Using B-roll footage to tell your stories

We’re living in a visual age, and more and more I’m seeing churches, missionaries and individuals using video to convey their stories and messages to their hearers.

We’re seeing video everywhere. Church announcements are being delivered using video. Overseas gospel workers are no longer sending written updates to their supporters, but sending videos of themselves sharing the excitement and struggles in their ministry. And with mediums like Facebook and Instagram being used more than ever, there has never been a better time to start using videos to convey your church’s stories.

But with so much visual content constantly fighting for the viewer’s attention, we need to make our videos noticeable and engaging. Simply filming someone as they talk is a good start, but it doesn’t have to stop there! For your next church video project, we think you should use B-roll!

So what is B-roll, you ask?

B-roll (or B roll or BRoll) is alternative footage that is displayed as the subject continues speaking. It’s one step further (and a whole lot cooler) than a newsreader with a “picture-in-picture style” video playing in the top corner while they speak on screen.

Using B-roll adds so much production value to your videos. It breaks up the monotony of seeing the same person (or people) on screen for the entire duration of the video. It helps the viewer understand the context in which the story is being told. It gives additional information that can’t be as effectively conveyed with words alone. It adds a sense of momentum to your videos and prevents the feeling of “dragging”.

Here’s an example of the huge difference a small amount of B-roll can make. This first video you’ll see is a snippet from an event that was run at my church. As you’ll see, the lighting and audio is pretty poor (due to being shot in a dimly lit, noisy room), and there’s a rather distracting cut about a third of the way through. It’s also not the most visually appealing background, and aside from the subject herself, there’s not really anything interesting happening.

Now, see the difference after we add just a small amount of B-roll footage.

A relatively basic information video, with poor audio quality, an annoying cut between two clips, an underwhelming background and uneven light, suddenly tells a new story. It tells the story of a vibrant, exciting women’s event, and conveys the message that this is something in which you want to be involved.

Side note: This is only part of a video used to promote a church ministry. For those interested, the full video can be viewed here.

It’s a great idea to get into the habit of collecting B-roll. Every time your church has an event, grab a few minutes of footage. Each clip only needs to be about 10 seconds long, and you don’t need fancy equipment. Even an iPhone will do the job! (Keep in mind that the audio from B-roll footage doesn’t get used, so you don’t need to worry about ensuring high audio quality.) You’ll quickly find you’ve built up a healthy library of B-roll footage that can be used to enliven a video, compel your audience to hear your story, and build community engagement in your church.

We’d love to see the stories your church has been telling using video. Post your links in the comments!

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