Your primary footage may the key storyteller of your film -- your interviews, etc., but your b-roll is the glue that holds it all together. Getting good b-roll is supremely important in not only documentary filmmaking, but in virtually any type of filmmaking, because it helps hide transitions, gives information, and adds flare to what could be a long and tedious block of exposition. But, if you're finding that your secondary footage is falling flat, Slavik Boyechko of Alaska Video Shooter and PBS series Indie Alaska, breaks down pretty much everything you need to know about shooting b-roll in this awesome and exhaustive tutorial.
It's pretty common when filmmakers first start out to get a little lazy when it comes to shooting b-roll -- especially if you capture it after you've finished shooting your primary footage. (Why lie -- even if you're a seasoned vet the process can get tedious enough to make you get loosey goosey.) However, b-roll footage not only plays a huge role in the storytelling process, but it actually takes up the lion's share of the screen time. Transitions need to be hidden. A talking head needs to be cut away from. Objects, places, actions, and people being talked about need to be seen in order to keep the story alive and interesting.
So, knowing how important b-roll is, it's imperative to not only capture enough of it (seriously -- I can't stress that enough), but capture it well. An article from Transom showcased Boyechko's tutorial, in which he not only breaks down the many, many ways to shoot better b-roll, but also details camera movements, stabilization gear used, and how the shot serves the story. It's a great learning opportunity, so if you want to up your b-roll game, check it out below:
The documentary piece Boyechko was shooting in the tutorial was actually an episode of Indie Alaska called I Make Wearable Art. Check it out below:
Shooting b-roll may become tedious, and you might slack a little bit more, since there's less pressure and more freedom while you shoot. But, the quality of your secondary footage could truly make or break your project.
For a visual breakdown of the techniques Boyechko talks about in the video, be sure to check out the full Transom article.
Do you have any advice on how to shoot better b-roll? Share your own techniques and methods in the comments below.
[via Filmmaker IQ]