YouTube Cheating: The Overuse of B-Roll Is Becoming a Problem

What happened to b-roll? It used to be the sprinklings on top of the proverbial cupcake, but now, we've forgotten about the cake. There are far too many occasions now where watching a tutorial is just difficult because of the amount of b-roll in the video.

Warning: there is some profanity in the video linked above. 

When I'm watching a video tutorial, I really don't care if you're in Dubai, sipping orange juice next to a unicorn that has jet engines for hooves. I just want to know how to do that fade transition thingamabob that the title of the video described. Every 30 seconds, it's another minute of super slo-mo footage and lots of "buttery" smooth bokeh. Am I coming across bitter at all? 

On a more serious note, though, I am seeing more and more videos that rely primarily on b-roll and treat it as actual content. As Camera Conspiracies points out, b-roll is not content and personally, it gets really old really fast. If you only have a minute's worth of content, then great, make it a short video; people actually appreciate concise tutorials. I do appreciate the fact that b-roll can be used in an entertaining way and can have some wow factor. Let's just reel it in a little and focus more on the actual content.

Camera Conspiracies is fast becoming one of my favorite channels on YouTube. His dry humor and the delivery of his jokes get me every time. If you haven't subscribed to the channel yet, I highly recommend you do; his content is very enjoyable. Please check out the full video linked above. 

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38 Comments

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greg tennyson's picture

The over-use of b-roll, on youtube especially, is a dirty trick to make videos longer. Youtube's algorithm doesnt like minute long videos so when they only have 90 seconds of actual content they use a long intro and way too much b-roll.

If you use enough b-roll you can run two commercials and double you adsense earnings.

Michael Jin's picture

I'd rather watch b-roll footage with overlaid narration over a video of a talking head any day of the week, but that's just me. At least the b-roll footage will probably contain some element of visual interest. If you just want to talk into your camera, make a podcast instead.

Steven Magner's picture

Listen, I have a real problem with people that don’t appreciate coffee being poured at 60fps.

The weed must be excellent where he lives... ;-)

When your b-roll becomes a muffin top...

Jonathan Hoyt's picture

This video speaks to my very soul. I freaking hate B roll. As long as I've been shooting video I've told myself, "There is no such thing as B roll." This or that clip either adds to the story or its trash.

David Schöppe's picture

It's simple, do B-Roll but don't interrupt the talking for it. Keeps it short AND nice! The Problem is B-Roll with just music, not B-Roll in general.