The trope's name is the term used by news people. It refers to the fact that this footage is usually spooled out from the second ("B") deck on a Linear Edit system. The "A roll" footage is the interview itself, the presenter's questions, and any directly documentary footage.
Sometimes the B-Roll footage is used as a backdrop for graphs, a screenshot of a document with the salient quote highlighted, or some other visual aid, either full-screen with just a voiceover or on the big screen in the studio.
It's not uncommon for Advertised Extras to be featured on B-Roll footage of interviews and teasers.
It comes in four flavors:
- Establishing Shot: Wide to extremely wide shots of buildings or landscapes with the purpose of establishing the context of a scene either at its beginning or end.
- Insert Shots: Opposed to the former, its purpose is to bring the viewer's attention to a particular detail within a scene, usually from a character's POV.
- Pick-Up Shots: Footage filmed recorded after the principal photography (aka the production stage) to augment and complement footage already shot.
- Stock Footage: Recycled footage either purchased from third parties or original.
This page is for examples where one flavor is used in tandem with others, In-Universe usages of B-Roll footage, and examples that don't fit in any of the above-listed flavors.
Compare with B-Roll Rebus, where several of these shots are used in rapid succession; Jump Cut, which is prevented by using B-Roll footage; Three Cameras, which allows for B-Roll footage to be filmed at the same time as the A-Roll.
Anime & Manga
- Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children: Rufus and Kadaj's conversation before Kadaj summons Bahamut SIN reuses clips from the opening of the film as they talk in a manner similar to B-Roll, the footage sometimes matching what they're talking about, sometimes not. These sequences, as well as other clips from the film, have since been reused in subsequent Compilation entries and related media, particularly Crisis Core.
- Love Live! Nijigasaki High School Idol Club: The titular idol club is eager to show their promotional video. Because they rush, Hilarious Outtakes are played instead.
Kasumi: What!? N-n-n-n-no! What the heck is going on!?
Shizuku: That's the B-Roll footage we weren't going to use!
Films — Animation
- Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie: In one scene, Gerald casually talks about Helga's Stalker with a Crush habits — as all of that B-Roll footage in the video they submitted to the contest was from her personal collection.
- The LEGO Batman Movie: There's a news B-Roll of Superman fighting Zod credited to Z. Snyder and A. Mokri, the director and cinematographer (respectively) of Man of Steel.
- Zootopia: There's B-Roll footage of Jason Bateman ad-libbing during the infamous "sloth" scene that he [Nick] hadn't seen Flash "since track meet".
Films — Live-Action
- "Line-o-rama" reels are produced by filming lots of improvs and then cutting all the best parts together à la B-Roll.
- Amy: The entire film consists of B-Roll clips of Amy Winehouse —interviews, performances, and home movies; voice-over commentary is provided by Winehouse herself in old interviews, her friends, business associates, and family members. There's a little original B-Roll footage as well.
- Apocalypse Now: The iconic opening sequence came about simply because Coppola happened to find some B-Roll of the napalm attack and was quite interested in the effect of the helicopters and smoke suddenly being interrupted by a huge explosion, plus a half-joking comment to the crew that it would be funny to start a movie with the song "The End".
- Attica: Since the press was allowed inside the titular prison during the standoff of the riot, the siege is well-documented. The documentary uses that footage as B-Roll.
- Avengers: Age of Ultron: While James Spader was on-set for the majority of his scenes in a mo-cap suit, B-Roll footage shows him recording some of his lines in a sound booth. This makes the scenes where Ultron suddenly speaks with a different voice understandable.
- Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice: There is some B-Roll footage◊ of Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill corpsing and smiling at each other.
- Blue Is the Warmest Color: A good portion of the B-Roll footage with Adèle Exarchopoulos that ends up being used is in fact of the actress when she is out of character. The camera would be on her when she ate and even when she slept on the train while they were on their way to the set.
- Bo Burnham: Inside: In the outtakes, Bo creates a few Droste Images and uses them as B-roll by pointing his camera at a monitor.
- The 1933 Pre-Code comedy Convention City remains in the form of its script and the B-Roll footage of the Atlantic City used for the movie.
- Dark Phoenix: When news reports about the X-Men are shown around the world:
Jeremy: No one will be seated during the B-Roll footage that Michael Bay directed.
