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B-Roll: 3 to 1 ratio

Lesson 15 from: Creating a Video From Start to Finish

Victor Ha

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Lesson Info

15. B-Roll: 3 to 1 ratio

B-Roll is supporting footage for your video, helping to add interest and fill gaps. In this lesson, learn why B-Roll is important -- and how much you need to shoot.
Next Lesson: Planning for B-Roll

Lesson Info

B-Roll: 3 to 1 ratio

Yeah, you know, when I was putting it together, this class we had to, again, think about, some of the things that would be not only beneficial to you but also things that would be important to discuss. And not a lot can be said about B-roll I'll be very honest with you. Okay. But a lot can be said about the things that are important about it. Okay, like B-Roll in it of itself is just footage you use to support a narrative. That's it. Alright? Think about a wedding, we all know weddings we can visualize weddings really, really easily. So, what's happening at a wedding? Someone's getting married. So the ceremony's a good place to kind of think about this right? So if we're gonna do a wide expansive shot of the ceremony from the back. The bride and groom are up there, see the guests, the whole shot, okay. And you hear their vows. Now if the shot is just a single through line shot of the ceremony, that's your A-cam. That's your establishing shot. That's whatever you call it. That's the one...

camera that's gonna dictate the time and place of what's happening. Now, if you take that shot and you begin to add footage into it to supplement what your person is seeing that's B-Roll. So B-Roll is anything, okay. It can be anything. So the lesson that we're going to call this is Pick-ups and the mighty B-Roll. It's a band name, you know. (chuckles from audience) But they're two of the most fundamental things. That in the shoot portion of your project will make or break your project. Okay? Like, that was the most exciting piece with no B-Rolls, said no one ever. (audience laughter) Right? Like, you need B-Roll. And in a lot of instances you have to get a ton of it. So we're going to jump in and show you a quick a video of the pre-shoot from the later component. And you remember I talked about what our shooting strategy was? The first part I did the interview with the cameras, and then the second part what I did was strip down gear and talk about B-Roll. So we're going to take a look at that video that was created for that. Here we are, everyone is kind of in the gym. We're here to get B-Roll. So the first part of today was about controlling the scenario, controlling the situation, getting the interview locked in and set. As you can see here, I'm not in control. I can't be, because there's things happening, and I gotta to be around to be able to capture what's gonna illustrate and enhance what I capture during the interview. You know, so when you think about B-Roll you gotta think about sequences. You gotta think about things that piece together whatever was happening during the interview that Ivan brought up. So, obviously I stripped down my camera. I'm gonna be on a mono-pod most of the time. I need to get a new white balance. I need to get a bunch of stuff, right, to kind of sort out what we're doing. On top of that, you know, getting a good sound quality for your B-Roll is really important too. Making sure you have a good shotgun mic plugging into your camera. Having headphones on so you can discern the quality of that sound that you are captioning. So, here we are. I'm gonna get off the mat. I'm gonna start working, and I'm gonna be here the rest of the night capturing that B-Roll that's gonna help make this film we're making over the top. So this lesson guys is really gonna cover how we plan for it. We're going to cover some simple rules about it. And then we're gonna take it home by talking about how B-Roll can really just shape an edit. We're not going to spend a lot of time, like, throwing clips into sequences, and kind of like doing that kind of thing. We're going to review a lot of B-Roll. We're gonna talk threw it. I think something to remember her is that B-Roll is ugly. The process of capturing B-Roll is ugly. The process of reviewing B-Roll is ugly. There's nothing pretty about it. As you review your B-Roll, you gotta remember that. There's gonna be only like, in a six second clip, your probably gonna take like a second and a half of it. You have to remember these things. You'll take like a 30 second clip of something and you'll use that much of it. And the part that you use, often times is the only part that mattered. So when you approach B-Roll that's what you gotta get your head into. If you don't shoot it, you can't edit it. Right? If you don't shoot it, it doesn't exist. Therefore, you can't put it in B edit. So, in the case of B-Roll, there's a 3 to 1 ratio. A lot of people ask me that question. How