Video Production for Marketers Take 6: What the H*ll is B-roll?

The sixth instalment in a series of posts aimed at demystifying the video production process for the uninitiated marketer.

Talk to someone in the know about video production and you are bound to hear the expression “B roll”. When I first heard it, the other person slipped it into our conversation while rhyming off a number of other phrases and acronyms so quickly, it almost didn’t register.

Hmmm…be role? …be roll? …bee role? …b roll?

It makes more sense when you look at where (when) the expression comes from. It’s origin is in the days of shooting on rolls of actual film as shown in the photo above. Aha!

B-roll, B roll, B-reel or B reel is supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot (aka A-roll).

Wikipedia

For example, B-roll can set the tone of your video just as the photos below might if your content piece was a blog post or magazine article. Another example would be to cut to B-roll of an athlete playing their sport while they answer your questions in studio.

Spooky and lonely vs. Hopeful and airy

Mood & Setting
forest | dusk | eerie | lonely
Mood & Setting
forest | daybreak | welcoming | hopeful

B-roll helps elevate your video to a another level. The piece is more dynamic and adds visual variety in an effort to hold viewers’ attention. Adding the right shots at the right times can convey authority, authenticity, and relevance as well. In particular, B-roll footage is typically classified as:

  • Insert Shots
  • FX Shots
  • Establishing Shots
  • Stock Footage
  • Pick Up Shots

Filmmaking Central has a great article on the various ways B-roll is used, so I’ll defer to their expert description of each type of shot!

Last but not least…have you noticed that aerial shots are now commonplace? Drones with cameras are readily available and fairly inexpensive, and they are easy and a lot of fun to use! You can now add a bit of ‘Hollywood’ B-roll to your video without blowing up your budget. No helicopter required!

Photo of medium-sized drone with camera held in a man's hand; misty mountains in the background.
Photo by Tyler Casey (Unslpash)

Have you seen a clever, unusual or flawed use of B-roll recently? Please share in the comments!

Unlike wild bears, feeding the content creator is encouraged! 🙂

This is the last post I planned in this series on video production fundamentals for the uninitiated marketer and small business owner. Would you like to see more Tips and Tricks on this or some other topic? Let me know in the comments below!

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.

Video Production for Marketers Take 5: Tips & Tricks On Set

The fifth instalment in a series of posts aimed at demystifying the video production process for the uninitiated marketer.

Your plan is complete, your videographer knows what you want, and you’re on location. Now what…?

Based on my own experience, what happens next depends on the day of the week, the phase of the moon, how much tea you have in the cupboard at home, when you got your last haircut, and any number of other esoteric happenings. My best advice is to be flexible!

Even when you are confident that you’ve thought of everything, surprises can pop up. Technical issues, bad weather, unusual and unforeseen interruptions, a key member of the team calls in sick…there are too many variables to track, most of which are not in your control. It’s best to resign yourself that it won’t be perfect. But that’s OK…

…sometimes the unexpected makes great content too!

At the very least, it might make a good blooper reel to share with your friends! LOL

Here’s my list of on-set tips and tricks to help you get through a shoot with only minor bumps and bruises (both physical and psychological).

If your videographer is skilled, they should have each of these things well sorted on their own. However, even the best can miss things and equipment can fail without warning. I’m not suggesting that you should loom over their shoulder for the entire shoot. I’m simply saying that another pair of eyes and ears can’t hurt.

LightingHIGH PRIORITY

  • Lighting should be your team’s NUMBER ONE priority on set…your audience has to see what’s happening!
  • Check the lighting in all areas you are planning to use. (Ideally this happens before the actual shoot so you come prepared, but sometimes you have no choice but to do it on the same day you are filming.)
    • Have the person(s) and/or objects being filmed stand in each area.
    • Look for unwanted glare, shadows, backgrounds, moiré patterns, etc.
    • Is there something making an actor uncomfortable, like the sun shining into their eyes causing them to squint the whole time?
    • Your videographer can set up extra lights, bounce cards, etc. to get the look and feel you want for each scene.
  • For safety, make sure that ALL extension cords are out of the way of the action or taped down with the appropriate tape.

SoundHIGH PRIORITY

  • If you are shooting video with audio, sound should be your team’s NUMBER TWO priority on set.
    • Make sure every microphone: lapel, boom, camera mount, etc. is in good working order.
    • Check the sound recording quality for every person / thing that will be recorded. (Testing 1-2-3!)
    • The camera might be too far from the action to record high quality audio.
    • Voices can also be difficult to record when people are not facing the camera directly.
    • Is wind is likely to affect sound quality? If so, adding a wind sock to each mic should help.
  • Stand-alone digital recorders can be helpful in addition to the main audio recordings.
    • It serves as a back-up should something go wrong with the main audio. (It’s happened to me on two separate video shoots!)
    • Ever wonder what the clap board is for when you see behind the scenes on a movie set? During editing it allows the editor to sync each sound recording with the visuals.
    • They snap the clap board–or simply clap their hands loudly–in front of the camera, loud enough that the sound is picked up by ALL the mics on the set as well as the video camera.

