Pre-Production: Thinking About B-Roll

Once you have your script locked down, it’s time to start thinking about what sorts of ‘B-Roll’ footage you can include in your pitch movie.

What is B-Roll?
B-roll is supplemental footage that encompasses any shot that does not include the main subject (You, in this case).  It can include landscape shots to help establish a setting, close-ups of whatever is being discussed in an interview, or still photos that you’ve taken or have permission to use in your film.

In a short, interview-based film such as the ones you will be creating, B-roll is essential for maintaining audience attention and ensuring that you have a nice diversity of shots.

B-Roll can also be extremely helpful once you begin editing your films because it can be used as a sort of ‘band-aid,’ allowing you to mask any mistakes or cuts between different takes in your interview.  More on this when we discuss editing tips.

 

Some Production Tips

-It’s never too early to start thinking about what B-Roll footage you might be able to include in your film. Some topics are naturally very easy to film, while others can present more of a challenge and will require more planning and creativity.

-Always shoot more than you need.  Shoot your B-roll from different angles and perspectives. Get out there and capture close ups, pans, ground level shots, over head perspectives and anything else that comes to mind.  When capturing B-roll, be adventurous and cover your bases.  This will make the editing process much easier.

-Still photos you find on Google can also make great B-Roll, but can only be used with permission from the owners.  Many people will be happy to give you permission as you long as you give them credit for it, you may just have to spend some time emailing the administrator of the site it was posted on.

-If you don’t have the means to capture your own footage, there are several great websites with footage in the public domain that is free to use. One such site is Archive.org.

Check out this link for additional free resources: http://www.premiumbeat.com/blog/20-free-online-stock-video-sites/

If you are looking for something more specific or of a higher quality, you may have to spend some money. Here’s a list of links with great footage available for purchase:

http://www.istockphoto.com/video
http://www.clipcanvas.com/ 
http://www.pond5.com/
http://www.sciencephoto.com/motion*

*Note: Sciencephoto.com allows you do download a low-res, watermarked version of every video for free, which may be suitable enough for your needs.