much B-Roll should I shoot? If you shoot a minute of primary footage, you need three minutes of B-Roll. Not because that's the magic bullet rule. It's because it forces you to stay longer. It forces you to get more content. It forces you to put the time in. Because if you don't put the time in you're gonna get to the editing room and go Oh. My. God. I only have one angle of this person. I only have one angle of this thing. I only have this person. Think about the project guys. The project was to show, in general, the status of this gym. Do you think it would've accomplished it, if I would've only shown the same duo sparring over and over and over again? No, because it would've been repetitive, and it's like ar these the only two guys in the guy? Right? You don't shoot it, you're gonna be in a pickle. Now, 3 to 1. It could be 2 to 1. But it definitely, definitely should not be 1 to because when you get in the mind set of one minute of B-Roll for one minute of primary footage you start to cut corners. I was there until 9:30 at night. I started my day a 7 o'clock in the morning. Shoot days are long. You ask anyone who works here at Creative Live. Shoot days are long. And if you don't put that time in shooting that B-Roll your edits gonna suffer. Okay? I cannot tell you enough, I cannot stress to you enough. Even with pieces that have a weak narrative if you have a solid amount of B-Roll you can really put lipstick on a pig there. You can fake it pretty good. Alright? So, lets just jump into this. This is important. Right here. Don't forget your establishing shots. Now that establishing shot can be anything like what sets the tone. What sets the space. Don't dive in right away and grab like bits and pieces. You gotta get it. You gotta lay the scene. You gotta lay the foundation a little bit. You gotta get people into the space. Okay? Think about it as if you were the first person to ever have walked in that space. What would you want to see? And how would you want to show it? And I guarantee you, you are gonna come back with a ton of footage that could be used but you're not gonna use all of it. That's okay. I'd rather you have more footage than not have enough. Cause I've been in the seat where I haven't had enough footage, and I'm literally taking clips, flipping them and playing them backwards in the edit to make it look like I had more. So like you gotta gotta gotta be very, very cognizant about how much you capture B-Roll, and how much of it you capture. I've said it time and time again, it's gonna make or break your edit. You know, you think about all the things we watch on an every day basis, how much of it incorporates that simple concept of being able to cut to something else. So as you do a client profile, guys, whatcha gonna notice, you're gonna have two statements jam up against each other. They're gonna jam up and one statement is gonna be from earlier on camera A, and the next statement is gonna be from later from camera A. So you're gonna have the same camera angle and you want those statements to jam up together the only way to get them to jam up together and be nice in an edit is with B-Roll. That's the only way you can piece that thing together. Because you'll jump cut, if the statements are from the same camera and you play them next together he's gonna be talking and then he's gonna do the YouTube thing and he's gonna do that, and he's gonna keep talking. Right? So you have to hide that some how. And the best way to hid that is either with camera B, right, the second angle, or B-Roll. What you have to be paying attention to is if you try to hid to much with camera B so you've got clips that a jammed up together, and every time the clips jam together you show camera B. What ends up happening is like, camera A, camera B, oh, camera A, oh, camera B and I just predicted camera A is coming up right now. You can tell where those cuts are gonna come. So you have to use B-Roll to keep the edit moving. Keep the flow moving. That's why it's so important. Because even if you shoot two cameras even if you have that off angle that's gonna help save you, to piece together the interview, you still need that B-Roll to lay on top of it. Okay? So as we kinda go on, is this something that you guys have encountered in your own work? And what are some of the challenges that you've faced, and how have you guys been able to over come that, or if you need help in overcoming it? This is a great opportunity, again, to engage you. Because now, what I really stress is that while I did do a lot of the work on my own a lot of it came as a result of collaboration. And I think we have to get into the mind set that while we capture motion, and when capture motion, we do so individually, but we learn about it collectively. That's what's so different about film making and video verses like, photography. Like in photography were creating content in a bubble. We can go out, grab