- Ulli Lommel's Diary Of A Cannibal has a particularly egregious example of misuse of B-Roll. On top of the countlessly recycled Stock Footage of an ax raising and the boy and the girl staring at each other; the film's 86 minutes are mostly comprised of establishing, second-unitnote , and more standard B-Roll shots. Not a good day for German cinema.
- Ghosts of Girlfriends Past: B-Roll footage for the film was recorded in Newport, Rhode Island.
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019): Some of the B-Roll used in various scenes such as Emma's Motive Rant, the Senate subcommittee meeting and the end credits is footage taken from the 2014 movie's Comic-Con teaser trailer, the 2014 movie itself (including a joke where the footage of the MUTOs’ courtship is pixellated) and even Kong: Skull Island (the brief visual of Kong’s face is taken from Randa seeing him through his camera lens).
- Played for Laughs in The Insider: At one point, Lowell and his assistant are shown looking over B-Roll footage for a segment on New Orleans police corruption.
Lowell: Stringer was supposed to be shooting B-Roll on street cops in New Orleans. What's with all the horses?
- Iron Man 3: One of the images the Mandarin uses in his announcements is of a B-Roll an effigy of President Ellis being set on fire with an American flag attached, and the Mandarin shooting the President's picture in the head.
- Michael Jackson's This Is It: The film makes use of footage of Michael Jackson's rehearsals, though they were never meant to be edited into a movie.
- The Muppets (2011): A scene cut from the film but included in the B-Roll footage released online has Kermit explaining to Gary, Mary, and Walter that he doesn't actually live at the penthouse. Instead, he simply stops by once a week to check the mail and clean the pool filters. This also explains why Kermit is seen with a tool chest the first time we see him in the final film.
- One for the Money: Edited-out B-Roll footage and publicity show a number of scenes with Debbie Reynolds, who was Demoted to Extra.
- Pacific Rim: Discussed during a scene of random city destruction:
Jeremy: Movie saves money by using B-Roll footage from Tommy Lee Jones's Volcano.
- In the mockumentary The Sacrament, the shots from different angles than the main camera are explained by the fact Patrick is also recording with his own camera. So, when they wrap it up, Patrick's footage serves as B-Roll.
- A Talking Cat!?!: Several scenes are comprised of nothing but B-Roll footage (Stock Footage and Establishing Shots mostly) of the surrounding forest where filming primarily took place.
- The concert-like film When We Were Kings use footage of the Muhammad Ali-George Foreman "Rumble in the Jungle" heavyweight title bout as B-Roll for the actual movie.
- World War Z: One of Gerry's daughters asks him what martial law is when it appears on the news. Said news's B-Roll footage displays what appears to be a zombie horde.
- Favorite Son: Senator Terry Fallon is shown (and later leaks to the press) B-Roll footage of Femme Fatale Sally Crain issuing the signal to open fire.
- America's Next Top Model: There's an edited-out, B-Roll interview of Marvita disclosing her thoughts after being eliminated.
- Daredevil (2015): The various newscasts at the beginning of "Aftermath" are all very obviously green-screened, with the actors playing reporters all standing in front of superimposed B-Roll with much different lighting. It doesn't help that all the shots have exactly the same composition, indicating they were likely all shot on the same soundstage at the same time.
- Detroiters: For the Eddie Champagne commercial, film school student Lea creates a dour, depressing short film that uses on-set B-Roll of Eddie creeping on the makeup woman, expressing a deep self-loathing, and eating deli meat off the ground — it's to paint him as a broken wretch.
- Dragons' Den: The footage of the contestants at their home/business.
- Fringe: In-Universe, the series technically happens in Boston, Massachusetts. In reality, the set is in New York, thus making it a case of California Doubling. The only shots filmed in Boston are some establishing shots edited onto the main footage à la B-Roll.
- Gaki no Tsukai ya Arahende: Producer Suga tells the group that due to a bit of "overspending" in the last episode, the budget for the current episode will only allow the crew to go to a family restaurant for some B-Roll footage and Suga assuming full video editorial duties. The segment shows the crew in a relaxed setting with Suga's edits claiming uncouth things about each individual member.
- Glee: In "The Rise and Fall of Sue Sylvester", Becky records and sends B-Roll footage of how she's better without Sue.
- The Greatest American Hero: The opening titles in the pilot are superimposed over B-Roll footage and preliminary action, movie-of-the-week style.
