8 Tips for Shooting B-Roll as a One-Man-Band

When you're the director, DP, and actor, shooting b-roll can be a little challenging...but it's doable.

Whether you're making a video for your YouTube channel or just out shooting for the hell of it, you're gonna need some excellent b-roll to give your work a more professional quality.

But damn, what if you're literally the only "on set"? Like...you're serving as the director, cinematographer, and the actor? Well now, that makes things a little more complicated, but in this video, Matti Haapoja gives you a bunch of great tips on how to capture great b-roll without any helping hands. Check it out below:

Don't Be Afraid to Put Your Camera Down

I know it's scary to put your camera down in public (because thieves), but if you want to get great shots, you're probably going to have to. This will not only give you the freedom to do whatever it is you have to do in front of the camera without being tethered to it but it will also allow you to diversify your compositions.

Framing is Important

Speaking of composition, it's super important if you're one-man-banding it. Isn't it always important? Yeah, but if you're filming yourself, you may not realize that you're limiting the kinds of shots you can get...most likely because you're holding your camera all the time. (Think about how uniform selfies are.) So, approach these compositions in the same way you would a narrative film. Try different angles, focal lengths, blocking, etc.

Use Your Arms

Duh, right? But use your arms in unexpected ways. Get some sweet tracking shots of your feet by holding your camera out below your waist. Get some subtle dolly shots by pulling your arms in slowly. There are tons of interesting camera moves you can pull off with just your arms, but if you want a little extra help, you might want to think about getting yourself a handheld gimbal or GorillaPod. 

Experiment

Go nuts, gang. Really...do it. Shooting b-roll gives you the perfect platform for experimentation and since these types of short-form selfie social media videos haven't quite exploded in the creativity department, you have so much room to move without being redundant. 

Don't Forget Continuity

Remember, you're telling a story and that means that continuity is an important thing to maintain. So, just keep your blocking in mind, as well as the visual story you're trying to tell. You don't want to film yourself walking from screen left to screen right in one shot and then have you entering the frame on the right in the next.

Focus: Auto or Manual?

So, do you go with auto-focus or manual focus for these shots? Well, according to Haapoja, it depends on the shooting situation, as well as the look you're going for. If you're moving around the frame but want to remain in focus, going auto might be the ticket. However, if you like the look of you walking into focus from the background of the shot, then manual would be the best choice.

Confidence is Key

Okay, y'all...you're gonna be out in public acting a fool. You're gonna be the weirdo trying to look cool for the camera without any crew members around to alert passersby that you're not a lunatic. That's okay. Be a lunatic. Be a fool. Be the weirdo. Confidence is the second most important piece of gear you need to bring with you on set.

BONUS: Consider Higher Resolutions

This isn't mentioned in the video, but I wanted to bring this up real quick. If your camera is capable of shooting higher resolutions, whether it's 2K, 4K, or pretty much anything higher than what your final edit is going to be, you might want to consider taking advantage of that. Once you head into post, you'll be able to manipulate your image and add effects that you wouldn't be able to do otherwise without losing image quality. For example, you could crop in to add a smooth and delicate dolly-in, or crop in to add a nice "slider" movement by placing position keyframes.

What are some other helpful tips for YouTubers and one-man-bands? Let us know down in the comments.     

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