Skip to main content

Planning for B-Roll

Lesson 16 from: Creating a Video From Start to Finish

Victor Ha

buy this class


Sale Ends Soon!

starting under


Unlock this classplus 2200+ more >

Lesson Info

16. Planning for B-Roll

B-Roll should help tell your story -- so what should you capture, especially when the scene doesn't seem so interesting? Find out how to plan for B-Roll and ideas for the most interesting shots.

Lesson Info

Planning for B-Roll

You know, I've been hammering this already, just using it to tell the story and illustrate key points. This is where we kinda lean on notes from the interview. I took mental notes as he was speaking. He talked about when you walk in, so I knew I needed to get one of those shots. He talked about rollin' around, so I wanted to make sure I got some of that stuff. He talked about different disciplines in the way of fighting, so I wanted to show more than just people punching each other. I wanted to show maybe some jiu jitsu or some wrestling or something like that to kind of show the breadth of what they did. Identifying actions is super important. What is it that drives this gym? Because remember what I said earlier today, right? I said there isn't much in the gym that's interesting. I can't just take a shot of something like a punching bag and expect that to be compelling. The story's about the people in the gym, so the people in the gym have to be in B-roll, right? That had to be a dire...

ctive decision for me. Someone else may have not done that. I think that I did the best job I could going in, knowing what I new, but maybe someone else would take a completely different direction, and that is the beauty of this whole thing. Just because I did it a certain way doesn't mean that it should be done that way, and I think when we look at the final edit we can critique it, we can review it, and we can take a look and go, you know what? It may have been better to do it in this other direction, and kind of do that assessment. Do that self-assessment. And right here, actions driving B-roll, what I mean by an action is finding something that can be definitively determined as a beginning, a middle, and an end. Opening mail is an action, right? Putting on shoes is an action. In the case of this gym, guys flyin' around each other are actions. It's great, and to that point, you can do a lot in camera to help emphasize feeling a mood. So what you can do is flip your shutter speed up to capture more, faster action to kinda make it feel faster. So in some instances I captured some of the more experienced athletes at a faster shutter speed, and that gave them the sense that they were just moving lightning fast. But for some of the lesser experienced novices, I captured at my standard 50th of a second because I want people to relate to the footage. So, if I'm new to this and I saw a novice flying around like they were Rambo, that would be intimidating to me, and so I purposely capture different people at different shutter speeds to help convey different emotions. And maybe it paid off, maybe it didn't, but I think what it does is it, for me, helps me continually be focused on the content that I'm creating and delivering out. So that's just something that as I was capturing the content I was like, oh gosh, I should flip. And these are things that you learn throughout the process of doing this that you realize, oh, emotions should be captured at this faster shutter speed just because I want this effect, but I can also capture emotion at this shutter speed to convey this other effect. So it's something that you'll gain experience in and you'll gain as you kind of do this own thing, but hopefully that little nugget will allow you to kind of leapfrog and get further along the road when you get kind of actually start to do this kinda stuff. Last thing is getting the same thing from different angles. A lot of times that is really what really nails it for a lot of people. You can get someone pouring a glass of milk from here, you can get it from front, left, right, top, from their perspective. As you do these things... Now, I'm kind of... I was kind of limited here. I couldn't get in there and be like, yo, I'm gonna stack a GoPro on myself and let's do this, but... I could have strapped a GoPro to somebody. I could have done these things, but I think that would've been disruptive, and again from the perspective of my interpretation of the shoot, I wanted to give it the feeling that... for people who hadn't been there the first time. So, for me, if I would've strapped a GoPro onto somebody, that would be too real, and what if that was uncomfortable for them, what if they didn't want to do that? So always looking back towards who your viewer's going to be and who that person that's watching your film is gonna be so that you can truly hone in that message and deliver a piece of content that's truly gonna be... It's gonna move the needle for that person. It'll move the needle for that business. Question? How do you balance your B-roll to your A-roll? Good question. It's how do I balance my B-roll to my A-roll? So, it's funny, you don't. You don't. There isn't a magic formula to balancing B-roll in an edit. The way that I edit: I get all