a picture, defining moment, take it home, edit it, send it out, and that's it, we wouldn't have to talk to anyone in the world to do that. But I think the beauty about capturing motion is that you get a opportunity to look at someone and say hey, you know what, what do you think about this? Like, I'm trying to work this, give me an angle. I remember sending the location scouting shots to my best friend, Jeff, and to be like, dude, I've gotta capture this thing and I'm so scared. And he's like, dude you've got it, just calm down. Like, you've done this before. Can I help you? I'm like, it's in Seattle. He's like, I can't help you. (audience laughing) But yeah, to be able to lean on a community and to learn on friends and to lean on other people that know what you're going through is very powerful in capturing motion. You know, I think we have to lean on that. Okay? So, to the question aspect of it... Does anyone wanna... So I personally gotta a pretty brutal lesson in the necessity for B-Roll. I spent hours of shooting me making a black berry pie. And it was all A Roll. Me talking to the camera, and its uneditable. There's just no way to use it, because you don't want 30 minutes of me making pie. It horrible. (laughing) (audience laughing) Yeah, yeah. And there's no way to cut it and make it shorter. Right? Because there are no close ups of the pie. There's no close ups of, you know, the mixer, or anything like that. Or anything I can cut to, to make this shorter. And so it was a whole day of shooting that was basically completely lost, and you can't really recreate the moment. So , lets talk about that, though. So you've gotten to the point where you've got something in the can, and you get home and you're like, oh, my, god. What do I do? I got nothing. I got nothing to look at except, just this wide angle of me standing in a kitchen with a half baked pie in front of me. Right? So, what are some techniques we can do? Um, you could bake another pie, take photographs of it in process. Right? Because that's probably simpler than setting up all of the shoot stuff again. Right? Um, we're talking about rip cord mentality, right? We're pulling the rip cord, pulling out all the stops, we're trying to get something out the door. So, bake another pie. Take pictures of all the steps. In process. Right? Take a lot of pictures. The ingredients, the measuring out, the stuff in the bowl. Take all that. And then what you do, is you can do like that Ken Burns thing where you throw up the picture and it expands. You know, it's not motion but its a good fake. Right? So, you just kinda run through that, okay? And you're, okay, like okay, what else can I do? Maybe what I do is cut, a lot of it, and do a hack job on it. Where, like I start off, and then I fad in, or maybe like I talk about the ingredients aspect of it and do like a graphic and throw that up of all the ingredients that I'll need. There are graphical components that you can add into this that could really, really help benefit you. You know. So like, um, you're talking about like you need eggs, baking power and milk, like throw up cartoons of that. You know, like a jar of milk, some eggs, a chicken, or whatever it is to kinda move the edit along. And then chunk it down. Cut more stuff down. And deliver something that isn't 30 minutes, cuz you don't wanna like, you don't wanna watch paint dry when you're watching a video. Right? I want to know the ingredients, I want to know what to do with the ingredients, and then I want to know at what point, and when do I take those ingredients out to get said pie. So, all told that could be like a two minute or a minute video with the right graphics and with like the rip cord job applied on top of it. You know? And I think like, that's a real life experience that we all will go through, and we all have gone through that you get back and you're like Oh, so good, so good, we just did a great job, we got great, great lighting. And you get home and you're like, oh my god. (audience chuckle) That's how you fix that moment. Is it the best moment? Probably not. But can you get something out of it? I think absolutely you can. And I think I would challenge you to go home and to try and do something like that. Right? Try to make something outta nothing because in doing that you're gonna learn so much more about video than you can ever learn. Because you're gonna learn to be like, okay, I've got this thing. What am I cutting? What am I cutting? What am I cutting? And I would recommend if you're gonna really do this listen to yourself, and just continually cut down the recipe, and cut down the whole part of it, until you have like a conscience minute phrase, you know, that can really, really illustrate how to bake a pie. And then throw the stuff on top of it, cuz the last thing you want to do is find things to throw on top of it and then have to keep cutting. So cut that down. You got 30 