B-roll and Cutaways

The effect of B-roll is also referred to as cutaway. This is because, essentially, that what the filmmaker is doing: cutting away from the main film strip (the A-roll) to a side clip (the B-roll).
In the old days, when film was numbered, filmmakers would manually match up the numbers of the A-roll to the numbers on the B-roll to make the audio match up and things run smoothly. To perform this technique today, you most likely only need a single camera. Some suggestions would be to take some establishing shots, and maybe some people doing everyday tasks. To cutaway from the main film, simply cut, drag, and drop on your editing program.
The use of B-roll/Cutaway
Filmmakers will use this technique to add meaning to a conversation or the story. For instance, if a character is talking about their favorite pet, the movie might cutaway to a clip of a golden retriever. This technique is also used to disguise the elimination of unwanted content. If an actor says “um,” it’s easier for the director to cut it out while on a B-roll footage, because there will be no worries about the mouth movement not matching the audio while showing the B-roll shot. B-roll is also often used to hide extreme zooms. Cutting away can be a good technique for showing flashbacks, or revealing a snippet of information.
In our upcoming project…
In our upcoming PE/Tech project, there are many different opportunities to use this filming technique. For example, if you have a shot of a woman running, you could cutaway to the sport/job she is preparing for, then cut back. If you have a narrator explaining the moves the athlete is doing, you could cutaway from the exercise to the narrator’s face, and vice versa. You could cutaway to close-ups of sweat dropping from a brow, to feet pounding on cement, or to muscles lifting weights. The possibilities for this technique are endless!


This video uses cutaways. To cover up the choppy parts in her speech, there are pictures of her family and farm animals. There was probably 45 minutes of footage and the editor cut it down to about 5 minutes. The speaker did not say theses things exactly so the editor would have to cut where they wanted it. To cover up the ugly part, they put pictures.

Group Video:

Here is a video explaining cutaways more. There are some examples as well and a little tutorial on how to do cutaways on iMovie.

Sources/Works Cited:

"B-Roll Video Cutaway Graphics." Web Video for Dummies. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. <http://www.webvideofordummies.com/b-roll-cutaway.html>.

"B-roll." Wikipedia. Web. 23 Aug. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B-roll>.