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Why is B roll important?

Using B roll in your videos is a great way to make your videos more engaging and keep the viewer watching longer. Attention and retention is what we want!

In the video and blog below, I’m going to explain what b roll is, where to get it to add to your videos and at the end, I’ll show you how to add it into your videos so that you create engaging content to keep your audience watching.

What is B roll footage?

B roll is additional video footage, which enhances your main A roll video, A roll being the video talking direct to the camera.

B roll not only switches up the visual aspect of your videos but can also help to explain the point you are making (I show you examples in the video above).

We can also add ‘b’roll to our videos to add another layer, using related shots to show the audience and give more context to the story you’re telling You can use the footage over the top of your original audio and it can be film of you or anything else relevant to what you’re talking about.

Not only is b roll great for engagement and retention, but it’s also helpful if you’re not feeling your best to show your face on camera today, although don’t just create that kind of content, we know that you can’t beat video where we can see and hear you talking direct to the camera. We need face to camera to get connection with your viewers.

You can use b roll to really tell the story and establish or set the scene. This extra footage allows you to amplify emotion and of course if you can give the audience ‘all the feels’ whilst they’re watching, then you’re on to a winner.

What are some B roll examples?

Here’s some of the different types of b roll shots you can use …

Wide angled shots to establish location for instance. You can see a wide view of the picture and take in all the information around It sets the scene for where you are and what you’re doing, like in a city or walking into a building for instance. It gives the viewer the information they need to know without you having to tell them.

Use a medium shot to explain things more clearly, where we’re more focused on a subject. This could be of a person for instance and would show all or at least the top half of them and give you more information about ‘the subject’.

Tight shots are shots that really focus on something, that maybe show expressions or feelings. Examples of this could be a close up on someones facial expression or their hands.

Over the shoulder gives you the view of just that, over the shoulder. It shows the perspective of what your main character is seeing or doing like looking through their eyes.

Tracking shots are when the camera is behind and following the character. It’s walking the same path so to speak, and shows the character leading the viewers to the next scene.

So as you can imagine, you can get super creative with these shots (examples of these are in the video above) and they make a massive difference to your videos, plus they’re great fun to edit.

Creating your own B roll

You can of course you can create your own b roll very easily. When you decide what your video’s about and what you’re going to say, think about the b roll you can add to help tell the story and show what’s going on. Make a list of your ideas and then go and have fun filming in the woods, on the beach or wherever best lends itself to your video. If you’re on your own, take a tripod and attach your phone, then get creative. 

Create footage of the types of shots we’ve discussed above and take lots. Even if you don’t use it in your current video, you’ll then have it for future use.

If you want to get started with creating videos for your business but don’t know where to start, grab my free download ’10 tips to filming like a pro with your smartphone’. It covers confidence on camera, background, lighting, audio and much more, you can grab it free HERE.

Where can I get B roll for free?

I make my B roll slides in Canva where you can use their free extensive library of free video footage to create great b roll and this is how I do it (I show you in the video above).

First of all from your Canva homepage, make your canvas a standard landscape video size, which is 1920 x 1080 (if you’re creating for a YouTube video or anything in landscape format). Head over to the left hand side of the screen where you see the ‘video’ option in the side bar. Click that and type whatever subject you want into the search bar above and you’ll see all sorts of suggestions of the different types of video appear. Hover over the clips to see a preview and if it looks interesting, drag it on to your canvas.

You can play it and then crop the part you want now direct in Canva by clicking on the scissors icon, just above your canvas (if you can’t just see it, click on your video canvas and it will appear). When you click on the scissors it allows you to trim the clip for as long as you want, by dragging the handles at either end of the clip. You can also trim it later when you put it all together in your video editor, it makes no difference. I like to keep it all in tact and download the whole clip from Canva in case I need to fill a few more seconds with footage, it just gives you more options for editing later.

Canva app from your smartphone

You can of course also do this from your phone in the Canva app if you want to just use your phone.

Then when you’ve got the footage you want, click download (top right) and choose MP4 format and the file is downloaded to your device, ready to add in to your editing app or software.

You can also find other free stock footage on the internet or use a paid service like storyblocks.com that may give you more flexibility, although Canva has a massive selection available and think creatively from another angle if at first you can’t find the footage you want.

So you’ve created your b roll footage …

How do we add B roll footage in to our video?

Most editing softwares use the same principle so I’ll show/tell you the 2 video editors I use for simplicity, for both desktop and smartphone, but which ever you use works in a similar way.

If you edit on Mac desktop, something like iMovie does the job or if you use PC, I presume it comes with it’s own free video editor. If not, you can use Filmora, Hitfilm, Shotcut, VN editor or Davinci Resolve, all free too, for both Mac and PC.

Let’s edit on desktop first.

Editing on Desktop

So you have your main video in your time line, your A roll of you, and we want to add our b roll in. We grab our file from our desktop that we downloaded from Canva (or wherever you got it from, I airdrop mine to my Mac that I’ve taken on my phone) and drop that into our timeline, over the top of our A roll. We adjust where we want it to start and finish and because it’s sat on top of the A roll layer, the B roll layer shows on screen, so the b roll takes preference so to speak (as does anything in the higher layers).

You can however still hear the audio from your original A roll. If you have audio in your footage and want to use this in this section of the video, then mute the A roll audio in that length of the A roll clip (cut it to match the length of your B roll and just mute that A roll section).

Editing on Smartphone

If you want to edit on your smartphone for ease, download the app InShot or Videoleap, they’re both ideal for this and have a free version. I’m going to use Inshot for this.

Add your A roll main video into the timeline and then we’re going to add the b’roll footage. We do this by clicking PiP which stands for ‘picture in picture’, then pick our b roll and it sits on top of our video ready to adjust. (If you use Videoleap you would click the ‘mixer’ button). You can use it as a picture in picture or you may prefer to cover the canvas by dragging a corner to the right size and then we adjust again with the handles and decide where we want the b roll to start and finish.  Press the white tick and watch it back. If you have any audio in your b roll, you will hear it over your a roll audio, so make sure you mute the volume in your b roll if this is the case.

I hope this has helped you to see how beneficial B roll can be to your videos, and as always, if you have any questions, ask away and don’t for get that free download below to help you get started filming. 

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