Looking for some free b-roll footage websites to find clips for your edit? No problem, we give you the lowdown on where to find it.
B-roll. Alongside ‘storytelling’ and ‘authenticity’, B-roll has been a go-to buzzword of filmmaking in the past few years. It’s an important part of filmmaking. It’s created its whole own genre of tutorials on YouTube, as well as plenty of sites dedicated to providing it.
What is B-roll?
So, what exactly is B-roll? Furthermore, how can it be used in your edit? In short, when shooting something like a documentary, for example, there’s ‘A-roll’. The A-roll is the footage that tells your story (like an interview with a key character in that story). This is the primary piece of video and audio that carries the narrative.
Whilst it’s essential, it doesn’t work alone. Solely using A-roll the whole way through the video would be pretty boring. Nobody wants to watch a still talking headshot for 5 minutes straight. 🥱
That’s where B-roll steps in. B-roll is extra footage that helps to build out the environment. Splicing it into the A-roll segment in your edit keeps the video interesting and moving along. 👍
When should you use B-roll?
Let’s use an example here. If the A-roll interview has the key character of the documentary discussing how they make their way to work, you want to utilise B-roll to show off different shots of their city, then the process of them swiping a ticket through the barrier, waiting for and boarding the train, travelling to the office. In a lot of cases, you may be able to capture this B-roll yourself.
However, in other instances, it might prove difficult. For example, if the subject in the A-roll references something to do with the Sahara desert, you might really want that shot but you simply don’t have the time or the resources to fly out to the Sahara desert and shoot that B-roll. This is where stock footage sites come in handy.
Unfortunately, these sites cost money. Even one piece of footage can be pretty expensive. So, the questions is can you find free B-roll footage online? The answer, thankfully, is yes! Below, we’ve put together a list of our favourite free B-roll footage sites. These are the best places to find your free B-roll video.
First up, Videvo is our favourite community-based site with thousands of fantastic, free B-roll footage available. To make searching quick and easy there’s a handy dropdown filter where you can just show free clips.
Although 4K is not available for free (Premium plans only), there’s still plenty of high-quality free B-roll video to complete your project. They have a huge selection to trawl through. It’s our favourite stock footage site here at Freelance Video Collective.
Any video you download from Videvo will be licenced either through their standard Videvo Licence (can be used in any project but must not be made available for download elsewhere), or the Creative Commons 3.0 Licence (credit must be attributed to the original creative). It’s all simple, easy stuff.
With over 1.8million free images and royalty-free B-roll footage, Pixabay is another one of our go-to sites for free B-roll video. All of their stock has been uploaded by their community users and are completely free to use under the Creative Commons Zero (CC0) License.
In other words, even if you’re using the free B-roll footage for commercial purposes, you don’t need to get permission from the artist to use or modify the content or give credit (although, it’s always best-practice to do that anyway).
It’s particularly well stocked with a wide variety of free B-roll footage and plenty of 4K options (yes, even the Sahara desert). There’s even some motion graphics and a few loops that come in handy for things such as websites. We highly recommend it.
Similarly, Pexels is another great free B-roll video site that utilises the CC0 licence. What started off as a free image site has now grown and matured into a vast library. There’s a fantastic array of high-quality HD free B-roll footage for you to browse through. Check out their time-lapse stuff which is particularly high quality – probably the best we’ve found and easily rivalling paid sites.
Furthermore, unlike other free B-roll video sites, they show the premium Shutterstock videos (these ones aren’t free!) at the bottom of their search results, rather than at the top. It’s a nice touch that means you won’t get confused.
Dareful is a bit like the free B-roll video version of Unsplash (a free stock image site) in the sense that they’re focused on quality, not quantity. So, although their library of free B-roll footage isn’t quite as extensive as Pexels or Pixabay, it is really, really high-quality stuff. Additionally, they are updating the catalogue every day so it is growing!
All of their clips are royalty-free (you can use them in anything, without having to pay) and they’ve neatly categorised things for you already. For example, if you need free B-roll footage of a power plant, try the ‘energy’ category. How about a lion? Try ‘nature and animals’.
Lastly, rounding off our list of the 5 best free B-roll footage websites, Videezy. And yes, they really are making video easy. Although they’ll request that you credit Videezy when using any of their stock, all clips are royalty-free for both personal and commercial projects.
The drone footage selection is particularly useful and has helped us out on a number of projects with both HD and 4K options available. Note – when searching, anything with a green ‘pro’ label is not free B-roll video. You’ll have to pay for that.
Wrapping up – Free B-Roll Footage Websites
So, that’s our run-down of the 5 best free B-roll footage websites!
In general, there are a few things to keep in mind when browsing. Firstly, always do your due diligence and check the licencing and small print. Second – attribute the original creator and credit them wherever possible, just because it’s good practice and you’d want the same done for you.
Furthermore, consider editing your project as a 1080p HD video, rather than in 4K. Whilst some of the sites mentioned here do have some great 4K free B-roll footage, you’ll definitely have a lot more options if you’re working in 1080p.
Lastly, bear in mind these are free sites. Not everything you find on there is going to be top-tier or usable. Be patient and prepared to sift through a little bit of rubbish in order to find the winning stuff that can take your project to the next level. 👌