Stop shooting bad b-roll – here’s how to take yours to the next level

Feb 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

Stop shooting bad b-roll – here’s how to take yours to the next level

Feb 26, 2021

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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Regardless of what you think b-roll is or how you might use it in your productions, b-roll has become a hot topic lately. It’s something that just about anybody who shoots video needs to incorporate if they want their work to stand out. And while exactly what b-roll is and how it should be used are discussions for another day, how you shoot it is relevant to all potential definitions.

It’s easy to get lazy with b-roll, especially if you just see it as a way to break up boring monotonous shots or a transition between sequences. But even then, it needs to tell a story or expand on what we’re hearing and seeing in other shots. And it’s easy to shoot it badly. In this video, filmmaker Thomas Alex Norman shows us how we can adjust our shooting techniques to make the best b-roll we can.

Thomas shows us how we can shoot a number of b-roll clips. Each begins by showing us the way most amateurs and newcomers to video might approach it – ways we see all too often, and I’m certainly guilty of some of these myself at times – but he also explains why they’re not necessarily the best approach and how we can look at them with a fresh perspective to create something more dynamic and interesting.

While this isn’t a complete beginning-to-end solution for any b-roll you might ever shoot, it does serve as a great example of thinking about your shots a little differently. And while the gear isn’t the real discussion point of the video, it does also demonstrate why certain gear, like gimbals, can be extremely useful for this kind of thing.

How much thought do you put into your b-roll?

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John Aldred

John Aldred

John Aldred is a photographer with over 20 years of experience in the portrait and commercial worlds. He is based in Scotland and has been an early adopter – and occasional beta tester – of almost every digital imaging technology in that time. As well as his creative visual work, John uses 3D printing, electronics and programming to create his own photography and filmmaking tools and consults for a number of brands across the industry.

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