A-Roll vs. B-Roll: How to Use A-Roll and B-Roll in 2023

Aug 7, 2023
5 min read
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A-Roll and B-Roll are two essential types of footage used in video production to tell a great story. 

The combination of A-Roll and B-Roll creates a well-rounded and compelling narrative. By using these two types of footage effectively, video producers can convey their stories more effectively, keep viewers interested, and deliver a memorable viewing experience.

The main difference between A-Roll and B-Roll footage lies in their purpose and role within a video production. In video production, A-roll is the primary footage of a project’s main subject, while B-roll shots are supplemental footage.

What is A-Roll?

A-Roll refers to the primary footage that contains the main subject of the story. A-roll footage is more often known in the industry these days as main footage, hero footage, primary footage, or principal shots . It is the foundational footage that carries the central narrative and is typically carefully planned and scripted. 

The A-Roll provides essential context, information, and emotional connection to the audience. It is the backbone of the storytelling process.

Best use cases for A-roll

  • Interviews and Testimonials: A-Roll is commonly used for capturing interviews and testimonials. It allows the main subjects to share their thoughts, experiences, or expertise directly to the camera or an interviewer.
  • Main Story Elements: A-Roll includes the essential content that drives the narrative forward. This could be the main event, key actions, or central characters that the video revolves around.
  • Narration: If the video features a voice-over or narration, the corresponding visuals supporting the narration are part of the A-Roll. The A-Roll helps visualize and reinforce the spoken content.
  • Documentaries: A-Roll is widely used in documentary filmmaking to present the primary content and central themes of the documentary. It includes interviews with experts, participants, and real-life events.
  • News Reporting: In news segments, the A-Roll contains the main footage captured at the scene of the news event or the main interview with relevant people involved.
  • Educational Videos: A-Roll is valuable in educational videos, where it presents the main information, explanations, or demonstrations to the audience.
  • Storytelling Videos: For storytelling and narrative-driven videos, the A-Roll carries the main plot and essential elements that convey the story's message.
  • Tutorial and How-To Videos: A-Roll is essential for tutorial and how-to videos as it shows the step-by-step process or demonstrations by the instructor.
  • Event Coverage: In event videography, the A-Roll captures the primary moments, speeches, and activities during the event.
  • Brand Promotion: A-Roll is used in promotional videos to showcase products, services, or company values with the main focus on the subject being promoted.

What is B-Roll?

B-Roll (B Roll, Broll, b-roll footage, coverage, or simply “extra shots,”) refers to supplementary footage used to complement and enrich the A-Roll. It is not directly related to the primary narrative but plays a supporting role by adding visual variety, context, and interest.

B-roll is a valuable asset in video production, offering a wide range of uses to enhance storytelling, provide context, and maintain audience engagement. By strategically incorporating B-roll footage into your videos, you can create more dynamic and compelling content that resonates with viewers.

Best use cases for B-roll

  • Visual Variety: B-roll is excellent for adding visual diversity to your video. It can include different angles, perspectives, and shots that break up the monotony of the main footage (A-Roll) and keep the audience visually engaged.
  • Covering Edits: B-roll is useful for covering up cuts or transitions in the A-Roll. When editing, B-roll shots can be inserted between different segments of the main footage, creating smooth transitions and a seamless viewing experience.
  • Setting the Scene: B-roll can be used to establish the setting or location where the story takes place. These establishing shots help the audience understand the context and immerse them in the video's environment.
  • Contextual Information: B-roll can provide additional context or information related to the main subject. It can show relevant objects, surroundings, or events that support the narrative presented in the A-Roll.
  • Covering Interviews: In interview-based videos, B-roll can be used to cover certain parts of the interview that are less visually appealing. For instance, when an interviewee refers to a specific location or action, the corresponding B-roll footage can be shown to illustrate it.
  • Reaction Shots: B-roll can capture the reactions of other people or the environment to events or actions happening in the A-Roll. Reaction shots add depth and emotional connection to the video.
  • Creative and Cinematic Shots: B-roll provides an opportunity for filmmakers to get creative with unique camera angles, interesting compositions, time-lapses, slow-motion shots, or other artistic visuals that add production value and appeal to the video.
  • Illustrating Voice-Overs or Narration: When there is a voice-over or narration in the video, B-roll can be used to visually illustrate the content being discussed, reinforcing the spoken message.
  • Emotional Support: B-roll footage can be carefully chosen to evoke specific emotions in the audience. For example, using uplifting B-roll shots in a motivational video or calming scenes in a relaxation-themed production.
  • Filling Gaps: If there are moments in the A-Roll where there is no significant visual action or content, B-roll can be used to fill those gaps, preventing the video from feeling stagnant.


A-Roll is the main footage that carries the core narrative and includes interviews, key story elements, and narration. On the other hand, B-Roll is supplementary footage that supports and enhances the A-Roll, providing context, visual interest, and transitions. 

The combination of A-Roll and B-Roll creates a well-rounded and compelling narrative. By using these two types of footage effectively, video producers can convey their stories more effectively, keep viewers interested, and deliver a memorable viewing experience.

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