5 Tips for Handheld B-Roll

Ruth and I were discussing an interview setup the other day and we came up with some tongue-in-cheek-yet-serious tips for running a handheld B-camera. I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Pick a spot and stay there long enough to count.

    Editors hate it when you give them a brilliant shot that’s not long enough. Once you get into position, hang out there for at least ten or fifteen seconds. Longer would be better. This all depends on the nature of the interview, of course.

  2. Keep your paws off the zoom controls.

    No, seriously. I know, you see zooming all the time on TV and in theatrical documentaries. But zooming in is a poor alternative to actually walking closer if you can. If you must zoom, don’t do it like a rocket taking off. You’re trying to tell a story, not disorient your audience.

  3. Don’t you dare even think about tilting the camera!

    All you’ll do by tilting the camera is simulate a storm at sea… Which comes packaged with free seasickness for your landlubber audience.

  4. Get some coverage on both sides of the tripod-locked A-camera.

    If you keep the 180-degree rule in mind while doing this, it’s almost like having an extra camera!

  5. Walk behind the A-camera, not in front of it.

    Yeah, it’s a no-brainer. Yeah, people still do it. Don’t you make that mistake.

Do you have any other handheld B-roll tips to share?

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