What Everyone Ought to Know About B-roll

There are times in every content producer’s life when he or she is in need of visuals. These days it is truer than ever, with the advent of internet video and scads of rich content on web 2.0 environs. When it comes to video content, whether traditional broadcast or YouTube, any good producer will want what is commonly known as “B-roll.”


To non-industry folk, the term may seem misleading. We often equate “B-anything” as second rate, a step down, or unimportant. In this case, nothing could be further from the truth.

The term is derived from the days of film editing, where a bench editor literally sat with two or more rolls of film to his left and cut a work print together to create a film. B-roll was any film that was supplementary to the main content.

Let’s say, for example, he was cutting together an interview. The interview itself would constitute as the “A-roll.” Yet, since no one likes to see a talking head for too long, we, the media-savvy viewer, desperately need something else to see to while we listen to the audio. This is the most basic editing technique. What does an editor do? He pulls footage—B-roll—and cuts it into the place of the interviewee. The real key, as usual, is quality.

B-roll may not seem like such a big deal—it’s under-appreciated! But if your B-roll is poor quality, it will ruin a potentially excellent video. Well shot, interestingly composed B-roll will always enhance a final product for traditional broadcast journalists or YouTube video producers alike.

Jackson Marketing Group’s film and HD video services will go on location to shoot video B-roll. In fact, this is one of the most common production requests. Whether inside a factory, on a wet track, at a road tour event, or inside an auditorium, it is our goal to get the best footage so it is usable for as many video productions down the road as possible.

View a recent example of a Michelin Air X video we produced entirely of B-roll.