B Roll Made Easy

Oct 7, 2022

What is B Roll?

B roll is the extra footage you can add into your vlog style chats. It seriously helps up the production value of films and makes them more dynamic.

For most people shooting smartphone video, it can seem daunting doing it all yourself!
You are the director, the producer, the presenter and the editor, so here are some tips for nailing some easy roll B shots when you’re wearing all the hats.

Do I really need to bother with B Roll?

B roll footage will give your audience extra value, by showing them your world and your perspective.

It’s a massive help to tell your story and transition your chat, and is a great way to keep viewers interested for longer.

B roll is also really brilliant when you want to cut down a video chat. You can use this to avoid ugly jump cuts, and it can make editing down your vlogs really quick and simple.

How to shoot your B Roll


The key here to make sure you leave enough time to shoot good B roll. Often people think they can do this quickly, but it really is worth the time and effort to plan out what you need. If you get really good footage in one goal, you can build up a library to use more than once.

How to shoot your B Roll

Getting a full height tripod to get a variety of angles really does help. Most people underestimate how much you can vary your footage by low level shooting. It is also safer than putting your smartphone on the floor to shoot!

You will need to experiment with framing up when doing it all yourself. Get a pillow, put it on your chair, frame up, so you are happy and set the focus. Then remove the pillow and start recording yourself.

Reframe the same shot for a mid shot and close up, remember this is all going to be useful footage for future videos.


B Roll for your story

You don’t have be filming a cinema epic to use B roll. Just follow this simple guide:

WHO ARE YOU


Make sure you shoot a nice head shoot of yourself in a variety of shot sizes.

WHERE ARE YOU


Shoot a couple of wide and mid-shots in your world, so the viewer gets a handle on the space you are in. Don’t worry about it all looking too tidy, work places should look as if work is being done!

WHAT ARE YOU DOING

Share what you do. If you are an artist, gardener or riding teacher this is going to be very visual, but if you are a coach for example, it’s not so easy.

Think about hands on computer, checking your phone, looking at your work on your laptop, walking towards camera. There is still plenty of footage that tells your viewer more about your style and where and how you work.


LET YOUR AUDIENCE IN

Shoot some point of view (POV) shots to add really value and showcase what you are doing. These are a classic way for your audience to see what you are seeing.

POV shots are a more intimate style of shot and are an easy way to get an audience engaged with what you do.

SHOOT TO SUIT

Shoot some B roll that you really like, and experiment with angles and different focus. Plenty of people are doing good social media vlogs right now, but not many are cutting in great B roll. It’s a good time to stand out with creative shots!

VARY YOUR B ROLL SPEEDS

Think about different shot speeds to add B roll variety to your film.

A great timelapse or hyperlapse can set the scene if you are shooting in a city or busy work place.

This speeded up footage is also a great way to show viewers the set-up for your shoot, a demo or a product launch.

Use the slo-mo function on your phone to shoot dreamy B roll of walking, smiling, anything where you want viewer attention to slow down.

B ROLL SHOT SIZES

Use this guide to shoot a variety of B roll that works.

A WIDE SHOT

This is where you show yourself in your setting.

You can use this at the start of your film to show your audience a sense of your space. Think of it as establishing who and where you are.

Are you in the middle of the country? In a modern working space? In front of a factory? This shot can really make a statement.

A MID SHOT

This is where you move closer in and shoot yourself or your subject doing something. It can be something simple like reading, checking a phone or drinking a coffee.

Whatever the action, the shot fills the frame, so your viewer can clearly see what is going on.

A CLOSE UP

This is where you allow your viewer to see a detailed, more intimate shot of you. You can shoot your hands or products in more detail, or it could be a facial expression.

Whatever close up you choose, it should be of a detail that matters in the narrative of your film. If you are shooting faces close up always shoot from above as a crepey neck or a sagging chin is not a look you will like to see!

DON’T FORGET ABOUT CONTINUITY

Remember that continuity is important. You may be shooting all your B roll out of sequence, so don’t suddenly take your hat off, change your jacket or push your hair right back. You want to make sure all your B roll is useful whatever order you edit it in.

Also think about movement, remember which side you enter and leave your shots. If in doubt, shoot all versions!!!

SHOOT IN 4K

If you have a smartphone that will shoot in 4k then use it for B roll. Remember that shooting 4k uses up way more battery and memory but it does mean that you can crop into these shots when you edit which can be helpful.

Each B roll shot should be 3–5 seconds. Discipline yourself to overshoot and have a go at using 4K.

If you want more inspiration on B roll do drop me an email at info@smartphonevideoforsmartpeople.com. We are always happy to help with inspiration for any of your shoots.

Happy Shooting Everyone!

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