enough variation in the pictures to create a sequence. At the most basic level you need a wide, a medium and a close up shot of each element filmed.
  2. Film something that broadcasters can’t easily do for themselves. These days that’s really easy – given the lack of newsroom crews and coronavirus restrictions. Ordinarily though it could mean filming somewhere difficult to access, or something that’s going to take a long time, or where there are health and safety conditions…

Which brands need B-roll?

So, you’re looking to produce a B-roll?

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