The 4 Keys to Developing Standout B-Roll and Bites

A team from 4media had the opportunity to make it to E3, the world’s premier video gaming conference, to produce a b-roll and bites package for media distribution.  The entire project, from man on the street interviews, to shooting video throughout the LA Convention Center, to editing, took course over a single day—in hours, as a matter of fact.

E3 is an event worthy of coverage, and our role in being there was to create a b-roll and bites package that media could use to create their own packages, whether that meant a simple rip and read or a full-fledged examination into gaming culture, complete with relevant interviews.

The process was long, exciting, partially arduous, yet an overall joy.  When the pressure is on, lessons are always learned.  The pressure was on in a major way, and we came out with something big: 4media’s 4 keys to developing standout b-roll and bites.

  1. Know what you need, and build a team around that.

One of the most important parts of pulling off an execution in a short window of time is knowing what you’re getting into, according to Jim O’ Reilly, 4media group’s executive producer, and the ultimate creative force behind the E3 shoot.

O’Reilly said that advanced knowledge is key when time is tight.

Digital PR Storm Troopers

“At an event as cool as E3, the act of capturing good video likely won’t be terribly difficult—it’s a bit of a point and shoot situation—but on the planning side, it’s all about determining what the needs are to make something like this work and then get it turned around fast,” O’Reilly said.

Though planning is key in most executions, it becomes the keystone when pressure is on.  4media hired two teams to cover the massive LA Convention Center, including dedicated shooters, dedicated sound pros, and even a grip. The crews had shot at E3 before, meaning there was advanced knowledge of what everyone was getting into.  Extraordinary results, in small windows, begin with excellent planning.

  1. Accessibility is everything

So you’ve got a great crew put together—is the planning over? Absolutely not. In a turn and burn situation, accessibility is key.  It’s a broad word, I know, so let me break it down.

In an ideal world, you need access to everything to make your project shine, so give it some thought before you go.  Will you have good wi-fi? Do you need a hardline? Where’s the media space in comparison to the greater event? Is your editor clutch? Do you have a storyboard, shot outlines, and a plan of attack? And perhaps most importantly, how available is your client going to be?

Digital PR Gaming

O’Reilly said remaining in constant contact with your client is one of the keys to excellent b-roll and bites production, because their approval is a pre-requisite to media dissemination.

“Be realistic with your client,” O’Reilly told me. “When you’re talking about something this fast-paced, you only have a few hours, so understanding what the client wants, and then keeping them updated on your progress is key in making a turnaround that everyone is equally happy with!”

  1. An excellent editor can carry the project

With plans well made, a crew assembled, and a client willing to communicate, you may be wondering what’s left. It’s the secret ingredient to fabulous b-roll and bites: An excellent editor.

“Look, the secret sauce in this whole thing is having an editor who can work under pressure, has a good eye for what makes TV news, and who won’t sweat every single detail,” O’Reilly said. Fortunately for us at 4media, our in-house capacities extend to editing.

Digital PR in E3 South Hall

Amanda Yates is our account coordinator in production and editing, and she has quite a bit of experience under pressure, coming from the control room of many a TV station, where she directed live newscasts.

Yates said the key to editing under pressure was avoiding the temptation to get too bogged down by details.

“You can’t, for example, look through every single one of the clips—there’s simply no way.  So I go in with an idea of what we’ll need, and I would just grab what was relevant, and what seemed to look the best, and I would put it in,” Yates said.

She follows a personal maxim when it comes to high-speed editing, known as ‘say a dog, see a dog.’

“If someone says the word dog, then you need to see a dog,” Yates said. “So when they were talking about female gamers, that’s what you saw. And when they were talking about the number of people coming in, that’s what you saw.”

  1. Have a little bit of fun

Once you’ve assembled a team, gathered access, found a superstar editor, and then returned to the planning board, something may become clear: You’ve done all you can do.  That makes the last key to a truly excellent project a willingness to have a little bit of fun, especially at an event like E3, where you’re dealing with a fan base also there to have fun.

“Doing man on the street interviews, that can be like pulling teeth,” O’Reilly told me, as he sighed at the memory of past awkward interviews. “But not with this group of people—there was such an excitement from the fan base, and they were excited to talk to us, which made things easier.”

Though not every b-roll project is going to feature E3 level fans, the point is maintained: When you’re dealing with a willing audience, use that willingness, and don’t be afraid to enjoy yourself in the pursuit of awesome interviews.

“The creative element in something like this comes from the whole team,” Yates said. “You have to make it flow, and so sometimes that means stepping just a bit outside of the plan and sort of enjoying what you’re doing. Stay calm, and things will come together,” she told me.

And come together they did.

The b-roll and bites package was used on both national and local newscasts, and was also picked up in Spanish.

Do you want some help creating stellar video content, or even a b-roll and bites package of your own? Reach out—we’d love to help.

The Considerations and Future of Video Content in Digital PRUtilizing the PR Survey as a Pitching Tool