In the days of film reels, the terms A-roll and B-roll were created as a way for film editors to differentiate which rolls of footage they needed to thread into their cuts.
Although most student journalists today aren’t still splicing different rolls of video footage together by hand, the two terms continue to live on and are fundamental elements of visual storytelling.
In This Lesson
A-roll and B-roll
- What is A-roll?
- When to use A-roll
- What is B-roll?
- When to use B-roll
- Practice identifying A-roll and B-roll in action
- Tips for collecting better B-roll
Bring Your B-Game
Despite its slightly inferior name, B-roll is important. Without it, you run the risk of having interview-dense videos that can feel off-balance and that do little to keep your viewer visually engaged. In this activity, students will be asked to think of potential B-roll footage to support three different story ideas, as well as how they would logistically capture that footage on-site.