- It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia: The opening credits and cutaway footage of "The Gang Carries a Corpse" heavily feature beautiful green mountains and the sea. Some of it it's actual B-Roll from Ireland where the show is supposedly set.
- Kenny vs. Spenny: In the "Who Can Survive on an Island the Longest?", there's an extremely Male Gaze-y B-Roll of shots focused only on the rears of Cuba's finest beach babes.
- Lost: In the episode "Tricia Tanaka Is Dead", the news crew goes into Mr. Cluck's to shoot some B-Roll footage for a news report on how a meteorite destroyed his chicken.
- The Office (US): A documentary crew has been In-Universe filming the Scranton office for nine years. All of the footage ends up being used as B-Roll for a planned 90-minute educational film about paper manufacture and production
- The People v. O. J. Simpson: There are B-Roll shots of indoor and outdoor scenes in Downtown Los Angeles. This footage causes a bit of an Anachronism Stew since it depicts landmarks built after O. J. Simpson's trial.
- RuPaul's Drag Race: As Crystal is getting ready to do her commercial, she does a goofy dance before suddenly stopping and going "Oh yeah". The way the show has edited the scene makes it hard to tell if that was B-Roll for the commercial or if Crystal was trying to shake out her nerves and forgot what she was doing.
- Discussed in Sports Night:
Sam: Lead with the Packers, move the Chargers and the Seahawks to the tease, get B-Roll on the Patriots, we can do better than LeFlourier in "In Focus", the 8:00 rundown is at 7:30, and if Dan mentions the internet poll one more time, I'm gonna cram a motherboard up his butt. Did I catch the *gist* of the meeting?
- Stranger Things: In the third season's epilogue, there's a television special suggesting a Satanic cult may be responsible for the strange occurrences at Starcourt Mall. Naturally, this statement is accompanied by B-Roll footage of rolling D20s.
- The Umbrella Academy (2019): There's B-Roll footage of Ben picking up the head of his memorial statue, bemoaning that it doesn't even look like him, and tossing it away.
- The West Wing:
- In the episode "The US Poet Laureate", President Bartlet is on B-Roll for television interviews with various news outlets from the Mural Room. Made plot-relevant when Bartlet doesn't realize the micro is hot while making a dismissive commentary about fellow politician Robert Ritchie.
- In the episode "The Stackhouse Filibuster", Donna Moss notices something off about a couple of seconds of B-Roll. This allows her to work out why Senator Stackhouse is so devoted to the filibuster and recall the loophole that lets them help him out, thus resolving the whole episode.
- LADYBABY: For the "Lady Baby Blue" music video, Rie literally just edits together random B-Roll and cellphone footage of Rei and herself, some of which is misaligned. Granted, showing candid moments is exactly the point.
- Nine Inch Nails: In the music video of "Burn", there is B-Roll material of all kinds played in the background — from Natural Born Killers cuts to footage of rotting fruit, an old family movie, the Holocaust, a Nazi rally, animal slaughter, wild animal fights, and domestic abuse. It's quite disturbing to watch.
- La oreja de Van GoghTranslation :
- The music video of "20 de enero"Translation has a live-action part and an animesque part. Superimposed on the former, there's Amaia, the vocalist, performing the song. The story is about a girl who goes to sleep and lives a crazy adventure in her dreams. The protagonist is Amaia, so it's a tad surreal to see her in the B-Roll footage, just beside herself. It's probably on purpose.
- Several of the band's music videos from The '90s and the early Noughties prominently feature footage of people doing mundane activities. Such as "Rosas"Translation , "Paris", "Geografía"Translation , and "Soñaré"Translation . Also, one song from The New '10s: "La chica del espejo"Translation .
- "Europa VII"Translation shows footage of key moments in human History — from the Nazi Germany concentration camps to terrorist bombings. The lyrics tell the story of a drifting astronaut who knows she's going to die, so she reflects how, from this afar, the Earth looks so tiny, its interpersonal conflicts so petty and inconsequential in the grand scheme of things.
- Quite a few of the music videos from the Leire Era (after the band changed vocalists) are comprised of random cuts of the band preparing for a performance — all the way from disembarking the airplane to setting up the stage clutter. Examples include "Cuando menos lo merezca"Translation and "Día Cero"Translation .
