What Is "B-roll?"

If you’ve ever worked with a video director, a producer, a cinematographer, or an editor, you’ve probably heard the term “b-roll.” Wikipedia defines it as

“supplemental or alternative footage intercut with the main shot.”

The term originates from 16mm film editing. Editors would have to assemble an A-roll and B-roll so that the edits would cut seamlessly (literally) together by placing the B-roll on top of the A-roll. This same concept is still essentially the same In today’s digital workflow. The main content is most often laid down on the bottom track with additional cut-away, or b-roll, shots added over.

When we are editing interview or scripted audio, we always start by assembling the story. This means laying out the “Sound on Tape (SOT)” to assemble a story, then adding the imagery, or “b-roll,” that supports that story. In some cases we may present our clients with a first round review that only has the SOTs cut together so that we aren’t spending billable hours doing something that may be changed after the the initial feedback on the story.

Much of our favorite b-roll we turn into “stock media” for use on other projects in the future. Part of our stock media library is available for sale on VideoBlocks.

Still not sure what the term “b-roll” means, or is there another term you’d like us to define? Leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments below!

Thanks to Denise Jans on Unsplash for the image of this film reel.