So what is B- Roll exactly? It is all the alternative footage that isn't the main shot. Lets break down some moments from my latest wedding video to show you some b-roll examples and tips to improve your story telling with b-roll. I mean when you deconstruct a modern wedding video they are all basically meditations in b-roll. Even those key moments of the day, like the bride and groom preps are basically b-roll since the ceremony is usually the background audio source making the imagery the main focus but the message secondary. So lets begin.
So in the case of Lauren and Marshal I almost immediately introduce the actual wedding ceremony. So this becomes the main shot, it is the only moment that incorporates the audio with the visuals so by default, no matter how significant other imagery is, until we as viewers leave the ceremony, everything else is b-roll.
Now this is what we are using to tell our story in a literal sense, this is where they will talk about their history, their love, their future etc. That's our paint and canvas but we need to start painting over here so lets start painting with our b-roll baby!
So in almost every ceremony they discuss the idea of "before." Before the ceremony, the dress, the reception there were two people that fell in love. So we take our viewer back to the before, but in our case its the beginning of the day. Now we introduce some b-roll of everyone getting ready. This is how we really tell the story of the day and display the emotions leading up to our main event, the ceremony. Below are two images only seconds apart but one immediately tells a better story.
Both are flattering shots of our bride, but notice the dress in the bottom one. It's not a huge difference image wise but the story it tells is infinitely better. So...
TIP 1. USE YOUR ENVIRONMENT TO TELL A BETTER STORY WITH YOUR B-ROLL
The story went from "a woman getting her makeup done" to a "bride getting her makeup done anticipating walking down the isle in her dress." Be aware of your surroundings, use the architecture, the lines, the symmetry, the "props" (I don't mean to call a wedding dress a prop but it's working as one here). Move stuff around, make the environment the way you want it to look. Clean the room if you have to, It's easy to feel like you are being intrusive when you are starting out but just politely explain that bottles of water everywhere, plastic cups, Starbucks coffee cups all over the place looks terrible. Which leads us to tip 2...
TIP 2. DON'T BE AFRAID TO STAGE SITUATIONS
Who cares if it didn't happen in real time? Don't get caught up with the idea that something is fake if the imagery is believable. You are telling a story, not making a documentary, it's different. Check this out..
When the hell would this many grown women sit on a bed smushed in together? Never, thats when. But with a left to right camera movement, a tight lens and a bunch of girls laughing (which I had them do) you have this adorable moment with the bride and her bridesmaids sharing a drink and a laugh...I'm not even sure if anything was in the cups. It's ok to bullshit if the story is good!
Cocktail hour isn't very exciting to cover since its mostly people standing, drinking, eating and not wanting to be bothered with a camera since there is probably food in their mouth. I wanted to showcase the food without bothering anybody at the party or do the typical move of waiting until someone grabs something off a tray. So I pulled a server aside and asked if I could follow her into the room but my camera will just focus on the food. It was a great way to showcase the food, the service and to have the video enter the cocktail hour. All planned, all staged, great results. You know whats next folks...third and final tip
TIP 3. SHOOT WITH INTENTION/KNOW WHY YOU ARE HITTING RECORD
This seems simple but it actually takes a good bit of practice to acquire this skill, especially with wedding cinematography. If someone asked you while you were shooting why you shot something you should always be able to answer them; otherwise you are just wasting hard drive storage. It is so important to collect b-roll with purpose to save storage and the most valuable of all things, time. Why spend hours scrubbing through footage when you can have confidence in the footage acquired because you shot with intention. If you can't picture yourself using it, don't shoot it. I can't tell you how many times a second shooter has given me GB after GB of meaningless garbage that I would never use. Usually all pretty clean, good looking footage but content wise it was useless. Eg. A closeup of a champagne glass or a flower somewhere in the building. Does that tell a story? How does that relate to the couple? It doesn't, so ditch it.
Alright folks there it is, a couple of tips that hopefully will help spice up your b-roll. Also, I didn't give all my secrets away, within the next month I am doing a workshop based around the idea of creating b-roll to tell a story. Until next time!
Also check it out again and keep an eye on the b-roll!