- The music video of "Las noches que no mueren"Translation is entirely comprised of footage of the band members on vacation. Quite the Mood Whiplash, what with the song being about a person who has to leave behind her loved ones.
- "Camino de tu corazón"Translation is just footage of travel-related stuff (boarding, baggage, passports, etc.) with the song's lyrics and colorful filters slapped onto it.
- The POV character of "Cometas por el cielo"Translation records In-Universe lots of B-Roll footage of herself and her girlfriend. They are on a road trip doing, you know, lover birds stuff.
- "Estoy contigo"Translation has shots of elderly people either by themselves or being shown affection masked over colorful footage of landscapes and urbanscapes. Since the song is about the determination to stick by loved ones suffering from Alzheimer, the masked footage represents precious memories being slowly erased by the disease.
- In weather reports, b-roll of all sorts is shown on a big screen at the reporter's side. From weather maps and radars to footage of the subject places.
- News about financial stories tend to use the B-roll because the new labor figures aren't something you can really film, unlike people standing in an unemployment line or working in a factory. Faces are almost never shown in b-roll when the story deals with sensitive issues like child welfare, adultery, obese/fat people, or any kind of sexual topic- like condoms or teen sex.
- Over time, there have appeared very commonly repeated B-Roll clips on American news, which by subject matter would be:
- "Obesity On The Rise in X": Anonymous chubby mid-sections (in slow-mo), which have garnered the nickname "Headless Fatties".
- "Lead Paint Found in Schools": Children at play in the schoolyard.
- "Drug Use On the Rise": Any old rave. And by old, we mean The '90s.
- "Internet Company On the Rise": Very dated Stock Footage of the company's site on a CRT monitor; some older tech companies have videos of their site in Netscape Navigator from 1997.
- "Oil Prices Hit All-Time High": Barrels of oil and shots of refineries, or shots of service stations, gas pumps, and people fueling their cars/trucks—bonus points if the service station is the Mobil on the corner of Beverly and La Cienega Boulevards, which has long been notorious in the Los Angeles area for extremely inflated gas prices that look sufficiently alarming in a news story.
- "Airline Fares Expected to Increase": Landing Gear Shots, people milling around in an airport.
- "US Automaker Sells Subsidiary": Cars being assembled, new cars in the showroom. Again, dated Stock Footage tends to leap out at the viewer.
- "Flu Vaccine in Short Supply": Vials being produced in a factory, people getting injections.
- "Mammograms Now Recommended for Younger Women": Women getting mammograms, doctors pointing to x-ray images.
- "FDA Approves Phlebotinil for Public Consumption": Pills whizzing by on a conveyor belt, pharmacists counting pills (almost always with an Abbott Laboratories pill-counting tray, recognizable from its aquamarine color and the company's lowercase-A logo).
- "Tension Between Countries Grows": Flags on poles, stock footage of bombastic military events, and agitated and/or grim-faced faces at political assemblies.
- Amid the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2022, CNN ran B-Roll of air raid sirens over Kyiv as a pre-commercial tease along with a Mood Whiplash-inducing advertisement.
- In the Fox News Mass Effect fiasco, nearly all of the video game's sex scenes were looped, unedited, as the B-Roll of the broadcast.
- Bloodwings: Pumpkinhead's Revenge: In the A Winner Is You ending, there's a B-Roll of an actor in a Pumpkinhead costume and a pair of sneakers dancing around like an idiot for about 7 seconds.
- The player's guide for EarthBound features photographic B-Roll alongside the game's screenshots and clay figures. There are even headlines that feature all three of them on the same page, which provokes an Art-Style Clash on the player.
- God of War (PS4): B-Roll footage shows Suljic to be quite nervous working on the game's mo-cap. Cory Barlog and crew are seen repeatedly comforting and encouraging Suljic and it's clear they are doing everything they can to make the experience comfortable and fun for young Sunny.
- Shed 17: After the Biofusion experiments are applied to tanks, with their faces covered during combat, it's said that the only giveaway was the cries of discomfort whenever a tank's main gun was fired or they took damage. What follows is a B-Roll of various tanks test-firing as the tank curses audibly. Later, when the military gets called in to stop G-1, these tanks are used in their efforts with multiple curses being heard as they fire.
