10 Tips for Shooting better B-Rolls
On this video colorful photographer and vlogger Jeremy Siers from Florida takes a look at 10 things that can help you improve your B-roll shooting.
Let’s start by clearing what B-roll is. You can think of a b-roll as any type of footage that is supplementary to you main footage. So for example, if you are making a video interview with a CTO of a company which makes clothing and you main footage is that person talking about the products than a possible B-roll can be a shot of some of the company’s clothing.
Now that we are set about what B-roll is, let’s dive into some tips from Siers video:
- Lighting – this is a very straight forward one, having good lighting which is right for the vibe that you are trying to give is important – it can add dimension to your shots but also create the right atmosphere so if you are shooting a new high tech gadget you might want that dark harder light but if you are shooting a breakfast b-roll you might want to go for a bright more “open” look.
- Play with angles – this is a nice tip that looks obvious until you realize that you are not implementing it enough. different angles are your friends, shoot high, shoot low, shoot from the side and try to see which angles complement your subject the most. This will make your life so much easier in post as well.
- Plan ahead – also sort of obvious but many of us often overlook this one or don’t do it methodically enough. From our experience, the more you plan your shots and prepare the more chances that it will run smoothly and even if not you will be able to handle any sort of mishaps. This will also eventually save you time and with some types of shots it is almost essential (especially if you can’t re-shoot).
- Get good smooth footage – there are many ways to get smooth footage – using a fluid head, a gimbal, a slider or even putting your camera on a towel and slowly moving it on a table can get you some good smooth shots. If you can ride a bike or skateboard and shoot at the same time this can also be a good idea (drones are also an option for some smooth shots) and you can also shoot in slow motion and increase the speed in post – this is really helpful (although if you are delivering in 4K your camera choice might be limited somewhat – at least for the moment). Finally, you can try and stabilize your shots in post-production although this is always just a last step (never put your faith in stabilizing in post – always try to get the shoot as smooth as possible in-camera first).
- Play with different focal lengths – just like with angles, play with different focal lengths (also see if shooting close-ups work for you – you don’t always need a true macro lens but a lens with some good close up capabilities is helpful and you can always punch in a little bit more in post).
- Add movement – just like with getting smooth shots, getting some sort of movement in your shots is very important (after all you are making a video nots shooting stills). Focus on your subject, dolly, play with the lights in or out and make sure that things never stay frozen for too long.
- Use foreground and background – making a cool parallax effect is really cool – have something in the foreground close to your camera and something in the distance and your subject in the middle. You can also use movement as discussed above to create nice transitions this way revealing your subject.
- Use the aperture to your advantage –
- Creative use of the aperture – blurring the background can be super helpful if you have a cluttered background or even if you want to make sure that your viewers focus on your subjects. with that said, sometimes shooting wide open is not the best bet – typically lenses are not as sharp wide open compared to 2 stops slower plus in some shots you want to show more of your subject and especially with close-ups you don’t want to shoot wide open and only show a small part of the subject all the time.
- Play with your frame rate – we already talked about shooting in slow motion and it can be super cool, but being able to work with different frame rates gives you more options – for example shooting in 24fps gives you more of a blur when you shoot movement and that can be useful for some types of shots. There are completely different types of frame rate manipulations to be done such as stop motions or time lapses or hyper laps – anything that can tell your story.
You can find many more helpful photography tips on our Photography tips section here on and LensVid.