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What is B-roll and why should you be interested?


Today, B-roll is more important than ever. There is now an expectation from broadcasters that, if you’re offering up a story for television, it should include some kind of video footage. But what is B-roll and why should you be interested?

In the last ten years, newsrooms have had to make budget cuts which has led to fewer crew numbers and these days it’s more likely to be a one man band.

The upside of this is that if you offer up B-roll that looks like footage TV news would have shot themselves, broadcasters are going to say yes please, thank you very much.

The people working in the edit suites and newsrooms will be eternally grateful for the offer of good footage.

Good footage means news-style pictures; the material can’t look glossy or be lit like an advert, shots are fairly static, without too many pans or zooms; and the content is going to be visually interesting. Put the best pictures at the top of the B-roll and interview clips at the end. Also useful is a slate, stating the material is free to use and without any copyright issues.

B-rolls used to be limited to under 15 minutes, but that’s really too long. Broadcasters prefer to receive B-roll digitally and and at around 6-8 minutes. Be sure to include a choice of shots for each sequence so two or more broadcasters editing the same material can produce something different.

Interview clips should be kept to no more than 20-30” and a maximum of 3 clips per interviewee is generally enough. You should also offer broadcasters something in the B-roll that they can’t easily film for themselves.

So why does B-roll matter?

If you’re a TV News Editor, as I have been in the past, and you’re choosing between two stories, one with B-roll and one without, you’re going to pick the one with the footage. For the client desperate to get on TV, getting them to invest a little budget in B-roll, could be one of the best bits of advice you can give them.

Want more information about B-roll and video production? Take a look at our video services and see how we can help you produce the best b-roll for your campaign.


by Keren Haynes

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