The Secret to Make AMAZING B-Roll with your SmartPhone

Making a video with your smartphone can be fun and rewarding. It can also drive you nuts and wonder what you did wrong. B-roll is one of those areas that have given me fits. I could never get the speed right or keep it steady. No matter what I did, it looks like I had about a pot of coffee before shooting b-roll. 

After watching a few videos on YouTube, and especially Iographers channel, I discovered what I had been doing wrong. It was one of those AH-HA moments. Here is what I did wrong. 

  1. I am using the built-in camera app.
  2. Recorded video in 24 frames per second
  3. Built-in white balance throwing off exposure
  4. Not shooting different angles.

Ok, this is what I did wrong but what did I do to fix this? 

  1. I ditched the built-in the camera app and used FilmicPro. This app is my go-to video app now. You can control every aspect of your video — the most critical being white balance. More on that in a sec
  2. There is a big secret to getting fantastic b-roll. Ok, not a huge secret but one that you don’t think about. You need to record your video at 60 FPS or more. If you are doing 4K, the max you can do is 60 FPS. If you are doing 1080, you can do up to 120 FPS. Once recorded, you need to slow down your video. This was a game-changer to me! I slowed down the footage for b-roll, and it was always jumpy. This was because there weren’t enough frames to do it smoothly. Using a higher frame rate, you can slow down to 25% and still have a fantastic video. Another bonus to this is your video will not be “jumpy” or need stabilization. When the video is slowed down, movements seem more deliberate and not jerky. You can see this in the video example. The unedited version is too fast, whereas the slowed-down version looks much better. 
  3. My nemesis in the video was always the auto white balance. As soon as you put something bright or dark in front of the camera, it adjusted. Sometimes for the better but usually for, the worse. FilMic lets you lock the white balance to keep the exposure steady throughout the filming 
  4. Different angles make your b-roll more interesting. Don’t just shoot something straight on and not move. Doing a tracking shot makes it much more interesting. Get higher or lower and shoot. You have to experiment and see what is best. As you can see in the video, I made for this post, have fun, and don’t be still. 

Bonus tip – Shoot a ton of b-roll when you can. I have found that there are times when I shoot what I think is enough video, but when I get to editing, I need about 30 secs to a minute more footage. Shoot everything you see and do it more than one angle. There are times when I thought I got a specific shot but realizing that I only got a part of what I wanted or needed. You can not have too much footage, especially if it’s for your business or a regular client.

Bonus tip 2 – Don’t overload your video with b-roll. Put b-roll in that makes sense that builds onto your story. If the video you are inserting does nothing to add to your message, don’t use it. 

If you follow these things and experiment with b-roll, you too can have amazing footage to use. As you do more b-roll, your skills will increase and keep unused footage around for future use! 

Stay tuned for a video demonstrating these things coming soon!!

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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