minutes? You've got 29 minutes to go. For sure. So some of the projects that I've worked on are very specific science documentaries where we can't go to B-Roll of a landslide or an earthquake. Can you talk a little bit about where stock footage might come into play with any of the projects you might have worked on? Yeah, you know with in terms of like scientific documentary stuff, I have no experience in that. But I have an experience in leaning on external resource. So, lets pretend you are doing a scientific study on like the receding coast line in California. There has to be some found news footage that you can license, or you can use that helps illustrate that point. And, a lot of times what helps scientific documentaries and scientific videos, and I hate to be a lay person saying this, but things that look scientific. Like charts and graphs, you know. Things that make me feel like what I'm looking at helps me understand that this is a big deal. The phrase here that I'm gonna hang on is show, not tell. The best option is to show a landslide. But if you can't show a landslide, then show a picture of a landslide. If you can't show that, then show an expert talking about why that landslide happened. And if you can't show that, then show a news article of that landslide. Always find a way to reemphasize the fact that landslides are a big deal, and that geological studies are a huge important topic that we have to worry about. In that instance, almost, the shorter the better. Because when you don't have a lot of B-Roll the only thing you can do is make the cut shorter. And that's gonna save you too. These are just practical things, that as you start to edit and as you start to dive in, I remember I shot, oh god it still haunts me to this day, I shot a commercial for like, uh, like a commercial. Okay, I shot something, for this clothing company in San Diego and I went in, and honestly I phoned it in. I wasn't interested in it, and it showed. The shots weren't interesting. It was repetitive. I literally had to cut it down from like a 30 second spot to like a 10 second spot or 15 second spot, and through in like a lot of weird footage that just didn't look like anything. And just be like, hey it's quick, it's done, it's cool you forgot it. And that's because I didn't shoot enough B-Roll. I wasn't planned, I didn't go in with a plan. It was disappointing, but I learned a lot from it. That's really truly a fundamental thing you've gotta wrap your head around. Instead of shooting the B-Roll and the interview in the same day. Why don't you split them up? So you have the interview and then you figure out what you're speaking is gonna be, and then come in and do the relevant B-ROLL? That is a phenomenal idea and it would have happened this trip if I wasn't slammed into this week. So a lot of times your schedule dictates your shooting. To be honest I would have shot the interview in one day, gone through an edited a rough, and then gone in the next day and did all B-Roll, and spent an entire day there. I would've needed to come back a third day to get my last pick-up. So it would have been three days of shooting, and I would have lost a ton of time to edit. I would not have had time to edit. Ideally, yes. I would've loved to make it a two day shoot, with a day for pick-ups. But realistically speaking, for this job, I couldn't. So, I had to slam the interview, the B-Roll, and then pick-ups, and then edit through the next few days in order to deliver on this class. (inaudible statement from audience) Normally I try to. A lot of times too, clients don't want you in their space that long. A lot of times you'll go in and be like, yea, I would like to do a two day shoot, with an extra day and they'll go, wait what? Well, no, I mean I'm just gonna come in... No, I only have a day. They value video, but unless we take them through that discovery phase of like productions times and that kind of stuff, usually asking a business owner or someone to give up two days, consecutively, for you to do something or for you to be in their space, even if its only been one day, and then you just come in a second day that can be challenging. So it depends on your relationship, it depends on your ability to disarm people, to get them kind of like, in the mind set of this, in the mindset of being captured on video.

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5 Rules to B Roll

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Ratings and Reviews

Cheryl Winkles

You're awesome, I learnt a lot from you, this is like a must-have first course for anyone who wants to step into video or filmmaking world. Highly recommended and thank you a million Victor Ha.

a Creativelive Student

Fantastic course, Victor is one of the finest instructors I have encountered. Great stuff, I would highly recommend this for anyone who wants to work in video

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