- Some types of Youtube channels are prone to using this. Remember that Tropes Are Tools so, for this kind of content, B-Roll footage actually enriches or is key for the format. For example:
- Edutubers, i.e., Youtubers whose content is education-oriented. Footage of the thing they are explaining (DRONE shots of a building, stuff filmed from a microscope, etc.) is ubiquitous.
- Youtubers who make video essays, especially if the subject at hand is a story in audiovisual format.
- Vines are looping video clips that only last a few seconds, are often memetic, and shamelessly used by YouTubers of any kind. They are, after all, prime comedy material even if you are talking about science.
- Reaction videos rely entirely on B-Rolls. As their name suggests, they are about people reacting to stuff recorded by third parties — from audiovisual works to music videos to vines.
- Best of the Worst: The opening of Rock n' Roll Nightmare baffles the staff for how weirdly it is put together. The plot begins with shots cutting between the band driving to the house the movie takes place in and panning, exterior shots of the house itself. They call this exactly the type of footage that would be used for a movie's opening credits sequence... the problem being that this is after the movie's actual opening credits, which was instead played over footage that appeared to have been shot by strapping a camera to a cat. The result is several minutes of uninterrupted B-Roll footage for no apparent reason.
- CinemaSins: Conversed in the review of The Karate Kid (2010):
Jeremy: I think they just filmed B-Roll footage of the actors and spliced it into the movie.
- Civvie 11: In the Scratches review, instead of putting some B-Roll of the game for the credits, Civvie takes the opportunity to talk briefly about two demos he'd played. In the first, Fallen Aces, Civvie is hesitant to say anything about it because it's a New Blood game and, in his own words, "New Blood keeps putting up quotes about my dick on the store page". Said quote is now on the Steam page for Fallen Aces.
- Defunctland: While the coverage for Action Park is generally fairly grim (since six people actually died at the park and numerous other people suffered serious injuries while there), Kevin tries to add a bit of levity via some written text on the B-Roll.
- Gligar 13 Vids has a tendency to insert Halo footage on his videos. He likes that franchise quite a lot, so it's natural that he goes referencing it.
- It's Alive! with Brad:
- On one occasion, Brad's outro monologue gets jumbled. He ends up repeating most of it and Hunzi gets annoyed at having to loop the background music. It ends with Brad entering sarcasm mode.
Brad: "It's so much more than just olive oil."
You're telling me.
I'm running low on B-Roll...
- One time, Brad parodies this:
"Alright for the next- ...That's not an episode." *B-roll of surfers* "Alright for the next- ..." *Replay B-roll of surfers* "For our next, uh..." *More B-roll of surfers*
- On one occasion, Brad's outro monologue gets jumbled. He ends up repeating most of it and Hunzi gets annoyed at having to loop the background music. It ends with Brad entering sarcasm mode.
- James Rolfe has made a comprehensive video about all the films and TV series shot at Bronson Canyon. He accompanies it with lots of B-Roll he recorded while in the location for visual reference.
- Mr. Plinkett Reviews: The Star Trek: Picard review utilizes jaw-dropping storyboards and illustrations by friends of the show Freddie Williams III as B-Roll.
- Philosophy Tube: In the "Ben Shapiro and Abortion" video, the B-Roll footage shows Abi drenching chicken eggs in some white cream, with the caption "This educational clip is fully compliant with Alabama Code Title 16 on Sexual Education".
- The NSCL: In the review of Dead Rising 3, Niskel switches to B-Roll to demonstrate the boss fight with Red to show how the fight works. The reason? He upgraded Nick so much, that the fight against Red is a Curb-Stomp Battle in Niskel's favor in the main roll.
- TV Heaven:
Brad: Today, though, we're focusing on The Myth of Safe Sex. Or possibly B-Roll from Cannibal! The Musical, one of the two.
- Winter of '83: "Late Night Movie" features an unnamed woman recording B-Roll of a snow-covered park for the station, who (knowing her audio would eventually get removed in post-production) takes the time to tell her boyfriend, Alan, how grateful she is for him, and accepts the proposal he had given to her recently... and then she stumbles across one of the creatures, and is killed.
- Steven Universe: In May 2018, CN released their first Drawn Podcast, an interview with Rebecca Sugar and Ian Jones-Quartey with spoilerish B-Roll clips of the two-episode special "Reunited".
- As a voice narrates these tropes, footage of Tropey the Wonder Dog being cute is being passed.