Adding Visuals + Sound

Adding visuals and sound sources to your interview can enhance ethnographic complexity and increase viewers’ interest. This material can deepen the significance and feel of the interview, add context, illustrate the verbal discussion, and establish the otherwise unseen connections to contexts beyond the site of your interlocutor themselves.

Filmmakers typically call this type of footage “b-roll” (a filmmaking term) and it can consist of photos, drawings, charts, and maps. It may also consist of video footage of your interlocutors engaged in activities related to the film topic, or activities that embody their character and circumstances. In a remote interview, however, you are not in the same space as your interlocutor so you’d unable to directly shoot your own video b-roll on a video camera. Nonetheless, there are still other options available for adding b-roll to your interviews! In this section, we will demonstrate different ideas for adding b-roll to remote interviews.

As we’ve mentioned before, b-roll should be collected and “shot to edit” so that you have multiple options in editing and telling a story.

Creating and recording b-roll during online interviews

Your first option is to co-produce b-roll with your interlocutor during the interview recording on zoom. Since b-roll footage is meant to complement the content of the interview, we recommend choosing to conduct the interview from a space related to the interview topic, or a location in which there are objects relevant to the interview topic.

  • Work with your interlocutor to generate b-roll on camera. If possible, ask them to turn their computer so that you can record video of them from alternate angles looking elsewhere, such as out of a window or something in the room.
  • Ask your interlocutor to show you pertinent pictures and discuss them together. Or pick out an item in the room and ask them to bring it to the camera to discuss. This is a nice way to pick out details from their immediate context and add richness to the scene.
  • If your interlocutor is using a mobile camera, ask them to move around and record footage.

Shooting b-roll with video cameras

  • You can ask your interlocutor to shoot their own video and send it. Remember to show them the tricks to shooting b-roll.
  • Depending on the topic, you might be able to shoot your own b-roll.
  • Record the same process/action from different angles. Repetition and variation is key to producing ample and flexible b-roll.
  • When people (or things) are moving across the screen, shoot the activity in a couple of ways if possible: 1. Keep them in the frame as far as you need to, 2. Let them move out of the frame. In editing, this second of these gives you a natural cut point to go to the next shot.

Editing with b-roll

  • Editing with b-roll is similar to editing with the both Gallery and Speaker views recorded from Zoom. You can add b-roll as an video source on a third video track (e.g. V3) when editing Zoom interviews. Or you can use it as a second track, if your interviews are recorded from one perspective of your interviewee.
  • B-roll can be used as a techniques for covering jump cuts. And b-roll can be used to illustrate what a speaker is referring to.
  • B-roll does not only have to correspond to an underlying video interview. You can cut away from the interview itself and have a short b-roll sequence
  • When using b-roll you can include its natural sound (at a lower volume when there is speech). You can add an additional Audio track for music.


Coming Soon: B-roll editing demonstration