How to Spice Up Your B-Roll Footage
Just because you're shooting b-roll doesn't mean it has to be bland and boring.
If you're unfamiliar, there are two types of footage taken on set: A-roll and B-roll. A-roll refers to the principal photography of a project, like characters engaging in a conversation over dinner. B-roll is supplemental footage that supports the A-roll. In this hypothetical dinner scene, you might want some supporting shots of the setting or background actors.
A lot of times, filmmakers might think that the A-roll is what matters, and that the B-roll is almost throwaway footage you grab at the end of a long shoot when, in fact, it can be equally important. And just because some footage is supplemental doesn't mean it has to be boring or uncreative.
Daniel Schiffer filmed an entire B-roll cooking sequence using creative transitions and camera moves, then he shared his on-set process for this sequence in a recent behind-the-scenes video. Watch it below.
Schiffer's set-up is actually pretty basic. He and his team are shooting in a real home, where they were sure to close the curtains to keep the lighting consistent as the day progressed.
In addition to some of the room's existing lighting, he utilized an Aputure 300d with a softbox attachment.
Schiffer shot handheld on a Sony a7 III at 120fps. He chose to shoot with manual focus so that camera wouldn't be searching as objects moved through the frame.
Schiffer apparently shot the whole thing in sequence, start to finish. That way, he could keep in his head where one shot ended and how it could lead into the next. For instance, if he ended one shot panning down, he might start the next also panning down in order to create a flow of motion.
If you're not good at doing this on the fly, you might consider storyboarding your project first.
He repeated this process for every ingredient in the cooking video, with multiple takes.
What's obvious from the behind-the-scenes footage is that Schiffer wasn't afraid to keep the camera moving or to use unique angles. So even an action as simple as crumbling cheese becomes more dynamic and interesting to watch.
The project was edited in Final Cut. Schiffer only provides a glimpse at the post-production process here, but the final product utilizes a lot of stylistic elements like speed ramping, overlays, and color grading.
He also added motion tracking with a locked-on stabilization plugin in several shots to keep the ingredient stable and center in the frame.
He took the project a step further by developing his own sound design. Remember that sound is one easy and fairly affordable element of a film project that can add a lot of polish and professionalism if you give it the time it deserves.
What's next? Check out other tips for shooting handheld footage
There are many advantages to shooting handheld footage. Here's how you can stabilize your handheld shots without a gimbal, but we've also got tips for working with stabilizers too. Maybe you'll use some of this advice to shoot B-roll or your next action sequence.