A few years ago I came across this mock infomercial called “We Got That B-roll.” Anyone who works in video production, or who is familiar with the industry, will find the video humorous. It takes aim at the generic, overused, and sometimes unoriginal b-roll clips that fill up so many documentaries, commercials, and news stories. B-roll is an extremely important part of telling a story on film or video.
It provides the viewer with context.
It helps to explain concepts and ideas.
It offers up visual variety.
It holds an audience’s interest.
Despite its importance to the production, it’s amazing to me how so many people are willing to rush through the process of capturing b-roll. Shooting b-roll can’t become an afterthought. It needs to be an integral part of the shooting day. Here are a few things that need to happen to ensure that you capture great b-roll for your next project.
Work it into the schedule. Give yourself and your production crew enough time in the day to set up, light, and shoot b-roll. The last thing you want is to rush around during the last hour of the day, trying to cross all the items off of your shot list. And that leads me into my next point…
Create a shot list for your b-roll. Don’t wait until you get to the location to try and figure out exactly what you want to shoot for your b-roll. You will end up with a lot of footage that just won’t fit into your story. And that leads me into my final point…
Make your b-roll relevant. Don’t just shoot the building because you think the architecture looks cool.B-roll should compliment and enhance the subject of your story. It should relate to what’s being said, either by those on camera, or the narrator.
B-roll can become a very stale and unoriginal aspect to a video, if not thought out properly. Or, it can be a visually striking element to the production and round out the story like nothing else. Its success or failure depends on how much attention to detail you give to the process during pre-production and production.
One of the important qualities an online video must have is relevance. The viewer must be able to identify, empathize, or connect with your video in some way. If they don’t, they’ll move on to something else pretty quickly. The attention span of consumers is becoming shorter as media becomes increasingly fragmented, so relevance is an important part of building an audience.
One way you can increase the relevance of your content is to get your audience involved in some way. If you are a services-oriented business, you might try creating some kind of contest or giveaway. Use video, your website, and social media to solicit nominations for contestants. Use video to document the process and produce short episodes that you can upload to your website and other video hosting services. It can become your own reality show, where your company and services are featured.
If you are a product-oriented business, you could offer to give away a particular product on a free trial basis. Ask the recipients to use video to document their experiences with your product. Then edit their videos into a short-form documentary that highlights how your product improved their lives in some way.
By sponsoring a contest or giveaway, you can get the community involved through participation and conversation. By using video to document the experience, you increase relevance for those involved in the contest (and their friends). You will also expose your company and your products to a wider audience.
In early February, we were hired by the University Oral & Facial Surgery clinic in Tuscaloosa, AL to create a patient testimonial video from three separate stories. The project was simple and straightforward – shoot each interview on location, without b-roll, and compile the stories into a 6-minute video. The client did a great job of securing and scheduling the talent and lining up our location. UOFS plans to use the video on their website, for patient consultations, and for presentations. For more information about this particular project, along with advice on how to schedule, stage, and shoot testimonial videos, read this article.
A new ad by JetBlue demonstrates what’s most important when doing business – customer service. If you treat the customer well and go out of your way to provide a little something extra, then you will quickly build up a base of loyal followers. Customers who have a positive experience with your brand will, in turn, tell others, and you will gain trust and credibility within the marketplace. This commercial succeeds by capitalizing on the frustrations felt by many air travelers, who must put up with extra baggage fees, fees for in-flight headphones, and other inconveniences that have made air travel a pretty laborious process. The commercial also has a documentary-style, hidden-camera format which communicates “authenticity” – a hot buzz word in media communications today. So, I want you to think about a few things as you watch this commercial:
What are you doing to improve customer service and increase brand loyalty?
What are you doing to set yourself apart from your competitors?
What strategies are you using to get your message out to your target audience?
As a region, the southeast is under-represented when it comes to the shows that are currently being produced, so we are hoping to find some great stories from right here in Alabama. This is where we need your help. If you have a great idea for a new documentary TV series, we would love to hear about it. Send us an email and give us the pitch. If we feel that it has potential, we will get back in touch with you to schedule a time when we can come out and shoot a brief demo reel.