January 8, 2018

Watch: 5 Tips on How to Shoot Better B-Roll

The quality of your b-roll can make or break your project. 

Though principal photography tends to be on top of the filmic hierarchy for many filmmakers, b-roll also plays an incredibly important roll in increasing the narrative and visual quality of your work. If you want to learn how to make your supplemental footage better, check out this video by Matti Haapoja of TravelFeels. He explains five ways that you can take your b-roll to the next level by being more intentional and creative during the planning and shooting phases of your project.

When we think about b-roll we tend to think about quick and easy shots of items, locations, and individuals that add some context to our principal photography. A key turning in an ignition, wine being poured in a glass, feet walking along the beach—these are all examples of b-roll, and many would think that capturing these shots is as simple as grabbing your camera and shooting them quickly before you leave for the day. That's not a smart idea, however.

Really good b-roll is intentional. It's planned in advance, captured with care, and treated like all other shots you have on your shot list. They are not captured last minute or senselessly with an "eh, that's good enough" attitude, a theme I think you'll see in the tips Haapoja shared in his video:

  • Plan your shoot: Don't show up on set without a plan for your b-roll. Ask yourself what kinds of shots you're going to get and what gear you're going to need to get them.
  • Coverage: Get all sorts of angles and shot sizes, from wides to extreme close-ups. Getting plenty of coverage will save your buns once you get into post.
  • Be creative: Shooting b-roll is a great opportunity to get creative with your cinematography, so try new compositions, camera movements, etc.
  • Take your time: Don't underestimate the importance of b-roll. It can make an otherwise dull piece really interesting, so don't slack off when shooting it.
  • Make time for it:  Again, b-roll is important, so don't save it for the last few minutes of your shoot to capture it.

What are some other tips for capturing great b-roll? Let us know down in the comments.     

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