of my interview into the timeline, I clean it up, meaning I get all those gaps out of the way, where it's like, I'm asking the question, he's responding. So I clean out all those gaps, and then I have manageable statements. So then what I do is I start putting all of my footage together on my timeline that's gonna be... Okay, here's my statement, and I start cutting it and cutting it and cutting it and cutting it. And then when it comes to B-roll, I listen to the end... I listen to my final statement, my final narrative, and then I try to find footage that will fit that narrative. It's a gold mine search. It's like whack-a-mole. So I'm listening and he goes, oh, when you step into this gym. Okay, I've got a piece of footage like that. I'm gonna take that, boom! It's like, oh, there's a lot of diversity in this gym. Oh, cool! Person, girl, guy, person, boom, done, and I start just grabbing clips and just dragging them to the timeline. I'm not even putting them in place yet, I'm just dragging. Drag, drag, drag, drag, drag. Just get the clips that I think one, would fit the edit, and then two, are just visually interesting to me. Things that are visually interesting because, as someone who is visual, I'm like, okay, well that could be cool, than could be cool, and then they have a bin of just B-roll clips that I think make the cut. So as I review B-roll it's like, okay, cool. In, out, drag. Oh, in, out, drag, in, out, drag, and I'm just dragging to the timeline. It's free, guys. It's free, just keep dragging. And then what you do is just go, and you're like, okay, cool. Will this work? No, it doesn't. Will this work? No, it doesn't, and you start deleting right away. So there isn't a balance. There isn't a set number of oh, here's how much should go to B-roll. I think what it is is once you get a feel for the flow of an edit, that's when you know there's too much or too little B-roll. I remember I thought I was done and then I felt the edit just slow down, and I was like, oh, I need more here. Boom, put more stuff in, and I was like, oh, this is better. And then I started to fine tune all of it too because when you start adding a soundtrack, when you start doing all that other stuff that helps elevate the quality of your B-roll, then you're kind of almost in that moment. So as we talk about recording from different angles, try to find actions that can be recorded, but this is a really great way to move an edit along. If you guys remember the first first video I showed you, there were multiple angles of that person pulling up the print out of the print washer and multiple angles of them putting the print away. Don't rest until you absolutely positively have recorded the every angle of every action that you can because that is really what's gonna drive you forward because we, unfortunately, live in a very very ADD mentality where we can't pay attention for longer than a few seconds. And I know the way of editing now has slowed down and we're taking longer moments between cuts, but we're still in the way of short form editing. Much more in tune to the rapid fire cutting so that we can see more and spend less time. I think that is what we really have to pay attention to. So, how am I doing? You know B-roll, right? I mean, you never thought you could spend this much time talking about B-roll. When I was a photographer in San Diego, one of my friends, Chris, came along on all the shoots 'cause we had a business together. He was the videographer and my other friend, Chris, yeah, we're two Chrises, my other friend Chris was the other owner and I was the other owner, and we kinda had this business that was... It was hilarious, it was so college and so young. We were just shooting pictures out of the back of a truck, basically, and we'd roll up and it'd be me and Chris and Chris in a Foreigner. We'd load out with the gear and Chris would be like... The videographer Chris, he would follow us around all day, and I'm like, dude, what are you doing? You could've left hours ago. He's like, man, B-roll. What are you talking about? He's like, every time you guys do something different, that's something that I can add into the edit that makes this edit different. And that really clued me in, even before ever I started doing video, of how important B-roll is. Because he could've walked away after the ceremony, right? He could've been done, but he stayed throughout the entire day so that he could capture all those little nuggets of motion that we could put into a video, and then, then he was done. So you're not doing less work as a videographer. You're doing the same amount of work that you would do as a photographer, and that's kind of the beauty of it is as photographers we put in such long hours already. We already put in so much passion and sweat and tears into Photoshop, so what's putting sweat and tears into learning the ins and outs of Premier or Da Vinci. We've already done it. We've done it once, let's just do it again. Come on, just strap it up and go. Let's go.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Victor's Discount Codes
Interview Questions
5 Rules to B Roll

Free Bonus Materials

Gear Guide

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

Student Work