April 23, 2019

5 Big No-No's to Avoid When Shooting B-Roll

If you want to be a b-roll master, then you'll need to avoid these common mistakes.

I love shooting b-roll. Not only does it allow me to get creative and experiment but it has a different kind of pressure than principal photography...like, chances are I'm not going to ruin my entire project or need expensive and time-consuming reshoots if I make a mistake here and there.

But there are mistakes to be made—let's make that clear—and they can be really annoying and leave you with a film or video that isn't as awesome as it could be. That's why you should check out this video from travel filmmaker Matti Haapoja. In it, he goes over 5 common b-roll mistakes new and experienced filmmakers make and how to avoid them.

Check it out below:

Shooting Too Little

You can never shoot too much b-roll. There, I said it. You might think, "Yeah, I'm gonna shoot these ocean waves for 30 seconds...that's more than enough." No, honey. Shoot for a ridiculous amount of time. Like, when you think, "Seriously, I'm never going to use this much footage of ocean waves," you're like, a third of the way there.

Not Being Creative Enough 

So, you took my advice and shot the shit out of those ocean waves. Now you've got like, 3 straight minutes of the gentle ebb and flow of the Atlantic Ocean. That's pretty good, but that's repetitive AF. Everybody captures the majestic aquatic dance of Mother Earth, so you're going to have to find a way to use your creativity to capture that godlike undulation in a way that makes you and your work stand out.

How creative! Never before had any DP, director, or producer thought to have a 6-ton killer whale jump over a small child for the purpose of filmmaking.

Inconsistent Direction of Movement

Okay, moving on from ocean waves (finally), one mistake newcomers make a lot is shooting inconsistent direction of movement. Wuzzat? Well, say you're filming a radical surfer bro approaching the divine blue from screen left to screen right...you're going to want to keep that left-to-right movement consistent for your next shot (and the next and the next). If you don't, your visuals won't make sense, because it'll look like Surfer Bro is approaching the precocious sea and then, in the next shot, walking away from it...but walking into it at the same time. See, it doesn't make sense reading it; imagine if you were watching it.

No Sequence

B-roll is not just a bunch of random shots that look cool. They're supposed to be supplemental footage that informs principal photography. So, if your principal photography consists of Surfer Bro approaching the eagerly rising tide and gently resting his board atop the supple bosom of the briny deep, you'll want your b-roll to add context and detail about that.

No Point of Interest

What are we looking at here? Are we supposed to be looking at the loquaciously locomotive mouth of the sea or that jetty or the boardwalk or...what? Not having a point of interest will force your audience to search your image for what's most important to see. Instead, guide them like sweet little lambs to whatever it is you want them to look at...which, in this example would be the...uh...the ocean. 

DP Claudio Miranda knew how to draw our eye to the most important element in this shot from 'Life of Pi'. The framing, the colors, and other integral aesthetic features guide our peepers straight to the star of this shot, the magnificent azure goddess. (Or the tiger, or whatever.)

Have you made these common b-roll mistakes before? Let us know down in the comments.     

Your Comment

5 Comments

This text summary makes no sense at all. A killer whale jumping over a 5 year old is not B-roll; it's a hero shot. A shot of the tiger from Life of Pi is not B-roll; it's a hero shot. Honestly, if the text cannot convey the truth of the video it's summarizing, or worse, if the video is so off-base that it's using completely wrong examples of a concept, then the editorial board of NFS should not be publishing it.

April 23, 2019 at 5:13PM

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You’re right. I should be more careful when executing my glorious ocean-related jokes.
What are your favorite ocean b-roll shots. Mine is that shot in ‘Free Willy’ when the whale jumps over the kid.

April 23, 2019 at 8:56PM

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V Renée
Managing Editor
Writer/Director

Oh my goodness, I hope you're joking.

April 24, 2019 at 2:26PM, Edited April 24, 2:29PM

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V. Stiviano Renee, dry humor mixed in with educational content doesn't work. To have a video educating people on proper B-roll then to think it's funny to have pictures of non-b-roll shots is neither funny nor educational. Its time for NFS to hire an editor!!

April 24, 2019 at 5:49PM

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K W
499

You mean, you're not used to her idiotic posts ?

I should say "re-posts", because it's mostly links to other people's work, laced with first-grade style "splanations".

April 28, 2019 at 8:10PM

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