November 22, 2010 \ Geoff Birmingham
The Value of B-roll: How Capturing B-roll Will Enhance Your Video

The first thoughts clients have when they are conceptualizing a video for themselves is:  “Who are the people we should interview for the video and what should they talk about?”

This makes total sense.  Afterall, unless you want your video to be in the vein of a Frederick Wiseman documentary, you have to have people describing what you’re all about.  So let’s say that you’ve decided on your message and the right people to communicate it, but your video probably shouldn’t be just be talking heads.

Suppose that you intend to have someone talk about a specific service your organization offers.   Let’s say you’re a school and you want to explain a special program of study for students.   The question that should immediately follow is this – “Do I have a way to film that program?”   This supplementary video that helps illustrate the spoken word is known in the industry as “b-roll.”

This isn’t to say that if capturing b-roll of the program proves impossible, that you shouldn’t talk about it.  There can be other ways to solve that problem (maybe it’s using photographs that you already have, rather than video, for example).

Nonetheless, the question that should always be top of mind is “How do I film what we’re talking about?” or “What b-roll is going to accompany this interview?”  Many times, clients have plenty of ideas about what they want their interviewees to talk about but overlook the visuals that will enhance and strengthen what they are saying.  If you are able to talk about your study program and then show students benefiting from it, that’s going to be a lot more persuasive than words alone.