How To Improve Your Shots: A Comparison of Beginner and Professional B-Roll

B-roll can feel a bit like a means to an end; a way of linking shots because you have to, but it's an art in itself. Here is a useful comparison of what a beginner might do and what a professional might do when they need the same b-roll.

B-roll typically refers to supplementary or transitional footage that accompanies your main shots for variance, style, or storytelling. At times it can feel superfluous, or necessary but boring; it needn't be. I love cinematography and some of my best filmmakers are the ones who use every fibre of available space for creativity, including what some might see as "filler" shots. Not only can great b-roll improve your production value, but it can also drastically improve the quality of the video.

One of my favorite examples is something I've covered before: Every Frame a Painting's video on Edgar Wright. While you could argue this isn't technically about b-roll, what it shows is how similar beginner filmmakers and lazy filmmakers can be. When making transitions that require exposition, many videographer lean heavily on clichés, whereas great filmmakers see it as an opportunity.

In this video, Thomas Alex Norman goes through a few different shots he needs to capture — common scenes you might see — and he approaches it in the beginner, cliché way, and then again from a professional's perspective. The difference is vast and having it pointed out might improve your work.

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2 Comments

Adam Moore's picture

This has very little to do with being a “professional” or a “beginner” and 100% to do with the mindset of the individual and the equipment they have in their hands.

I’ve worked with people who are new to operating and have a natural flair for creative shooting out the gate, and I’ve worked with seasoned operators who will shoot like news gatherers all day.

Above all though, he speaks about the relationship between gear and the effect said gear has on your shots. He then talks through a bunch of shots that are pretty much the hallmarks of using a lightweight gimbal. All of these shots - yes, even the building one - would have at least an added level of complexity and skill if you were, say, shooting on the shoulder with a bigger payload. The sprinting tracking shots would be interesting to say the least.

Credit to the guy, the shots do look good. However, claiming to debunk the difference between “professional” and “beginner” shooters is not as simple as “shoot on a stabilised compact camera and tilt upwards”.

Jaap Venhovens's picture

#clickbait; 10 ways to improve... 5 beginner mistakes.., 7 techniques pro's use... etc. the formula for about every photography/videography tutorial youtube channel