Continuity – Moderate Priority

  • Dictionary.com defines continuity as, “a motion-picture scenario giving the complete action, scenes, etc., in detail and in the order in which they are to be shown on the screen.”
    • It’s not the end of the world if an actor is wearing a baseball cap in one shot but the cap is missing in the next shot, but it WILL be noticed!
  • Assign someone to keep an eye out for discrepancies when filming each scene. Note that you might want to use bits from several takes to build each scene.
    • I’ve found that one way to make that an easier task is to take a photo at the start of each take.
    • Before rolling on the next take, compare the photo with the scene in front of you, looking for discrepancies.

Secondary Video – Moderate Priority

If you are shooting a very short video, say up to 20 or 30 seconds long, having an an alternate angle on the action is not a requirement. However, the longer the video gets, the more need you will have to add visual variety to help keep your viewers’ attention. One of the easiest ways to do that is to cut to a different angle of the same scene.

When my video shoot is relatively simple and I don’t want to (or can’t afford to) pay for redoing each take at a different angle, I either bring second camera* and a tripod to the set or ask my videographer to do so. I set it up in one spot and leave it there for the entire shoot. You end up with two views to choose from for every take / scene. And, if the main camera’s memory card decides to flake out on you, the extra footage might be enough to save the day and you will avoid having to re-shoot a scene.

*Make sure the second camera can take video with the same resolution being shot by the main camera.

Extras & Nice-to-Haves

  • Take photos of behind the scenes for your website, email, and social media, The Making of Our Fabulous New Video!
  • Put one or more objects in the scene that you can use later on for social media engagement, Can you find all the hidden XYZ in this video?
  • If by some miracle you don’t have any real bloopers on video–or none that you want to broadcast to the general public!–deliberately shoot some outtakes to share with your audience for fun.
  • Shoot some B-roll…(see next week’s post for more on B-roll.)

WATCH OUT FOR ACCIDENTAL PRODUCT PLACEMENT!

Have at least two people scan each location for unwanted visuals.

Logos | Packaging | Signs | Buildings | Desk tops | Flags | Billboards | Accessories | Clothing

Don’t advertise another company’s products.

OR, even worse, your competition’s products!‡

‡ I’ve seen this happen. Even some of the largest brands on the planet have made this mistake!

Did I miss something? Do you have a clever on-set hack? Please share in the comments below!

The next installment is now available. Take 6: What the H*ll is B-roll?

Unlike wild bears, feeding the content creator is encouraged! 🙂

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.

Video Production for Marketers Take 4: Before the Shoot – A CHECKLIST

The fourth instalment in a series of posts aimed at demystifying the video production process for the uninitiated marketer.

❒ Build your vision

  • ❒ Define goals
  • ❒ Define target audience
  • ❒ Define messaging
  • ❒ Write your story / script
  • ❒ Write the creative brief and create storyboards

❒ Build a plan

Work with your videographer to make sure everything you / they need will be on set.

  • ❒ Select location(s)
    • Is each location in line with your story, messaging, and brand?
    • Is there enough space to work with while filming?
  • ❒ Lighting
    • What lighting is available? If outdoors, anticipate changes with time of day.
    • What additional lighting will be required?
  • ❒ Scene props / backdrops
    • Which of your products / demos will be needed on set?
    • Do you need a table, chairs, car, skateboard, bucket of water, pom poms, baseball bat, Christmas tree, horse, etc.?
    • Will extra hands be necessary for set up and tear down?
  • ❒ Wardrobe / Makeup / Hair
    • What should the actors wear?
    • How should they look?
    • Will you provide the wardrobe and accessories or will they?
  • ❒ Sound – on video
    • Do you need an external microphone(s)?
    • “Lavalier” lapel microphones?
  • ❒ Sound – ambient noise
    • Will mitigation of ambient noise be necessary on location? Wind, passersby, traffic, etc.?
    • What needs to be done to guarantee good audio?
  • ❒ Other practical stuff to consider…
    • Are there enough electrical outlets?
    • Are there washroom facilities at each location?
    • WATER is a MUST-HAVE on every video shoot, but will you also provide the actors / crew with snacks and/or meals?

This is by no means a complete list. These are some of the “showstoppers” that are easy to forget in the excitement of planning a video shoot. Mostly based on my own trial-and-error experiences as a novice video producer!

Have you ever had a video shoot go spectacularly wrong? Or, go incredibly well? What lessons have you learned from your experience? Please share in the comments!

The next installment is now available. Take 5: Tips & Tricks On Set

© 2021 Tracey Copeland, Rolling Sands Consulting.