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If you’re reading this article, you must be wondering how best to capture B-roll. Especially if you are a one-man production team, shooting B-roll solo may seem to be a bit challenging.
There is a very simple method that can be used when shooting B-roll solo to ensure you have viable footage that can be edited in later to your production. Two methods, actually.
We’ll talk about the two I consider the most useful, and how to shoot B-roll with both methods.
What Is B-Roll?
Photo by Kyle Loftus from Pexels
First off, let’s quickly review what B-Roll is and why it is an important concept for video projects.
The sole purpose of shooting B-Roll is to add to the story already being told by your primary video footage. B-roll by itself isn’t capable of fully telling the story. But adding it to A-roll, whatever story you are telling is fleshed out, enhanced, and made more clear.
B-Roll makes your videos more viewable. If you were to look on YouTube right now for videos of the subject you are wanting to film yourself, you will see many videos shot from a very basic, one camera perspective. Which is fine, especially if that one camera point of view is properly lit, steady, in focus…
Shooting B-Roll footage to add in makes the final video more appealing in many cases. It’s what people are used to seeing on TV, even in short commercials, so your film having B-Roll makes an impression of being shot by a professional. In the long run, this can give your YouTube channel more subscriptions and each video more views.
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Method One - Shoot It Later
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The easiest way to gather B-Roll is to simply shoot your B-Roll right after you film your primary footage.
A benefit of this method is that it doesn’t require any additional gear. Disadvantages of this method include the fact that things move, people get antsy and don’t want to stick around, and lighting conditions, especially if outside, can change significantly.
This is a valid method, though. It can give you workable B-Roll many times, but you really do need to work at keeping it fresh if you're filming other people.
Method Two - Shooting B-Roll At the Same Time
photo by castenoid via iStock
Well, how are you going to do this with one camera? You won’t, this method requires a second camera. However, you don’t have to have a movie studio budget to shoot with two or more cameras. Many photographers already have multiple cameras, but we tend to gravitate toward using our newest or best camera for shooting video.
Think about this: you may still have the entry-level camera you started with in your gear bag. Maybe you held onto it as a backup camera. Well, this is a good opportunity to dig it out of the bottom of your bag and make use of whatever video mode it has.
photo by Dmitrii Guldin via iStock
Perhaps the perfect camera for shooting B-Roll is your action cam. Advantages of shooting B-Roll with GoPro or other brands of action cam include the already excellent video capabilities of the GoPro, the small size of action cams, and that they are usually simple to set up for remote use.
You could probably just open your gear kit and set up for shooting B-Roll right now. All the GoPro video tips you’ve already learned apply to using your action cam for shooting B-Roll video.
Simple B-Roll Video Gear
As an example of what gear you need to start shooting B-Roll with GoPro style cameras, check out this idea of a simple rig you may already own.
An excellent camera choice for anyone looking for an action cam is the GoPro HERO 8 Black. It is one of the most full-featured GoPro cameras and it is very easy to capture high-quality video remotely. If you don’t already own this action camera, it’s budget-friendly and simple to set up and use.
For your lighting, the LitraTorch LitraPro battery-powered LED continuous light is usable either on camera, paired with a GoPro on a small bracket, or used separately. It has the ability to be controlled from a smartphone app and the battery lasts from 1 hour on high to up to 10 hours on low for extended shooting.
Well, that’s the camera and lighting, now how do we use these to capture B-Roll as we’re engaged in our primary filming?
OctoPad to the rescue! The OctoPad camera and accessory mounting system is one of my favorite new tools in my gear bag. I use it for virtually all the styles of photography and videography I do.
The combination of the GoPro HERO 8, LitraTorch LitraPro, and Octopad and make it virtually effortless to get great footage when shooting B-Roll solo because these are all very small, quite easy to use, and extremely functional.
B-Roll is How We Roll
Gathering B-Roll is one of the biggest things you can do as a videographer to improve your finished video productions. Of course, you also want to learn about lighting techniques, camera supports, editing programs, and advanced camera operations.
Editing is going to be a key skill for finishing your videos in a way that results in a project that looks like a professionally made film. Shooting B-Roll with GoPro type action cams is another key factor in creating videos and vlogs that people will enjoy and will come back for more.
You don’t need to hire out for additional people - you can do it all yourself. Shooting B-Roll solo and adding that footage to your finished productions will result in fantastic videos. Try it out for yourself!