Keren Haynes
Keren Haynes
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Blog Post

A Good Case For B-roll

B-roll is sometimes dismissed as expensive and of little value – but use it wisely and the return on investment can be massive.

Shout! has recently been lucky enough to support P & O Cruises with the broadcast PR for the launch of their new cruise ship Britannia. Along with online video packages and corporate filming we produced B-roll for news but the icing on the cake was when our B-roll footage was used by ITV’s Tonight programme earlier this week.   

The bulk of the programme was obviously filmed by the programme itself but we were delighted that our B-roll, showing Her Majesty the Queen launching the ship, and Britannia setting off on her inaugural voyage a few days later, was included.

You can view the programme here.

What, you couldn’t tell the difference between our B-roll and ITV’s footage??? That’s what we hoped, and that’s the secret of good B-roll. It needs to fit seamlessly into the rest of the footage.

The success of B-roll can be put down to broadcasters becoming increasingly time and resource poor. They’d rather not take it of course but if it looks like something they might have filmed for themselves, and they don’t have a crew to send out at the time, they may accept it.   

Convenience is also part of the equation. ITV’s Tonight programme did the bulk of their filming a few days before Britannia set out on her first voyage – so the crew had already left Southampton before the ship headed off. Yes they could have gone to the expense of sending a camera back to Southampton but why do that if a helpful broadcast PR agency are on hand to do it for you! And who knows, maybe those extra shots of Britannia sailing off into the sunset got P & O Cruises some extra air time.   

Certainly it show-cased Britannia off in her finest light. Who could fail to see what a magnificent ship she is. 

Going back to B-roll these are our golden rules for getting it used on UK television.

Shoot it in the style that broadcasters would do themselves. For news and current affairs this means high quality, solid shots. Nothing too fancy in terms of pans and zooming in, keep it simple.   

Edit it in a way that gives broadcasters a choice in the shots they use. A shot in a news TV package will only last 3 or 4 seconds, so in a B-roll keep the shot 7 or 8 seconds – that way a broadcaster can edit from the beginning or the middle of the shot. If more than one broadcaster uses the B-roll they won’t then all look the same.   

Make life easier for the broadcasters and film something they can’t easily do for themselves – they’re going to be more receptive to B-roll if something needs to be shot out of hours, miles away or takes ages to do! 

For more thoughts on B-roll check out another blog; Understanding B-roll.

For further information about video read our E-book “The Future of Content: The Power of Video”.   

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