3 Tips for Editing with No B-Roll | The Story Guide

One of the beautiful aspects of editing a story is just that: you get to edit the story. Capitalizing on the ability to cut out your interviewees’ pauses and stumbles and ultimately structure the story in the appropriate way can transform a long and sometimes boring interview into a piece of art.

To edit your story accordingly, though, you need an important tool at your disposal: b-roll. Without it, the multitude of jump cuts will move from a streamlined narrative to a jumbled up, distracting mess. So, here’s the question of the hour: WHAT DO YOU DO WHEN THERE ISN’T ANY B-ROLL TO USE?

Recently, Adam and I went on a shoot for Compassion International, telling Patrick’s story. Patrick was a sponsored kid in India and since then became a leader in India for the organization. Although the government ultimately forced Compassion and their work out of the country, we had an opportunity to sit down with Patrick and talk about how God has used the generosity of his local church to nurture and feed the children Patrick watches over.

We had less than twelve hours from the first contact to our shoot time. Not a lot of time to prep the interview, find a studio to shoot in and be prepared. Obviously, we weren’t getting any b-roll from India, so how’d we make it happen. Of course, you can watch the video above to see how we pulled it off in a compelling way, but to help spotlight our “trade secrets,” here are our three go-to’s to pull of this “hot job.”

1. We Edited Conservatively

Typically, we’ll edit liberally, cutting out every moment that might slow the story down. That wasn’t an option this time, even with two cameras. We had to remember that we couldn’t cover everything up, so if the line worked without a cut and got us to the next beat of the story, it stayed in there.

2. Graphics Became Our Best Friend

We didn’t have b-roll, besides a few shots we could get in the studio, but we could use graphics to mix it up visually and cover a few important edits and control the pacing. You’ll notice throughout the video there are a few standout statements Patrick says. If you could see under those art layers, oh, you’d see a gap or a jump cut. Tricked ya! : )

3 We Got the B-Roll We Could

Okay, so we did get a bit of b-roll. At the end of the interview, we took 20 minutes to shoot a few pieces of b-roll that seemed appropriate. We took some shots of his hands, Patrick at a different angle, and the photo of the family who sponsored him. This job was super fast (I think we found out and turned the whole thing around in few days), but with just a few extra minutes and a little bit of thought, you can capture some helpful footage.

Part of telling stories and producing video content is being quick on your feet, ready to run-and-gun at a moment’s notice. It’s not a pace any of us want to live running, but when the moment calls, we want to be ready. Hopefully, this blog helps us all be a little bit more ready.

Happy storytelling!


This blog was written by Gary Hornstien of The Story Guide. The Story Guide is an online, masterclass-style workshop developed to help you tell stories better within the local church. To check out our trailer or to read our free, weekly blog, click here.

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