What is B-Roll? Add Great Production Value with Stock Footage

Working in video production you'll eventually come across to the term “B-roll” (or B roll, or Broll). You'll notice it's a common term, and that everybody in the industry use it. But what is B roll?

Essentially, it's additional footage used to complement the main content, to improve visual storytelling and grant fluid transitions.

B-roll can be really difficult, expensive and time-consuming to produce. Stock footage makes its entrance here, as a great cost-effective resource to overcome those hassles and still get compelling B-roll for your production.

Let's explore the meanings, uses and examples of B roll footage, and the ways stock footage can replace it.

This exclusive coupon gives you 15% off on your next stock footage purchase: video packs, credit packs, or video subscriptions!

What is B-roll Video?

The term comes originally from the early days of TV broadcasting and film production, when motion imagery was shot using two 16 mm film rolls: A roll and B roll. The main content was in the A roll, and the secondary video, the one consisting in establishing shots, cutaway scenes, etc, was in the named B roll.

Now, what is B roll in video production today? As you could expect, B-roll meaning hasn't changed much. Although there's no longer any “rolls”, the term still represents all the additional footage used to enhance the overall production value. This includes all the complementary shots that help better tell the story, to create better transitions, and to keep audience engaged.

How is B-roll used?

To achieve these purposes, videographers and filmmakers use B-roll methodically. It's not just about having the right secondary footage, that is related to the main content and enhances it, but also about using it in the right way.

  • To Add Richness in Content – B-roll footage is used to increase the depth of the main footage and improve storytelling. In a commercial video for a new office software, for example, creators will use custom-shot footage of the product in use, but also additional scenes of office environments and people working with computers, to put the product in context.
  • To Cover Editing Tricks – Edition, when done wisely, can significantly improve the overall value of a video production. And creatives use B-roll to make seamless, smooth transitions and mask their editing. B-roll is used in cutaways, J and L cuts, zoom ins in interviews, and more. Learn how to edit like a pro to get the best final cuts using B-roll. Get started with our  top 5 free video editors.
  • To Improve Visual Appeal – The whole purpose of adding secondary content and editing the raw footage is to create the best possible final cut. And B roll video is also used to ensure this by enhancing parts of the main footage when needed. You can edit and trim out the less-relevant bits of your footage, and use additional content to make it more visually interesting: if you have a 5 min. interview, it makes a much better visual impact to keep the interviewee's voice in off as you cut away to footage related to what it's being said, than showing 5 whole minutes of a person talking.
This exclusive coupon gives you 15% off on your next stock footage purchase: video packs, credit packs, or video subscriptions!

Stock Footage: the Cheapest B-Roll Resource

Now, as useful as B-roll is, it might not be so easy to get. If you know how to shoot main footage, then you know how to shoot B roll, but its the costs and the time frames what make it hard to create, specially for small producers.

Shoot your own secondary footage is expensive and time-consuming, and at times it's just virtually impossible. If your project requires footage from different iconic cities around the globe, but you work on a super tight budget, there's just no way to make it happen. Even if it's a cheap shot, if your deadline is in 3 hours, you won't be able to get it done.

And here's where stock footage comes to the rescue. B-roll is one the main applications for stock video, and it's perfect for this purpose.

This exclusive coupon gives you 15% off on your next stock footage purchase: video packs, credit packs, or video subscriptions!

Stock footage is already shot and ready to use, and it's intentionally generic: it's often shot as stock, so it's intended to fit into various concepts. Most of it is created by professionals and it's high quality — HD and up to 4K– enough to be used in multiple projects including TV and film. And, very important: it's very cheap.

Depending on the agency, length of the content and image definition, stock footage clips can cost between $10 and $500 with Royalty Free license, a very flexible usage agreement that covers most commercial uses.

Stock footage is the best resource to get B-roll for your projects. It enables you to have all the additional content you need to boost up your production value in much less time, and at a very low cost.

Where to Buy B-Roll Stock Footage

There's a plethora of stock imagery agencies selling stock footage, as well as companies dedicated exclusively to licensing stock videos. And at Footage Secrets you can easily find which one is the best match for your needs. Furthermore, in our Definitive Guide to Buy Stock Video like an Expert you will find everything you must know to make the best possible purchases in stock footage.

Are you looking for the lowest prices? Check the top 5 agencies to buy cheap stock footage.

If you're after free B roll to get started or test the waters, we tell you where to find great free stock footage. 

And don't forget to check our Offers, where you can find coupons and promo codes to save more money in your purchases at the best stock footage agencies in the market.

To make your own, individual analysis of costs and benefits in an agency, do check our Agency Comparison tool. Use our filters system to sort companies based in price, buying options, special deals, license types, video resolution, library size, and more. Find the offer that works best with your pocket and your content requirements!

Start downloading amazing HD B roll stock footage to complete your productions today!

Amos Struck
Amos Struck

I am a publisher and entrepreneur in the stock imagery field. I focus in providing knowledge and solutions for buyers, contributors and agencies, aiming at contributing to the growth and development of the industry. I am the founder and editor of Stock Photo Press, one of the largest networks of online magazines in the industry. I am the founder of Microstock Expo, the only conference dedicated to the microstock segment. I created several software solutions in stock photography, like the PixelRockstar WordPress Plugin. Plus I am a recurrent speaker at Photokina Official Stage, and an industry consultant at StockPhotoInsight. I am passionate about technology, marketing and visual imagery.

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