3 Tips To Capture Cinematic B Roll

By Kevin Graham

In any type of interview or voiceover-driven video, B Roll is a critical part of the visual aesthetic. It breaks up a simple talking head shot or set of graphics, and it keeps a viewer’s interest in your edit.

And although you can find world-class B Roll material on high-end stock footage sites like Filmpac, sometimes it just makes sense to shoot your own.

But it can be difficult to keep that engaging, cinematic energy when shooting your own B Roll, especially if the subject matter isn’t the most photogenic.

But if there’s one thing I’ve learned as a filmmaker, it’s that there are ways to make any type of B Roll look good and cinematic.

Whether your location is in a cubicle or on a mountain, we’re going to give you 3 tips to capture cinematic B Roll.

#1 – Shoot Slow Motion

If your camera has the ability to shoot at a high frame rate, now’s the time to take advantage of it. You’d be amazed at how much more interesting things can look when they’re slower than real time.

bike

And this goes beyond the obvious things like machinery, athletics, vehicles, etc. Even if you’re filming a corporate meeting or a person walking down a hallway, slowing it down will up your production value and give you more flexibility in the edit.

Some cameras allow you to set a project and sensor frame rate, which means that you can have your footage playback in slow motion right away. Other cameras simply record in real-time, and require you to manually slow the clips down in post. Either way, you can always keep a shot in real time in the edit if you feel it works better that way.

If you’re shooting handheld, you can also get away with a bit more camera movement when the footage is slowed down.

You’ll just want to be aware of your scene’s light sources, as certain types of lights can cause flicker when shooting higher frame rates.

#2 – Mix Up Your Shots

If you shoot everything at the same angle and focal length, you won’t have much to cut between in the edit. This is one of the most common mistakes with new filmmakers when they’re shooting B Roll: it all looks the same.

Whether or not you’ll be editing your own content, you need to be thinking like an editor on set. That means grabbing wide, medium, and tight shots for basically everything you film, and constantly mixing up your angles (and even lenses).

You should also always be hunting for interesting, unique angles and perspectives. Extreme closeups, top-down shots, shallow depth of field, dynamic camera motion, all of these things can quickly turn a boring scene into an exciting one.

#3 – Film More Than You Need

Odds are, you’ll only have a limited timeframe on set for B Roll, and you need to do everything you can to make the most of this part of the shoot.

This means filming as much content as possible, and not trying to be too selective with your shots.

I can’t tell you how many times a shot that seemed mediocre on set turned out to be an all-star in the edit.

editing

Especially if you’re filming for multiple deliverables, or if there’s a chance this footage will need to be repurposed in a different project down the road, you can never have too much B Roll available.

This can be done a lot easier if you have two cameras. Just be sure to designate certain focal lengths and angles for each shooter to avoid ending up with the same shots from both.

Now is not the time to be picky, and storage is cheap. So shoot away!

All too often, videos end up with boring, uninspiring B Roll footage to bridge the gaps.

But that doesn’t have to be the case, and these tips can help you turn any topic into a cinematic experience.

Kevin is the Music Director and Lead Composer at Filmpac.

FILMPAC Filmpac is a premium stock footage + music membership library.