B-roll is a term used to describe secondary footage. Within the video, B-roll is used as cutaway footage to provide context to help you tell your story.
B-roll allows us as storytellers to show and not tell.
The term derives from the early days of Hollywood when they use to shoot on film. The A-roll was the principle roll of film, and the B-roll, or B-reel, was an identical roll of film used for cutaway shots and transitions.
The term A-roll isn't used commonly these days in Video Production however the term B-roll still is.
For example, if you're filming a promotional video for a manufacturing company, your A-roll could be an interview with the CEO. Your B-roll would be the footage of the manufacturing plant and the manufacturing line showing their machinery and capabilities.
To learn more, read our recent blog post about B-roll.