If you’ve been searching for video content ideas for your brand or business account, then you’ve probably stumbled across the phrase B roll footage. This filmmaking vocabulary word has entered the lexicon of content creation thanks to its versatility and long shelf life. Most likely, you’ve already captured some type of B roll footage at some point while shooting video content, but learning what makes these types of video clips so valuable and how to maximize your results with them will help to double your content possibilities and stand out in a sea of video posts.
What is B Roll?
To give you the filmmaker’s definition: B roll is footage that serves as supplemental visuals to support your A roll footage, or main storyline. In formal marketing videos, the A roll footage is typically the interview portion of the video, so the B roll footage is usually the shots that are cut between the interview to provide visual context. These shots can feature a person, object, or even just scenery, but this style of footage typically doesn’t include onscreen audio so that they can easily serve as cutaways from your main messaging.
Check out this brand video reel series we created with Rockaway Candle Company to see a more traditional example of B roll footage in use.
Nowadays, B roll is becoming a more common term used in the context of video content that goes beyond its traditional cutaway purpose. Thanks to the popularity of video content that is 10 seconds or less, B roll can repurposed and re-used in montage style video edits or even as a visual backdrop to a single theme or idea. Basically, B roll footage is gold for your content library with its quick, simple visuals and flexible creative possibilities.
Where to Find on Brand B Roll Footage
Of course, just like with stock photos, there are some negatives to using stock footage: First, being that the very nature of stock footage is meant to fulfill the needs of all types of videos so you might not be able to find the specific imagery you need. Second, there’s also the risk that other accounts and brands are using those same video clips in their strategy, which is never good when you’re trying to stand out in your market. Finally, the other limitation is you can’t get personal with stock footage; instead of clips showcasing your product or the face(s) behind the business, your stock footage videos will probably feature more generic imagery that helps to set a general mood or vibe.
If you’re ready to step up your B roll selection so that you have unique and personalized footage that can offer you results, then I recommend reaching out to a professional videographer or production company.
Why Should You Invest in Quality B Roll Footage?
If you’re working with a videographer on a brand video, chances are they’ll be shooting B roll to support your main messaging. If that’s the case, you should inquire about adding some isolated B roll shots to your final deliverables since it doubles your potential for video content! In my own premium video packages, I offer a set number of B roll clips from our session so that you walk away with your own custom stock footage library.
From website banners, Instagram story backgrounds, or shot options for reels and TikTok edits, these clips can be endlessly repurposed across your social media and marketing, leaving you with weeks worth of content options.
Keep in mind, your B roll footage’s versatility is dependent on its quality. Though not every aspect of your video strategy needs to be shot by a professional, I do recommend your B roll footage being high quality so that they have a long shelf-life and offer maximum results. The same way most businesses understand the importance of professional photography for capturing their services or products, professional B roll footage can elevate your video strategy and serve as evergreen content that won’t age with algorithm trends.
Whether you hire a videographer, comb through stock footage websites, or maybe even take a crack at shooting some footage with your own camera, it’s important to understand what makes good b-roll footage.
How to Capture Good B Roll Footage
Depending on your brand video’s message, your B roll clips could range in subject from a peek behind-the-scenes of running your business, to a lifestyle portrayal of your products in-use, or even a few atmospheric shots of landscapes or objects that help to set a vibe. Good branded b-roll not only helps your audience visualize what’s being spoken through your main messaging, but also illustrates the aspects of your brand that aren’t directly addressed.
When coming up with a shot list for my clients’ B roll, I always make sure to have some coverage of actions the subject will be speaking about, for instance: for a yoga instructor detailing their offerings, it’s important we capture them performing those offerings. At the same time, I also like to make sure there’s some B roll that reveals the unspoken.
Using that same example of our yoga instructor, perhaps their mission is helping their students bring mindfulness to their everyday life so that they feel capable and present. Even if that greater mission isn’t articulated specifically, I would include some lifestyle shots of the instructor going about their everyday activities looking focused and active so that our viewers are left yearning for that same feeling.
Another aspect of capturing good B roll is incorporating elements that are cohesive with your brand’s visual identity. You not only want to be intentional about capturing the main messaging and overall feeling you’re trying to evoke in the viewer, but tying these images together with specific brand colors or other design elements will help to set your videos apart from others in your industry and establish brand awareness. That’s why I always strategize props, wardrobe, and location with my clients so that they serve as visual motifs your audience can begin to recognize across your video content.
Six B Roll Ideas for Reels
Now that we have a basic understanding of the what, why, and how, let’s get into some different ideas for B roll shots that are useful and versatile for product or service-based business:
This style of B roll footage is pretty self explanatory, but basically encompasses different visuals of you or your team going about your work day. Of course the actions performed in these shots will look different for every business depending on what you’re offering or selling – typing away on a laptop, printing off labels for customer orders, or maybe cooking a nutritious meal in your client’s kitchen. You not only want to give them a face to recognize or an understanding of all the work that goes into your offering, but a way to set the tone of how you approach your business that your audience can personally connect to.
Check out this B roll shot of one of my client’s, Alessandra Rosser, painting a custom portrait to see what I mean by this: This footage not only gives a visual of Alessandra working on her pieces, but is shot in a way that leaves the viewer feeling at peace and calm, similar to how her artwork is intended to be received.
Things don’t always go right in business, and sometimes you capture those moments! Instead of cutting them though, I like to include any unplanned moments from our time on set that help to reveal some authenticity. Especially for businesses that value personal connection, it’s important that your viewers get a taste of the personality behind your brand.
3. Direct Address
This style of B roll takes the same concept of brand photography headshots, but adds a little magic to the final image. Essentially, these are portrait style clips where you, or your team, are making eye contact with the camera either standing still or in-action.
This style of shot is great for service providers because it not only provides a clear connection for the audience with the face(s) behind the brand, but can help to set the tone of how you want your clients/customers to feel while working with you.
Probably the most important style of B roll for any product-based business, product-in-use provides a lifestyle representation for your potential customers. This type of footage will not only show your audience how to use your product, but why they need your product.
Unlike behind-the-scenes or product-in-use shots that provide a visual of what you’re offering, these atmospheric clips can be more focused on setting a vibe that aligns with your brand’s voice. Often times this footage will incorporate nature, architecture, or maybe even objects that don’t directly showcase what you’re selling but feel related somehow.
This shot was taken from a session with a life coach whose brand focused on finding healing from within.
6. Personal Lifestyle
Personal lifestyle is another more passive style of B roll that isn’t directly selling your products or services. Instead this type of footage is for showcasing either your own personal lifestyle–if you’re interested in developing a personal connection with your audience–or your brand’s lifestyle if you’re focusing more on aspirational content. Either way, these snippets can feature yourself or a model to reveal intimate moments from your brand’s lifestyle.
Create Your Own B Roll Shot List
If you’re not quite ready to invest in professional video, I’ve created this free Notion template to plan your own B roll shot list. This shot list will help your brainstorm and strategize imagery for B roll clips that can be recycled throughout your content so you don’t need to worry about constantly shooting more videos.
If you are ready to invest and up-level your video content, then I highly recommend a professional touch so you can be confident with your footage quality. Explore my video package offerings and drop an inquiry to discuss the best option for your business!