Creatively Corporate

B-Roll 101: 4 Important Principles for Corporate Video Beginners and Novices

B-Roll 101: 4 Important Principles for Corporate Video Beginners and Novices


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Having met some communication colleagues who have done videos for their corporate departments, I’ve been surprised at how much b-roll is under-utilized in their final products. Although my formal education is in video and film production, it’s still surprising to me that b-roll video is not a consideration for many of these professionals.

More on what b-roll is in a minute. The main point of today’s post is to help those of you who are creating your own corporate videos, but are still at more of a beginner level. Something like b-roll might not be part of your process because you simply don’t know exactly what it is or why it’s important in making videos that are more visually appealing and hold the attention of your audience.

Although I can’t be there when you shoot and edit, I want to offer some helpful information you should know during your production process with this quick tutorial.

What Is B-Roll?
The big question! B-roll is supplemental footage that’s inserted during the course of a video that enhances the main content. OK. What does THAT mean? An example you’ll probably recognize is a typical news report. There’s the main part of the report, which most often is an interview with an individual. During the interview, you see additional video footage that relates to what is being discussed. If the person is talking about a store she owns, for instance, you’ll see quick snippets of the store and customers or employees while you continue to hear the interview.

Why is B-Roll Necessary?
B-roll keeps a video from being monotonous. Theoretically, you can watch a video interview straight through if the topic or speaker is interesting enough… but that’s extremely rare. Inserting b-roll keeps your audience from having to watch a talking head during the entire piece.

What Footage Should You Shoot For B-Roll?
As mentioned above, the footage you shoot for b-roll purposes needs to relate to the topic or the person featured in your main interview or profile. Let’s take a corporate-oriented example: Let’s say you’re interviewing the Senior Vice President of your Customer Service department about the improvements made in that area. You should shoot wide shots of a customer service phone bank, as well as close-ups of representatives, computer monitors, management or leadership talking with customer service employees, etc.

Again, you’re trying to enhance the subject of the video. If you’re profiling an executive or employee, shoot diplomas on the wall, photos of family on the desk, the employee performing his/her job, etc.

Here’s a good example of using b-roll from a video I created. Notice how I used footage of the charter school to illustrate what my interviewee was discussing.

What Do You Need To Keep In Mind While Editing?
Now that you have all your footage shot, here are some pointers to keep in mind during the editing process. First, make sure each individual b-roll is only a few seconds long. Just as a video entirely featuring a straight interview can be monotonous, b-roll shown for too long can be awkward. If you have to show b-roll for an extended time, be sure it’s either really interesting, or there’s a diverse sequence – a few seconds of the customer service phone bank, followed by a close-up of the operator, followed by a computer monitor, etc. (to use our previous Customer Service Department example)

Next, make sure you’re placing your b-roll footage at the right time – usually during the interviewee’s explanation of something or retelling of a story. Normally, you don’t want to show b-roll when the subject is making an important or compelling point. It’s less dramatic if the profiled person is making a bold statement, and you’re showing a wide shot of an customer service phone bank. Of course, there are exceptions to this rule. B-roll that relates to the interviewee’s big reveal or climactic point is perfectly fine. Use your best judgment. It’ll be easier the more videos you create.

I hope this post was valuable to you. If you’ve been doing videos for a while, let me know some of your experience about incorporating b-roll. Or let me know any questions if any of this was unclear.

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