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What is B-roll…and other video jargon!

Camera surrounded by mysterious smoke
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    • Video Production
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Do you hear the term B-roll and wonder what on earth it means? We’re here to put an end to confusing video jargon so next time you’re on a video shoot, you’ll be in the know.

Do you ever organise a shoot and the video team starts reeling off words that you’ve no idea what they mean, let alone heard of? Or perhaps you have an idea of what they mean but don’t feel comfortable asking?

We’re here to put an end to confusing video jargon so that next time you’re coordinating a video shoot, you’ll be in the know. 


If you’re in the business of arranging or working on video shoots, you’re likely to have heard of the term B-roll. But what is B-roll? Essentially, it’s any video footage in addition to the primary footage. It’s not your main action footage but it’s hugely important to the overall feel and context of your video. 

You’ll see in this video we created for De’Longhi that any of the footage that isn’t of the speaker, so the landscape shots, the coffee plants and the close ups of the fruits, are known as B-roll. So next time the video team refers to getting B-roll footage, they’ll be looking at what else they can capture on the day to complement the main footage.

Talking heads

Quite simply, a ‘talking head’ is when a person you’re filming speaks directly to the camera with only their head and upper body visible. The term is also used for any piece-to-camera. By including a talking head in your video, the speaker can help build confidence and a personal connection with your audience. 

They can also evoke an emotional response which, let’s face it, is a big reason for choosing to create a video. As you can see from this video we created for Diabetes Research and Wellness Foundation, the participants are speaking directly to the camera in order to tell their story with impact and authenticity.  

Sound bites

Sound bites are short, succinct clips extracted from the main video. They come into their own when you want to use them to give the audience a taste of what’s to come. You might use a sound bite on social media to get your audience’s attention or in your email marketing to entice readers to click through to your website.

Here are some content types that can make powerful sound bites: 

  • Emotional remark
  • Statement, fact or statistic
  • Funny comment
  • Memorable remark
  • Prediction or speculation

Sound bites are a powerful way to arouse interest and highlight a particular part of your story or message that you want to stand out.

Q&A with chef Raymond Blanc
Example of a sound bite taken from a video we filmed for Kenwood


A storyboard is a visual medium of how your video will look, shot by shot / scene by scene. It can be created using illustrations or images displayed in a sequence. Mapping out the scenes beforehand is an important part of video production. Why? By organising your thoughts, you can plan your video effectively and avoid any unnecessary costs or delays. 

Everyone is on the same page before you start shooting and you’ve agreed the expected outcome. 

Example of a storyboard sketch


Similar to B-roll, a cutaway shot is used to draw the audience’s attention to something else in the scene, such as an object. Cutaways play a key role in visual storytelling and help transition between different shots. 

For example, we created a video for JCC Lighting where we interviewed electricians about the benefits of a new lighting solution. To add more value for the viewers and create visual interest, we included a close up shot of the product being installed. 

Cutaways are a great way to give your video more depth, hold your audience’s attention and show them details that help your video stand out.

Close up of electrician fitting light cutaway example

Key lighting, fill lighting and backlighting

Lighting is a powerful tool when it comes to filming. When you record your own videos at home, do you notice how the lighting can have an impact on the finished result? So it’s essential the lighting is right during filming. Here are three types that you might hear during a video shoot: 

  1. Key light - this is the primary light used on your subject. It’s often placed in front of the subject, at an angle so that your subject is illuminated.
  2. Fill light - this helps fill in shadows created by the key light. It helps reduce contrast and prevents dark areas.
  3. Backlight - used to separate the subject from the background and give more shape and depth. 

The right lighting is an integral part of filming. It will give your video a professional, quality finish and help to set the tone and mood.

Video shoot with someone behind the camera filming

As you can imagine, there is a whole glossary of video jargon but these are a good starting point of the more commonly used terms. If you’ve come across other words and would like an explanation of what they mean, please do get in touch!  

Good luck with your next video shoot and if you’re looking to work with a video agency where all questions are welcomed and encouraged, we’d love to hear from you.