Let’s Talk About B-Roll! What it really means to provide raw footage for the news industry

By: Kaitlyn Mitchell

As a Stringr, you are providing raw footage to a local, regional, or national news network. You are not necessarily a journalist; however, it is useful to get to know the industry to help improve your videography skills. A lot of great video footage comes from being in the right place at the right time, which means journalists aren’t always going to be there when news breaks. That’s where our Stringrs step in.

The majority of what Stringrs are shooting is b-roll, which is supporting visuals that help illustrate the story that the news anchor is telling. A great parody of the concept is “We got that B-roll” by Cream Sketch Comedy.

To put it into context, the kind of b-roll we’re looking for at Stringr is the video footage that is shown while the news anchor is describing the story, and it often illustrates the scene where the story took place or is currently taking place. We suggest watching local and national news broadcasts with the sound turned off — pay close attention to what video types of video clips these stations are using, and model your video footage off of these examples.

Continuously working to improve your videography skills will help your videos get downloaded by our customers more often. Let’s discuss the three mistakes most commonly made by Stringrs, and how they are easily fixed.

  1. Over-Edited: You may be tempted to edit your shots extensively before submitting to us, but don’t – anything that delays your submission makes it less likely to be downloaded and sold. Remember, our customers work in professional newsrooms and prefer to edit their own footage — the more b-roll you provide for them to work with, the better. And the sooner you get your video to us, the more likely we are to promote your video to our customers! This also means you’ll spend less of your valuable time editing.
  1. Too Short: Be mindful of the length of your videos in general – if your video is 20 seconds, take a deep breath and keep filming. At Stringr, we prefer videos that are two-minutes minimum in length. Consider the final product you are providing for our customer: if the news anchor is talking about the story for 20 seconds total, the station needs at least 15 seconds of b-roll to show. If you only submitted 20 seconds of footage to Stringr, and our customer only finds 5 of those seconds usable after editing, then they’re going to pick another videographer’s footage.
  1. Too Shaky: Shaky videos are annoying for the viewer to watch and can even induce feelings of vertigo and nausea. There are a few tricks to reduce shakiness – first, hold your elbows as close to your body as possible when filming. Second, if you’re standing near a sturdy object, lean on it for support to reduce muscle fatigue. Just yesterday, I saw a professional news videographer film an interview with a disabled veteran on his handheld camera by leaning his camera-bearing arm against a nearby food cart. A third trick to reduce shakiness is to move the camera as SLOWLY as possible. When a videographer suddenly whips the camera around 180 degrees, everything in between becomes blurred. If you’re going to pan the camera, act like you’re in yoga class, and make only intentional movements. The slower the camera moves, the more clear your viewer’s perspective is of the world you’re trying to show. Stay in the moment, and our customers will notice.

We hope you try out these videographer hacks, and have a clearer idea of what our journalistic customers seek from you, Stringrs. Carry on with those fantastic submissions.

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