The Pursuit of B-roll

The pursuit of B-roll has absorbed much of my life in the last year. B-roll is extra footage (still photos, video footage, graphic elements) used in film and television to add more interest and dimension. For instance, in Pie Lady of Pie Town, we have lots of footage of Kathy talking about her upbringing, her figurative and literal path to Pie Town and her life as a pie lady in a remote place. Not that Kathy isn’t lovely to behold, but it would be pretty boring to see her talk the whole time. So we cut to appropriate footage to expound or illustrate what she is talking about.

The more we edited the film, the more B-roll we realized was needed – not only for interest and dimension but also to add flexibility to the editing process. Kathy continued to unearth boxes of old photographs and finally we have the right amount of B-roll to flesh out the story. I realize now that you can never have enough such that if I ever do another film, I will amass loads of B-roll from the get-go. Nevertheless, it’s been a lot of fun fetching big envelopes of old photos from my mailbox. Among all the images and footage we had at a our disposable once all was said and done, the biggest coup was receiving stunning footage of the Very Large Array from the National Radio Astronomy Observatory. What is the Very Large Array and what does the NRAO have to do with Pie Town? I’ll cover that story in a future blog.